Roger A. Sheldon†
A profile of Roger A. Sheldon, Professor of Biocatalysis and Organic Chemistry at Delft
University of Technology, who developed the concepts of E factors and atom utilization for
assessing the environmental impact of chemical processes.

an early point in his career. In the late Timeline
point, his thirst for knowledge unquenched, 1967: PhD in Organic Chemistry,
he enrolled as a PhD student at Leicester University where he conducted research on such as Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’, advisors: Professor Stuart Trippett and Dr.
Barry Commoner’s ‘The Closing Circle’ 1967–1969: Postdoc with Professor Jay
‘Chemistry and the Quality of Life’ which 1969–1980: Shell Research Laboratories
1980–1991: DSM- Andeno, Vice
1991–present: Professor of Biocatalysis
standing friendship and correspondence on introduced him to the scientific rigors of beginning of his commitment, over the last three decades, to the development of clean fascinating world of one-electron transfer catalytic technologies for the production of foundations for his long standing interest to become Vice President of R&D of the discover that, in contrast to his experiences met Jetty Dijkstra who became his wife in at Shell, very few catalytic methodologies chemicals. Hence, he made it his business to change this sorry state of affairs. He was fortunate to have a boss, Joop Jacobs, who to run R&D as he saw fit (as long as some cash was generated at the end of the day).
industrial catalytic oxidations, in particular 1980s, the concept of the E Factor and the chemistry at an early age. After just turning process for the coproduction of styrene and EQ (Environmental Quotient) for assessing pioneering work in catalytic oxidations he employment as a technician in the research processes, highlighting the pressing need for cleaner catalytic processes to replace company. His first assignment involved the classical ‘stoichiometric’ technologies in molecules to start with. Through diligent study, one day and three nights in the week obtained the title of Graduate of the Royal synthesis of fine chemicals, a theme which environmental impact of their processes.
research. Processes which he developed for through his publications and many invited †The opinions expressed in the following article the manufacture of pyrethroid insecticides are entirely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of either the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Editor or the He also took an avid interest in what has Editorial Board of Green Chemistry. chemical and pharma industries and been a T h i s j o u r n a l i s T h e R o y a l S o c i e t y o f C h e m i s t r y 2 0 0 4 G r e e n C h e m . , 2 0 0 4 , 6
staunch advocate of Green Chemistry.
biocatalysis, and chirotechnology. He is a frequent publisher in the journals Green generation of chemists is underscored by, Chemistry and Advanced Synthesis and inter alia, his co-chairing, with James Green Chemistry, both in his publications Catalysis, flagships of the new era of and his teaching. Green chemistry features prominently in his undergraduate teaching, visiting professor at the universities of e.g. one course is entitled Green Chemistry successful journal, Green Chemistry. More and enzymatic—in organic synthesis, with Russian Academy of Sciences in 1999.
the ultimate goal of designing multi-step catalytic cascade processes which emulate the metabolic pathways in the living cell.
He has made important contributions to the Chemistry spans a period of three decades.
was inspired by the seminal papers of Alex development of green catalytic oxidations interest, which continues to this day, in biocatalysis, Research under his direction research is guided by the concept of non- at Andeno led to the commercialization of aqueous biphasic media and (bio)catalysis ‘Chirotechnology’, published in 1993, in ionic liquids. The common thread in this good science that is published in premier research is a drive to achieve precision and elegance in chemicals production via atom satisfaction in the thought that the concept efficient, low E Factor processes in which of Green Chemistry is firmly implanted in a catalyst, if needed, exhibits high activity, the consciousness of the current generation selectivity and stability, and is readily back in the mid-eighties, that the synthesis separated and recycled. With regard to the in industry and academia, and that he may latter, effective methods for immobilization have played a role in putting it there. With regard to his Delft period he has much to sounds familiar and reminiscent of initial required and this features prominently in is symptomatic of not looking further than has made it all possible. He is also grateful the proverbial end of one’s nose. Similarly, technique is currently being exploited by a a decade earlier, in the mid-seventies, most spin-off company, CLEA Technologies.
twenty patents and he is a regular invited G r e e n C h e m . , 2 0 0 4 , 6

Source: http://www.enzymeengineering.ege.edu.tr/R%20A%20Sheldon.pdf

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