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2018 SciFinder Future Leaders

CAS honors this year’s class of chemical information scholars

by Linda Wang
August 5, 2018 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 96, Issue 32

SciFinder Future Leaders at a glance

Year program started: 2010

Number of participants to date: 171

Number of countries represented to date: 35

The 2018 SciFinder Future Leaders have been announced by CAS, a division of the American Chemical Society, which publishes C&EN. This program offers Ph.D. students and postdocs from around the world the opportunity to learn about the chemical information industry and network with one another. Participants will visit CAS in Columbus, Ohio, as well as attend the fall ACS national meeting in Boston. CAS’s chemical information products include SciFinder, a chemistry research solution. Here’s a look at this year’s SciFinder Future Leaders (those presenting papers in Boston are marked with an asterisk):

Martine I. Abboud

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Credit: Courtesy of Martine I. Abboud
Martine I. Abboud

Junior research fellow at the University of Oxford

Education: B.S., biology, minor in chemistry, Lebanese American University, 2013; Ph.D., chemical biology, University of Oxford, 2016

Research: Use of ligand- and protein-observed biophysical and biochemical methods to study the hypoxic response and antimicrobial resistance

Advice for others: “Curiosity is the driving force of a scientist. The most exciting discoveries arise from mistakes; troubleshoot and think critically all the time. It might feel hard sometimes, but keep going.”

Manuel Ahumada Escandon*

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Credit: Courtesy of Manuel Ahumada Escandon
Manuel Ahumada Escandon

Postdoc at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School

Education: B.Sc., chemistry, University of Santiago, Chile, 2011; Ph.D., chemistry, University of Chile, 2016

Research: Development of safe biomaterials to treat disease

Career dreams: “Running my own lab and mentoring students, which I think is one of the most gratifying things in the sciences.”

Jennifer Apell*

Photo of Jennifer Apell.
Credit: Courtesy of Jennifer Apell
Jennifer Apell

Postdoc at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich

Education: B.S., 2008, and M.Eng., 2009, environmental engineering sciences, University of Florida; Ph.D., environmental chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2016

Research: Environmental fate of organic pollutants

Goals for program: “I am hoping to learn more about SciFinder to improve the efficiency of my own literature searches, as well as further develop my team building and leadership skills.”

Lučka Bibič

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Credit: Courtesy of Lučka Bibič
Lučka Bibič

Graduate student at the University of East Anglia

Education: M.Pharm., University of Copenhagen, 2014

Research: Applications of spider venom toxins for the treatment of chronic pain

Scientific role model: “My inspiration comes from Maryam Mirzakhani, the only woman ever to win the Fields Medal, the highest honor in mathematics. Seeing someone who goes deep into the heart of the scientific matter with so much passion is inspiring and admirable.”

Dario Cambiè

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Credit: Courtesy of Dario Cambiè
Dario Cambiè

Graduate student at Eindhoven University of Technology

Education: M.Sc., chemistry and pharmaceutical technologies, University of Milan, 2014

Research: Development of photon-efficient, luminescent-solar-concentrator-based photomicroreactors to enable green, sunlight-driven photoredox reactions

Career dreams: “Since I love research, I am still dreaming about an academic career. However, I am well aware of how difficult that can be nowadays, with an increasing number of Ph.D.s awarded and a decreasing number of tenure-track positions available. Yet despite all the complications, I wouldn’t forgive myself for not giving it my best shot!”

Gari V. Ccana-Ccapatinta

Photo of Gari V. Ccana-Ccapatinta.
Credit: Courtesy of Gari V. Ccana-Ccapatinta
Gari V. Ccana-Ccapatinta

Graduate student at the University of São Paulo

Education: B.Sc., pharmacy and biochemistry, National University of Saint Anthony the Abbot in Cuzco, 2010; M.Sc., Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, 2014

Research: Liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry-based metabolomics as a tool for chemical characterization of commercial medical plants and chemotaxonomic studies

Goals for program: “This is a unique opportunity to know the structure, organization, and people behind the world’s most outstanding chemical database, SciFinder, a tool which accompanied me along the years of M.Sc. and Ph.D. studies and of course will continue to be a fundamental part of my scientific career.”

