Gregory H. Robinson

University of Georgia

Primary Section: 14, Chemistry
Membership Type:
Member (elected 2021)


Gregory H. Robinson is a synthetic inorganic chemist recognized for his research on the synthesis, molecular structure, and reactivity of novel molecules that prominently feature main group (earth abundant) elements. Robinson’s research efforts have considerably expanded our understanding of the nuanced, and sometimes counterintuitive, nature of chemical bonding involving these elements. Robinson was born in Anniston, Alabama, and endured some of the last vestiges of the Jim Crow era of racial segregation—his education inauspiciously beginning with him attending a racially segregated elementary school. Both studious and athletic in high school, Robinson attended Jacksonville State University on a football scholarship and earned his B.S. in Chemistry (1980). Robinson garnered his Ph.D. in Chemistry from The University of Alabama (1984), where he studied the organometallic chemistry of aluminum. Robinson began his academic career at Clemson University (1985), successfully rising to the rank of professor, and the faculty of The University of Georgia a decade later. Robinson has received a number of awards for his research, the most prominent include the American Chemical Society’s F. Albert Cotton Award in Synthetic Inorganic Chemistry and the Alexander von Humboldt Senior Research Award.

Research Interests

Gregory H. Robinson’s research concerns the synthesis, molecular structure, and reactivity of unusual molecules that prominently feature main group (earth abundant) elements. Despite well documented homonuclear multiple bonding between main group elements such as carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen, firm evidence for multiple bonding between other main group elements, prior to Robinson’s work, remained elusive. Utilizing a series of sterically demanding stabilizing ligands, the Robinson laboratory synthesized a number of unprecedented molecules involving main group elements including the first diborene—the diboron analog of ethylene (the simplest molecule containing a carbon-carbon double bond) and the first gallyne—the digallium analog of acetylene (the simplest molecule containing a carbon-carbon triple bond). The Robinson group also prepared an unprecedented collection of soluble diatomic allotropes of main group elements such as disilicon, diarsenic, and diphosphorus. By manipulating the steric and electronic properties of organic bases, the Robinson laboratory has discovered a useful synthetic template from which novel main group molecules and chemical radicals can be prepared. These moieties have been shown to mimic some of the synthetic and catalytic behavior of transition metal-based molecules.

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