If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.



2022 ACS National Award winners—Part I

Recipients are honored for contributions of major significance to chemistry

by Nina Notman, special to C&EN
January 23, 2022 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 100, Issue 3


This is the ACS logo

The following vignettes highlight the recipients of national awards administered by the American Chemical Society for 2022. Profiles of the Arthur C. Cope Award and Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award recipients will appear in the Jan. 31 issue of C&EN. A profile of Peter Dervan, the 2022 Priestley Medalist, will appear in the March 14/21 issue, along with his award address.

The award recipients will be honored at a ceremony at the ACS Spring 2022 national meeting in San Diego, March 20–24.

ACS Award for Achievement in Research for the Teaching and Learning of Chemistry: Jennifer E. Lewis

This is a photo of Jennifer E. Lewis.
Credit: Courtesy of Jennifer E. Lewis
Jennifer E. Lewis

Sponsor: ACS Exams Institute

Citation: For the principled development and application of rigorous assessment methodologies to support curriculum development and student learning in college chemistry

Current position: Chemistry professor, University of South Florida

Education: BS, chemistry, North Dakota State University; PhD, chemistry, Pennsylvania State University

Lewis’s message for her younger self: “Don’t worry about the fact that you just made a radical career shift. Keep doing what seems to you to be interesting and valuable, and dedicate yourself to learning how to do this work as you create your own path.”

What Lewis’s colleagues say: “Jennifer’s scholarly work is truly impressive in its breadth, quality, and impact. She has published significant papers dealing with instrument development and refinement, addressing equity issues in education, measuring student attitudes and conceptualization, and examining the role of argumentation and discourse in collaborative student learning teams.”—Richard S. Moog, Franklin & Marshall College

ACS Award for Affordable Green Chemistry: Mahdi M. Abu-Omar

This is a photo of Mahdi M. Abu-Omar.
Credit: Courtesy of Mahdi M. Abu-Omar
Mahdi M. Abu-Omar

Sponsor: Dow and endowed by Rohm and Haas

Citation: For seminal contributions to fundamental science and technology development for catalytic lignin conversion to renewable chemicals, fuels, and materials following green chemistry and engineering principles

Current position: Professor, Mellichamp Chair of Green Chemistry, University of California, Santa Barbara

Education: BS, chemistry, Hampden-Sydney College; PhD, chemistry, Iowa State University

Abu-Omar on his hopes for the future: “I dream about our research contributing in a meaningful way to the circular economy. In particular to the plastics problem, by enabling molecular recycling of plastics and creating materials designed for recycling. Plastic waste should be thought of as a valuable feedstock rather than garbage; currently about 106 kg of plastic waste is produced per person per year in the US and only 7% of all plastics are recycled. This is a problem that chemistry can help solve.”

What Abu-Omar’s colleagues say: “Mahdi has made significant strides in using a catalytic fractionation process to produce valuable monomers from lignin. This process does not simply replace phenol with lignin polymers in phenol-formaldehyde resins, as many hundreds of studies previously have. Instead, he is producing new lignin-based epoxies that are incredibly robust compared to their petroleum counterparts and completely circumvents the use of formaldehyde.

This work is currently being scaled up at a startup founded by Mahdi, Spero Renewables.”—Gregg T. Beckham, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

ACS Award for Computers in Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research: Alexander D. MacKerell Jr.

This is a photo of Alexander D. MacKerell Jr.
Credit: Courtesy of Alexander D. MacKerell Jr.
Alexander D. MacKerell Jr.

Sponsor: ACS Division of Computers in Chemistry

Citation: For his profound impact in the fields of biomolecular simulations and computer-aided drug discovery

Current position: Grollman-Glick Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Maryland, Baltimore

Education: AS, biology, Gloucester County College; BS, chemistry, University of Hawaii, Honolulu; PhD, biochemistry, Rutgers University

MacKerell on his scientific hero: “My PhD mentor, Regina Pietruszko at Rutgers University, was a great inspiration and motivator for me. She overcame many obstacles in her life involving both personal hardships and academic challenges to become a highly successful woman scientist and faculty member. She taught me how to combine innovative thinking, proper scientific method, and persistence to move research projects ahead and to completion.”