Chong-You Chen*

Photo of Chong-You Chen.
Credit: Courtesy of Chong-You Chen
Chong-You Chen

Graduate student at National Taiwan University

Education: B.S., 2011, and M.S., 2014, chemistry, National Chiao Tung University

Research: Surface chemistry in spatially controlling molecular environment via chemical lift-off lithography to manipulate biomolecule anchoring, nanoparticle alignment, and microdroplet formation for analytical platforms

Goals for program: “It’s exciting to learn more about SciFinder and to communicate with researchers from around the world. I hope to make new friends to expand my social circle for opportunities to establish future collaborations.”

Tristan Clemons

Photo of Tristan Clemons.
Credit: Courtesy of Tristan Clemons
Tristan Clemons

Postdoc at the University of Western Australia

Education: B.S., Bunbury Catholic College, 2004; Ph.D., nanotechnology, University of Western Australia, 2014

Research: Nanobased, multifunctional drug delivery systems for the aided delivery of therapeutics in cancer, heart disease, and wound healing following burns and central nervous system injuries.

Career dreams: “I am looking forward to one day leading my own research team where I can continue to pass on knowledge but more importantly support others to see and achieve some of the amazing opportunities I have been afforded through my early career so far as a scientist.”

Alexander Cook

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Credit: Courtesy of Alexander Cook
Alexander Cook

Postdoc at the Italian Institute of Technology

Education: B.Sc., chemistry, Imperial College London, 2013; M.Sc., polymer chemistry, 2014, and Ph.D., chemistry, 2018, University of Warwick

Research: Branched polymers by RAFT (reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer) for complexation and slow release of double-stranded RNA

Goals for program: “I am particularly looking forward to meeting fellow scientists from similar international backgrounds. I am also very excited to attend the ACS national meeting in Boston to network with and hear from many top researchers about their most recent and exciting findings.”

Justine N. deGruyter*

Photo of Justine N. deGruyter.
Credit: Courtesy of Justine N. deGruyter
Justine N. deGruyter

Graduate student at Scripps Research Institute California

Education: B.S., chemistry, New Mexico State University, 2014

Research: Functionalized peptides as targets for collaborative chemistry

Scientific role model: “My graduate adviser, Phil Baran. He is not only a brilliant scientist but also a remarkable educator. Both in the laboratory and in the classroom, he strives to ensure that every student has the necessary resources and support to succeed.”

Jie Deng

Photo of Jie Deng.
Credit: Courtesy of Jie Deng
Jie Deng

Graduate student at the University of Freiburg

Education: B.S., 2014, and M.S., 2017, polymer materials, Sichuan University

Research: Fabrication of nonequilibrium, life-inspired, DNA-based active matter and time-programmed materials

Goals for program: “Taking a short break from my Ph.D. research to attend this program and the ACS national meeting can give me some interdisciplinary perspectives, which will give me more inspiration in my own research.”

Dana DiScenza*

Photo of Dana DiScenza.
Credit: Courtesy of Dana DiScenza
Dana DiScenza

Graduate student at the University of Rhode Island

Education: B.S., chemistry, Marist College, 2014; M.B.A., University of Rhode Island, 2017

Research: Fundamental noncovalent intermolecular interactions of aromatic and nonaromatic molecules using cyclodextrin-promoted energy transfer and fluorescence modulation

Career dreams: “I plan to apply my extensive research, management, planning, and scientific writing experience to a career in science policy. I plan to use this platform to spread carefully researched scientific facts to help communicate science to the general public and influence lawmakers.”

Jesús Esteban Serrano

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Credit: Courtesy of Jesús Esteban Serrano
Jesús Esteban Serrano

Postdoc at Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion

Education: B.Eng., 2009, and Ph.D., 2015, chemical engineering, Complutense University of Madrid

Research: Development of processes to convert glycerol, a by-product of biodiesel, into valuable products

Scientific role models: “Researchers who come from the most unfavorable backgrounds yet are still willing to pursue their dreams and fight to progress and stand out even at the expense of being far away from their homes.”

Madison Fletcher

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Credit: Courtesy of Madison Fletcher
Madison Fletcher

Postdoc at the University of California, Irvine

Education: B.A., chemistry, Bard College, 2012; Ph.D., organic chemistry, Temple University, 2017

Research: Development of a continuous-flow system to enhance biocatalysis

Scientific role model: “Rosalind Franklin without a doubt. She flourished in a time when she was not meant to succeed and contributed to one of the most fundamental discoveries in the history of the natural sciences.”

