Mention the name Ken Caulton to inorganic chemists anywhere in the world, and they brighten. A versatile and prolific researcher, Caulton is widely admired for his timely and significant research projects, his insightful perspectives and his spirit of collaboration, and his reputation as a scholar who is pushing back the frontiers of his discipline.
Since his appointment to the Bloomington faculty in 1969, Caulton has been the author or co-author of approximately 200 publications, all of which have appeared in chemical journals of the highest standard. Of these 200 works, all but six relate to work that he completed at Indiana University. Caulton is known for the diversity of his publications as well their number. He has worked in several areas of chemistry over the past 20 years, and become a world authority in at least four: the chemistry of paramagnetic organometallic complexes; the chemistry of metal polyhydride complexes and the dihydrogen ligand; the catalytic activation of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide; and metal alkoxide chemistry and molecular routes to metal oxides, including high temperature superconducting metal oxides. His work is extremely well funded, often resulting in concurrent grants from the National Science Foundation (2 grants), the Department of Energy, the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund, and the Midwest Superconductivity Consortium.
Caulton's wide-ranging interests have led him to collaborations and interactions with the most prominent inorganic chemists in the world. His work has also attracted many scholars to Indiana University for sabbatical leaves or for residence within the Institute for Advanced Study.
His teaching is approached with just as much enthusiasm as his research. He integrates literature examples into his superb and animated lectures and challenges students to read the literature with a critical eye. He stresses the importance of remembering who did the work, where, and when.
Caulton received the IU Bicentennial Medal in September 2020 in recognition of his distinguished contributions to Indiana University.