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2023 ACS National Award winners—Part II

by Nina Notman, special to C&EN
December 30, 2022 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 101, Issue 1


Maria A. Gomez.
Credit: Courtesy of Maria A. Gomez
Maria A. Gomez

ACS Award for Research at an Undergraduate Institution: Maria A. Gomez

Sponsor: Research Corporation for Science Advancement

Citation: For elucidation of how defects affect ion conduction through novel network and probabilistic algorithms together with a team of undergraduate researchers, while also facilitating those students’ scientific pathways

Current position: Elizabeth Page Greenwalt Professor of Chemistry, Mount Holyoke College

Education: BA, chemistry, physics, and applied mathematics, Rhode Island College; PhD, chemical physics, Brown University

Gomez on the most rewarding part of her job: “Collaborating with an amazing group of undergraduates from a variety of backgrounds toward a common research goal. Undergraduates are not constrained by thoughts that a goal might not be achievable and bring not only energy and enthusiasm to their work but also out-of-the-box thinking and new, exciting questions. Today, I’m pleased to see many former students working as leaders in their own fields.”

What Gomez’s colleagues say: “Working with Maria was transformative. She arranged an eye-opening summer internship at Los Alamos National Laboratory, which changed my life, as I had no prior knowledge of the national lab system. Her impact on her students’ lives is evident, as 54 of her students have gone on to graduate school.” —Valentino R. Cooper, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

ACS Award for Team Innovation: Sean O. Bowser, Adam R. Brown, Nga M. Do, Shane Eisenbeis, Aran K. Hubbell, Ruizhi “Richard” Li, Matthew L. Marchewka, Ryan S. O’Neill, Giselle P. Reyes, Frank Riley, Philipp Roosen, John F. Sagal, Omar A. Salman, Karen Sutherland, Qi “Tony” Yan, and Ming Zeng

Sponsor: ACS Corporation Associates

Citation: For the accelerated development and manufacture of two novel lipids as innovative functional excipients enabling over a billion doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

What the team’s colleagues say: “This team designed a process that could rapidly be industrialized to manufacture two key components of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (Comirnaty). This work was crucial to delivering the first US Food and Drug Administration–approved COVID-19 vaccine and played an important role in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.”—Mark C. Noe, Pfizer


Sean O. Bowser.
Credit: Courtesy of Sean O. Bowser
Sean O. Bowser

Sean O. Bowser

Current position: Senior principal scientist, Pfizer

Education: BS and MS, chemistry, University of Missouri–Kansas City

Bowser on the most rewarding part of his job: “Successfully tackling a difficult problem with a simple and elegant solution.”

Adam R. Brown.
Credit: Courtesy of Adam R. Brown
Adam R. Brown

Adam R. Brown

Current position: Senior principal scientist, Pfizer

Education: BA, chemistry and biochemistry, University of Pennsylvania; PhD, organic chemistry, Harvard University

Brown on who inspired him to become a scientist: “My Dad. He was educated as a chemist and, although he didn’t apply his training as directly as I have, he provided an excellent example of how to approach technical problems with scientific rigor. The challenges he was able to solve using this approach instilled in me the value of scientific training.”

Nga M. Do.
Credit: Courtesy of Nga M. Do
Nga M. Do

Nga M. Do

Current position: Principal scientist, Pfizer

Education: BS, chemistry, Purdue University; MS, organic chemistry, University of California, Irvine

Do on her most memorable project: “Both the COVID-19 projects (vaccine and oral therapy) have been the most memorable projects. Everyone pulling together to be able to deliver both programs was unprecedented and remarkable.”

Shane Eisenbeis.
Credit: Courtesy of Shane Eisenbeis
Shane Eisenbeis


Shane Eisenbeis

Current position: Director, Pfizer

Education: BS, chemistry, Eastern Illinois University; PhD, organic chemistry, University of Texas at Austin

Eisenbeis on his proudest career moment: “My proudest moment is to have been a member of the team that worked on the COVID-19 vaccine program. This was an unfortunate opportunity to showcase how chemistry (and other scientific disciplines) can positively impact a global challenge.”


Aran K. Hubbell.
Credit: Courtesy of Aran K. Hubbell
Aran K. Hubbell

Aran K. Hubbell

Current position: Senior scientist, Pfizer

Education: BS, chemistry, Boston College; MS and PhD, chemistry, Cornell University

Hubbell on what she hopes to accomplish in the next decade: “I hope to help bring a number of new drugs to market and continue learning to be a better scientist.”

