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2022 ACS National Award winners—Part III

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


ACS Award in Pure Chemistry: Gabriela S. Schlau-Cohen

This is a photo of Gabriela S. Schlau-Cohen.
Credit: Courtesy of Gabriela S. Schlau-Cohen
Gabriela S. Schlau-Cohen

Sponsor: Alpha Chi Sigma fraternity and the Alpha Chi Sigma Educational Foundation

Citation: For elucidating structural and energetic dynamics of biological and bio-inspired systems, particularly membrane proteins

Current position: Associate chemistry professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Education: ScB, chemical physics, Brown University; PhD, chemistry, University of California, Berkeley

Schlau-Cohen on a global challenge she hopes her research will help solve: “Like many of us, I’m scared about climate change and what it’ll mean for my daughter. I hope that our studies of photosynthesis may one day guide the development of affordable and scalable solar energy devices or help make biofuels a feasible renewable energy source. Although this may be a long time off, we need both short-term and long-term solutions for climate change.”

What Schlau-Cohen’s colleagues say: “Gabriela is, in my opinion, one of the top experimental physical chemists of her generation. She deeply covers ultrafast spectroscopy and single molecule spectroscopy, where competing groups focus on one or the other. Her group not only uses and develops these state-of-the-art techniques, but they employ substantive biology. This breadth of excellence at her career stage is notable.”—Gregory D. Scholes, Princeton University

ACS Award in Surface Chemistry: Miquel B. Salmeron

This is a photo of Miquel B. Salmeron.
Credit: Courtesy of Miquel B. Salmeron
Miquel B. Salmeron

Sponsor: Procter & Gamble

Citation: For making surface-sensitive spectroscopy and microscopy techniques applicable in ambient conditions, which widened the horizons of surface chemistry and connected it to more applied fields

Current position: Senior scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and adjunct professor of materials science and engineering, University of California, Berkeley

Education: BA, physics, University of Barcelona; MA, physics, Paul Sabatier University; PhD, physics, Autonomous University of Madrid

Salmeron on who inspired him to become a scientist: “My father, who encouraged me to be curious about all natural phenomena and try to get the answers. Because of this curiosity I always dismounted gadgets and instruments to see what was inside that made them work. From there and through my career I continued to design new instruments to measure things that I wanted to understand.”

What Salmeron’s colleagues say: “Miquel is one of the most influential surface scientists in history. He has been involved in almost all subfields of surface chemistry and physics. His research opened up many avenues in the field. Many new young scientists are following his footsteps.”—Baran Eren, Weizmann Institute of Science

ACS Award in the Chemistry of Materials: Zhenan Bao

This is a photo of Zhenan Bao.
Credit: Courtesy of Zhenan Bao
Zhenan Bao

Sponsor: DuPont

Citation: For contributions in pioneering the development of skin-inspired electronic materials to enable next-generation consumer electronics, wearables, medical devices, and batteries

Current position: K.K. Lee Professor of Chemical Engineering, chair of Chemical Engineering Department and by courtesy, professor of chemistry and professor of materials science and engineering, Stanford University

Education: Undergraduate education, Nanjing University; PhD, organic chemistry, University of Chicago

Bao on her most memorable project: “A seed project on building a skin-like wearable for mental health monitoring. I led a team with participants from psychiatry, global health, law, computer science, bioengineering, electrical engineering, and chemical engineering. The mental health issue impacts one in five Americans. Building such a wearable is very meaningful, but highly challenging. It took almost 4 years to build it, and we are finally testing it on patients.”

What Bao’s colleagues say: “The materials that Zhenan has contributed are immense. She is undoubtedly a world-leading expert in organic and polymeric soft matter electronic and energy materials, with a focus on their molecular design, processing and developing new applications and their interface with biology and medicine. She is someone who is permanently and constantly changing how people think in this field.”—Antonio Facchetti, Northwestern University

ACS Award in Theoretical Chemistry: Gustavo E. Scuseria

This is a photo of Gustavo E. Scuseria.
Credit: Courtesy of Gustavo E. Scuseria
Gustavo E. Scuseria

Sponsor: ACS Division of Physical Chemistry

Citation: For his contributions to coupled cluster and density functional theories, and linear scaling electronic structure algorithms

Current position: Robert A. Welch Professor of Chemistry, professor of physics and astronomy, and professor of materials science and nanoengineering, Rice University

Education: MSc and PhD, physics, University of Buenos Aires

Scuseria on his career so far: “My PhD thesis in 1983 had a large component of quantum chemistry calculations. This means that I have been working in this field for 40 years. It amazes me how little we knew back then and how much we have learned along the way. Yet there is still a lot to be found and discovered. Unraveling reality may be a never-ending story.”

