Awards | March 22, 2004 Issue - Vol. 82 Issue 12 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 82 Issue 12 | pp. 45-47 | Awards
Issue Date: March 22, 2004


Department: ACS News

2004 National Fresenius Award To Wittung-Stafshede

A native of Sweden, Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede never imagined that her interest in research would take her to the U.S., where she would become an assistant professor of chemistry at Tulane University, New Orleans, and more recently an associate professor of biochemistry and cell biology at Rice University.


At age 35, Wittung-Stafshede has established herself as a leader in the field of protein folding and is considered by her colleagues to be "an exceptionally promising young scientist." For this reason, she is being honored with the 2004 National Fresenius Award, given annually to an outstanding chemist early in his or her professional career.

At Rice, Wittung-Stafshede is studying the role of cofactors in protein folding. A better understanding of such interactions may someday lead to new treatments for protein misfolding diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Huntington's disease.

Wittung-Stafshede became interested in chemistry while an undergraduate exchange student at Imperial College, London, working in the laboratory of Andrew D. Miller. "That's when I saw research for the first time, and I realized it was really fun," she says. "There was so much unknown. Whatever you did, you figured no one else knew the answer."

She received a combined B.S./M.S. degree in chemical engineering from Chalmers University, Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1992. She remained at the university, working with Bengt Norden on peptide nucleic acids, a type of DNA mimic, and earned a Ph.D. in physical chemistry in 1996.

Her curiosity for protein chemistry led her to the U.S., where she did a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Harry B. Gray at California Institute of Technology.

Gray had developed a laser method to study rapidly folding proteins. The method required a cofactor, which led Wittung-Stafshede to realize that the cofactor might have a direct effect on the folding reaction--something few researchers had looked into.

With a new focus, she began applying for assistant professorships. At first, it was just to see if she could do it. When people started calling her for interviews, she thought: "This is serious. I need to make some proposals; I need to make some seminars; I need to travel. It kind of sneaked up on me that suddenly I had offers and I had to make a decision about staying in America."

She started as an assistant professor of chemistry at Tulane in 1999 and earned tenure in just three years--the earliest promotion and tenure decision in the history of Tulane's chemistry department.

In January 2004, Wittung-Stafshede joined Rice as an associate professor of biochemistry and cell biology and an associate professor of chemistry. "I hope that by moving to Rice and being in the biochemistry department, the new interactions here can stimulate new ways of thinking," she says. "It's exciting, but also a little scary, to change environments because it gives you both challenges and possibilities."

The award is sponsored by Phi Lambda Upsilon. It will be presented at the ACS awards banquet on March 30 in Anaheim, Calif.--LINDA WANG

Awards Presented At Pittcon

An important function of the Pittsburgh Conference & Exposition on Analytical Chemistry & Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon) is to recognize and honor scientists who have made outstanding contributions to analytical chemistry and applied spectroscopy. The following awards were presented during the conference, which was held in Chicago earlier this month.


The 2004 Pittsburgh Analytical Chemistry Award was presented to Peter Carr for his outstanding contributions to the field, most notably in the area of chromatography, especially high-performance liquid chromatography. Over his career, Carr also made groundbreaking contributions to thermochemistry, electrochemistry, and the use of enzymes in chemistry. Carr is professor of chemistry at the University of Minnesota, a position he has held since 1981. His colleagues cite his support of graduate students and postdoctoral candidates as evidence of his status as a "superb citizen" of the scientific community. The award is sponsored by the Society of Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh (SACP).


Paul W. Bohn has been selected to receive the 2004 Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh (SSP) Award. Bohn is a professor of chemistry at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science & Technology and a member of the Materials Research Lab at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Described as a rising star in the area of molecular architecture and nanoscale transport, Bohn joins a distinguished group of UIUC faculty who have been recipients of previous awards given by SACP and SSP.


Milos V. Novotny of the University of Indiana received the Dal Nogare Award of the Chromatography Forum of Delaware Valley in recognition of contributions to chromatography and other separation techniques. Novotny has made substantial contributions through preparation of high-efficiency separation capillaries and understanding of their surface chemistry, as well as conceptual applications to biochemical and environmental problems.

Graeme Batten of Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia, received the Tomas Hirschfeld Award, given for distinction in the field of near-infrared spectroscopy. The award is sponsored by Bran+Luebbe. Batten's work in near-IR analysis of plants has led to more efficient use of fertilizers and water and to production of high-quality and healthy foods.

The Chemical Heritage Foundation and the Pittsburgh Conference presented the annual Pittcon Heritage Award to Paul A. Wilks Jr., founder and CEO of Wilks Enterprises. This award recognizes entrepreneurs who have shaped the instrumentation community. Wilks pioneered the commercial development of infrared absorption cells and the commercial applications of attenuated total reflection, and he helped form the Coblentz Society in 1954.