Ruizhi "Richard" Li.
Credit: Courtesy of Ruizhi Li
Ruizhi "Richard" Li

Ruizhi “Richard” Li

Current position: Senior manager, Bristol Myers Squibb

Education: BS, chemical engineering, Columbia University; MS and PhD, chemical and biomolecular engineering, University of Pennsylvania

Li on winning this award: “This award is dedicated to my late mother, for without her love, guidance, and unwavering belief in me this would have never been possible. To the mom who sacrificed much to raise me into a young and responsible scientist that was able to make an impact in this world.”

Matthew L. Marchewka

Current position: Senior principal scientist, Pfizer

Education: BS, chemistry, Western Michigan University

Marchewka on an inspiring mentor: “As a young scientist I wasn’t entirely sure what direction I was heading. I started my professional career working at a small contract research organization, where Jim Vrbanac took me under his wing. I credit him for introducing me to, and mentoring me on, numerous analytical techniques and providing me with a good balance of theoretical and practical understanding.”

This is a photo of Ryan S. O'Neill.
Credit: Courtesy of Ryan S. O'Neill
Ryan S. O'Neill

Ryan S. O’Neill

Giselle P. Reyes.
Credit: Courtesy of Giselle P. Reyes
Giselle P. Reyes

Current position: Manager, manufacturing support, Pfizer

Education: BS and MS, chemistry, Michigan Technological University

O’Neill’s message for his younger self: “Success is purchased with iterative and frequent failure. Before you give up, try the ideas that should not work.”

Giselle P. Reyes

Current position: Scientist, Pfizer

Education: BA and MA, chemistry, Wesleyan University

Reyes on her scientific hero: “My scientific hero is my principal investigator from Wesleyan, Albert J. Fry. I discovered my passion for research and desire to pursue a career in industry while working in his lab. He inspired me to face challenges life throws at me with humor, grit, and grace. He was my biggest advocate in the beginning of my career, and I would not be the scientist or person that I am today without him.”

Frank Riley.
Credit: Courtesy of Frank Riley
Frank Riley

Frank Riley

Current position: Associate research fellow, Pfizer

Philipp Roosen.
Credit: Courtesy of Philipp Roosen
Philipp Roosen

Education: BS, organic chemistry, University of Michigan; MS, engineering, University of New Haven

Riley on his proudest career moment: “Delivery of the first few grams of purified lipid for the COVID-19 vaccine and knowing the journey had just begun.”


Philipp Roosen

Current position: Principal scientist, Pfizer

Education: BA, biology, Albion College; MS, chemistry, Michigan State University; PhD, chemistry, University of California, Irvine

Roosen on the most rewarding part of his job: “Collaboration. Developing a commercial process is a true team experience that combines the knowledge and skills of many partners. A well developed process balances the inputs and needs to meet outstanding results while maintaining simplicity. Being a part of a group that works together to understand and streamline the means to a productive end is highly rewarding.”

John F. Sagal.
Credit: Courtesy of John F. Sagal
John F. Sagal

John F. Sagal

Omar A. Salman.
Credit: Courtesy of Omar A. Salman
Omar A. Salman

Current position: Scientist, Pfizer

Education: BS, chemistry, University of Connecticut; MS, organic chemistry, Boston College

Sagal on his most memorable project: “The COVID-19 lipid project. How could it not be? Every project is important, but this one felt different. The team was working on these lipids in the middle of the pandemic. The work-life balance was definitely shifted toward work. I have a lot of really good memories of personal interactions with colleagues from this time. I’m very proud to have been a member of this team.”

Omar A. Salman

Karen Sutherland.
Credit: Courtesy of Karen Sutherland
Karen Sutherland

Current position: Retired senior research adviser, Pfizer

Education: BS, chemical engineering, University of Texas at Austin; MS and PhD, chemical engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Salman on the most rewarding project in his career: “The COVID-19 vaccine project was the successful culmination of my scientific career. I feel fortunate and honored to have worked with talented and dedicated scientists on a project that had such a profound, positive impact on the world.”

Karen Sutherland

Qi "Tony" Yan.
Credit: Courtesy of Qi "Yan
Qi "Tony" Yan

Current position: Director, chemical research and development, Pfizer

Education: BSc, applied chemistry, University of Portsmouth; PhD, organic chemistry, University of East Anglia

Sutherland on her proudest career moment: “When family members received their Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinations.”

