Scientists and engineers around the world rely on Dr. Axel Becke’s ground-breaking chemical theories and computational methods to advance numerous sectors ranging from drug discovery to cleaner energy. It’s no wonder the Dalhousie University chemistry professor is one of the most frequently cited researchers in the world.
The Killam Chair in Computational Science is credited with turning the “density-functional” theory of electronic motions in atoms, molecules, and solids into an accurate and practical modeling tool. Early density-functional theory calculations in the 1960’s and 70’s were only suitable to describe metals. Refinements by Dr. Becke since the mid 1980’s, however, have enabled accurate density-functional theorymodeling of everything from simple molecules to complex biological systems and next-generation materials.
Since all matter depends on the motions of electrons, the applications of density-functional theoryare endless: chemistry, biochemistry, nanotechnology, surface science, materials science—the list goes on. As a result, Dr. Becke’s work has been cited 100,000 times so far. Two of his papers rank among the Top 100 most-cited papers of all time, one in the top 10 at #8, and another at #25 [Nature 514, 550 (2014)].
Dr. Becke’s methods have been incorporated into software packages worldwide and are heavily used by scientists, engineers and companies. Density-functional theory is now the most popular computational approach to the prediction of structures, energies, properties, and mechanisms in physics and chemistry. Its popularity earned theoretical physicist Walter Kohn, who conceived the foundations of density-functional theoryin 1964-65, the 1998 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. This was in large part an outcome of Dr. Becke’s enhancements of the theory.
Dr. Becke is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (2000) and the Royal Society of London (2006), a medalist of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science (1991) and the World Association of Theoretical and Computational Chemists (2000), recipient of a Canada Council Killam Research Fellowship (2005-2007), the John C. Polanyi Award of the Canadian Society for Chemistry (2009), and the Theoretical Chemistry Award of the American Chemical Society (2014).
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