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Announcing the 2023 CAS Future Leaders

CAS celebrates this year’s class of chemical information scholars

by Nina Notman, special to C&EN
July 30, 2023 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 101, Issue 25


The CAS logo
Credit: CAS

Thirty-five graduate students and postdoctoral researchers make up the CAS Future Leaders class of 2023. Participants in this program gain leadership skills and learn about the chemical information industry. The program is in its 13th year and is organized by CAS, a division of the American Chemical Society.

This year’s cohort will visit CAS headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, Aug. 7–12, and attend ACS Fall 2023 in San Francisco, Aug. 13–17.

Listed below are the affiliations and qualifications of this year’s Future Leaders as of the time of the award. These quotes were edited for length and clarity.

Justin L. Andrews
Credit: Courtesy of Justin L. Andrews
Justin L. Andrews

Justin L. Andrews: Postdoc at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Education: BS, chemistry, Gordon College, 2014; PhD, chemistry, Texas A&M University, 2020

Research: Designing, synthesizing, and studying porous materials that conduct electrons, ions, or both for applications in electrochemical energy storage

Career dreams: “Over the years, supportive advisers have invested in my development as a researcher and mentor. I have long dreamt of becoming a professor so that I can pursue the research I am passionate about while also inspiring new generations of researchers the same way that my advisers inspired me.”

Sivani Baskaran
Credit: Courtesy of Sivani Baskaran
Sivani Baskaran

Sivani Baskaran: Postdoc at the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute

Education: BSc, environmental science and chemistry, Trent University, 2015; MSc, environmental chemistry, 2018, and PhD, environmental chemistry, 2022, University of Toronto

Research: Classifying and identifying chemicals as persistent, mobile, or both, for use in chemical hazard assessments based on property and structural data

Career dreams: “To work at the science-​policy interface and therefore be able to use science to affect policy changes that improve chemical sustainability and reduce pollution.”

Isaiah Borne
Credit: Courtesy of Isaiah Borne
Isaiah Borne

Isaiah H. Borne: Postdoc at the University of Liverpool

Education: BS, chemical engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2018; PhD, chemical and biomolecular engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2023

Research: Engineering porous materials for sustainable chemical separations

Scientific role model: “My undergraduate adviser, Kristala L. Jones Prather. She is a brilliant engineer and researcher as well as an outstanding mentor and teacher. She has helped me thrive and is a big reason why I am where I am today. I hope to inspire other students the way she has inspired me.”

Andryj M. Borys
Credit: Courtesy of Andryj M. Borys
Andryj M. Borys

Andryj M. Borys: Postdoc at the University of Bern

Education: BSc, forensic chemistry, 2015, and PhD, chemistry, 2018, University of Kent

Research: Investigating the synthesis, bonding, and catalytic applications of earth-abundant heterobimetallic complexes, primarily alkali-metal nickelates

What he hopes to get from the program: “To develop the leadership and mentorship skills to become a successful researcher, educator, and role model. I also hope to establish a network of peers who strive to make a positive impact in the chemical sciences.”

Kimberly A. Carter-Fenk
Credit: Courtesy of Kimberly A. Carter-Fenk
Kimberly A. Carter-Fenk

Kimberly A. Carter-Fenk: Postdoc at Stanford University

Education: BA, chemistry, College of Wooster, 2016; PhD, chemistry, Ohio State University, 2021

Research: Characterizing structure and dynamics in sustainable solvents and electrolyte solutions using time-resolved infrared and fluorescence spectroscopies

Scientific role models: “Rachel Carson and Ayana Elizabeth Johnson. Both women have worked tenaciously to remind us how much we can all do, collectively, to protect our planet. They inspire me to be brave and use my scientific training on behalf of all life on Earth.”

Alison S. Chang
Credit: Courtesy of Alison S. Chang
Alison S. Chang

Alison S. Chang: Graduate student at the University of Oregon

Education: BS, chemistry, Rhodes College, 2018; MS, chemistry, University of Oregon, 2020

Research: Developing and elucidating the mechanisms of a heterogeneous nickel-catalyzed alkene isomerization system

Advice for others: “To challenge yourself, to ask for help when needed, to seek out opportunities, but most importantly, to have compassion for yourself and for those around you. Surround yourself with a supportive network that constantly pushes and inspires you to excel in your own STEM community.”

