The Coblentz Award

About the Award

The Coblentz Award is presented annually to an outstanding young molecular spectroscopist under the age of 40. This award is the Society’s original award (first awarded in 1964), and is the complement of the ‘Craver Award‘ that recognizes young spectroscopists for efforts in applied analytical vibrational spectroscopy.

The award is presented annually at the International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy (ISMS). Due to delays arising from the COVID-19 situation, the 2022 award will be presented next year, along with the 2023 award, venue(s) to be determined.

Nominate someone for the 2023 award. 

2022 Coblentz Award Recipient – Dr. L. Robert Baker

Dr. L. Robert Baker
Robert Baker received his BS degree in chemistry from Brigham Young University in 2007 and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 2012 under the supervision of Gabor Somorjai. Following his Ph.D., he performed postdoctoral research with Stephen Leone before joining the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at The Ohio State University in 2014. He was promoted to associate professor in 2019 and to full professor in 2022.

Robert Baker’s research interests are in ultrafast spectroscopy, heterogeneous catalysis, and surface science.  His group has expanded the application of XUV spectroscopy to study electron dynamics at surfaces.  He developed a reflection analog to XUV transient absorption, which provides real-time observation of element-specific charge and spin states with surface sensitivity and femtosecond time resolution.  His group also employs sum frequency generation vibrational spectroscopy to study the effects of electric fields, ion solvation, and interfacial water structure on electrochemical catalysis.

Robert Baker’s work has been recognized by a number of awards, including the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award (2015), Department of Energy Early Career Award (2015), Young Innovator Award in Nano-Energy (2019), Journal of Physical Chemistry / PHYS Division Lectureship (2020), Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (2020), Emerging Leader in Atomic Spectroscopy (2021), and John Von Neumann Distinguished Fulbright Scholar.  He currently serves as the principal investigator and co-director of the NSF National eXtreme Ultrafast Science (NeXUS) facility.

2021 Coblentz Award Recipient – Prof. Dr. Sandra Luber

Sandra Luber

The Coblentz Society is pleased to announce that Prof. Dr. Sandra Luber of the University of Zurich has been selected as the recipient of the 2021 Coblentz Award.  The Coblentz Award is presented annually to an outstanding young molecular spectroscopist and is the Society’s original and most prestigious award.  Due to complications arising from the COVID-19 situation, the date and place of the award presentation has not yet been determined.

Sandra Luber obtained her MSc in chemistry at ETH Zurich (Switzerland) in 2007 and her PhD in theoretical chemistry under the supervision of Markus Reiher in 2009. After postdoctoral stays in the group of Mihaela Zavolan at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel (Switzerland) and the group of Victor S. Batista at Yale University (U.S.A.), she joined BASF SE in Germany.  In 2012, she became project group leader at the University of Zurich where she completed the habilitation thesis in 2016 and became professor in 2017.  In 2021, she was promoted to associate professor for Computational Chemistry.

Sandra Luber’s research deals with the development and application of novel computational methods, among others, with focus on absorption and vibrational spectroscopy.  Aside from purpose-driven static methods for molecular vibrational spectra, she has put emphasis on dynamic first-principles methods (e.g., by means of ab initio molecular dynamics) in order to simulate gas and condensed phase systems in a sophisticated manner. Examples include novel approaches for the modelling of vibrational spectra for chiral systems or interfaces via efficient density functional perturbation theory as well as electron dynamics via real time propagation and its application to electronic and vibrational (resonance) spectroscopy.  Moreover, methods for nonadiabatic dynamics in the condensed phase have been explored recently.

Sandra Luber’s contributions have been recognized by various grants and awards.  Selected awards include the Clara Immerwahr Award (2017, first theoretician awarded), the Robin Hochstrasser Young Investigator Award (2017, first woman awarded), the Hans G. A. Hellmann Award (2017, first woman awarded), the Werner Prize of the Swiss Chemical Society (2018), the Jochen Block Prize of the German Catalysis Society (2019), the OpenEye Outstanding Junior Faculty Award in Computational Chemistry from the American Chemical Society (2019), and the Carl Duisberg Gedaechtnispreis of the German Chemical Society (2019).


2020 Coblentz Award Recipient – Dr. Benjamin P. Fingerhut

Benjamin Fingerhut

The Coblentz Society will present the 2020 Coblentz Award to Dr. Benjamin P. Fingerhut of the Theory Department, Max Born Institute at the 2021 International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy (ISMS). ISMS will be virtual, and the award will be presented on Tuesday, June 22nd at 8:00 a.m. CDT followed by Dr. Fingerhut’s plenary award lecture “Noncovalent Interactions of Hydrated DNA and RNA Mapped by 2D-IR Spectroscopy.”

Benjamin Fingerhut studied chemistry at the Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU) in Munich, Germany. In 2011 he completed his Ph.D. in Theoretical Physical Chemistry under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Regina de Vivie-Riedle. He joined the group of Prof. Shaul Mukamel at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) as a postdoctoral fellow in September 2011. In 2014 he moved to the Max Born Institute for Nonlinear Optics and Short Pulse Spectroscopy (MBI), Berlin, Germany, where he is currently heading the Biomolecular Dynamics research group.

Dr. Fingerhut’s research focuses on the real-time investigation of ultrafast structural dynamics of molecular and biomolecular systems. The group aims at novel computational simulation protocols suited to investigate nonadiabatic relaxation phenomena in vibrational and electronic excited states. In close collaboration with experimentalists, he applies vibrational probes for the quantification of noncovalent interactions of hydrated biomolecules in aqueous environments. The group developed a numerically efficient path integral method for the description of open quantum systems. 

Dr. Fingerhut’s contributions to science have been recognized by many awards and grants, including the Coblentz Award, an ERC Starting Grant (2018), the Robin Hochstrasser Young Investigator Award (2016), the Emmy Noether Early Career Grant of the German Research Foundation (DFG) (2014), and the Feodor-Lynen-Fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt foundation (2012).

Recent Coblentz Award Recipients


Aleksandra Foltynowicz


Greg Engel


1964-2010 Coblentz Award Recipients

No award was presented in 2011.

Timothy Schmidt

Benjamin McCall

Xiaowei Zhuang

Martin Zanni

Michael Strano

Sergey Nizkorodov

No Award Presented

Andrea Callegari

Andrei Tokmakoff

Stacey Bent

Martin Gruebele

Brooks Pate

Pat Treado

Moungi G. Bawendi

Xiaoliang Sunney Xie

David J. Rakestraw

A. Paul Alivisatos

Peter M. Felker

Thomas R. Rizzo

Paul W. Bohn

Hai-Lung Dai

Geraldine L. Richmond

Keith A. Nelson

Alan Campion

Joel M. Harris

John F. Rabolt / Graham Fleming

Stephen R. Leone

David G. Cameron

Christopher Patterson

Laurence A. Nafie

Richard P. Van Duyne

Lionel A. Carreira

Lester Andrews

Peter R. Griffiths

Geoffrey Ozin / George Thomas, Jr.

Bernard J. Bulkin

C. K. N. Patel

C. Bradley Moore

George E. Leroi

Clive Perry

Guiseppi Zerbi

James R. Durig

Jon T. Hougen

Peter Krueger

Edwin Becker

William Fateley / Robert Snyder

John Overend