Stephen Ritter

Ernesto Carmona Feted as an Icon of Organometallic Chemistry

Blog Post created by Stephen Ritter on Oct 26, 2018

Organometallics has celebrated the career of organometallic chemistry superstar Professor Ernesto Carmona of the Institute for Chemical Research (IIQ) at the University of Seville with a Special Issue on the occasion of his 70th birthday this year. Ernesto, as he is affectionately addressed, is one of the important figures in chemistry during the modern development of Spanish science in the second half of the 20th century.

The Organometallics Special Issue is a collection of contributions from colleagues who have had some significant personal or scientific link with Ernesto and depicts a broad panorama of the current state of the field of organometallic chemistry. In addition to the Special Issue, a symposium in Seville held on Oct. 24-25 was organized by some of Ernesto’s former students with some of his closest scientific colleagues acting as speakers.

An eloquent and informative editorial written by Juan Cámpora, a Research Professor at IIQ who completed his Ph.D. under Ernesto’s supervision, describes the life and times of Ernesto and introduces the Special Issue’s content. As Cámpora relates, Ernesto received his Ph.D. at Seville during the formative years of the field of organometallic chemistry in the early 1970s. In particular, this period was known for development of industrially important polymerization catalysts. Ernesto spent time as a postdoctoral researcher with Geoffrey Wilkinson’s group at Imperial College London in the mid-1970s, just at Wilkinson received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for elucidating the structure and bonding in ferrocene, the molecule that effectively launched the field of organometallic chemistry. Ernesto later went on to make early contributions to C–H activation chemistry, worked on multiply bonded transition-metal complexes, and carried out extensive studies on metallocene complexes. Much of this chemistry is described in more than 50 research papers published by Ernesto and his colleagues over the years in Organometallics, which launched in 1982. Ernesto has also served as an able administrator, helping to create several important Spanish research centers, including IIQ.

Ernesto often led projects to success by showing students the value of systematic and rigorous work carefully performed to the last detail, Cámpora nores. Yet, he never lost sight of the importance of the human qualities of humility and kindness in the pursuit of important objectives and had an uncanny way of galvanizing his coworkers to give their very best. “Everyone who has joined Ernesto’s projects, or has had the opportunity to collaborate with him in some task, knows how easy it is to be seduced by his kind manners and bonhomie, being rapidly induced to emulate him as much as one can,” Cámpora writes. “This is the key to understanding the way in which Ernesto Carmona has exerted his leadership: by sowing, little by little, admiration and love in each one who was fortunate enough to have this great person for reference in his or her everyday work.”

The cover of the Organometallics Special Issue, designed by Dr. Ivan Rivilla, is a profile of Ernesto against the façade of the main building of the University of Seville, formerly a Spanish Royal Tobacco Factory, with the first three windows on the right side of the ground floor the rooms that once housed his office and labs. The stream of chemical structures overlaid on the figure represent milestones of Carmona's career, from homoleptic Mn(II) alkyls he synthesized as a postdoc under Wilkinson to some of his recent achievements, including cincocene and a quintuply-bonded µ-arene Mo2 complex. For the Special Issue, Organometallics altered its familiar magenta logo to feature Ernesto’s favorite colors, bright red and white of the Seville Football Club—soccer is a passion of Ernesto’s that is only second to chemistry. Cámpora (left in the photo below) and Organometallics Editor-in-Chief Paul Chirik (right) presented a framed copy of the cover to Ernesto during the Seville symposium.


Read more in the Organometallics Special Issue: