The Spanish Royal Society of Chemistry, at its latest edition of the RSEQ 2012 awards, has awarded our colleague, ICREA Research Professor Pau Ballester with the Janssen Cilag Organic Chemistry RSEQ Prize.
This award recognizes the scientific contributions made to the area of ??organic chemistry by Pau Ballester’s team in the last five years (2007-2012).
Professor Ballester’s research is notable for its originality and creativity. Pau Ballester and his team work in a relatively new field, within the area of ??organic chemistry, which has generated much interest in recent years: the field of molecular self-assembly and ‘molecular containers’ design and applications .
First of all, congratulations on this much deserved award.
– Were you expecting it?
Not at all.
– What does it mean to you to be awarded the Organic Chemistry RSEQ 2012?
I am absolutely delighted, both personally and professionally, for this award. To me, it means a recognition, by my peers and colleagues, of the work my group has done in recent years.
I think the best reward you can get as an investigator is your peers’ recognition that your work deserves to be highlighted in some way. I would like to extend this recognition to everyone who has worked with me over the years. They are the ones that are truly responsible for making many of our ideas come true.
– How would you define the type of research you do in your lab?
We do basic research. We try to broaden knowledge about molecular interactions and their applications. In order to do that, we design and synthesise new molecules with specific functions. Many of these molecules are molecular containers themselves, ie, they can include or encapsulate other molecules within. What interests us is to learn how to modify the physical or chemical properties of isolated molecules, which are experiencing what may be considered as a new phase of matter in the interior of another molecule.
– What are the most important contributions of your group in the last 5 years for which you think you have received this award?
We have done research related to physical organic chemistry with high attention to detail and accuracy. We have provided interesting experimental results on the interaction energies expected between anions and pi systems in solution. Our use and development of the calix  pyrroles as molecular receptors has been well received and valued by the scientific community. Finally, the description of new molecular capsules with polar interior has contributed to the international recognition of the group in this area.
However, the truth is I do not really know. What I do know is that this award has brought great joy and moral support to the group.
– Let’s talk about the future of your investigation, what are the objectives for the next 5 years?
We would like to apply the concepts of supramolecular encapsulation or inclusion I’ve mentioned before in different areas of chemistry: organic reactions catalysis, stabilization and isolation of highly reactive compounds, molecular size reactors design, charged compounds’ transportation across membranes, construction of new architectures linked together through mechanical bonds with applications in molecular machinery etc.I may have gone a bit too far… with these goals we will have more than enough for the next 10 or 15 years!
– And finally, what will you do with the 1500 € prize?
I have not thought about it yet. As I said before, I did not expect to receive this prize, let alone that this would include a financial reward!
Thank you very much and congratulations.