Ty Christoff-Tempesta
Credit: Lee Hopins
Ty Christoff-Tempesta

Ty Christoff-Tempesta: Postdoc at the University of Delaware

Education: BS, materials science and engineering, University of Florida, 2017; PhD, polymers and soft matter, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2022

Research: Exploring the chemical recycling of bioderived polymers and the valorization of lignin-derivable compounds into small-molecule and polymeric systems

Career dreams: “To interface historically distinct areas of soft-matter research toward understanding and harnessing molecular-scale dynamics, organization, and interfacial behavior. Ultimately, I hope to use these discoveries to synthesize impactful new materials for applications in sustainability.”

Eleonora Comeo
Credit: Courtesy of Eleonora Comeo
Eleonora Comeo

Eleonora Comeo: Postdoc at the University of Nottingham

Education: MSc, chemistry and pharmaceutical technology, University of Bologna, 2016; PhD, molecular pharmacology and drug discovery, University of Nottingham and Monash University, 2022

Research: Developing and exploring the application of fluorescently labeled compounds to study the biology of G-protein-coupled receptors in living cells

What she hopes to get from the program: “I can’t wait to make connections and forge lifelong ‘covalent’ bonds with scientific leaders from around the globe. I hope this program will water the seed of our shared passion for science, to let it develop into innovative, tangible solutions that bring value to society through the power of chemistry.”

Roxana Coreas
Credit: Courtesy of Roxana Coreas
Roxana Coreas

Roxana Coreas: Postdoc at the University of California, Berkeley

Education: BS, environmental health, California State University, Northridge, 2015; PhD, environmental toxicology, University of California, Riverside, 2022

Research: Leveraging biocoronas—biomolecules that spontaneously bind to the surface of nanoparticles in a biological environment—to enhance nanoparticle-mediated genetic engineering

Advice for others: “Don’t be afraid to be creative, to explore more, to have goals that scare you. You are worthy of your dreams. The hard part is finding the pathway towards your destination. Don’t let criticism hold you back. Be receptive to constructive feedback—use it to make yourself a better scientist.”

Cintya Dharmayanti
Credit: Courtesy of Cintya Dharmayanti
Cintya Dharmayanti

Cintya Dharmayanti: Graduate student at the University of South Australia

Education: Bachelor of pharmaceutical science, 2018, and bachelor of biomedical research, University of South Australia, 2019

Research: Developing pH-responsive polymeric nanoparticles for targeted cancer drug delivery

Advice for others: “Say yes: don’t be afraid to chase opportunities, even if they’re outside of your comfort zone! As a creature of habit myself, it can definitely feel easier to stick to what you know, but my biggest phases of personal (and professional) growth have occurred when I’ve tried something completely different.”

Katharina Ehrmann
Credit: Courtesy of Katharina Ehrmann
Katharina Ehrmann

Katharina Ehrmann: Postdoc at the Vienna University of Technology

Education: BS, chemistry, University of Innsbruck, 2014; MS, chemistry, University of Innsbruck and University of Edinburgh, 2016; PhD, chemistry, Vienna University of Technology, 2020

Research: Broadening the processing window of and rethinking the chemistry behind light-based additive manufacturing of polymers

Advice for others: “Always approach people as well as research with curiosity. If you wonder even about the most trivial things, you will often find a world of wonders hidden behind them. This requires you to look closely, to listen carefully, to never be afraid to not know, and to ask questions.”

Ana C. Garcia Alvarez
Credit: Courtesy of Ana C. Garcia Alvarez
Ana C. Garcia Alvarez

Ana C. Garcia Alvarez: Postdoc at the University of California, Irvine

Education: BS, chemistry, Autonomous University of Mexico State, 2014; MSc, chemistry, 2017, and PhD, chemistry, 2022, National Autonomous University of Mexico

Research: Synthesizing catalysts for the electroreduction of carbon dioxide

Advice for others: “Focus on your goals. Find a supportive community where you can develop your skills in a healthy environment. Be confident in yourself. Enjoy the journey and be grateful for the learning you will do along the way.”

Diego Gomez-Maldonado
Credit: Courtesy of Diego Gomez-Maldonado
Diego Gomez-Maldonado

Diego Gomez-Maldonado: Postdoc at Northeastern University

Education: BS, biological engineering, 2015, and MSE, engineering and design of materials and molecules, 2017, Metropolitan Autonomous University; PhD, forestry, Auburn University, 2021

Research: Studying the surface chemistry of bionanomaterials and their interactions with other polymers, biomolecules, and cellular response

What he hopes to get from the program: “To get new tools that will allow me to be a better mentor, researcher, and person in academia. I also hope to expand my network, which will help me develop new ideas to help improve sustainability and society.”

