Ron Nyholm was an Australian inorganic chemist. His work mainly focused on preparing transition metal compounds, particularly those with arsenic ligands. He also was a passionate supporter for the improvement of science education. He is best-known in chemistry classrooms for his precise measurements of bond angles in molecules and his predictions of the shapes that various molecules would assume based on each element’s valence — the configurations of the outer electron shells of elements. I learned about this aspect of chemistry as VSEPR theory (“vesper”, an acronym for Valence Shell Electron Pair Repulsion). VSEPR is a model based on the observation that valence electron pairs of an atom repel each other whether they’ve formed a bond or not, so they adopt a spatial arrangement that minimizes this repulsion. It is this repulsion that determines molecular geometry.
Tragically, Sir Nyholm died after a car crash en route to Cambridge for a party. To honour the excellence of Sir Nyholm’s contributions to chemistry and chemistry education, the Nyholm Prize for Chemistry is awarded for outstanding contributions to chemistry every year.
In this video, professor Martyn Poliakoff tells us about winning the prestigious 2011 Ron Nyholm Prize for his role in chemistry education (with help from his YouTube viewers — for the first time in history!). In this video, Professor Poliakoff also tells how he almost met the famous chemist for whom the award was named: If you happen to be near the University of Nottingham on Wednesday, 8 February 2012, then you really should attend this year’s Nyholm Symposium, where Professor Poliakoff will deliver the keynote speech.
Deskarati would like to congratulate Prof. Poliakoff and thank him and his colleagues for their excellent videos being posted in our Periodic Table page ‘List of Elements’