INDEPENDENCE, Ohio—Nissim Calderon lived long enough to learn he was named the winner of rubber chemistry's highest honor—the Charles Goodyear Medal.
But the former Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. scientist passed away last February before he could be publicly celebrated by his peers for receiving the 2020 award.
While more than a year has passed since Calderon died, the ACS Rubber Division took time out April 28 to celebrate his life and accomplishments during its Spring Technical Meeting. Plans to honor him last year were put on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The task of recounting Calderon's professional life and accomplishments fell to Adel Halasa, who worked with him at Goodyear.
And it was a bittersweet moment.
"I feel very, very sad. I am honored that they allowed me to do that," Halasa said near the end of his hour-long talk about Calderon. "I feel very humbled. I feel very proud. But I am sad."
Calderon left his mark on Goodyear and the industry in many ways, Halasa told in-person and virtual attendees of the 199th Technical Meeting of the Rubber Division in Independence, a Cleveland suburb. He was a force for good, both within the walls of Goodyear and in the greater rubber community, a man whose accomplishments deserve recognition.
And at the top of a list of those accomplishments was his 1967 introduction of olefin metathesis to the world. Calderon published an article in Tetrahedron Letters, a journal devoted to providing information about advances in organic chemistry and related disciplines, that year introducing his research.
These days, olefin metathesis is so widely understood that no explanation is needed within rubber chemistry industry and academia, Halasa said. But that was not the case before Calderon came along with his work.
For the uninitiated, olefin metathesis is a reaction where two carbon-carbon double bonds come together and exchange carbon atoms with each other. This process, which is reversable and uses a catalyst, creates new molecules.