Gabriel dos ­Passos Gomes*

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Credit: Courtesy of Gabriel dos Passos Gomes
Gabriel dos Passos Gomes

Graduate student at Florida State University

Education: B.Sc., chemistry, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, 2013

Research: Use of stereoelectronic effects to control chemical reactivity

Advice for others: “Make sure you take care of yourself and those who are important to you, and try to find a balance during your time in a graduate program.”

Jesus Alberto ­Jaimes Arriaga

Photo of Jesus Alberto Jaimes Arriaga.
Credit: Courtesy of Jesus Alberto Jaimes Arriaga
Jesus Alberto Jaimes Arriaga

Graduate student at University of Buenos Aires

Education: B.S., 2012, and M.S., 2015, chemistry, National Autonomous University of Mexico

Research: Epistemological study of the quantum theory of atoms in molecules and its role in the definition of molecular structure

Career dreams: “I want to apply the resources that I develop in the field of foundations of chemistry to the construction of new pedagogical and didactical tools in the teaching of chemistry at any level, but in particular at undergraduate level.”

Christopher Lemon

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Credit: Courtesy of Christopher Lemon
Christopher Lemon

Postdoc at the University of California, Berkeley

Education: B.S., biochemistry and physics, Ohio Northern University, 2008; M.S., inorganic chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2013; Ph.D., Harvard University, 2016

Research: Development of red fluorescent proteins for biological sensing applications

Career dreams: “I want to develop both diagnostic and therapeutic agents to target enzymes implicated in cancer and other diseases. Additionally, I am excited to mentor the next generation of scientists that will develop the innovations of the future.”

Yuanhe Li

Photo of Yuanhe Li.
Credit: Courtesy of Yuanhe Li
Yuanhe Li

Graduate student at Peking University

Education: B.S., organic chemistry, Peking University, 2015

Research: Development of new asymmetric methodologies for total synthesis of complex natural products


Scientific role model: “Dr. Stefan Grimme. His work is open and practical. I’m grateful that his contribution to theoretical chemistry is always targeted at solving practical problems. This style of research is truly accelerating our theoretical understanding of chemical processes.”

Felicia Phei Lin Lim

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Credit: Courtesy of Felicia Phei Lin Lim
Felicia Phei Lin Lim

Graduate student at Monash University, Malaysia

Education: B.Pharm., Curtin University, 2014

Research: Development of practical methods with a focus on microwave-assisted synthesis and multicomponent reactions for the preparation of potentially bioactive 1,3,5-triazine-based purine isosteres

Goals for program: “This program provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to expand my knowledge on managing quality research information and learn from leading global organizations such as CAS on ways to maximize the value of my research.”

Victor Pui-Yan Ma

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Credit: Courtesy of Victor Pui-Yan Ma
Victor Pui-Yan Ma

Graduate student at Emory University

Education: B.S., chemistry, Hong Kong Baptist University, 2012

Research: Biophysical mechanism of T-cell activation

Advice for others: “Engage in a research project that you are truly interested in and embrace the failures. You can’t find the same freedom outside of graduate school.”

Jana L. Markley*

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Credit: Courtesy of Jana L. Markley
Jana L. Markley

Postdoc at Washington University in St. Louis

Education: B.Sc., chemistry, Oklahoma State University, 2010; Ph.D., organic chemistry, University of Kansas, 2016

Research: Synthesis and biological evaluation of small-molecule inhibitors of tetracycline-inactivating enzymes

Goals for program: “This is a unique opportunity to learn about the inner workings of CAS—including the data powerhouse that is SciFinder, which has been invaluable to both my research development and my development as a researcher—and build lasting connections with an international network of young scientists.”

Abby-Jo Payne

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Credit: Courtesy of Abby-Jo Payne
Abby-Jo Payne

Graduate student at the University of Calgary

Education: B.S., chemistry, Mount Allison University, 2014

Research: Synthesis of organic pi-conjugated materials and their use in solar-cell devices

Advice for others: “Attend conferences. Conferences like the ACS are the best spot to gain exposure to up-and-coming research in both industry and academia and is an excellent place to network to gain a better idea if graduate school may be for you and to help you narrow down what research area or even specifically who/where you may be interested in working for.”

