Robert J. Gilliard (old page)

Novartis Associate Professor of Chemistry

Department of Chemistry
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


B.S., Clemson University, 2009
Ph.D., The University of Georgia, 2014
Postdoctoral Fellow, UNCF/Merck, Ford Foundation,
ETH Zürich and Case Western Reserve University 2014-2017


Dr. Robert J. Gilliard, Jr. is the Novartis Professor of Chemistry at the Associate Rank in the Department of Chemistry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Before moving to MIT, he served on the faculty at the University of Virginia. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from Clemson University and doctorate from the University of Georgia. He was a UNCF-Merck Postdoctoral Fellow and a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow where he completed joint postdoctoral studies at both the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich) and Case Western Reserve University.

Professor Gilliard specializes in the chemical synthesis of new molecules that impact the development of new catalysts and reagents, including the discovery of unknown transformations of environmentally-relevant small-molecules [e.g., carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and dihydrogen (H2)]. In addition, he investigates the design, characterization, and reactivity of boron-based luminescent and redox-active heterocycles for use in optoelectronic applications (e.g., stimuli-responsive materials, thermochromic materials, chemical sensors).

Professor Gilliard is the recipient of the American Chemical Society Harry Gray Award “for his outstanding achievements in the development of creative synthetic strategies for low-oxidation-state main-group inorganic materials with unusual bonding and photophysical properties.” He won the Organometallics Distinguished Author Award, which recognizes authors of exceptional articles that emphasize the importance of organometallic chemistry and have made a profound impact on the field. Professor Gilliard received the honor “in recognition of dynamic and ground-breaking research in main-group chemistry, in particular on novel complexes and electronic structures of magnesium and beryllium.” In the past, he has also been named to various lists of notable scientists by media such as Chemical and Engineering News and Forbes Magazine. Professor Gilliard has authored 60 publications and patents applications. He has been an invited speaker at over 80 colleges/universities and scientific conferences in the United States and abroad. He is member of the editorial advisory board at leading international journals, including Inorganic Chemistry, Chemical Communications, Chem Catalysis, ChemistryEurope, and Angewandte Chemie. Professor Gilliard consults on matters related chemical processes, science policy, educational policy, faculty and student mentoring, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Awards & Honors

  • 2023   Harry Gray Award for Creative Work in Inorganic Chemistry, American Chemical Society
  • 2023   Novartis Professor of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 2022   Lloyd N. Ferguson Young Scientist Award for Excellence in Research, NOBCChE
  • 2022   Research Excellence Award, University of Virginia
  • 2021   Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering, David and Lucile Packard Foundation
  • 2021   Beckman Young Investigator Award, Arnold & Mabel Beckman Foundation
  • 2021   Dr. Martin Luther King Visiting Professorship, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 2021   3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award, 3M
  • 2021   Organometallics Distinguished Author Award, American Chemical Society
  • 2021   Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in Chemistry, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
  • 2021   National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award
  • 2021   Negative Emissions Science Scialog Collaborative Innovation Award, RCSA
  • 2021   Thieme Chemistry Journals Award
  • 2020   Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) Talented 12, American Chemical Society
  • 2020   Scialog Fellow, Research Corporation for Science Advancement
  • 2020   Journal of Materials Chemistry C Rising Star
  • 2020   Organometallics Guest Editor, Organometallic Chemistry of the Main-Group Elements
  • 2020   Chemistry-A European Journal Young Investigator
  • 2019   Chemical & Engineering News Editors Choice ACS Must-See Speaker
  • 2019   Inorganic Chemistry Emerging Investigator
  • 2016   CAS/SciFinder Future Leader in Chemistry Award
  • 2016   Forbes Magazine “30 under 30” in Science
  • 2015   Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, National Academies
  • 2014   UNCF-MERCK Postdoctoral Science Research Fellowship
  • 2014   Carl Storm Fellowship, Gordon Research Conference
  • 2014   American Chemical Society Division of Inorganic Chemistry Travel Award
  • 2013   Martin Reynolds Smith Prize (Best Research Publication) – U. of Georgia
  • 2013   Member of the United States Delegation to the Nobel Laureate Meeting, ORAU
  • 2013   Graduate Research Spotlight Honoree, Georgia Local ACS Section
  • 2013   Chemistry Department Excellence in Teaching Award, U. of Georgia
  • 2012   The University of Georgia Teaching Portfolio Program Scholar
  • 2012   Graduate School Outstanding Teaching Award, U. of Georgia
  • 2010   Graduate School Outstanding Teaching Award, U. of Georgia
  • 2009   Clemson University President’s List Scholar
  • 2009   Clemson University Dean’s List Scholar
  • 2008   American Chemical Society Award for Outstanding Undergraduate, Clemson University
  • 2008   Merck Index Award, Clemson University
  • 2008   Clemson University Student Government Grant Awardee

*See CV for a complete list of awards

Invited Lectures and Speaking Engagements


  • Gordon Research Conference – Photochemistry (Optical Materials Session), August 2023.
  • ACS Division of Organic Chemistry Graduate Research Symposium (Keynote Speaker), July 2023
  • CCCE 2023 – Main-Group Chemistry Session (Vancouver, Canada), June 2023
  • Gordon Research Conference – Organometallics (Main-Group Session), July 2023
  • International School of Organometallic Chemistry (Alicante, Spain), May 2023
  • Boston University – Departmental Seminar, May 2023
  • U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Bailar Emerging Leaders Lecture, April 2023
  • University of California, Riverside, April 2023
  • ACS Indianapolis – ACS Harry Gray Award Lecture, March 2023
  • PBSi Conference – Plenary Lecture (Berlin, Germany), March 2023
  • Gordon Research Conference – Inorganic Reaction Mechanisms, March 2023
  • IISER Pune (India), February 2023
  • International Conference on Main-Group Synthesis and Catalysis, India (Invited), February 2023


