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Who will win the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry?

C&EN reporters and special guests webcast their predictions for this year’s prestigious award

by Lauren K. Wolf
September 28, 2017

In this recording of the live Sept. 27 webcast, watch as C&EN staffers and special guests discuss Nobel-worthy chemistry and speculate about who might be the winner of the 2017 chemistry prize.
Credit: C&EN/ACS Webinars

In anticipation of next week’s announcement of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, we at C&EN are stocking up on coffee and adjusting our sleep schedules for watching the early-morning festivities in Stockholm. We’re also wildly speculating about which chemists will get the call from Sweden this year.

On Sept. 27, we held our annual predictions webinar entitled “Who Will Win the #ChemNobel? Predicting the 2017 Nobel Laureate(s) in Chemistry.” C&EN Deputy Editorial Director Lauren K. Wolf and Associate Multimedia Editor Matt Davenport led this hour-long discussion about the Nobels with three distinguished guests.

The panelists included Carmen Drahl, former C&EN staffer and current freelancer for outlets such as; Omar K. Farha, chemistry professor at Northwestern University and an editor with ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces; and Marie Heffern, chemistry professor at the University of California, Davis, and one of C&EN’s 2017 “Talented 12” rising stars in chemistry.

True to the webcast’s title, panelists and hosts made predictions about this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry. But they also discussed innovative fundamental science that has yet to find a “killer app” and scientists who might be considered “snubbed” if they don’t win the Nobel, and they fielded Nobel-inspired questions from viewers.

Viewers submitted queries to the panelists through the webinar platform and also via Twitter, using the hashtag #chemnobel. Although the webcast is over, we’re still taking predictions on Twitter accompanied by the hashtag. Please tag @cenmag, too.

During the webcast, viewers voted electronically for who they thought had the best shot at the 2017 prize, based on the panelists’ predictions. The majority of the votes went to John B. Goodenough and others who helped develop lithium-ion batteries, as well as to Jennifer Doudna, Emmanuel Charpentier, and Feng Zhang for pioneering CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology.

The predictions webinar is just one part of C&EN’s pre-Nobel coverage. Be sure to check out our story about women overlooked for the Nobel Prize and our conversation with Ben L. Feringa, one of the three molecular machine pioneers who took home the Nobel Prize in Chemistry last year.

To see the entire back-and-forth between the webinar panelists and hosts, watch the archived predictions broadcast, embedded above.



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Kiran (September 29, 2017 11:59 AM)
This year should be C N R Rao for his many research
Edward (October 2, 2017 4:38 AM)
I can't wait for this big announcement
Rajdeep (October 4, 2017 5:05 AM)

Ted (September 20, 2018 2:53 PM)
Divide it in three parts (as is often done): Richard Lerner, Peter Schultz, and Carolyn Bertozzi.
Thrown out of the Kremlin for singing (September 29, 2018 3:48 AM)
I agree about Carolyn Bertozzi, for glycochemistry and bio-orthogonal chemistry, but she should share it with Peter G. Schultz. Schultz deserves half of the Prize for TWO achievements:

1. for pioneering the random-variation-plus-selection strategy (screening molecular libraries) for discovery in many context and using numerous specific methods (phage display, surface-library-chips, high-throughput combinatorial chemistry, robotic high-throuput small-molecule screening, etc.) AND

2. for using this strategy to expand the amino-acid vocabulary and genetic code of many types of cells, launching the general synthetic-biology project of adding unnatural amino acids to the cells' protein-synthesis toolbox, by screening libraries of mutant aaRS enzymes for the ability to charge nonsense-codon t-RNA with unnatural amino-acids, and, thinking up numerous applications of genetically-programmable proteins containing unnatural amino-acids such as bifunctional antibodies (linked with bio-orthogonally active amino acids in collaboration with Bertozzi!), use of unnatural amino-acids with environmentally sensitive probe-moieties to characterize functional protein sites like catalytic sites in enzymes, use of unnatural amino-acids to change protein function (for instance, from DNA-binding to DNA-cleaving), and to make antibodies which bind their targets irreversibly/covalently, and to induce immuno-tolerance of previously immunogenic antigens, and to examine whether an expanded genetic code would provide natural organisms with an evolutionary advantage, and to address the question: why only 20 common amino-acids in natural protein vocabularies?

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