Martin Karplus, Theodore William Richards Professor Emeritus at Harvard University and Professeur Conventionné at the Université de Strasbourg, has been awarded the Antonio Feltrinelli International Prize in Chemistry by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. The award was presented at the academy in Rome Nov. 11.

The Antonio Feltrinelli International Prizes are considered Italy’s highest scientific and cultural honors. The chemistry prize is presented every five years and consists of a gold medal and an award of 250,000 euros.

Karplus received the award in recognition of his lifelong efforts to understand the electronic structure, geometry, and dynamics of molecules of chemical and biological interest. Among the important contributions to nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, chemical dynamics, and quantum chemistry is the Karplus Equation, which is widely used in determining the structures of small molecules and of proteins. More recently, Karplus has developed the widely used molecular dynamic simulation methodology for studying the functional dynamics and conformational changes of biomolecules.

The Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, literally the National Academy of the Lynx, was founded in 1603 in Italy and was named after the feline animal with keen vision because of the idea that scientists make careful observations. In 1611, astronomer Galileo Galilei was inducted to the prestigious academy, which published his research and supported him during his battle with the Roman Catholic Church.