On 20 March, Professor Junji Sugiyama of the Research Institute for Sustainable Humanosphere (RISH) received the Anselme Payen Award, at a meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) held in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The annual award from ACS' Cellulose and Renewable Materials Division (CELL Division) recognizes outstanding contributions to the science and chemical technology of cellulose and other biopolymers. It has honored one individual a year since 1962.
Using electron microscopy, Professor Sugiyama obtained the world's first lattice image of a cellulose crystal, revealing the absence of folded molecules and "elementary fibrils" in the structure. In addition, he used the micro-electron diffraction method to show that native cellulose is a composite crystal, and determined its unit cell. These achievements significantly contributed to the establishment of today's cellulose structure model.
Professor Sugiyama also succeeded in visualizing cellulose-enzyme interactions, uncovering, among other things, a biosynthesis process involving the addition of monomers to the non-reducing end of each polymer chain.
Professor Sugiyama (left) at the award ceremony