The Willard Gibbs Award,presented by the Chicago Section of the American Chemical Society, was founded in 1910 by William A. Converse (1862-1940), a former Chairman and Secretary of the Chicago Section of the society and named for Professor Josiah Willard Gibbs (1839-1903) of Yale University. Gibbs, whose formulation of the Phase Rule founded a new science, is considered by many to be the only American-born scientist whose discoveries are as fundamental in nature as those of Newton and Galileo.
The purpose of the award is "To publicly recognize eminent chemists who, through years of application and devotion, have brought to the world developments that enable everyone to live more comfortably and to understand this world better." Medalists are selected by a national jury of eminent chemists from different disciplines. The nominee must be a chemist who, because of the preeminence of his work in and contribution to pure or applied chemistry, is deemed worthy of special recognition.