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2022 ACS National Award winners—Part IV

Recipients are honored for contributions of major significance to chemistry

by Nina Notman, special to C&EN
January 23, 2022 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 100, Issue 3


James Bryant Conant Award in High School Chemistry Teaching: Alice Putti

This is a photo of Alice Putti
Credit: Courtesy of Alice Putti
Alice Putti

Sponsor: Journal of Chemical Education and ChemEd X

Citation: For tireless commitment to her students and improving high school chemistry education across the country

Current position: Chemistry teacher, Jenison High School

Education: BS, chemistry and secondary education, University of Michigan; MEd, secondary education and target inquiry program certification, Grand Valley State University

Putti on the most rewarding part of her job: “Many students enter my classroom saying ‘I hate science.’ Often this attitude comes from associating learning science with memorizing facts. From the start, I try to engage my students and change this attitude through group work, small group discussions, and laboratory experiments. I’m proud when students who normally struggle in science gain confidence and are successful in my class. I love it when students tell me ‘chemistry is the first science class I have ever liked and understood.’ ”

What Putti’s colleagues say: “Alice is a master teacher yet is constantly looking for ways to improve. She approaches her teaching as a scholar, relying on research and data from her classes to inform her teaching, continually working to improve herself and other teachers through her attendance at regional and national meetings, workshops, and publishing her work.”—Deborah Herrington, Grand Valley State University

Elias J. Corey Award for Outstanding Original Contribution in Organic Synthesis by a Young Investigator: Abigail G. Doyle

This is a photo of Abigail G. Doyle
Credit: Courtesy of Abigail G. Doyle
Abigail G. Doyle

Sponsor: Pfizer Endowment Fund

Citation: For her contributions, both practical and fundamental, to the development of synthetic methods, including Ni-catalyzed cross coupling and catalytic nucleophilic (radio)fluorination

Current position: Saul Winstein Chair in Organic Chemistry, University of California, Los Angeles

Education: AB and AM, chemistry and chemical biology, and PhD, organic chemistry, Harvard University

What Doyle’s colleagues say: “Abby has established a program aimed at the development of conceptually novel transformations that are of high practical value. She has achieved this through a hypothesis-driven mechanistic approach that is one of the hallmarks of her work. In addition to her scientific accomplishments, she is an outstanding lecturer. She delivers intelligent, insightful lectures that highlight her creativity, insight, and vision for her program.”—F. Dean Toste, University of California, Berkeley

F. Albert Cotton Award in Synthetic Inorganic Chemistry: Douglas Stephan

This is a photo of Douglas Stephan
Credit: Courtesy of Douglas Stephan
Douglas Stephan

Sponsor: F. Albert Cotton Endowment Fund

Citation: For the discovery of frustrated Lewis pairs that unveiled main-group catalysts for hydrogenations, C-C bond formation, and C-F derivatization, new paradigms that are applied across the discipline

Current position: Professor of chemistry, University of Toronto

Education: BSc, chemistry, McMaster University; PhD, chemistry, University of Western Ontario

Stephan on the most rewarding part of his job: “Seeing students grow. They begin graduate school as students fluent in the language of chemistry with little practical experience, typically requiring a great deal of direction and input from me. Over the subsequent 4–5 years of their PhD program, they grow into colleagues who have insightful and creative ideas about the best directions to take the chemistry.”

What Stephan’s colleagues say: “Doug is best known for his discovery of frustrated Lewis pairs. These systems revealed unprecedented metal-free strategies for the production of desirable chemicals, the remediation of greenhouse gases, energy efficiency, and strategies for chemical production with reduced environmental impact, and have changed the way chemists around the world think about catalysis and catalyst design.”—Robert A. Batey, University of Toronto

Peter Debye Award in Physical Chemistry: William A. Eaton

This is a photo of William A. Eaton
Credit: Courtesy of William A. Eaton
William A. Eaton

Sponsor: DuPont

Citation: For his numerous creative and insightful contributions to the physical chemistry of proteins

