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ACS Award in Pure Chemistry and the National Fresenius Award: Neal K. Devaraj

by Linda Wang
January 2, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 1

Neal K. Devaraj
Credit: Courtesy of Neal Devaraj
Photo of Neal K. Devaraj.
Credit: Courtesy of Neal Devaraj

National Fresenius Award Sponsor: Phi Lambda Upsilon, the National Chemistry Honor Society

Citation: For his outstanding contributions toward the development of tetrazine ligations.

Award in Pure Chemistry Sponsor: Alpha Chi Sigma Fraternity and the Alpha Chi Sigma Educational Foundation

Citation: For his outstanding accomplishments in bioconjugation chemistry, which include the development of new reactions for cellular imaging and the assembly of artificial membranes.

Current position: associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, University of California, San Diego

Education: B.S., chemistry and biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Ph.D., chemistry, Stanford University

Devaraj on what he hopes to accomplish in the next decade: “I am very interested in studies at the interface of nonliving and living systems and believe there are fascinating questions we can ask. For instance, how can nonliving sets of molecules develop into self-reproducing evolvable materials? Can we design hybrid systems where biochemical elements seamlessly interact with and control synthetic structures? I hope we can better understand some of these problems over the next decade.”

What his colleagues say: “His clever mechanistic engineering approach has the potential to reveal fundamental principles at the core of some of the most intriguing questions about the chemical origin of life on Earth and may aid us in understanding how sets of reactive small molecules led to the first living cells, a problem in chemistry that is still a virtual ‘black box.’ ”—Partho Ghosh, University of California, San Diego



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