Who will win the 2016 Nobel Prize In Chemistry? | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: September 29, 2016

Who will win the 2016 Nobel Prize In Chemistry?

C&EN reporters and panelists predict the recipients of this year’s prestigious award during webcast
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Analytical SCENE, Biological SCENE, Environmental SCENE, Materials SCENE
Keywords: #chemnobel, Nobel Prize, events, John Goodenough
In this archived webinar, C&EN staffers and special guests put their prognostication caps on to predict the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Credit: C&EN/ACS Webinars

Next Wednesday, Oct. 5, the winner or winners of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry will be announced in Stockholm. In anticipation, molecular-minded scientists have begun feverishly tweeting and blogging their predictions online.

Not one to be left out, Chemical & Engineering News hosted a webinar Sept. 28 entitled “Who Will Win the #ChemNobel? Predicting the 2016 Nobel Laureate(s) in Chemistry.” C&EN Assistant Managing Editor Lauren K. Wolf and Associate Editor Matt Davenport were joined by three guests for an hour-long discussion about the Nobels past, present, and future.

The panelists included Stuart Cantrill, chief editor of Nature Chemistry; Carmen Drahl, former C&EN staffer and current freelancer for outlets such as Forbes.com; and Alexander Spokoyny, chemistry professor at UCLA and one of C&EN’s 2016 “Talented 12” rising stars in chemistry.

During the webcast, the panel discussed the nomination process and made their picks for this year, before taking questions from the audience. Viewers submitted queries via Twitter, using the hashtag #chemnobel, as well as through the webinar platform.

Based on the panelists’ predictions, viewers voted electronically for who they thought had the best shot to win this year’s prize. Earning 50% of the votes cast by the audience, the favorites were Akira Yoshino and John B. Goodenough as well as M. Stanley Whittingham, who developed the lithium-ion batteries prevalent in today’s electronic devices.

The predictions webinar is the latest in a series of C&EN’s digital pre-Nobel coverage. The magazine also released an interactive map showing where chemistry’s laureates are from and an immersive database detailing the nominees for the prize between 1901 and 1950.

To find out what other notable scientists could be in the running for this year’s prize and to hear the panelists’ thoughts on the geography of past Nobel winners, watch the archived broadcast, embedded above.

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John Gladysz (October 2, 2016 4:13 PM)
I consider discussions about possible prize winning chemistry (particularly the Nobel Prize) with coworkers, undergraduate students, and the like, to be constructive -- a worthwhile component of the mentoring process, collegial interactions, etc.

I am also not automatically opposed to web sites or reporting that sensationalizes chemistry and all levels of chemists somewhat more than in the past. I'd stop short of "full TMZ treatment" but I'm not stodgy when it comes to a little flash.

That being said, I find things that smack of "Nobel Prize Sweepstakes" and "Vegas odds on future laureates" to be somewhat déclassé, and sort of cheapen the value and purpose of the award event. Maybe if one is down on many of the recent laureates (areas recognized), one actually feels that cheapening is deserved. How many live tweets and related social media babbling will we be force fed on the day that the award is announced, adding another layer of (vapid) hype?

So in the end, I feel that "less is more" with regard to these types of media events. I'm also sort of rubbed the wrong way by describing certain chemists as "rock stars" and similar reportage chemical society publications or social media. But I do admit to an open mind as to how this evolves the importance, public recognition, and dignity of our field. Nonetheless, it's not a sure bet it is a plus.
Victor Snieckus (October 4, 2016 1:30 PM)
We are falling into the bear-sized trap of sensationalism par excellence in not only reporting on science but the scientific literature itself. Is it the result of overwhelming barrage of information that we are receiving on a daily basis that requires the type of reporting that John Gladysz mentions?
Are we not sufficiently intelligent and informed to make decisions on what is excellent science and intelligent reporting on it? Or do we need to be massaged by a pop-up or a sound bite to accept the opinion of others and have the information robotically registered in our overloaded brains? The situation has now a sufficient lifetime which predicts that it will not go away in the manner of most of names of current rock stars and, dare I say, recent Nobel Laureates.
Prof D, (ret.) (October 4, 2016 8:04 PM)
Bravo, Profs Gladsyz and Snieckus.
It is one thing to popularise fields of physical science, and in this regard remediate the extent to which the concepts and innovations in chemistry have fallen far behind, in their popular reporting, the artificially colorful, often simulated representations of our studies of the heavens (and the oft chem-derived innovations in medicine, entertainment technologies, etc.). It is, however, quite another matter to engage in the least insightful, most speculative forms of reporting that masquerade as journalism (or to amplify these efforts from others, by re-broadcasting).
Yes, take this opportunity to mention the larger set of esteemed in each of the subspecialties of chemistry, and lament the fact that only one of these brilliant, creative, productive individuals can be recognized. And in focusing on that larger pool of talent, and discovery, and innovation, elevate understanding regarding how the chemistry of the substances and materials that shelter and cover, nourish, warm or cool, heal, inspire, engage, and entertain us have their functional capabilities rooted in chemical structures and concepts.
Perhaps, then, explore the old definitions that were intended to distinguish each of these physical science awards from their sisters, and how these categories have related but somewhat different modern meanings from their originals. (And maybe, at a deeper level of consideration, ask why biological applications and derivative areas like cell biology appear in force among those making the chemistry decision, while preeminent inorganic and materials aspects are absent, and organic in far shorter supply than in the population of those doing the discovering!)
That is, C&E reporters: survey, think, investigate, anaylyse, report. And do these about what has happened, and what is happening. Do journalism, good and old-fashioned, investigative and otherwise. Leave the recommendations and opinion and arm-chair speculations and encouragements in the poorer venues of reporting where it belongs.
Amal Narayanan (October 4, 2016 10:20 PM)
The polymer chemists such as Krzysztof Matyjaszewski, Mitsuo Sawamoto, Jin-Shan Wang, Jianhui Xia, Ezio Rizzardo, G. Moad deserves a lot more than others since they put an impact on the way polymers and materials are made.
Professor Harrison Banda (October 5, 2016 4:14 AM)
Let the prize go the extensors of the periodic table!

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