ACS Award in Pure Chemistry | January 28, 2008 Issue - Vol. 86 Issue 4 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 86 Issue 4 | p. 84 | Awards
Issue Date: January 28, 2008

ACS Award in Pure Chemistry

Recipients are honored for contributions of major significance to chemistry
Department: ACS News
Credit: Matthew Gilson
Credit: Matthew Gilson

Sponsored by the Alpha Chi Sigma Fraternity and the Alpha Chi Sigma Educational Award Foundation

The chemistry world can be thankful that Rustem F. Ismagilov is so stubborn. Rather than discouraging him, his failing homework grades as a Russian high school chemistry student challenged him to read college-level textbooks to understand the material. His reading got him excited about chemistry, but his grades didn't improve. The problem turned out to be easily solved. He had the wrong edition of the textbook, in which the multiple-choice homework questions were rotated relative to those in the newer edition, which was used for grading. "I got a new version of the book and got As," Ismagilov says, "but the irreversible damage had been done. I was already hooked on chemistry."

Ismagilov, 34, an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Chicago, is the recipient of the 2008 ACS Award in Pure Chemistry, which recognizes significant research done by young scientists.

Ismagilov is "absolutely first-rate," says George M. Whitesides, the Woodford L. & Ann A. Flowers University Professor of Chemistry at Harvard University. Ismagilov was a postdoctoral fellow with Whitesides from 1998 to 2001. "He is deeply imaginative, unafraid of unconventional and difficult problems, committed to science, hard-working, efficient, and modest," Whitesides says.

Ismagilov's Russian education gave him a strong mathematical background that helps him in his research studying complexity and emergent properties by allowing him to create qualitative yet nonetheless predictive models of phenomena in his head without solving equations, he says. "His ability in mathematics is unusual for a physical chemist or physicist; it is entirely off-scale for an organic chemist," Whitesides says.

Much of Ismagilov's research exploits microfluidic devices. He has used microfluidic systems to perform rapid kinetic measurements. "Ismagilov has made it possible for chemists to exploit the power of microfluidics to tackle kinetic problems at a variety of time scales when only tiny quantities of material may be available," says Irving R. Epstein, a professor of chemistry at Brandeis University. "Someday, microfluidic devices for kinetic measurements may be as common a sight in organic chemistry labs as IR spectrometers."

Ismagilov has also used microfluidic devices to model blood chemistry. "Many of us who study the phenomena of nonlinear chemical dynamics are driven by the notion that these phenomena may provide insights into analogous behaviors in living systems," Epstein says. "Ismagilov has actually done it-choosing the important and intriguing system that controls the clotting of blood, extracting its essential features, and building an experimental model that mimics the key features of hemostasis."

Ismagilov received a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1994 from the Higher Chemical College of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow. In 1998, he received a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he worked with Stephen F. Nelson. He joined the faculty at the University of Chicago in 2001 as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor in 2005.

He has received many awards honoring young scientists, including the Searle Scholar Award, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists & Engineers, and the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award.

The award address will be presented before the Division of Organic Chemistry.

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