Geraldine L. Richmond
National Medal of Science
For her landmark discoveries of the molecular characteristics of water surfaces; for her creative demonstration of how her findings impact many key biological, environmental, chemical, and technological processes; and for her extraordinary efforts in the United States and around the globe to promote women in science.
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BirthJanuary 17, 1953
Country of BirthUSA
Key ContributionsCo-Founder of COACh
Research in Molecule Interactions at Surfaces & Interfaces
Awarded byBarack Obama
EducationKansas State University
University of California, Berkeley
Areas of ImpactTheory & Foundations
Energy & Environment
AffiliationsUniversity of Oregon
Other PrizesAlfred P. Sloan Fellow
Geraldine Richmond isn’t a quitter – unless you count her short-lived stint in a sorority. The chemist, then a student at Kansas State University, lasted two months in the world of sisterhood and socials before shunning her Greek letters for the ones that appear on the periodic table.
“I loved the science,” she said in 1999, “and I didn’t want anything else.”
After earning her PhD in physical chemistry from University of California, Berkeley, Richmond entered academia, teaching chemistry at Bryn Mawr College before joining the faculty at the University of Oregon in 1985.
Meanwhile, Richmond’s research with molecular reactions on complex surfaces has had profound impacts on fields ranging from energy production to environmental remediation.
Her most recent studies on hydrogen bonding – including the way molecules interact with oils and other substances – have given researchers across the world a better understanding of how water behaves with its surroundings on a chemical level.
But Richmond’s passion for science doesn’t stop in the laboratory.
Leveraging personal accomplishments, she serves as an inspiration and devoted advocate for women in STEM fields.
In 1997, Richmond co-founded COACh, a grassroots organization working to increase the success of women in science and engineering fields through career-building workshops and mentoring.