Mallory L. Green
Credit: Courtesy of Mallory L. Green
Mallory L. Green

Mallory L. Green: Postdoc at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society

Education: BS, chemistry, Georgia Southern University, 2014; PhD, chemistry, Emory University, 2020

Research: Using photoelectron spectroscopy to develop more-sensitive tools for gas-phase chiral discrimination

Advice for others: “Only gas-phase spectroscopy takes place in a vacuum: our successes do not easily manifest in isolation and can be attributed to the support we surround ourselves with.”

Bryan D. James
Credit: Courtesy of Bryan D. James
Bryan D. James

Bryan D. James: Postdoc at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Education: BASc, materials engineering, University of Toronto, 2017; PhD, materials science and engineering, University of Florida, 2021

Research: Investigating the fate, persistence, and toxicity of plastics in the environment to inform the rational design of benign materials

Scientific role models: “My past and present advisers: Chris Reddy, Mark Hahn, Collin Ward, Josephine Allen, Eli Sone, and Steve Thorpe. They have all demonstrated what an inquisitive, impactful, and thoughtful scientist looks like time and again—qualities that I will strive to emulate in my future research group.”

Fiona Kearns
Credit: Courtesy of Fiona Kearns
Fiona Kearns

Fiona L. Kearns: Postdoc at the University of California San Diego

Education: BS, chemistry, 2015, and PhD, chemistry, 2020, University of South Florida

Research: Molecular modeling of macromolecules, particularly in investigation of SARS-CoV-2 interactions with the human host cell glycocalyx

What she hopes to get from the program: “To learn tools of leadership and management so that I can grow as a mentor. I also hope to learn from my cohort and the past CAS Future Leaders’ program members about new ways to nurture a lab environment with equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility, and empathy.”

Credit: Courtesy of Kenry

Kenry: Postdoc at Harvard University

Education: BEng, electrical and electronic engineering, Nanyang Technological University, 2011; PhD, biomedical engineering, National University of Singapore, 2017

Research: Designing and engineering bioinspired and biomimetic nanomaterials for targeted cancer detection and treatment

Career dreams: “To leverage my scientific and engineering expertise to build different platform tools and technologies that can be used to address various unmet needs in cancer diagnosis and therapy and therefore to improve patient outcomes.”

Croix J. Laconsay
Credit: Courtesy of Croix J. Laconsay
Croix J. Laconsay

Croix J. Laconsay: Postdoc at the University of Houston

Education: BS, chemistry, Marist College, 2016; PhD, chemistry, University of California, Davis, 2022

Research: Developing useful theoretical models and applying physical organic concepts like aromaticity and antiaromaticity to understand reaction mechanisms in organic photochemistry

Scientific role models: “Besides my PhD and postdoctoral mentors, Dean Tantillo and Judy Wu, who should be a given, I would say Nobel laureate Roald Hoffmann. More than any other chemist, he has shown me that beauty and play are undervalued scientific virtues that should be cultivated and nursed by our fundamental, human curiosity.”

Krystyna Maslowska-Jarzyna
Credit: Courtesy of Krystyna Maslowska-Jarzyna
Krystyna Maslowska-Jarzyna

Krystyna Maslowska-​Jarzyna: Graduate student at the University of Warsaw

Education: BSc, chemistry, 2016, and MSc, chemistry, 2018, University of Warsaw

Research: Studying the transport of biologically relevant anions through the lipid bilayer by synthetic transporters

Scientific role model: “I never had a textbook role model. Instead, I am constantly inspired by the successes of people I know personally, both respected professors and lab colleagues. Nothing motivates me more than knowing that hard work is followed by measurable results.”

Kacey G. Ortiz
Credit: Courtesy of Kacey G. Ortiz
Kacey G. Ortiz

Kacey G. Ortiz: Graduate student at Auburn University

Education: BS, chemistry, Texas A&M University, 2016

Research: Developing asymmetric transition-metal-catalyzed methodologies for heteroarene salt dearomatization and natural product synthesis

Advice for others: “Always admit when you’re wrong, you’ve made a mistake, or don’t know something! Be willing to learn from others in those instances and use those mistakes and gaps in knowledge as learning opportunities. Everyone, regardless of their rank, title, degree, field, and experience will know something you don’t.”