Current position: NIH distinguished investigator and chief of the Laboratory of Chemical Physics, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health

Education: BA, chemistry, University of Pennsylvania; Graduate study in biophysics, Free University Berlin; MD and PhD, molecular biology, University of Pennsylvania

Eaton on his proudest career moment: “Discovering that there is a delay following deoxygenation of abnormal hemoglobin S before fibers form that distort (sickle) and stiffen red cells. This delay makes sickle cell disease survivable by allowing most cells to escape the narrow tissue capillaries without sickling and blocking the circulation, while the concentration dependence of the delay indicates a small dilution of the blood will be therapeutic. Dilution is the mechanism of action of hydroxyurea, the only successful antisickling drug.”

What Eaton’s colleagues say: “Bill is a world leader in biophysics whose experimental and theoretical contributions to protein physical chemistry and physics have had enormous impact. My own work has been greatly influenced by his papers.”—Harry B. Gray, California Institute of Technology

Frank H. Field and Joe L. Franklin Award for Outstanding Achievement in Mass Spectrometry: Carlito B. Lebrilla

This is a photo of Carlito B. Lebrilla
Credit: Courtesy of Carlito B. Lebrilla
Carlito B. Lebrilla

Sponsor: Waters Corporation


Citation: For contributions to the development of glycomic and glycoproteomic methods in analytical chemistry

Current position: Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Molecular Medicine, University of California, Davis

Education: BS, chemistry, University of California, Irvine; PhD, chemistry, University of California, Berkeley

Lebrilla on the most rewarding part of his job: “When a study in fundamental science gets translated and becomes a company or products that help people. Our study on human milk was one of those moments. We founded a company that sells the bacteria that is fed human milk oligosaccharides. This product called Evivo is now being used in neonatal intensive care units, and it is diminishing necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm infants. Our work in cancer biomarkers also led to a company that now employs hundreds of people and is commercializing a diagnostic test for ovarian cancer.”

This is a photo of Anne B. McCoy
Credit: Courtesy of Anne B. McCoy
Anne B. McCoy

Francis P. Garvan–John M. Olin Medal: Anne B. McCoy

Sponsor: Francis P. Garvan–John M. Olin Medal Endowment

Citation: For outstanding theoretical contributions to molecular spectroscopy and exemplary service to the ACS Division of Physical Chemistry and the chemical community

Current position: Natt-Lingafelter Professor of Chemistry, University of Washington

Education: BS, chemistry, Haverford College; PhD, chemistry, University of Wisconsin–Madison

McCoy on her most memorable project: “Our spectroscopic studies of the binary complex of hydroxide on water. We found that the hydrogen bonding proton has a vibrational frequency less than 20% of the OH stretch frequency in water. At the time, such low frequencies for OH bonds were unprecedented. We shared our prediction with Mark Johnson’s group, and this was the start of fruitful collaboration through which our groups have continued to use spectroscopy to explore the nature of hydrogen bonding.”

What McCoy’s colleagues say: “Anne is a stellar candidate for this award because of her outstanding scientific achievements, her enormous service to the scientific community, and her dedicated role as a mentor of young women scientists.”—Marsha I. Lester, University of Pennsylvania

This is a photo of Jennifer L. Maclachlan
Credit: Courtesy of Jennifer L. Maclachlan
Jennifer L. Maclachlan

James T. Grady–James H. Stack Award for Interpreting Chemistry for the Public: Jennifer L. Maclachlan

Sponsor: American Chemical Society

Citation: For her passion and enthusiasm in communicating chemistry to practitioners and the public through social media and science cafes

Current position: Managing director, PID Analyzers

Education: BA, English language and literature letters, Boston College

Maclachlan on the joy of science cafes: “I continuously engage world-class scientific expert speakers and STEM education stakeholders to participate in both my adults-only and family-friendly science cafes, providing a wide-range of informal science education to the denizens of Cape Cod and southeastern Massachusetts. The sheer joy that the activity providers at my science cafe events experience is mirrored by the palpable bliss of curiosity that the attendees have when performing these hands-on STEM experiments.”