Weihong Tan of the department of chemistry at the University of Florida received the third Pittsburgh Conference Achievement Award, presented jointly by the Pittsburgh Conference and the Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh to recognize individuals making outstanding contributions to analytical chemistry or applied spectroscopy early in their careers as independent scientists.

E. Neil Lewis, founder and CEO of Spectral Dimensions, received the Williams-Wright Award, presented by the Coblentz Society to honor a spectroscopist who has made significant contributions to vibrational spectroscopy working in industry. Lewis, at the forefront of the development of chemical imaging technologies, has patented several hyperspectral imaging systems, including the Fourier transform infrared imaging microscope. He is recognized as an international expert in imaging spectroscopy.


David M. Haaland, senior scientist at Sandia National Labs, received the 2004 Bomem-Michelson Award from the Coblentz Society. Dedicated to the memory of A. E. Michelson, the award is sponsored by ABB Bomem. It honors scientists who have advanced the techniques of vibrational, molecular, Raman, or electronic spectroscopy. Haaland was instrumental in the development of a noninvasive near-IR glucose monitor for diabetic patients.


Adam Heller, a research scientist at the University of Texas, received the Charles N. Reilley Award, given by the Society for Electroanalytical Chemistry for innovative research. Heller built the first inorganic liquid lasers and the widely used lithium thionyl chloride battery (with J. S. Auborn) that is used in communications equipment, computers, military communications and weapons systems, and medical applications. With his son, Ephraim, he cofounded a company to market a product that measures blood glucose concentration in a tiny (300-nL) sample obtained without pain.


Jeffrey W. Long of the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C., received the Young Investigator Award, given by the Society for Electroanalytical Chemistry. Long became a staff scientist in the Surface Chemistry Branch at NRL in August 2000; he researches novel electrode materials, currently focusing on hybrid nanoarchitectures comprising ultrathin polymer coatings on electrically conducting aerogels.

Applications Sought For $500,000 Career Award

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund (BWF), an independent private foundation dedicated to advancing the medical sciences by supporting research and other scientific and educational activities, is seeking nominations for its 2005 Career Award at the Scientific Interface.

According to BWF, "with advances in genomics, quantitative structural biology, and modeling of complex systems, the possibilities for an exciting research career at the interface between the physical/computational sciences and the biological sciences have never been greater. Tackling key problems in biology will require scientists trained in areas such as chemistry, physics, applied mathematics, computer science, and engineering."

In recognition of the vital role such cross-trained scientists will play in furthering biomedical science, BWF has developed Career Awards at the Scientific Interface. These grants are intended to foster the early career development of researchers with backgrounds in the physical/computational sciences whose work addresses biological questions and who are dedicated to pursuing a career in academic research.

The 2005 award provides $500,000 over five years for the person selected. The portable award will support up to two years of advanced postdoctoral training and the first three years of a faculty appointment. Candidates must hold a Ph.D. in mathematics, physics, biophysics, chemistry (physical, theoretical, or computational), computer science, statistics, or engineering and must not have accepted a faculty appointment at the time of application.

Candidates should propose innovative approaches to answer important biological questions, and BWF encourages proposals that include experimental validation of theoretical models.

Degree-granting institutions in the U.S. and Canada may nominate up to two candidates. Complete program information, eligibility guidelines, and application forms are available at The deadline for applications is May 3.


Jorgenson Is Esselen Awardee

James W. Jorgenson, William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has been selected to receive the 2004 Gustavus John Esselen Award for Chemistry in the Public Interest. The award, presented annually by the ACS Northeastern Section, recognizes a chemist whose scientific and technical work has contributed to the public well-being.

Jorgenson is one of the originators of capillary electrophoresis, with his first publications on this topic appearing in 1981. Jorgenson's seminal discovery of capillary zone electrophoresis catapulted CE to the forefront of contemporary bioanalytical chemistry. The technique, which combines high sensitivity, high resolution, speed, and ready automation, is the separation technique that has enabled rapid mapping of genomes, including the human genome.

Jorgenson received a B.S. in chemistry in 1974 from Northern Illinois University, and a Ph.D. in 1979 from Indiana University, where he worked in the research group of Milos V. Novotny. Jorgenson then joined the faculty of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He was appointed Francis P. Venable Professor of Chemistry in 1994 and William Rand Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Chemistry in 1999. He became chairman of the department in 2000. Among the honors he has received are ACS Awards in Chemical Instrumentation and in Chromatography and the Torben Bergman Medal of the Swedish Chemical Society. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The award will be presented to Jorgenson on April 15 at Harvard University; further information about the award ceremony and Jorgenson's award address can be found at the Northeastern Section website,

New Award For Early-Career Achievement In Chemistry

The Society of Chemical Industry (SCI), American Section, last week announced a new award to honor early-career achievement in chemistry.