Yunyan Qiu*

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Credit: Courtesy of Yunyan Qiu
Yunyan Qiu

Postdoc at Northwestern University

Education: B.S., pharmaceutical sciences, Peking University Health Science Center, 2011; Ph.D., chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University, 2016

Research: Molecular machines and related functional materials

Scientific role model: “Sir Fraser Stoddart. He is so enthusiastic and passionate about what he is doing, and most amazingly, he can still manage a large research group with more than 20 people and live a well-organized life while traveling around the world frequently.”

Yoshito Takahashi

Photo of Yoshito Takahashi.
Credit: Courtesy of Yoshito Takahashi
Yoshito Takahashi

Graduate student at Keio University

Education: B.S., chemistry, Keio University, 2015

Research: Development of an iridium-catalyzed reductive nucleophilic addition to amides

Goals for program: “In order to create new science, I think collaboration with a wide range of academic disciplines is necessary. The opportunity to interact with people with various fields and backgrounds is valuable, and I would like to make good friends through this program.”

Siddulu Naidu Talapaneni*

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Credit: Courtesy of Siddulu Naidu Talapaneni
Siddulu Naidu Talapaneni

Research associate at the University of Newcastle

Education: B.S., chemistry, physics, and mathematics, Sri Venkateswara University, 2005; M.S., chemistry, National Institute of Technology, Warangal, 2007; Ph.D., chemical science and engineering, National Institute for Materials Science in collaboration with Hokkaido University, 2012

Research: Design and development of multifunctional nanoporous materials

Career dreams: “I envision a role in which I can utilize my expertise to be a leader in the field and pursue high-quality research in materials chemistry for the societal betterment.”

César A. Urbina-Blanco*

Photo of César A. Urbina-Blanco.
Credit: Courtesy of César A. Urbina-Blanco
César A. Urbina-Blanco

Postdoc at Ghent University

Education: B.S., chemistry, Simón Bolívar University, 2008; Ph.D., organometallic chemistry and catalysis, University of St Andrews, 2012

Research: Development of new catalysts to transform CO2 into valuable chemicals, and elucidation of reaction mechanisms

Scientific role model: “Professor Roberto Sánchez-Delgado. He was a brilliant Venezuelan organometallic chemist who used chemistry to solve problems affecting people in our country and was also an outspoken leader involved in politics, challenging the views of those making decisions with real facts and advocating for the need of science education.”

Galina Viryasova

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Credit: Courtesy of Galina Viryasova
Galina Viryasova

Graduate student at Moscow State University

Education: B.S., chemistry, Moscow State University, 2014

Research: Human blood cells and processes that happen during differentiation and immune response

Career dreams: “I like to manage different processes and often organize many things like conferences and seminars by myself. I would be happy to have a business related to science after I finish my Ph.D.”

Julian G. West

Photo of Julian G. West.
Credit: Courtesy of Julian G. West
Julian G. West

Postdoc at California Institute of Technology

Education: B.Sc., chemistry, University of British Columbia, 2013; Ph.D., organic chemistry and catalysis, Princeton University, 2017

Research: Green methods for making fuels, pharmaceuticals, and high-performance materials

Advice for others: “Read broadly and voraciously since fortune favors the well read. Innovative research requires diversity of knowledge, backgrounds, and life experiences, so seek out new ideas and collaborators that come from outside your comfort zone.”

Anita Yadav

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Credit: Courtesy of Anita Yadav
Anita Yadav

Graduate student at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi

Education: M.Sc., chemistry, University of Delhi, 2011; M.Tech., chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, 2014

Research: Investigation of various excited-state aggregation and complexation processes within ionic liquids, deep eutectic solvents, and their judiciously selected cosolvent mixtures

Scientific role model: “I look up to the eminent scientist Dr. C. V. Raman as my role model. Raman was a very diligent person, and as a researcher, he was more than just a perfectionist. In spite of being faced with several hardships and technical difficulties, he came up with such a breakthrough in the field of optical spectroscopy, which the world knows as the Raman effect today.”

Qi Zhang

Photo of Qi Zhang.
Credit: Courtesy of Qi Zhang
Qi Zhang

Graduate student at East China University of Science & Technology

Education: B.S., fine chemicals, East China University of Science & Technology, 2015

Research: Supramolecular chemistry and smart materials

Advice for others: “Just do what you want to do and find the beauty in science. Never dream of publication in Nature or Science, just dream of good results.” ◾


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