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.



2023 ACS National Award winners—Part IV

by Nina Notman, special to C&EN
December 30, 2022 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 101, Issue 1


Robert R. Knowles.
Credit: Courtesy of Robert R. Knowles
Robert R. Knowles

Elias J. Corey Award for Outstanding Original Contribution in Organic Synthesis by a Young Investigator: Robert R. Knowles

Sponsor: Pfizer Endowment Fund

Citation: For establishing proton-coupled electron transfer as a general approach to solve synthetic challenges in the areas of free radical chemistry, asymmetric catalysis, and organometallic chemistry

Current position: Professor of chemistry, Princeton University

Education: BS, chemistry, College of William and Mary; PhD, organic chemistry, California Institute of Technology

Knowles on the most rewarding part of his job: “The process of taking an idea that begins as a drawing on a blackboard and developing it into something real that other people can actually use and build upon.”

What Knowles’s colleagues say: “Rob has established an extraordinarily original and successful independent research program and set new directions in the field of reaction chemistry. He is a highly creative synthetic and mechanistic chemist, with a remarkably insightful and probing mind.”—Eric N. Jacobsen, Harvard University

F. Albert Cotton Award in Synthetic Inorganic Chemistry: May Nyman

May Nyman.
Credit: Courtesy of May Nyman
May Nyman

Sponsor: F. Albert Cotton Endowment Fund

Citation: For seminal contributions to the synthesis and development of polyoxometalates and metal oxohydroxoclusters, including their structures, speciation, reaction mechanisms, and function

Current position: Professor of chemistry, Oregon State University

Education: BS, geology, and MS, materials science and engineering, Virginia Tech; PhD, inorganic materials chemistry, University of New Mexico

Nyman on her most memorable time period as a scientist: “My first summer as a professor, 10 years ago, 9 months after I decided to make the leap from national lab career to academia. We had just installed our benchtop small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) instrument, and I spent the summer with a postdoc and graduate student learning data collection, processing, and analysis. The learning process was fantastic and validated my decision to make this big life change. By fall, our first article featuring data from the SAXS was published in JACS.”

What Nyman’s colleagues say: “Many in the field consider May the ‘Queen of POMs’ (POMs meaning polyoxometalates, which is her specialty). Via her remarkable creativity and scientific production, her many collaborations within and beyond the inorganic chemistry field, and mentoring of students and young researchers, May has been an example and a leader with distinction to our community and has enhanced the visibility of synthetic inorganic chemistry.”—Gauthier Deblonde, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Frank H. Field and Joe L. Franklin Award for Outstanding Achievement in Mass Spectrometry: David E. Clemmer

David E. Clemmer.
Credit: Courtesy of David E. Clemmer
David E. Clemmer

Sponsor: Waters Corporation

Citation: For the development of hybridized ion mobility–mass spectrometry techniques for the analysis and characterization of protein conformations and complex biomolecular mixtures

Current position: Distinguished Professor, Indiana University

Education: BS, chemistry, Adams State College; PhD, physical chemistry, University of Utah

Clemmer’s message for his younger self: “I would tell myself to make fewer commitments and protect large blocks of time.”

What Clemmer’s colleagues say: “It is David’s invention and development of nested ion mobility–mass spectrometry instrumentation and methodology that inspired this nomination. These pioneering techniques are now mainstays of an extraordinarily broad range of analyses spanning academic, chemical, and pharmaceutical industry, and national laboratory research.”—Caroline C. Jarrold, Indiana University Bloomington

Ernest Guenther Award in the Chemistry of Natural Products: Margaret Brimble

Margaret Brimble.
Credit: Courtesty of Margaret Brimble
Margaret Brimble

Sponsor: Givaudan

Citation: For the innovative synthesis of bioactive natural products, peptides, and peptidomimetics with translational applications for the treatment of neurogenetic disorders

Current position: Distinguished Professor, University of Auckland

Education: MSc, chemistry, University of Auckland; PhD, organic chemistry, University of Southampton

Brimble on her most memorable project: “Carrying out the medicinal chemistry for University of Auckland spinout company Neuren Pharmaceuticals that led to the discovery of the drug candidate NNZ-2566/trofinetide. This molecule went on to be successful in Phase 3 clinical trials for Rett syndrome (coordinated by Acadia Pharmaceuticals), and its new drug application has been accepted by the US Food and Drug Administration—the decision is due before 12 March 2023.”

