The Crudden Effect


The Crudden Effect

Special journal issue showcases the impact of Dr. Cathleen Crudden on the field of chemistry, and her role as a mentor.

By Justine Pineau

July 20, 2023


Queen’s University professor of chemistry, Dr. Cathleen Crudden.
Dr. Crudden, who is the Queen’s University Distinguished University Professor in Chemistry, has garnered numerous accolades and recognition on national and international stages.

Queen’s University professor of chemistry, Dr. Cathleen Crudden, is being celebrated in a recent special issue of the Canadian Journal of Chemistry, highlighting her outstanding achievements in the field. The special issue was organized by two former Crudden group members, Drs. Christene Smith and Stephanie MacQuarrie.

Along with an introduction focusing on Dr. Crudden's influence on science and her trainees, the journal issue is made up of contributions from colleagues, former students, postdoctoral fellows, and mentees who have been directly inspired by her work and leadership. The collection of papers featured covers a broad range of research related to Dr. Crudden’s career, including organic synthesis, catalysis, materials design, and applications.

“The diverse scope of the journal issue reflects the far-reaching impact of Dr. Crudden’s research and serves as a testament to the influence she has had on the global chemistry community,” says Nancy Ross, Vice-Principal, Research. “What a profound honour this is for Dr. Crudden.”

Groundbreaking Research

The Crudden Research Lab at Queen’s is pushing the boundaries of catalysis and materials chemistry, with Dr. Crudden leading the research in exploring the applications of N-heterocyclic carbenes (NHCs) for protecting metal surfaces. NHCs act like bodyguards for metals, preventing damage and providing effective solutions to corrosion-related challenges.

Dr. Crudden is currently leading a team of international researchers and industry collaborators on an ambitious project to find ways to extend the lifespan of metals and potentially save billions of dollars across infrastructure, microchip, and healthcare industries. The project, announced in 2022, received $24 million from Canada’s New Frontiers in Research Fund – Transformation stream.

The Crudden group also focuses on the development of innovative cross-coupling reactions that yield vital compounds, with a special emphasis on chiral molecules, which are molecules that have a right or left handed form. Controlling this property is essential for the pharmaceutical industry.

A Legacy of Excellence

The Canadian Journal of Chemistry
Artist: Renee Man

Dr. Crudden’s academic career spans 27 years. After completing her PhD at the University of Ottawa, she embarked on an NSERC postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 1996, she established a research group at the University of New Brunswick, before joining Queen's as a Queen's National Scholar in 2002. In 2013, she became one of three international Principal Investigators at the newly formed Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules (ITbM) at Nagoya University in Japan, where she currently oversees a full-time satellite lab.

In addition to her research, Dr. Crudden has shown considerable dedication to the Canadian Chemistry community. Her involvement with the Canadian Society for Chemistry (CSC) and the Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC), includes leadership roles such as Vice-President of the CSC in 2011, President in 2012, Vice Chair of the CIC in 2020, and Chair in 2021. She also founded and chaired the NSERC-Chemistry Liaison Committee (NCLC), facilitating improved communication between the Chemistry community and the national funding agency.

As a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair, Dr. Crudden's exceptional achievements have gained international recognition. Notably, she was the recipient of the Montreal Medal from the Chemical Institute of Canada in 2019, as well as the 2019 Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society. In 2020, she was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and received the 2022 Alfred Bader Award from the Canadian Society for Chemistry. Most recently, she was named an International Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Cultivating Future Leaders

As a highly sought-after mentor and speaker, Dr. Crudden is frequently invited to universities and conferences worldwide. Her international engagements have also included extended stays in Japan and Spain, where she conducted research and expanded her knowledge in diverse chemical environments. These experiences contributed to her well-rounded perspective and have shaped the global impact of her research and mentorship. As an educator, she emphasizes the holistic development of her students, offering a range of research opportunities within her lab, and encouraging researchers to undertake projects that balance both safety and innovative risk-taking.

“[Cathy] is the most effective, sharp-minded, and active person I [have] ever met,” says Dr. Olena Zenkina, Associate Professor and Research Excellence Chair at Ontario Tech University. “Her working ability is extraordinary, but she is always able to find time to listen to people, and always willing and ready to help. She heavily invests her time and power to train not only talented and well-organized scientists, but collaborative and caring people.”

The special edition of the Canadian Journal of Chemistry is a celebration of Dr. Crudden’s passion for chemistry, her commitment to mentorship, and her unwavering efforts to pave the way for breakthroughs that will continue to shape the future of the field.

To learn more about Dr. Crudden’s work, visit the Crudden Research Lab website.

Physical Sciences and Engineering
Arts and Science