Melissa Ramirez
Credit: Courtesy of Melissa Ramirez
Melissa Ramirez

Melissa Ramirez: Postdoc at the California Institute of Technology

Education: BA, chemistry, 2016, University of Pennsylvania; PhD, organic chemistry, 2021, University of California, Los Angeles

Research: Combining experiments and computations for the development of new catalytic, enantioselective reactions

Advice for others: “Follow your interests and be persistent. Recognize that concepts and skills can be learned and that everyone learns at a different pace. Give yourself the opportunity to want more for yourself; do not wait for someone to give you permission to aim higher. You have the right to strive for better.”

Bec J. Roldan
Credit: Courtesy of Bec J. Roldan
Bec J. Roldan

Bec J. Roldan: Graduate student at the University of Michigan

Education: BS, chemistry, Rhodes College, 2019

Research: Leveraging the power of radical chemistry to develop new synthetic routes toward resveratrol natural products

Scientific role model: “Carolyn Bertozzi. She has shown me how to continue to lift others up on your rise to greatness and that you can be a successful scientist without compromising yourself or your identities.”

Monika A. Roy
Credit: Courtesy of Monika A. Roy
Monika A. Roy

Monika A. Roy: Postdoc at the University of Massachusetts Lowell

Education: BS, conservation and resource studies, environmental economics and policy, University of California, Berkeley, 2009; MSPH, environmental health sciences, Tulane University, 2015; PhD, environmental health sciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Research: Researching and facilitating the use of safer and more sustainable chemistries in different sectors to protect public health

Career dreams: “To shape current and future policies related to chemicals use and management to be better protective of human health and the environment.”

Karla R. Sanchez Lievanos
Credit: Courtesy of Karla R. Sanchez Lievanos
Karla R. Sanchez Lievanos

Karla R. Sanchez Lievanos: Graduate student at the University of Rochester

Education: BS, molecular design and nanochemistry, Autonomous University of the State of Morelos, 2018; MS, chemistry, University of Rochester, 2020

Research: Investigating smart photoactive metal-organic nanocages for removal of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances from water

Advice for others: “Explore your research interests, find what sets your soul on fire, follow your passion, search for good mentors, be kind to yourself, celebrate your milestones no matter how small or big they are and question why things are the way they are to make the change you want to see.”

Sayoni Sarkar
Credit: Courtesy of Sayoni Sarkar
Sayoni Sarkar

Sayoni Sarkar: Graduate student at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay

Education: BTech, metallurgical and materials engineering, National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli, 2019

Research: Designing and developing novel engineered nanostructures for cost-effective cancer theranostics and their lab-to-clinic translation through continuous-flow synthesis platforms

Career dreams: “I strive for a cancer-​free world by enabling easy access to low-cost, lab-designed nanoformulations for use as cancer therapeutics in all patients, especially those who cannot afford costly treatments. I also dream of supporting bright young minds from communities currently underrepresented in science to help them realize their true potential.”

Susmita Sarkar
Credit: Courtesy of Susmita Sarkar
Susmita Sarkar

Susmita Sarkar: Graduate student at Purdue University

Education: BS, electronics and communication engineering, National Institute of Technology, Agartala, 2015; MS, mechanical engineering, Missouri University of Science and Technology, 2018

Research: Blending fundamental science with innovative and state-of-the-art technologies to create high-performance and cost-effective next-generation batteries

Career dreams: “To be an engineer working to solve energy storage problems that cater to the needs of millions of people across the globe and, at the same time, becoming an advocate for education and research, especially for the underrepresented groups.”

Monika R. Snowdon
Credit: Courtesy of Monika R. Snowdon
Monika R. Snowdon

Monika R. Snowdon: Postdoc at the University of Waterloo

Education: BS, nanoscience, 2014, and MS, chemistry, 2016, University of Guelph; PhD, chemistry and nanotechnology, University of Waterloo, 2020

Research: Using small molecules to align carbon nanotubes for field-effect transistors

Scientific role model: “Cathleen Crudden at Queen’s University. She is a pioneer in N-heterocyclic carbenes and an expert in catalysis. She demonstrates intellectual rigor, dedication, and a commitment to pursuing scientific excellence. She is also generous, enthusiastic, and her drive encourages inclusivity and creativity in research.”

