Grubbs receives his Ph. D at Columbia University. He works with Ron Breslow. Before entering Columbia, he attends a lecture of Rolli Pettit who inspires and directs Grubbs toward the use of metals in organic chemistry. For his graduate work, Grubbs studies the anti-aromaticity of cyclobutadiene. The atmosphere inside Breslow’s group is amazingly stimulating. Working on projects involving metals confirms Grubb’s desire to turn his research towards transition metal organometallic chemistry.
Robert H. Grubbs studies Agricultural Chemistry at the University of Florida. This field combines his interests in science and agriculture. He spends one of his college’s summers working in an animal nutrition laboratory analysing steer faeces. A friend of him, who is working for Merle Battiste, a new faculty member at the University of Florida, invites Grubbs to help him at night in an organic laboratory. Grubbs finds that there is great joy in making new molecules. His chemical journey begins.
Grubbs obtains an NIH fellowship to work with Jim Collman. Organometallic chemistry is in its infancy and it provides a fertile field for a chemist. Very important catalytic processes emerge, but little is known about the fundamental transformations involved. Collman develops a systematic method of discussing reaction types that provides a basis for understanding the steps in catalytic processes. One of the most exciting of these processes is olefin metathesis.
Robert H. Grubbs receives the Nobel Prize with Yves Chauvin and Richard R. Schrock, "for the development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis."
Robert H. Grubbs receives his Master of Science in Chemistry at the University of Florida. He is more and more fascinated by how chemical reactions take place. Battiste introduces him to organic research, he trains him to be a productive researcher and finally encourages Grubbs to go to Columbia University to receive broader training.
Grubb’s studies focus on metathesis, a process in which atom groups break away and reform, a changing of places that leads to new molecules with new properties. In ‘92 Grubb's group reports the early development of ruthenium catalysts. This catalyst doesn’t suffer many of the instability problems that limited the use of earlier tungsten and molybdenum based catalysts. They develop early commercial sources and later commercially viable methods for the creation of the ruthenium based catalysts.
Robert H. Grubbs starts his independent academic career as Assistant Professor at Michigan State University. Here his early mentors are Harold Hart, Mike Karabatsos, Gene LeGoff, Don Farnum, Bill Reusch and Pete Wagner. They provide a very supporting environment for Grubbs.
Grubbs becomes Professor of Chemistry at Caltech. Shortly after Grubbs's arrival, Fred Tebbe, a DuPont chemist, reports the structure and reactions of the complex that later will be named the "Tebbe Reagent". Along with Dave Evans and Stan Pine, Grubbs demonstrates that this reagent provides the first general route for the conversion of esters to vinyl ethers. This work provides the basis for a mechanistic work that results in the synthesis of the first metathesis active metallacyclobutane.
Robert H. Grubbs is born near Possum Trot, rural Kentucky, as middle child between two sisters. He spends his youth surrounded by his many relatives in a very supportive environment. Although both his parents come from small farm families, Grubbs's mother and his grandmother provide great role models for the value of education. The father is a very gifted mechanic and a practical engineer. Grubbs helps him rebuilding car engines, installing plumbing, and building houses.
Robert H. Grubbs becomes Associate Professor at Michigan State University. The years at the MSU are very productive. Grubbs starts his work in olefin metathesis and a number of other areas of catalysis. He is helped by many graduate students in his research. One postdoctoral fellow, however, plays a major role, Dr. Akira Miyashita.
Robert H. Grubbs attends Franklin Junior High School. Here, he meets an outstanding science teacher, Mrs. Baumgardner, who introduces him to the joys of science.
Robert H. Grubbs becomes Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry at California Institute of Technology.