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Nobel Laureate Signature Award for Graduate Education in Chemistry: Junqi Li (student) and Martin D. Burke (preceptor)

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

Junqi Li
Credit: Courtesy of Jinqi Li
Photo of Junqi Li.
Credit: Courtesy of Jinqi Li

Sponsor: Avantor Performance Materials

Citation: For transforming iterative cross-coupling with MIDA boronates into a powerfully simple and increasingly general automated platform for complex natural products synthesis.

Junqi Li (student)

Current position: postdoctoral researcher, University of California, Berkeley

Education: B.S., chemistry, National University of Singapore; M.S., chemistry, National University of Singapore; Ph.D., chemistry, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Li on what gets her creative juices flowing: “Reading old literature and placing those findings in the context of today’s research. It helps me identify long-standing challenges in organic synthesis and think about how they can be solved with recent advances in controlling selectivity in reactions.”

Martin D. Burke
Credit: UIUC

Photo of Martin D. Burke.
Credit: UIUC

Martin D. Burke (preceptor)

Current position: professor of chemistry, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Education: B.A., chemistry, Johns Hopkins University; M.D. and Ph.D., Harvard University

Burke on what gets his creative juices flowing: “Highly creative students! One of the greatest joys as a mentor is the opportunity to work with special students that challenge and inspire you to dream bigger and think differently. Junqi is one of the most brilliant, creative, and effective students I have ever had the privilege of working with, and I am convinced that we have just begun to see what she is capable of achieving.”

What their colleagues say: “What makes Junqi extremely special is her unique combination of forceful fundamentals—driven logic and a bold exploratory spirit: She has her feet on the ground and her head in the clouds. Junqi recently completed a transformative thesis in my group, which unabashedly aims to revolutionize small molecule synthesis by using a fully automated iterative building block assembly process. Prior to her involvement, it was unclear whether this goal could be achieved. As Junqi exited the lab, she left a trail of breakthrough achievements in strategies, methods, and complex natural products that collectively reveal an actionable roadmap to this objective for societal impact. I expect her to emerge as a global academic leader in the field of organic chemistry.”—John Katzenellenbogen, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign



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