Marc Koper wins Allen J. Bard Award in Electrochemical Science
Electrochemist Marc Koper has won a special award: the Allen J. Bard Award in Electrochemical Science. 'Allen Bard has always been a great example to me, so it is extra special to win this award.' The award will be granted by the Electrochemical Society, at their half-yearly conference next year in Chicago.
The Nestor of Electrochemistry
‘I am happy and very honoured,’ says Koper. ‘This prize has only existed since 2013 and is named after the Nestor of American electrochemistry, Allen J. Bard. Together with Larry Faulkner he wrote the most widely read textbook in electrochemistry, namely Electrochemical Methods - Fundamentals and Applications. I read that book when I was a student, I learned the trade from it, and I still use the book for my own lectures.’
Koper has a beautiful memory of the now 86-year-old Bard. ‘Three years ago I gave a lecture at a symposium that Allen Bard organised at his home base, the University of Texas in Austin. Bard and Faulkner were sitting in the front row. A moment to never forget.’
The Electrochemical Society grants the Allen J. Bard Award every two years. According to the jury, the winner must have made ‘paradigm-shifting contributions in the fields of electrochemical science’. Koper thinks the jury selected him because of the combination of fundamental experimental and theoretical work carried out by his group. ‘That makes me fairly unique in this field. Also, several aspects are in line with the work of Allen Bard.’
In the future, Koper will continue to focus on fundamental research. ‘A great deal of attention is now being paid to the practical applications of electrochemistry, particularly in energy storage and the energy transition that the chemical industry will have to undergo. And while there is a heavy focus on all these applications, I myself want to address the very fundamental issues.
‘The nice thing about electrochemistry is that the application is actually never far away, but that often leaves very fundamental questions unanswered. Things are always slightly different or more complicated than we think, and I find it terribly fun to gain that kind of insights.’ As an example, Koper mentions one of the most fundamental issues in electrochemistry: the exact molecular structure between electrode and electrolyte and its influence on reactivity. ‘We still don't have a clear picture of that. I recommend Chapter 13 of Bard and Faulkner to readers who are interested in this,’ laughs Koper. ‘And that things are just a little bit different from what we used to think, the readers will find here.’
In 2017, Marc Koper was elected as member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Internationally he is highly respected and recognised as well, proven by his distinctions such as 2013 Carl Wagner Memorial Award (Electrochemistry Society USA), the 2016 Brian Conway Award (International Society of Electrochemistry) and the 2017 Faraday Award (Royal Society of Chemistry). In 2018, he was elected as president of the International Society for Electrochemistry.