Qi “Tony” Yan

Ming Zeng.
Credit: Courtesy of Ming Zeng
Ming Zeng

Current position: Senior principal scientist, Pfizer

Education: BSc, chemistry, Shanghai University of Science and Technology; PhD, analytical chemistry, University of Missouri

Yan on what he hopes to accomplish in the next decade: “I hope our team’s mRNA technology will be used as a cancer vaccine. This will save lives and help people live longer.”

Ming Zeng

Current position: Senior principal scientist, Pfizer

Education: MS, analytical chemistry, Governors State University

Zeng on a memorable project: “The COVID-19 vaccine/lipid project is one of the most memorable projects I have worked on. What makes this project stand out from others is the level of the teamwork demonstrated. Everyone, with their own specialties, cooperated with each other to produce our highly efficient processes, which were transferred successfully to the manufacturing sites.”

ACS Award in Analytical Chemistry: Susan M. Lunte

Susan M. Lunte.
Credit: Courtesy of Susan M. Lunte
Susan M. Lunte

Sponsor: ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry

Citation: For groundbreaking bioanalytical chemistry research toward developing and implementing electrochemical detection strategies for microelectrophoretic separations and microdialysis sampling coupled to unique separation-based sensors

Current position: Ralph N. Adams Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Kansas

Education: BA, chemistry, Kalamazoo College; PhD, analytical chemistry, Purdue University

Lunte on her most memorable project: “The ‘lab on a sheep’ project was part of our work developing separation-based sensors using microdialysis sampling coupled with microchip electrophoresis. The goal is to make a small portable device to continuously monitor multiple analytes, such as drugs and neurotransmitters, from brain or other tissues in freely roaming animals. We successfully miniaturized all the components, including telemetry, to produce a device that monitored transdermal drug delivery and metabolism in a freely roaming sheep.”

What Lunte’s colleagues say: “Susan has made significant contributions to the fields of bioanalysis, microseparations, in vivo monitoring, and electrochemical detection. In addition to these extensive accomplishments, she also generously finds time to mentor and discuss science with anyone.”—Julie A. Stenken, University of Arkansas

ACS Award in Applied Polymer Science: Mark W. Grinstaff

Sponsor: Eastman Chemical

Citation: For landmark accomplishments in applied polymer chemistry and biomacromolecular constructs with global therapeutic impact

Current position: William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor, Boston University

Education: AB, chemistry, Occidental College; PhD, chemistry, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Grinstaff on the most rewarding part of his job: “The training of graduate students and their PhD presentation or oral defense. It is the day a student demonstrates the mastery of a subject by describing their novel results and the implications of their findings.”

What Grinstaff’s colleagues say: “Mark is an exceptionally talented polymer scientist, educator, and innovator. He has pushed the frontiers of the polymer field, using both natural and synthetic polymers, and is responsible for numerous major discoveries in research as well as breakthroughs in patient care.”—Todd Emrick, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Christopher A. Pohl
Credit: Courtesy of Christopher A. Pohl
Christopher A. Pohl

ACS Award in Chromatography: Christopher A. Pohl

Sponsor: MilliporeSigma

Citation: For contributions to accelerated solvent extraction and synthesis of novel chromatographic stationary phases

Current position: President, Cap Chromatography

Education: BS, chemistry, University of Washington

Pohl on the most rewarding part of his job: “Learning the skills necessary to make chromatographic materials with specific selectivity characteristics is the most rewarding part of my job. Sometimes it takes months or even years to devise a solution to a specific selectivity problem. But when the problem is finally solved, it’s a source of great satisfaction, especially knowing that the result of this work is often utilized by analytical chemists around the world to solve critical analytical problems.”

What Pohl’s colleagues say: “Chris was probably the only vice president of a major company who ran to the lab at every opportunity he got. He is the Bill Gates of ion chromatography (IC). Chris is an ingenious chemist who has paved the way for many inventions, not just in IC but in chromatography in general.”—Purnendu Dasgupta, University of Texas at Arlington

Joanna Aizenberg.
Credit: Courtesy of Joanna Aizenberg
Joanna Aizenberg

ACS Award in Colloid Chemistry: Joanna Aizenberg

Sponsor: Colgate-Palmolive

Citation: For outstanding contributions to fundamental and applied colloid chemistry in developing large-scale, highly ordered porous colloidal materials with unique photonic, catalytic, and sensing properties

Current position: Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Materials Science and professor of chemistry and chemical biology, Harvard University

Education: BS, chemistry, and MS, physical chemistry, Moscow State University; PhD, structural biology, Weizmann Institute of Science

Aizenberg on the most rewarding part of her job: “I love the process of research, looking for out-of-the-box solutions and approaches, seeing how carefully designed experiments answer the questions we pose, and how fundamental science can lead to applications.”