Columbia University – Departmental Seminar, December 2022.
University of South Carolina – Departmental Seminar, December 2022
Royal Society of Chemistry Dalton Meeting – Plenary Lecture (London, UK), November 2022.
Virginia Tech – Gladys Yee Peng Endowed Lectureship, November 2022
Arnold & Mabel Beckman Foundation, October 2022
California Institute of Technology (Caltech) – Departmental Seminar, September 12, 2022
Packard Foundation, September 2022
Duquesne University – Departmental Seminar, August 2022
ACS Chicago – George A. Olah Award Symposium in Honor of T. Brent Gunnoe, August 2022.
ACS Chicago – International Crossroads of Organometallic and Group V Chemistry, August 2022.
Texas A&M Inaugural ADSE Lecture, August 15, 2022
29th International Conference on Organometallic Chemistry – Prague (Keynote Speaker), July 2022
Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany, July 2022
Boron in the Americas (BORAM), Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, June 2022.
2022 U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad Study Camp Keynote Speaker, June 2022.
Fusion Small Molecule Activation Conference – Cancun, Mexico, May 2022.
Yale University – Departmental Seminar, May 2022
University of California, Irvine (Black in Physical Sciences Lecture-Student Invited), May 2022
University of Missouri – Keynote Address (Mizzou Forward), April 2022.
Colorado School of the Mines – Departmental Seminar, April 2022.
University of California, Los Angeles – Departmental Seminar, April 2022.
ACS Hawthorne Award Symposium in honor Philip Power, San Diego, CA, March 2022
ACS Organometallics Distinguished Author Award Lectureship, San Diego, CA, March 2022
University of Minnesota – Departmental Seminar, March 2022.
University of Washington – Inorganic Seminar, March 2022.
University of Washington – Career Development Seminar, February 2022.
University of California, Berkeley – Inorganic Seminar, February 2022.
University of Eastern Africa, Barton – Seminar and Career Lecture – February 2022.
Penn State University – NOBCChE Career Lecture – February 2022.
Baylor University – Departmental Seminar, February 2022.
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI – Departmental Seminar, January 2022.
Boston College – Inorganic Seminar, November 2021.
New York University – Inorganic Seminar, November 2021.
Southwestern Regional Meeting of the ACS, Austin, TX (Invited Speaker), October 2021
Rutgers University – Departmental Seminar, October 2021.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Career Lecture, November 2021.
ChemCatChem and Eur. J. Inorg. Chem. Main-Group Catalysis Symposium, September 2021.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Departmental Seminar, September 2021.
Case Western Reserve University – Departmental Seminar, September 2021
IUPAC-CCCE 2021 (Invited Speaker – Main-Group Session), August 2021.
Pohang University of Science and Technology (South Korea) – Departmental Seminar, May 2021.
University of Strathclyde, Glasgow (Scotland) – Departmental Seminar, April 2021.
Tel Aviv University (Israel) – Departmental Seminar, April 2021.
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI – Departmental Seminar, April 2021.
University of Bath (United Kingdom) – Departmental Seminar, April 2021.
University of Texas, San Antonio, TX – Departmental Seminar, April 2021.
Texas State University, San Marcos, TX – Departmental Seminar, March 2021.
Indiana University, Bloomington, IN – Inorganic Seminar, March 2021.
Amherst University, Amherst, MA – Departmental Seminar, February 2021.
York University (Ontario, Canada) – Departmental Seminar, February 2021.
Western University (Ontario, Canada) – Departmental Seminar, February 2021.
Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS – Departmental Seminar, January 2021.
University of California, San Diego, CA – Inorganic Seminar, January 2021.
Clemson University, Clemson, SC – Departmental Seminar, December 2020.
North Carolina State University – Departmental Seminar, Raleigh, NC, October 2020.
The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH – Departmental Seminar, September 2020.
University of Virginia Chemical Engineering Departmental Seminar, September 2020.
ACS Division of Inorganic Chemistry Webinar – Periodic Table Talks, September 2020.
Royal Society of Chemistry Main-Group Seminar, April 2020.
Global Inorganic Discussion Seminar, April 2020.
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN – Departmental Seminar, January 2020.
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD – Departmental Seminar, December 2019.
Texas A&M University, College Station, TX – Inorganic Seminar, November 2019.
University of Houston, Houston, TX – Inorganic Seminar, November 2019.
Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia – Departmental Seminar, October 2019.
Ford Foundation Conference, San Juan, Puerto Rico, October 2019.
University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, Chattanooga TN – Department Seminar, October 2019.
ACS National Meeting San Diego, FL, United States August 2019.
International Conference on Heteroatom Chemistry, Prague, Czech Republic, June 2019.
ACS National Meeting Orlando, FL, United States April 2019.
Juniata College, Huntington, PA, United States, September 2018.
Ford Foundation, Washington, DC, United States, April, 2018.
Claflin University, Orangeburg, SC, United States, April, 2018.
UNC-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, United States, October, 2016.
Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, United States, October, 2016.
Mississippi State University, Mississippi, MS, United States, September, 2016.
Clemson University, Clemson, SC, United States, August, 2016.
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, United States, July, 2016.
University of Virginia (REU Program), Charlottesville, VA, United States, July, 2016.