Ei-ichi Negishi Retirement Celebration
Writer(s): Steve Scherer
In May 2019, the Department of Chemistry celebrated Professor Ei-ichi Negishi’s more than 40 years of service to Purdue as a researcher, teacher, and mentor to 38 PhD students and 62 postdoctoral researchers.
In honoring Dr. Negishi, Purdue President Mitch Daniels led a congratulatory toast to “achievement with humility, genius with gentility.”
Department Head and 150th Anniversary Professor Christine Hrycyna remarked on what a great Boilermaker ambassador Dr. Negishi has been during the past decade. “While continuing his remarkable research, he also traveled around the world and shined a spotlight on Purdue and the Department of Chemistry,” she added.
Negishi reflected on his career relating the story of Don Quixote, reminding the assembled scientists to remain inquisitive and pursue challenging dreams. “Without a dream, you can never reach it,” he said.
Negishi received the 2010 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing metal-based reactions called palladium-catalyzed cross-coupling, that allow for easy and efficient synthesis of complex organic compounds – a method now widely used in medicine, agriculture, and electronics.
Born in 1935, Negishi came to the United States in 1960 after graduating from the University of Tokyo.
In 1962, while studying for his doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania, he met Purdue chemistry professor Herbert C. Brown – a pioneer in synthetic organic chemistry. Negishi admired Brown’s research and predicted, "Brown will change the whole world of organic chemistry and that is why I came to Purdue." With Brown as a mentor, Negishi arrived in West Lafayette as a postdoctoral researcher in 1966.
He then moved to Syracuse University where he served as an assistant professor (1972-76) and associate professor (1976-79).
Negishi joined the faculty at Purdue in 1979 – the same year Brown was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
In 1999, he was named the Inaugural Herbert C. Brown Distinguished Professor of Chemistry. Negishi has won many awards, authored several books, and published more than 400 research papers.