David William Cross MacMillan is a Scottish-born chemist. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2021 together with Benjamin List. Born in Bellshill, Scotland in 1968, he graduated in chemistry at the University of Glasgow, where he worked with Ernie Colvin. It was in 1990 that he left the UK to start his doctoral studies under the direction of Professor Larry Overman at the University of California, Irvine. He earned his PhD in 1996.

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Once he had received his PhD, MacMillan accepted a position with Professor David Evans at Harvard University. The Scottish-born started his independent research career as a member of the chemistry faculty at the University of California, Berkeley, in July 1998. Later he joined the department of chemistry at Caltech in June 2000. Fast forward to 2004, he accepted the position of  the Earle C. Anthony Professor of Chemistry. MacMillan moved to Princeton University in September 2006.

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David WC MacMillan of Princeton University and German scientist Benjamin List of the Max Planck Institute together won the Nobel Prize for chemistry.

They were cited for their work in developing a new way for building molecules known as “asymmetric organocatalysis”. The award was announced on Wednesday by Goran Hansson, secretary-general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

The Nobel panel said “List and MacMillan in 2000 independently developed a new way of catalysis”.

“It’s already benefiting humankind greatly,” Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede, a member of the Nobel panel, said.

List said the award was a “huge surprise”.

“I absolutely didn’t expect this,”he added.The chemistry prize went last year to Emmanuelle Charpentier of France and Jennifer A Doudna of the United States for “developing a gene-editing tool that has revolutionized science by providing a way to alter DNA”.

The Nobel Prize is accompanied by a gold medal and 10 million Swedish kronor (over $1.14 million).