What Aizenberg’s colleagues say: “Joanna’s ideas are original, their execution is elegant, and her papers become highly cited quickly after their publication due to her winning combination of fundamental approaches, application potential, and importance to multiple disciplines.”—Virgil Percec, University of Pennsylvania

This is a photo of Jerry L. Atwood.
Credit: Courtesy of Jerry L. Atwood
Jerry L. Atwood

ACS Award in Inorganic Chemistry: Jerry L. Atwood

Sponsor: MilliporeSigma (a business of Merck KGaA)

Citation: For extending the transformative principles of inorganic chemistry to the disparate fields of separation science, host-guest chemistry, and supramolecular chemistry

Current position: Curators’ Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of Missouri

Education: BS, chemistry and mathematics, Southwest Missouri State University; PhD, inorganic chemistry, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Atwood on the most rewarding part of his job: “Working with graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to push back the frontiers of chemistry.”

What Atwood’s colleagues say: “Jerry is truly a distinguished scientist, having made seminal contributions in inorganic chemistry and allied areas over a sustained period. He is an ambassador for inorganic chemistry and a beacon of inspiration to others.”—Colin Raston, Flinders University

Shannon S. Stahl.
Credit: Courtesy of Shannon S. Stahl
Shannon S. Stahl

ACS Award in Organometallic Chemistry: Shannon S. Stahl

Sponsor: Dow

Citation: For pioneering developments in organometallic oxidation chemistry and catalysis

Current position: Steenbock Professor of Chemical Sciences, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Education: BS, chemistry, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; PhD, chemistry, California Institute of Technology

Stahl on his most memorable project: “As an assistant professor, I initiated so many projects that failed. So, I will always remember our project on aerobic oxidation chemistry with palladium catalysts as the one that finally ‘hit.’ We started to get some results in a couple different areas of this project, and I realized it was time to ‘cut the cord’ on some of our other projects.”

What Stahl’s colleagues say: “Shannon’s research has had a truly monumental impact on organometallic chemistry by changing the focus from reductive catalytic chemistry to oxidative chemistry. His work is highly original, and a plethora of new concepts and new catalysts have come from his efforts.”—Maurice Brookhart, University of Houston

Karen Winey.
Credit: Courtesy of Karen Winey
Karen Winey

ACS Award in Polymer Chemistry: Karen Winey

Sponsor: ExxonMobil Chemical

Citation: For outstanding contributions to the understanding and advancement of polymer nanocomposites and ion-containing polymers, particularly structural control and transport dynamics

Current position: Harold Pender Professor of Engineering, University of Pennsylvania

Education: BS, materials science and engineering, Cornell University; PhD, polymer science and engineering, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Winey on what inspired her to become a scientist: “My first experience in research (as a first year undergraduate) showed me the thrill of discovery, and that’s when I decided I wanted to expand upon our understanding of the physical world.”

What Winey’s colleagues say: “Karen is a great innovative scholar, and her trailblazing contributions in the areas of polymer nanocomposites and ion-containing polymers are exceptional. She has made a huge impact on how we currently think about several intriguing phenomena in these research areas.”—Murugappan Muthukumar, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Julia A. Kalow.
Credit: Courtesy of Julia A. Kalow
Julia A. Kalow

ACS Award in Pure Chemistry: Julia A. Kalow

Sponsor: Alpha Chi Sigma Fraternity and the Alpha Chi Sigma Educational Foundation

Citation: For breakthroughs in fundamental chemical reactivity enabling the synthesis and control of soft materials, particularly using light as a stimulus

Current position: Assistant professor of chemistry, Northwestern University

Education: BA, chemistry, Columbia University; PhD, organic chemistry, Princeton University

Kalow on what she hopes to accomplish in the next decade: “I hope to show that selective reactions can be used to discover new materials. My lab is currently working to identify reactions wherein the mechanism is tied to properties of interest. If successful, I think this approach can help address the experimental bottleneck in materials discovery.”

What Kalow’s colleagues say: “Julia’s work beautifully embodies the essence of fundamental chemistry to provide paradigm-shifting advances in soft materials function and design. She is leading us into new areas for scientific advancement and societal impact.”—A. J. Boydston, University of Wisconsin–Madison


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