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ASU scientist Devens Gust receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Devens Gust and Hugo Scheer
September 25, 2014

Devens Gust, a scientist in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Arizona State University has recently been awarded with the 2014 Hans Fischer Lifetime Achievement Award in Porphyrin Chemistry by the Society of Porphyrins and Phthalocyanines. 

This international award is sponsored by the Hans Fischer Gesellschaft in Munich, named for Hans Fischer, a German organic chemist and 1930 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The award is given every two years to a senior scientist for his or her lifetime work in the field of porphyrins and phthalocyanines.

Gust is an internationally recognized expert in the areas of photochemistry and artificial photosynthesis. He is the director of the Energy Frontier Research Center for Bio-Inspired Solar Fuel Production at ASU and a past director of the Center for the Study of Early Events in Photosynthesis in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He is also a fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Institute of Physics in the U.K.

The award was recently presented to Gust by Hugo Scheer, professor of biology at Ludwig-Maximillian University, Munich, Germany, at the International Conference on Porphyrins and Phthalocyanines in Istanbul, Turkey.

It was given to Gust for his incisive research over four decades on porphyrins and similar materials. Porphyrins and their relatives include chlorophyll, which is a major pigment in photosynthesis; heme, which is the oxygen carrier in our blood and important in biological energy flow; phthalocyanines, which are used as dyes in compact discs, in molecular electronics and many compounds for photomedicine. Most of Gust’s work has employed porphyrins as components of artificial photosynthetic systems for conversion of sunlight into energy in the form of electricity or, alternatively, stored in chemical fuels such as hydrogen.

Gust has produced over 300 publications in top journals, made 17 patents and has been rewarded with a continuous stream of invitations to keynote at international conferences, and to deliver named lectures across the world.

“He and his colleagues have truly established ASU as a world center of excellence in the area of artificial photosynthesis,” says Regents’ Professor Austen Angell. “ASU is on the international science map because of them.”

Devens explained best in his own words, “I came to ASU because Mort Munk convinced me that the university had great opportunities for growth and improvement and was on an upward trajectory. Mort was right, and I have never regretted remaining here for my entire career. I have been very lucky to have many great colleagues in the department, including my long-time research collaborators Tom and Ana Moore, and my associate chair Seth Rose. Much of what I have accomplished is due to them and to my wonderful research students. I look forward to continuing an active research program and my association with the department.”

“We are delighted by this award to Devens,” says Regents’ Professor and colleague Ana Moore. “It is our good fortune to be able to collaborate with him. He is always a source of good ideas, critical thinking and his laser-like focus on the goals at hand keeps us from drifting."

The Society of Porphyrins and Phthalocyanines was formed in June 2000 and serves the interests of scientists working in those areas and related fields, but come from a broad variety of scientific disciplines, including chemistry, physics, biology, biochemistry and materials science.