Schrock becomes the Frederick G. Keyes Professor of Chemistry at MIT. In the mid-1990's, Schrock begins a fruitful collaboration with Amir H. Hoveyda on asymmetric metathesis reactions and their applications to organic chemistry. Schrock achieves in 2003 the catalytic reduction of dinitrogen with protons and electrons at room temperature and pressure. It turns out that a single molybdenum centre within a properly designed protective ligand is sufficient.
Richard Royce Schrock is born in Berne, Indiana as third child of Noah J. Schrock and Martha A. Habegger.
Schrock joins the group of Parshall at the Experimental Station. He focuses on cyclooctatetraene chemistry and synthesizes compounds. He gets fascinated by the possibility of preparing other tantalum alkyl complexes. He is heavily influenced by the synthesis of hexamethyltungsten of G. Wilkinson. The attempted synthesis of pentaneopentyltantalum leads to trineopentylneopentylidenetantalum. That compound marks the beginning of high oxidation state carbene, or alkylidene chemistry.
Schrock attends Harvard University studying under J.A. Osborn and working on rhodium: the cationic complexes that he discovers later on to be quite useful for asymmetric hydrogenation, at least those that contain the suitable enantiomerically pure phosphine ligand. At Harvard, Schrock meets Ryoji Noyori who is exploring catalysis by transition metal species in E.J. Corey's group, and Mike Strem, who has started Strem Chemicals and for whom Schrock makes a sample of deuterated Zeise's salt.
Schrock enters UCR. After his first chemistry exam, James Pitts offers him a summer job. Schrock begins research in atmospheric chemistry. He learns to blow glass and construct vacuum lines, and to measure low concentrations of photolysis products using a temperamental, delicate, almost impossible to align, multi-pass Perkin-Elmer IR machine connected to a vacuum line. At UCR, Schrock is influenced by a talented physical chemistry teacher, Jerry Bell, who suggests that he should attend Harvard.
During his years at DuPont Experimental Station, Schrock prepares the first isolable terminal methylene complex, the structure of which was solved by Lloyd Guggenberger. In the autumn of 1972, Schrock first hears the term "olefin metathesis" from Earl Muetterties. Schrock starts to follow the metathesis literature and begins to suspect that the new alkylidene complexes that he discovers in 1973 might be relevant to that process.
In autumn ‘58, Schrock’s father goes to San Diego to work in the construction industry with his brother, Clarence, and to explore the feasibility of moving west. In ‘59, Schrock and his mother go to San Diego too. Here, Schrock enters Mission Bay High School. Schrock's interest in chemistry expands and his home-laboratory grows larger. In these years, he enters and wins a regional science fair with a project about osmotic processes in sea urchin eggs.
Richard Schrock and his family move into an old house on the west side of South 13th Street in Decatur. The explorations and adventures of Schrock around his new house are a first signal of his propensity for curiosity and discoveries. At the age of 8, he receives from his brother Theodore a chemistry set. At the age of 13, Harry Dailey, the high school chemistry teacher, fuels Schrock interest in chemistry with more textbooks and discarded equipment.
Schrock accepts the position of professor at MIT and thanks to the National Science Foundation he builds a group of ten students. By 1980, they transfer the principles behind tantalum chemistry to tungsten, molybdenum, and rhenium, and show what type of tungsten species would metathesize olefins. By the mid-1980's, they develop well-defined catalysts for both the olefin and acetylene metathesis reactions that contain sterically protecting imido and/or alkoxide ligands.
After his marriage with Nancy Carlson (August 1971) Schrock obtains a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Science Foundation to work at Cambridge University in the laboratory of Jack Lewis. Here, Schrock meets Earl Muetterties, an associate director at the DuPont Experimental Station in Wilmington, who is on a sabbatical at Cambridge. He interviews Schrock and gives him an offer to work at the Central Research Department. Schrock and his wife Nancy move to Wilmington in August of 1972.
Richard Schrock receives with Yves Chauvin and Robert H. Grubbs a Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for the explanation and improvement of the metathesis process in organic chemistry, now used in the pharmaceutical and plastics industries."
Richard Schrock takes a break of 15 weeks from his studies to explore Europe.