Named the SCI Gordon E. Moore Medal, it will be presented for the first time on Sept. 14 at the Innovation Day Symposium Luncheon, part of an all-day event hosted by Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia.

The medal will recognize a significant innovation made by an industrial scientist under age 45. As a young chemist, Moore helped to create the semiconductor industry. Honored for his life of achievement with the Othmer Gold Medal in 2001, Moore said, "The semiconductor industry really is a chemical industry."

Particulars on the award will become available on the Web at

2004 Harrison Howe Award Nominations

The ACS Rochester section requests nominations for the Harrison Howe Award. The award is given each year to recognize and encourage outstanding contributions to chemistry defined in its broadest sense by a scientist who shows the potential for further achievement. The award shall be granted to an individual without regard to nationality.

The award was inaugurated in 1946 to honor one of the founders of the Rochester Section. In addition to his role as a leader in the Rochester Section, Howe was also the founding editor of Chemical & Engineering News and a fervent champion of industrial research and development. He believed that chemistry and the pursuit of chemical knowledge contributed to the betterment of society.

The award consists of a plaque and an honorarium, as well as travel expenses to the symposium. The recipient shall deliver a lecture as part of the award presentation.

The award lecture and presentation will occur at the Northeast Regional Meeting, which will be held in Rochester in November.

Submit eight copies of a complete nominating document--including a synopsis of the accomplishments of the nominee, a curriculum vitae, and a maximum of five reprints or other supplementary material for each copy--to the awards chairman for distribution to the committee. A maximum of three supporting letters, which contain factual information about the candidate not provided in the nominating document, may be attached to the nomination.

Send nominations no later than May 21 to David G. Foster, Harrison Howe Award Chairman, Research Labs, Eastman Kodak, 1700 Dewey Ave., Rochester, NY 14650-1824. For more information, e-mail Foster at or

New Members Elected To National Academy Of Engineering

Last month, the National Academy of Engineering announced the election of its new members. In addition to the list published in the Feb. 23 issue of C&EN (page 7), the following new members are chemists and chemical engineers:

Bruce E. Rittmann, John Evans Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Northwestern University; Jonathan M. Rothberg, president and chief executive officer at CuraGen Corp., New Haven, Conn.; Esther S. Takeuchi, vice president of research and development at Wilson Greatbatch Technologies, Clarence, N.Y.; and Darsh T. Wasan, Motorola Chair, professor of chemical engineering, and vice president for international affairs at Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago.

ORCS Presents Three Awards At 20th Conference

This week, three chemical scientists received awards for excellence in organic catalysis at the 20th Conference of the Organic Reactions Catalysis Society ( sponsored by ORCS.

The 2003 Paul N. Rylander Award was presented to Donna G. Blackmond, Imperial College, London, and the 2004 Paul N. Rylander Award was presented to Richard C. Larock, Iowa State University, Ames. The Rylander Award is an annual award, sponsored by ORCS, made to an individual who has made significant contributions to the use of catalysis in organic reactions.


Blackmond has been at the forefront of the kinetic analysis and modeling of catalytic and asymmetric catalytic reactions, including the investigation of unusual effects such as asymmetric amplification. Her presentation was titled "Reaction Progress Kinetic Analysis: A Powerful Methodology for Mechanistic Studies of Complex Catalytic Reaction Networks."


Larock has been a pioneer in the use of palladium in organic synthesis. He has discovered a range of new methodologies involving aryl, allylic, and vinylic palladium intermediates that have been used to synthesize a broad range of organic compounds. His presentation was titled "Palladium-Catalyzed Annulation and Migration Reactions."


The 2004 Murray Raney Award, sponsored by W.R. Grace & Co., was presented to Jean Lessard, University of Sherbrooke, Quebec. The Raney Award is given to an individual who has made a significant technical contribution to the catalyst industry via skeletal metal catalyst technology based on that originally developed by Raney.

Lessard has been a pioneer in electrocatalytic hydrogenation using Raney-type catalytic electrodes. He has developed and patented a more durable and structurally stable Raney-type electrode, which had previously been a significant problem. His talk was titled "Electrocatalytic Hydrogenations of Organic Compounds at Raney Metal Electrodes: Scope and Limitations."

Awards are printed on a space-available basis and are also on C&EN Online. To submit an item, send an e-mail to

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