Named Reactions’ Biggest Fan

Jie Jack Li is an unabashed chemistry fanboy. The author of several books on chemistry topics, he is perhaps most famous for being the author of several editions of ”Name Reactions”, a popular reference book for organic chemists. I interviewed Jack for my story this week on named reactions, and during our interview he revealed a fascinating factoid. “Whenever I meet a person who has a reaction named after them, I take a picture with them. I have millions of pictures!” he says. Well, maybe not millions. But the little bit of the collection he shared with me is pretty impressive. Below you'll see Jack with Akira Suzuki, Steve Buchwald, Bob Grubbs, and E.J. Corey. I’ve been to the Priestley Medal events at the ACS meeting and know for a fact that Jack here isn’t alone. If you’ve got a picture with a famous chemist you’d like to share, email it to me at c(underscore)drahl(at)acs(dot)org. I’ll publish the best of the bunch in a photo gallery on this blog.

Author: Carmen Drahl

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  1. My Ph.D advisor was a named reactions nut and Li’s book was an extremely well-used resource by not only me, but many of the other grad students as well.

  2. Thanks jbone. One question I never seemed to get an answer to was whether to say ‘name reactions’ or ‘named reactions’. Different people seemed to have different preferences. Did that ever come up for you?

  3. Ha ha! I don’t have an answer for that. I always write out named reactions, but when I’m talking about it I say name reactions. Although I don’t know if anyone could tell if I was saying named or name because it’s so subtle.

    On this topic, I just learned what Maillard reactions are today. I don’t know how people learn so many of these, there’s a million.