Amy E. Solinski
Credit: Courtesy of Amy E. Solinski
Amy E. Solinski

Amy E. Solinski: Postdoc at Pennsylvania State University

Education: BS, chemistry, College of New Jersey, 2015; PhD, chemistry, Emory University, 2020

Research: Finding ways to use radical S-adenosyl methionine enzymes to tackle antibiotic resistance

Career dreams: “To cultivate an inclusive, supportive, and innovative environment for researchers to perform novel science at the chemistry and biology interface. Healthy research environments have been lacking and by working toward this goal, I will contribute to a greater cultural shift in science.”

Zoha Syed
Credit: Courtesy of Zoha Syed
Zoha Syed

Zoha H. Syed: Graduate student at Northwestern University

Education: BS, chemistry, BA, biochemistry, University of Washington, 2017

Research: Using nanoscale species as well-defined catalysts for facilitating a wide array of socially relevant chemical transformations

Advice for others: “Stay creative and think outside the box—the highest-​impact work often has the least precedent. Define a brand of science, mentorship, and communication—and don’t be afraid to stick to it. Lastly, always prioritize your health and well-being—it’s OK to not be OK and remember you’re human, not a machine.”

Azalea Uva
Credit: Courtesy of Azalea Uva
Azalea Uva

Azalea Uva: Graduate student at the University of Toronto

Education: BS, biochemistry, Concordia University, 2020

Research: Synthesizing degradable, π-conjugated polymers from carotenoids for use in sustainable electronics

Advice for others: “It’s OK to be uncomfortable. Whether it be giving an oral presentation, networking with new people, or applying to this program, it’s important to embrace new opportunities, even if they seem daunting. It is helping me tremendously as I get more comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

Cel Welch
Credit: Courtesy of Cel Welch
Cel Welch

Cel Welch: Graduate student at Brown University

Education: BSc, multidisciplinary sciences, McGill University, 2019; MSc, biomedical engineering, Brown University, 2022

Research: Engineering devices at the fluid-electronic interface and exploring the intersection of microfluidics, bioelectronics, and biosensors in processing and analysis applications

Career dreams: “To become a tenure-track engineering professor at a top research university in the next few years. In my lab, I will explore the creation of novel fluidic-electronic devices and investigate their use in real-world applications.”

Stone Woo
Credit: Courtesy of Stone Woo
Stone Woo

Stone Woo: Graduate student at Scripps Research in California

Education: BSc, chemistry, University of Sydney, 2019

Research: Developing synthetic routes to molecules related to the alkaloids found in psychoactive rainforest tree bark

What he hopes to get from the program: “To meet fellow scientists from across the global chemistry community and build professional networks and friendships that will last a lifetime.”

Xiaohui Xu
Credit: Courtesy of Xiaohui Xu
Xiaohui Xu

Xiaohui Xu: Postdoc at Princeton University

Education: BS, chemistry, Zhengzhou University of Light Industry, 2013; MS, applied chemistry, Chang’an University, 2019; PhD, environmental engineering, Chang’an University and Helmholtz Centre for Materials and Energy, 2019

Research: Synthesizing functional soft materials and exploring their applications in water purification and smart sensors

Scientific role model: “Jian Ping Gong at Hokkaido University. Her groundbreaking research in the field of hydrogels has greatly inspired me.”

Hirogi Yokochi
Credit: Courtesy of Hirogi Yokochi
Hirogi Yokochi

Hirogi Yokochi: Graduate student at Tokyo Institute of Technology

Education: BS, engineering, 2019, and MS, engineering, 2021, Tokyo Institute of Technology

Research: Using dynamic covalent chemistry to synthesis end-functionalized polymers and cyclic polymers, and elucidating the toughening mechanism of rotaxane cross-linked polymers

Career dreams: “To contribute to the growth and prosperity of the Japanese scientific community; to establish a YouTube channel with 1 million subscribers and leverage its potential to inspire and educate; and to take on leadership roles that have a profound impact on society, including potentially becoming prime minister.”

Jianyu Zhang
Credit: Courtesy of Jianyu Zhang
Jianyu Zhang

Jianyu Zhang: Postdoc at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Education: BS, chemistry, Sun Yat-sen University, 2019; PhD, chemistry, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, 2022

Research: Studying photophysical properties, excited-state behaviors, and working mechanisms of through-space interactions and aggregation-induced emission systems

Scientific role model: “Ben Zhong Tang, my PhD supervisor. I am impressed by his thinking, exploration, and persistence in scientific problems. The time when he discussed experimental results with me face-to-face for several consecutive days and his unlimited support has benefited me a lot.”

Nina Notman is a freelance writer based in Salisbury, England.


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