What Maclachlan’s colleagues say: “Jennifer has a passion for chemistry and a passion for outreach to the public. Her personality and enthusiasm are infectious. She is my personal go-to expert on all social media topics, and I am not alone.”—William F. Carroll Jr., Indiana University Bloomington

This is a photo of Justin J. Wilson
Credit: Courtesy of Justin J. Wilson
Justin J. Wilson

Harry Gray Award for Creative Work in Inorganic Chemistry by a Young Investigator: Justin J. Wilson

Sponsor: Gray Award Endowment

Citation: For his interdisciplinary and broad-reaching research in the field of bioinorganic medicinal chemistry

Current position: Associate professor of chemistry and chemical biology, Cornell University

Education: BS, chemistry, University of California, Berkeley; PhD, inorganic chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Wilson on what he hopes to accomplish in the next decade: “Over the last 6 years, I have had a great time building up my research program in the field of medicinal inorganic chemistry, and we have laid the groundwork for a number of interesting compounds that can be applied within different biomedical applications. During the next phase of my career, I am excited at developing these compounds further with the hope that they can someday be used in human patients for the treatment and diagnosis of disease.”

What Wilson’s colleagues say: “A remarkable aspect about Justin’s research program is the diversity of his three research projects. Although they are all thematically connected by the concept of metals in medicine, they all address different, critically important problems in the field and require different experimental techniques and methodologies.”—Jonathan Sessler, University of Texas at Austin

This is a photo of Sarah E. O’Connor
Credit: Courtesy of Sarah E. O’Connor
Sarah E. O’Connor

Ernest Guenther Award in the Chemistry of Natural Products: Sarah E. O’Connor

Sponsor: Givaudan

Citation: For pioneering the burgeoning field of plant natural product biosynthesis and synthetic biology

Current position: Director, Department of Natural Product Biosynthesis, Max Planck Institute of Chemical Ecology

Education: BS, chemistry, University of Chicago; PhD, organic chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

O’Connor on what she hopes to accomplish in the next decade: “To make the chemistry of plants completely and totally accessible. I want to be able to identify a biologically active plant natural product, identify all of the genetic components responsible for making it, and develop a robust method to produce large quantities of it in a very short time. When I think of how far the field has come since I first started working with plants in the mid-2000s, I know that this is possible.”

What O’Connor’s colleagues say: “Sarah is considered an international leader in the field of medicinal plant natural product biosynthesis. She is an innovator and trendsetter who has made an indelible mark on this blossoming field.”—Bradley Moore, University of California, San Diego

This is a photo of Pamela G. Marrone
Credit: Courtesy of Pamela G. Marrone
Pamela G. Marrone

Kathryn C. Hach Award for Entrepreneurial Success: Pamela G. Marrone

Sponsor: Kathryn C. Hach Award Fund

Citation: For leading the way for the transformation of the biopesticide industry with innovative natural products for pest management and plant health

Current position: CEO and founder, Chestnut Bio Advisors, and founder and director, Marrone Bio Innovations

Education: BS, entomology, Cornell University; PhD, entomology, North Carolina State University

Marrone on what inspired her to become a scientist: “I grew up in rural Connecticut surrounded by forest, ponds, lakes, and swamps. My mother bought me books on pond entomology and other nature books and subscribed to Audubon magazine. She helped me write a letter to the USDA asking about careers in entomology, and they sent a grainy black and white brochure about integrated pest management. I said, ‘that is what I am going to do.’ ”

What Marrone’s colleagues say: “Pam has started three successful agricultural natural product companies that have commercialized 10 award-winning biopesticide products to support agriculture worldwide. She has been resolute in knocking down barriers to bring these innovative, science-based and environmentally responsible natural product solutions to market.”—Qing X. Li, University of Hawaii at Manoa


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