What Brimble’s colleagues say: “Margaret is one of the most accomplished natural product chemists of a generation, with a broad body of work that spans creative synthetic strategy, new reaction development, and a truly impressive record of natural product inspired drug discovery.”—Simon Blakey, Emory University

Harry Gray Award for Creative Work in Inorganic Chemistry by a Young Investigator: Robert J. Gilliard Jr.

Robert J. Gilliard Jr.
Credit: Courtesty of Robert J. Gilliard Jr.
Robert J. Gilliard Jr.

Sponsor: Gray Award Endowment

Citation: For outstanding achievements in the development of creative synthetic strategies for low-oxidation-state main group inorganic materials with unusual bonding and photophysical properties

Current position: Associate professor of chemistry, University of Virginia

Education: BS, chemistry, Clemson University; PhD, chemistry, University of Georgia

Gilliard on the most rewarding parts of his job: “Scientific discovery and mentoring are the most rewarding parts of my job. One of the most fascinating aspects of being a synthetic chemist is that we introduce molecules to the world no one else has ever seen. It’s a privilege to have a position where I can literally dream up an idea and make it a reality. Of course, none of these ideas become reality without a talented team of students, postdocs, and collaborators.”

What Gilliard’s colleagues say: “In a short time period, Robert and his group’s abilities to synthesize and isolate novel and highly reactive main group compounds have driven many innovations in the main group chemistry. Further, Robert’s mentorship of students, and the admiration and respect that he receives from them, reminds me of the respect and adoration earned by Harry Gray.”—T. Brent Gunnoe, University of Virginia

Kathryn C. Hach Award for Entrepreneurial Success: Philip J. Wyatt

Philip J. Wyatt.
Credit: Courtesy of Philip J. Wyatt
Philip J. Wyatt

Sponsor: Kathryn C. Hach Award Fund

Citation: For entrepreneurial and scientific leadership, exemplified by successful development and commercialization of transformative light-scattering technology, which impacts biotechnology, analytical chemistry, materials, and nanoscience

Current position: Founder and chairman of the board, Wyatt Technology

Education: BA, liberal arts, and BS, physics, University of Chicago; MS, physics, University of Illinois; PhD, physics, Florida State University

Wyatt on who inspired him to become a scientist: “My uncle Boris Podolsky; a great physicist and a kind man who worked with Albert Einstein. He always encouraged my pursuit of a scientific career, even in the face of failure. He reminded me that challenge is sometimes the best motivation. Because of him, I never allowed my own failures to interfere with my career objectives.”

What Wyatt’s colleagues say: “Phil could have been an astronaut, being selected by the National Academy of Science in 1965 as one of 15 candidates of the first US scientist-astronaut program. To our Earthly benefit, Phil remained on the ground and became a captain of industry.”—Joseph E. Sabol, chemical consultant

M. Frederick Hawthorne Award in Main Group Inorganic Chemistry: Christopher C. Cummins

Christopher C. Cummins.
Credit: Courtesy of Christopher C. Cummins
Christopher C. Cummins

Sponsor: M. Frederick Hawthorne Award Endowment

Citation: For groundbreaking studies on phosphorus-element bond-forming reactions, reactive intermediate generation, and the synthesis of new simple molecules of interest for their structure and bonding

Current position: Henry Dreyfus Professor of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Education: AB, chemistry, Cornell University; PhD, inorganic chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cummins on what inspired him to become a scientist: “I have always been fascinated by the world around us, and I love learning what things are made of and how they work. Chemists in particular are scientists who get to express their creativity by imagining and then synthesizing new molecules and materials. Chemistry is not yet a mature discipline; one can uncover new knowledge by seeking new types of bonds between elements or by exploring elements in unusual oxidation states.”

