Will Dichtel was born in Houston, Texas and was raised in Roanoke, Virginia. He was an undergraduate student at MIT, where he majored in chemistry and was fortunate to gain his first research experience working in the laboratory of Prof. Tim Swager. He then moved to UC-Berkeley for graduate school, where he earned his Ph.D. for investigating light harvesting macromolecules under the supervision of Prof. Jean M. J. Fréchet. He next moved to Los Angeles for a joint postdoctoral appointment with Prof. Fraser Stoddart, then at UCLA, and Prof. Jim Heath, then at Caltech. There his research focused on developing efficient strategies for the synthesis of mechanically interlocked compounds and incorporating these molecules onto surfaces and into solid-state devices. Prof. Dichtel began his independent career in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Cornell University in 2008 and was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor in 2014. He moved to Northwestern University in the summer of 2016 as the Robert L. Letsinger Professor of Chemistry. In 2016, he co-founded the startup company, CycloPure, to commercialize his group’s discovery of porous cyclodextrin-containing compounds.
Dichtel’s research has been recognized with a number of national awards, including Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellowships, the Leo Hendrik Baekeland Award from the North Jersey Section of the ACS, the National Fresenius Award from the Phi Lambda Upsilon National Chemistry Honor Society, the Polymer International – IUPAC Award for for Creativity in Applied Polymer Science, the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, an Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society, a Cottrell Scholar Award from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, the Sloan Research Fellowship, and a Beckman Young Investigator Award from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. Will is an avid open-water swimmer and enjoys travel and the outdoors.