What MacKerell’s colleagues say: “Alexander’s work has a profound and broad impact in the growing use of computer simulations in chemical, biological sciences, and pharmaceutical discovery.”—Jana Shen, University of Maryland

ACS Award for Creative Advances in Environmental Science and Technology: Urs von Gunten

This is a photo of Urs von Gunten.
Credit: Courtesy of Urs von Gunten
Urs von Gunten

Sponsor: Aerodyne Research and the ACS Division of Environmental Chemistry

Citation: For outstanding accomplishments in the field of kinetic and mechanistic studies on oxidative trace contaminant abatement and disinfection by-product mitigation

Current position: Professor of water quality and treatment, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne (EPFL), and research group leader at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag)

Education: Diploma and PhD, chemistry, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich

Von Gunten on winning this award: “For me, it is a privilege to be able to do basic and applied research to contribute to solutions of some of the current and future water problems. This award also belongs to all the current and former talented researchers and technicians in my team who have given me a lot of inspiration and put ideas into practice.”

What von Gunten’s colleagues say: “Throughout Urs’s career he has acted as bridge builder between science and engineering, translating chemistry concepts in such a way that they can be well applied to engineered systems. His contributions have made water treatment by chemical oxidation more scientific and less empirical.”—Walter Giger, retired from Eawag

ACS Award for Creative Invention: Ted W. Johnson

This is a photo of Ted W. Johnson.
Credit: Courtesy of Ted W. Johnson
Ted W. Johnson

Sponsor: ACS Corporation Associates


Citation: For the invention of lorlatinib (Lorbrena), a novel anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) inhibitor for the treatment of ALK-positive non-small-cell lung cancer

Current position: Research fellow, Pfizer

Education: BS, chemistry, University of California, Irvine; PhD, organic chemistry, University of California, Los Angeles

Johnson on the most rewarding part of his job: “Meeting patients, hearing their stories, and learning how drug discovery work impacts their life. These stories inspire and motivate me to discover the next generation of medicines.”

What Johnson’s colleagues say: “Ted showed a very high order of creativity and originality in the design and discovery of lorlatinib, which is so different from all other FDA-approved antikinases. In my judgment, lorlatinib is a beautiful example of inspired, imaginative design to create a very novel lifesaving molecule that literally is game-changing.”—Elias J. Corey, Harvard University

This is a photo of Jinbo Hu.
Credit: Courtesy of Jinbo Hu
Jinbo Hu

ACS Award for Creative Work in Fluorine Chemistry: Jinbo Hu

Sponsor: Arkema

Citation: For outstanding contributions to organofluorine chemistry research, particularly in developing new reagents and reactions that bridge fluoroalkylation, fluoroolefination, and fluorination

Current position: Professor, Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Education: BS, chemistry, Hangzhou University; MSc, chemistry, Shanghai Institute of Metallurgy, Chinese Academy of Sciences; PhD, chemistry, University of Southern California

Hu on his most memorable project: “Mastering controllable fluorocarbon-chain elongation. Ways to controllably grow hydrocarbon chains are well established, but work on fluorocarbons has lagged behind. I started thinking about this dream project in 2006, but we achieved little experimentally until 2017 when my group started to report a series of successful results. We are still working on this project.”

What Hu’s colleagues say: “Jinbo was the first to propose the concept ‘negative fluorine effect’ to describe the unique impact fluorine has in nucleophilic fluoroalkylation reactions with α-fluorocarbanions. Over the past decade, he has developed dozens of new synthetic methods by tuning this effect.”—Surya Prakash, University of Southern California

This is a photo of Richmond Sarpong.
Credit: Courtesy of Richmond Sarpong
Richmond Sarpong

ACS Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry: Richmond Sarpong

Sponsor: MilliporeSigma

Citation: For the development of new strategies for the chemical synthesis of complex molecules based on C-H and C-C bond functionalization

Current position: Professor of chemistry, University of California, Berkeley

Education: BA, chemistry, Macalester College; PhD, organic chemistry, Princeton University

Sarpong on what he hopes to accomplish in the next decade: “To develop a range of reactions that enables chemists to manipulate the core of molecules at will, by breaking and engaging bonds that are generally considered unreactive. This would provide access to unique chemical space. I am also very interested in contributing to efforts to use all the chemical synthesis data that has been amassed over the ages to provide better predictions of reaction pathways, reagents and conditions to follow for building structurally complex molecules.”

