George A. Olah (left), Nobel Laureate 1994, and G. K. Surya Prakash, both University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, CA, USA, received the 2013 Eric and Sheila Samson's Prime Minister's Prize for Innovation in Alternative Fuels for Transportation. The prize, which comes with one million dollars from the State of Israel, forms part of a National Programme started by the government of Israel to reduce the global dependence on oil.
Olah and Prakash are honored for their work on methanol markets, an envisoned future economy in which methanol could replace fossil fuels for various purposes, including ground transportation. The award was presented at the Bloomberg Fuel Choices summit in Israel, on November 12, 2013.
George A. Olah obtained his Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 1949 from the Technical University Budapest, Hungary, where he then worked as an Assistant Professor of Organic Chemistry until 1954. After a short period as Head of Department of Organic Chemistry and Associate Scientific Director at the Central Research Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary, he worked as a research scientist at Dow Chemical Company, Sarnia, Canada. In 1965 he returned to academia at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, USA, where he became a Professor and Chairman of the Department of Chemistry. Since 1977, he has been at the University of Southern California, USA, where he is currently a distinguished Professor. He is also a director of the Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute.
Olah has received numerous awards including the 1994 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, the Priestley Medal, which is the highest honor granted by the American Chemical Society (ACS), and the F. A. Cotton Medal for Excellence in Chemical Research of the ACS in 1996.
Olah's research covers a wide range of synthetic and mechanistic organic chemistry. He is best known for his work on the chemistry of carbocations, which earned him the 1994 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
G. K. Surya Prakash obtained his B.S. from Bangalore University, India, in 1972 and his M.S. from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India, in 1974. He then moved to the University of Southern California, USA, where he received his Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry in 1978 for work carried out under the supervision of Professor George Olah. He joined the faculty of USC in 1981. He is currently a Professor and the holder of the George A. and Judith A. Olah Nobel Laureate Chair in Hydrocarbon Chemistry at the Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute and Department of Chemistry. He also serves as the Director of the Institute.
Prakash has received several awards including the Chemical Research Society of India (CRSI) Medal, the American Chemical Society George A. Olah National Award in Hydrocarbon or Petroleum Chemistry, and the American Chemical Society National Award for Creative Work in Fluorine Chemistry.
His research is focused on superacid, hydrocarbon, synthetic organic and organofluorine chemistry, with particular emphasis in the areas of energy and catalysis.
Selected publications by Olah and Prakash:
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