Graduate student wins Perkin Award

Julie Paulson

Bruce Roth, ISU alumnus and inventor of the drug Lipitor, has won the professional Perkin Medal, one of the most prestigious awards in chemistry. 

The Perkin Medal is awarded to only a handful of industrial chemists by the Chemical Heritage Foundation and the Society of Chemical Industry. Roth is the first ISU graduate to win the Perkin Award.

When Roth was asked to choose a student to receive the Perkin Student Award, he asked the foundation that the student come from Iowa State.

Tezcan Guney, graduate in chemistry, then was awarded the Perkin Student Award.

Guney came to Iowa State from Istanbul to complete his graduate degree.

“I am extremely honored to have been selected as the recipient of this student award since it is associated with a prestigious medal for independent researchers who have really made innovative contributions to advance science,” Guney said in an email.

Guney was selected for the Perkin by the faculty of the chemistry department based on his accomplishments while working on the total synthesis of natural products.

But it’s not just his work that qualifies Guney for this honor, said George Kraus, university professor of chemistry and Guney’s adviser.

“He’s done everything people could have asked for,” Kraus said in an email.

Kraus said Guney is a very productive and energetic student, who has had two papers published in scientific journals and is working on a third.

Guney also interned at ExxonMobil, where he filed two patents, the details of which cannot be released at this time, and was a co-thinker in a project to develop a concise synthetic pathway to the biologically active and synthetically challenging molecule, paracaseolide A.

He has also worked with Kraus on cell imaging.

Guney is not the only student Kraus has worked with who won a Perkin Medal. Kraus was also the adviser for Roth.

“I’m very proud of both these students,” Kraus said. “I’m very fortunate to have worked with them.”

Guney said he believes Roth to be an inspiration for him.

“Bruce Roth is a chemist that I truly admire,” Guney said. “He has really been able to use his creativity and passion to find solutions to many synthetic challenges, among which included discovering the synthesis of Lipitor which continues to help millions of patients today and shows how impactful advances in chemistry can be to improve peoples’ lives.”

Guney hopes to make some improvements of his own.

“My overall goal is to become a researcher in organic synthesis where I can work on challenging problems and contribute not only to chemistry but to society as a whole,” Guney said.

The Perkin Medal and the Perkin Student Medal were presented this month in Philadelphia.