What Sarpong’s colleagues say: “Since the beginning of his research group, Richmond has made seminal contributions to developing new strategies and methods for the assembly of complex natural products. He has established a world-recognized research program characterized by the selection of targets which demonstrate a deep appreciation of the most important problems at the forefront of the field of total synthesis.”—Peter C. Vollhardt, University of California, Berkeley

This is a photo of Alfred P. Sattelberger.

Credit: Courtesy of Alfred P. Sattelberger
Alfred P. Sattelberger

ACS Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Inorganic Chemistry: Alfred P. Sattelberger

Sponsor: Strem Chemicals

Citation: For outstanding contributions to early transition metal and actinide chemistry, and a track record of building innovative inorganic chemistry programs at two national labs

Current position: Courtesy research scientist, Department of Chemistry, University of Central Florida

Education: BA, chemistry, Rutgers University; PhD, inorganic chemistry, Indiana University Bloomington

Sattelberger on a particularly proud career moment: “I recall with pride the work my students and I did at the University of Michigan at the start of my independent career. We discovered and investigated the chemistry of some beautiful lower valent mononuclear and dinuclear complexes of niobium and tantalum. I also remember vividly the day we isolated the first example of a quadruply metal-metal bonded tungsten(II) carboxylate complex, bright yellow W2(O2CCF3)4. Heady stuff for a young faculty member.”

What Sattelberger’s colleagues say: “Al has discovered profound chemistry in groups 5 and 6, and is largely responsible for the emergence of actinide chemistry in the US. I cannot imagine anyone else who has advanced inorganic chemistry to a greater degree during this period.”—Peter T. Wolczanski, Cornell University

This is a photo of Kimberly M. Jackson.
Credit: Courtesy of Kimberly M. Jackson
Kimberly M. Jackson

ACS Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into Careers in the Chemical Sciences: Kimberly M. Jackson

Sponsor: Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation

Citation: For outstanding accomplishments in mentoring, teaching, and opening doors for Black women to achieve PhDs and pursue careers in the chemical and biochemical sciences

Current position: Professor of biochemistry, chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and director of food studies, Spelman College

Education: BS, chemistry, Alabama State University; PhD, biochemistry, Clark Atlanta University

Jackson on the most rewarding part of her job: “Every day I have the privilege to work in a place where I train scholars who look like me and create legacy-defining moments. As a bridge leader, I advocate for, cultivate, and empower Black women to become dynamic scientists (tackling contemporary issues in cancer research) by helping them understand their identity relative to society and to navigate the double bind of being minority women in science.”

What Jackson’s colleagues say: “Kimberly has an impressive record for the cultivation of scientific talent, especially among underrepresented students. She has established bridges throughout the academy that benefit her students.”—C. Reynold Verret, Xavier University of Louisiana

This is a photo of Mindy Levine.
Credit: Courtesy of Mindy Levine
Mindy Levine

ACS Award for Encouraging Women into Careers in the Chemical Sciences: Mindy Levine

Sponsor: Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation

Citation: For her success in creatively generating excitement about chemistry for women and girls and preparing them for careers in the chemical sciences

Current position: Professor of chemistry, Ariel University

Education: BA, MSc, and PhD, chemistry, Columbia University

Levine’s message for her younger self: “Please do yourself a favor and stop being afraid. Don’t be afraid to pursue what you want because you are afraid you may not succeed. Don’t be afraid to ask questions because other people may think you look stupid. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Now that I’ve stopped being afraid, things are much easier.”

What Levine’s colleagues say: “Mindy is passionate about her work and about training students. She also excels in outreach and leadership in the chemical community. She does all of this while taking the time to actively mentor a research group of at least a dozen graduate and undergraduate students. She is an excellent role model for female students who are pursuing careers in chemistry.”—Brenton DeBoef, University of Rhode Island


This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.