What Cummins’s colleagues say: “Kit’s contributions to main group chemistry are high-profile, profound, and fundamental. He is clearly one of the most talented synthetic chemists in the world today, and has a great ability as a researcher and as a leader in scholarship and education.”—T. Don Tilley, University of California, Berkeley

E. B. Hershberg Award for Important Discoveries in Medicinally Active Substances: Kenneth A. Jacobson

Kenneth A. Jacobson.
Credit: Courtesy of Kenneth A. Jacobson
Kenneth A. Jacobson

Sponsor: Merck Research Laboratories

Citation: For original and high-impact research in structure-based medicinal chemistry, including the discovery of G-protein receptor modulators in clinical trials

Current position: Senior investigator, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health

Education: BA, liberal arts, Reed College; PhD, chemistry, University of California San Diego

Jacobson on a scientific hero: “Geoffrey Burnstock, University College London, is one of my scientific heroes. He was a zoologist who discovered purinergic signaling related to the biological role of extracellular adenosine triphosphate. He had to brave decades of intense skepticism from pharmacologists and accusations that his findings were artifactual. He was finally vindicated with the cloning of the receptors. It’s fortunate that he persisted, knowing that he was onto something extremely important.”

What Jacobson’s colleagues say: “Kenneth is a true legendary force in the field of medicinal chemistry. He has made seminal contributions to this field with numerous important discoveries of tremendous impact.”—Craig W. Lindsley, Vanderbilt University

E. V. Murphree Award in Industrial and Engineering Chemistry: Qinghuang Lin

Qinghuang Lin.
Credit: Courtesy of Qinghuang Lin
Qinghuang Lin

Sponsor: ExxonMobil Research & Engineering

Citation: For sustained and critical contributions to fundamental research and development in polymer materials chemistry in lithography for microelectronics

Current position: Technical director, Lam Research

Education: BE, chemical engineering, and MS, polymer science and engineering, Tsinghua University; PhD, materials science and engineering, University of Michigan

Lin on the most rewarding part of his job: “I am currently an engineer at Lam Research after more than 20 years at IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center and a brief stint at ASML. I continue to push the frontier of technology to make ever smaller, better, more powerful and energy-efficient microchips. I feel fortunate and am grateful for the opportunities to work in an industry where my inventions and our products (chips) have helped improve people’s daily lives around the world.”

What Lin’s colleagues say: “Qinghuang’s enthusiasm for advancing both fundamental research and technology transfer has had an indelible and lasting impact on the microelectronics industry.”—Christopher L. Soles, National Institute of Standards and Technology

Gilad Haran.
Credit: Courtesy of Gilad Haran
Gilad Haran

Nakanishi Prize: Gilad Haran

Sponsor: Nakanishi Prize Endowment

Citation: For the development of single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy techniques, which revealed novel features of protein folding and function-related dynamics with unprecedented time resolution

Current position: Professor, chemical and biological physics department, Weizmann Institute of Science

Education: BMedSc, Hebrew University School of Medicine; PhD, biophysics, Weizmann Institute of Science

Haran on his scientific hero: “My scientific hero is my postdoctoral mentor, the late Robin Hochstrasser from the University of Pennsylvania. Robin was a deep thinker and an erudite and passionate scientist. He was there all the time to discuss with us new experimental results, suggest ways to explain our findings, and propose ideas for new experiments, even though he never doubted our independence. I try to be a similar presence for my own students.”

What Haran’s colleagues say: “Gilad is a truly outstanding scientist. His work is characterized by great versatility and intellectual depth, and he has set new standards for the integration of experiment with theory and simulation in the physical chemistry of biological systems. Many of the concepts he established form the foundation of modern biophysical research.”—Benjamin Schuler, University of Zurich


This article has been sent to the following recipient:

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