Honor for Professor Jun Okuda

04/12/2020

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RWTH Professor Jun Okuda has received an Award of Merit from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Each year, individuals or groups of individuals are presented with the award for outstanding achievements in a particular area.

  Professor Dr. Jun Okuda Copyright: © Peter Winandy

The award honors Okuda’s excellent scientific contributions in the field of inorganic chemistry, his long-standing dedication to academic exchange between Japan and Germany, as well as his commitment to further strengthening the friendship between both countries.

Born in Osaka, Japan, in 1957, Okuda came to Aachen as a student, where he completed his degree and also obtained his doctorate. In 2003, after stints at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, TU Munich, the University of Marburg, and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, he was appointed Professor and Chair of Organometallic Chemistry at RWTH.

His key research areas include the synthesis and precise structural determination of extremely sensitive catalyst precursors. The aim is to apply them in various fields such as polymerization and hydrogen storage.

Strengthening Relations Between Germany and Japan

Okuda, who has always been dedicated to promoting cooperation between Japanese and German universities, has been the rector’s delegate for collaboration with Japan for many years. He has supervised various collaborative ventures between RWTH and leading Japanese universities, including Osaka University and Tokyo Institute of Technology, which has a liaison office at RWTH.

For many years, he was spokesperson for the DFG-funded SeleCa research training group, for example, a program for selected graduate students from Osaka and Aachen that was concerned with selectivity in chemo- and biocatalysis.

Furthermore, Okuda has regularly organized international conferences. He made it possible for many early-career scientists to spend a research period in Japan, and, conversely, he has hosted many renowned visiting scholars here at RWTH. He is also a member of the board of the German-Japanese Society in the Aachen Region.

Awards and Honors

Professor Okuda has received multiple awards for his academic achievements and for strengthening collaboration with Japan. In 1991, he received the Heinz Maier Leibnitz Prize, a distinction for outstanding early career researchers. In 2012, the Japanese Culture Institute presented him with the JaDe Award for promoting academic exchange in the natural sciences.

Since 2013, he has been a member of the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences, Humanities and the Arts, and he has served as an advisor to the government of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. In 2018, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Osaka University.

The RWTH professor took active roles in organizations such as the Wöhler Association for Inorganic Chemistry of the German Chemical Society (GDCh), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and the German Research Foundation (DFG).

He is also a Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. He has taught as a visiting scholar at universities worldwide, and he has more than 350 scientific publications and holds several patents.