BILLERICA, Massachusetts – March 29, 2021 – At this year’s 62nd Experimental Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Conference (ENC), the Guenther Laukien Prize 2021 was awarded to Professor Gareth A. Morris of University of Manchester, UK. Dr. Morris has made many seminal contributions to nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) beginning with the DANTE and INEPT sequences to the more recently introduced pure shift set of experiments. The Guenther Laukien Prize is awarded annually at the ENC and recognizes his cutting-edge NMR research with a high probability of enabling beneficial new applications.
During his education, Dr. Morris was successively a Demy (open scholar), graduate student, and Fellow by Examination of Magdalen College, Oxford, graduating in Chemistry in 1976. He had the great good fortune to start out in research just as the introduction of computer-controlled instrumentation opened the floodgates of NMR pulse sequence development, and to learn his trade from Ray Freeman in the company of colleagues including Geoffrey Bodenhausen, Malcolm Levitt and Ad Bax. His DPhil, completed in1978, included work on the DANTE method for selective excitation that he had initiated in his undergraduate research project, computer-aided analysis of strongly coupled 2D J-spectra (including the program SONOFLAOCOON), and the development of what became known as HETCOR. Between submitting his DPhil thesis and leaving for Canada in the summer of 1978 he developed the INEPT method for heteronuclear coherence transfer.
Dr. Morris spent 1978-79 in the laboratory of Laurie Hall at the University of British Columbia as an Izaak Walton Killam research fellow, applying 2D NMR methods to carbohydrates and INEPT to 15N. On returning to Ray Freeman’s lab in Oxford he worked on 2D NMR method development, including absolute value COSY, and chemical applications. In 1982 he was appointed as a Lecturer in Physical Chemistry at the University of Manchester, where he was promoted Reader in 1989 and appointed to a personal chair as Professor of Physical Chemistry in 1998. In Manchester he worked initially on chemical applications, collaborating with colleagues in organic, inorganic polymer and theoretical chemistry and in pharmacy, and on instrumental developments. These included improvements in stability and reproducibility, the introduction of deuterium-based gradient shimming methods, and a prototype LC-NMR probe. Theoretical work included analyses of strong coupling effects in heteronuclear 2D NMR experiments, and the completion, after 45 years, of Torrey’s incomplete 1949 general solution of the Bloch equations. Work on the technique and chemical application of high-resolution diffusion-ordered spectroscopy (DOSY) led to the development with Mathias Nilsson of a wide range of “pure shift NMR” methods, exploring different solutions to the problem initially posed by Hans Primas of producing spectra in which the effects of all homonuclear couplings are suppressed. The most recent of these, invented by Mohammadali Foroozandeh, is the widely used PSYCHE method, which offers a pragmatic compromise between sensitivity and spectral purity. A continuing interest has been the development of methods for mixture analysis by NMR, including the use of selective excitation, spectral editing, and multivariate statistical analysis.
Dr. Morris was awarded the Corday-Morgan Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 1988, a Leverhulme Fellowship in 1996, the Royal Society of Chemistry Industrially-Sponsored Award in Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy in 2001, the Russell Varian Prize in 2011, and the James N Shoolery Prize in 2015. He was a visiting professor at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris in 2010 and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 2014. He has co-authored over 260 papers, and has supervised 27 PhD theses in chemistry, one in pharmacy education, and one in music. He is a co-editor of Progress in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, was an associate Editor of the Encyclopedia of Magnetic Resonance (eMagRes) from 2005 to 2017 and serves on the advisory boards of Chemical Physics Letters, eMagRes, the Journal of Magnetic Resonance, and Magnetic Resonance in Chemistry.
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