What Scuseria’s colleagues say: “Quantum chemistry’s colossal progress in the past 30 years has been possible thanks to the contributions of Gustavo in the development, implementation, and application of computational quantum chemistry tools to practical problems. Through this work he has shown that theoretical chemistry makes a difference in chemistry and in materials science.”—Laura Gagliardi, University of Chicago

Award for Volunteer Service to the American Chemical Society: Amber S. Hinkle

This is a photo of Amber S. Hinkle.
Credit: Courtesy of Amber S. Hinkle
Amber S. Hinkle

Sponsor: American Chemical Society

Citation: For outstanding volunteer efforts and for contributions to the goals and objectives of the American Chemical Society

Current position: Vice president and site manager, Covestro

Education: BS, chemistry, University of Utah; PhD, chemistry, University of Washington

Hinkle on what excites her about doing volunteer work: “I’m passionate about volunteering within ACS because it has given me an opportunity to grow and learn, as well as enabled me to give back and share these benefits. I’ve learned a tremendous amount about being a leader through my volunteer roles in ACS Governance, which have also allowed me to practice such skills. It is so rewarding to help others develop these skills through the ACS leadership courses and translate them into career success as well.”

What Hinkle’s colleagues say: “Amber exemplifies what it means to be an impactful volunteer and leader in the ACS. She is a strong, effective, and insightful leader, who is admired and emulated throughout the ACS membership as a whole.”—Amber F. Charlebois, Nazareth College

Alfred Bader Award in Bioinorganic or Bioorganic Chemistry: Benjamin F. Cravatt

This is a photo of Benjamin F. Cravatt.
Credit: Courtesy of Benjamin F. Cravatt
Benjamin F. Cravatt

Sponsor: Alfred R. Bader Fund

Citation: For pioneering activity-based protein profiling (ABPP) and its use in the discovery of new biological targets and therapeutic drugs

Current position: Gilula Chair of Chemical Biology and chemistry professor, Scripps Research Institute

Education: BS, biological sciences, and BA, history, Stanford University; PhD, macromolecular and cellular structure and chemistry, Scripps Research Institute

Cravatt on what he hopes to accomplish in the next decade: “Our lab hopes to continue to push the frontiers of expanding knowledge on the functionality and druggability of proteins in native biological systems, where we have a fervent belief that chemistry is not only a path to transformative new medicines, but also a foundational driver of biological discovery.”

What Cravatt’s colleagues say: “Ben’s research has combined innovative technology development and basic discovery to achieve remarkable advances in our understanding of enzyme function in biological systems. His research has enriched our understanding of the role that enzymes play in mammalian physiology and disease and led to the development of small-molecule inhibitors that are under current clinical investigation for the treatment of human disorders.”—Dale L. Boger, Scripps Research Institute

Earle B. Barnes Award for Leadership in Chemical Research Management: Kevin R. Campos

This is a photo of Kevin R. Campos.
Credit: Courtesy of Kevin R. Campos
Kevin R. Campos

Sponsor: Dow

Citation: For his outstanding contributions to improving human health and well-being around the world through leadership and innovation in drug discovery and development

Current position: Vice president, process research and development, Merck & Co.

Education: BS, chemistry, Virginia Tech; PhD, organic chemistry, Harvard University

Campos on the most rewarding part of his job: “Being able to help others realize their full potential. As a leader, I feel an obligation to set lofty goals and then create space for people to define their own path to realize these goals. I am always impressed with the ingenuity of our people. Listening to their stories of creative problem solving during departmental meetings is so satisfying.”

