The California Institute of Technology’s latest Nobel Prize winner has spent his career “doing science” and waiting to see what happens. What happened Wednesday was Robert H. Grubbs learned he is sharing this year’s Nobel for chemistry with University of California, Riverside, alumnus Richard R. Schrock and Yves Chauvin of France for discoveries that resulted in the more efficient production of drugs and advanced plastics with less hazardous waste. The award comes with $1.3 million in prize money. “It’s one of these things you never expect to happen in your career,” Grubbs, 63, told The Associated Press by phone from New Zealand, where he is on a monthlong lecture tour. “You just keep doing science and see what happens.” He becomes the 31st Caltech faculty member to be honored with the Nobel Prize, according to the institute’s Web site. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 The award, announced Wednesday, will be presented Dec. 10 in Stockholm, Sweden. Grubbs said he was stunned but happy when he received the news after returning to his apartment in Christchurch, New Zealand, after a hectic, four-day series of lectures. The three scientists were honored for their development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis – a way to swap groups of atoms between molecules that the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences likened to a dance in which couples change partners. The process is used daily in the chemical, biotechnology and food industries to make stronger plastics, better drugs and improved food preservatives. “Science, especially chemistry, takes a long time to work its way through,” Grubbs said. “(The process is) something we’ve been working on for 30, 35 years.” A native of Kentucky, Grubbs earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Florida. He received his doctorate from Columbia University and served as a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University in 1968-69. Grubbs taught at Michigan State University in 1969, and in 1978 came to Caltech, where he is the Victor and Elizabeth Atkins professor of chemistry. Grubbs’ oldest child, Barney Grubbs, described his father as a “nice, low-key man” whose hobbies include hiking, cooking and playing the dulcimer and jaw harp, a musical instrument that’s held in the mouth. “We’re proud of him,” said the younger Grubbs, 33, a chemistry professor at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. “He set a good example as a scientist and as a human being, so it’s nice to see.” His other children are Brendan, 31, a doctor, and Katy, 28. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!