What Campos’s colleagues say: “Kevin’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, exemplified by his diverse leadership team and commitment to employee development, has resulted in a palpable change in Merck’s culture where all voices are heard, and employees can bring their whole selves to work. This metamorphosis has served to boost the creativity of his organization and is a strong contributor to his team’s success.”—David MacMillan, Princeton University

Ronald Breslow Award for Achievement in Biomimetic Chemistry: M. Reza Ghadiri

This is a photo of M. Reza Ghadiri.
Credit: Courtesy of M. Reza Ghadiri
M. Reza Ghadiri

Sponsor: Ronald Breslow Award Endowment

Citation: For pathpointing contributions to the de novo design of functional peptides and protein assemblies and to the probable role of peptides in the origins of life

Current position: Chemistry professor, Scripps Research Institute

Education: BA, chemistry, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee; PhD, chemistry, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Ghadiri on the most rewarding part of his job: “Working with bright young scientists. I have been lucky to have had caring parents, many supportive and inspiring teachers, advisers, friends, and colleagues in the course of my education and scientific career. It’s hard to imagine what might have been without their advice, support, and encouragement. I would be most pleased to know that I have also contributed to inspiring a few young minds and helped them in some way towards achieving their scientific dreams and aspirations.”

What Ghadiri’s colleagues say: “Reza is one of the most creative scientists I have ever met. He has made profound, compelling, and pioneering contributions to bioorganic chemistry. The practical utility of his remarkably creative approaches is readily apparent in the scores of people that have used his concepts to design functional materials. I routinely seek his advice for our own projects.”—Phil S. Baran, Scripps Research Institute

Herbert C. Brown Award for Creative Research in Synthetic Methods: Benjamin List

This is a photo of Benjamin List.
Credit: Courtesy of Benjamin List
Benjamin List

Sponsor: Purdue Borane Research Fund and the Herbert C. Brown Award Endowment

Citation: For outstanding conceptual, practical, and mechanistic contributions to developing organocatalytic methods for chemical synthesis, including reactions that are frequently used in academia and industry

Current position: Director of the department of homogeneous catalysis, Max Planck Institute for Kohlenforschung, honorary chemistry professor at the University of Cologne, and specially appointed professor at Hokkaido University

Education: Diploma, chemistry, Free University of Berlin; PhD, organic chemistry, University of Frankfurt

List on his proudest career moment: “Before the Nobel announcement on October 6, it had probably been winning the Herbert C. Brown Award for Creative Research in Synthetic Methods. I was so proud of all of my more recent coworkers as I feel this award is given for the work they have been doing here in the last few years.”

What List’s colleagues say: “Ben has opened the door to an entire research field, organocatalysis, which has changed chemical synthesis perhaps more than any other single field within the last several decades. His work has fundamentally changed the way enantiomers are made both in academia and in industry. Reaxys already lists three named reactions that carry List in them, and I would not be surprised if more follow.”—Kendall Houk, University of California, Los Angeles

Alfred Burger Award in Medicinal Chemistry: Nicholas A. Meanwell

This is a photo of Nicholas A. Meanwell.
Credit: Courtesy of Nicholas A. Meanwell
Nicholas A. Meanwell

Sponsor: Gilead Sciences

Citation: For outstanding contributions to the field of medicinal chemistry through the discovery of truly novel medicines and exceptional contributions to the literature

Current position: Vice president, discovery chemistry platforms, department of small molecule drug discovery, Bristol Myers Squibb Research and Early Development

Education: BSc, chemistry, and PhD, organic chemistry, University of Sheffield

Meanwell on his most memorable project: “I have had the good fortune to work on many pioneering drug design efforts including nonprostanoid prostacyclin mimetics, respiratory syncytial virus fusion inhibitors, and HIV-1 attachment inhibitors. However, it was the discovery of the first hepatitis C virus NS5A inhibitor daclatasvir that provided the most memorable experience based on the cryptic nature of the lead molecule and the significant challenge associated with expanding the genotype coverage to encompass all clinically relevant species.”

What Meanwell’s colleagues say: “Nicholas is a world-class medicinal chemist who is responsible for the discovery of over 33 small molecule development candidates that address medical needs in the areas of cardiovascular, infectious, or immunological diseases. Of these, 22 compounds have entered clinical trials, while four have received regulatory approval.”—Paul M. Scola, Bristol Myers Squibb


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