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2024 ACS National Award winners: Part II

by Nina Notman, special to C&EN
January 5, 2024 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 102, Issue 1


ACS Award for Research at an Undergraduate Institution: Rachel Narehood Austin

Rachel Narehood Austin.
Credit: Courtesy of Rachel Narehood Austin
Rachel Narehood Austin

Sponsor: Research Corporation for Science Advancement

Citation: For contributions to our understanding of the bioinorganic chemistry of alkane oxidation and metal binding to neurologically important metallothionein and for the development of heterogeneous catalysts

Current position: Diana T. and P. Roy Vagelos Professor of Chemistry, Barnard College

Education: BA, chemistry, University of North Carolina at Greensboro; PhD, chemistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Austin on her proudest career moment: “It’s every time one of my students succeeds at something professionally and attributes some part of their success to our work together.”

What Austin’s colleagues say: “Rachel’s research with undergraduates at Bates College and currently at Barnard College has achieved broad recognition and contributed significantly to advancement within bioinorganic chemistry, metalloneurochemistry, and heterogeneous catalysis. She is also widely known for her exceptional dedication to the professional development of her undergraduate students.”—Alison Butler, University of California, Santa Barbara

ACS Award for Team Innovation: Catherine A. Bothof, Angelines Castro Forero, Jonathan F. Hester, Jerald Rasmussen, and John J. Schmidt

Sponsor: ACS Committee on Corporation Associates

Citation: For the development of 3M Polisher ST, a single-use device that removes host cell proteins, viruses, and negatively charged impurities from biopharmaceutical manufacturing feed streams

What their colleagues say: “The collaborative effort of this cross-functional technical team included discovery and development of new chemistries, invention of new processes, and product design innovation to meet customer needs.”—Robert Messner, retired vice president, Corporate Research Material Laboratory, 3M

Catherine A. Bothof.
Credit: Courtesy of Catherine A. Bothof
Catherine A. Bothof

Catherine A. Bothof

Current position: Technical manager, 3M

Education: BS, biochemistry and hydrology, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Bothof on the most rewarding part of her job: “It is working with a strong, talented team with expertise in many different technologies. Our team collaborates with many groups and develops new applications across the company. Every day is different, and the variety of work presents unique challenges and opportunities to learn.”

Angelines Castro Forero.
Credit: Courtesy of Angelines Castro Forero
Angelines Castro Forero

Angelines Castro Forero

Current position: Filtration technology manager, Saint-Gobain

Education: BS, chemical engineering, University of Atlántico; MS, chemical engineering, University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez; PhD, chemical engineering, Michigan State University

Castro Forero on a proud career moment: “During my career, I have been involved in the development of products used in the manufacture of biological therapies. Some of those products were used to manufacture treatments against COVID-19. Knowing that the work I did helped address this health crisis is something I am very proud of.”

Jonathan F. Hester.
Credit: Courtesy of Jonathan F. Hester
Jonathan F. Hester

Jonathan F. Hester

Current position: Division scientist, Separation and Purification Sciences Division, 3M

Education: BS, materials science and engineering, Purdue University; PhD, polymer science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Hester on the most rewarding part of his job: “I love that my colleagues and I frequently get the chance to hold a new material in our (usually gloved) hands. A material that has probably never before been in existence, that we ourselves made. Immediately, we have questions about the new material: What is it soluble in? What are its physical properties? Is it useful? Occasionally, it’s useful!”

Jerald Rasmussen.
Credit: Courtesy of Jerald Rasmussen
Jerald Rasmussen

Jerald Rasmussen

Current position: Staff scientist, Corporate Research Laboratories, 3M

Education: BS, chemistry, University of Minnesota Twin Cities; PhD, organic chemistry, University of Colorado Boulder

Rasmussen on who inspired him to become a scientist: “It was several people, among them my mother and my maternal grandmother. Another person who stands out is my high school chemistry teacher at Bemidji High School, Minnesota. He made the subject so interesting and intriguing that I just had to learn more.”

John J. Schmidt.
Credit: Courtesy of John J. Schmidt
John J. Schmidt

John J. Schmidt

Current position: Technical manager, Corporate Research Process Laboratory, 3M

Education: BS, chemical and biological engineering and biochemistry, University of Wisconsin–Madison; MS and PhD, chemical and biomolecular engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Schmidt on his proudest career moment: “It was the launch of the 3M Polisher ST. This was a culmination of a lot of hard work, by an awesome team over many years, to develop a unique solution to a critical customer problem. Additionally, the 3M Polisher ST is used by our customers to purify life-changing treatments of a number of diseases that have impacted people close to me.”

ACS Award in Analytical Chemistry: Joseph Wang

Joseph Wang.
Credit: Courtesy of Joseph Wang
Joseph Wang

Sponsor: ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry

Citation: For outstanding accomplishments in developing new biosensors, including lab-on-a-chip sensors and wearable devices, with broad applications in health care, defense, and environmental monitoring

Current position: Distinguished Professor of Nanoengineering, University of California San Diego

Education: BS, chemistry, and PhD, analytical chemistry, Technion—Israel Institute of Technology

Wang on his most memorable project: “It was Lab-on-a-Gondola, where we cruised the canals of Venice in Italy and monitored toxic pollutants.”

What Wang’s colleagues say: “It would be difficult to find another scientist whose record of research productivity, creativity, and contributions to promoting the field of analytical chemistry over an extended time period rivals what Joe has accomplished.”—Mark E. Meyerhoff, University of Michigan


Frank S. Bates.
Credit: Courtesy of Frank S. Bates
Frank S. Bates

ACS Award in Applied Polymer Science: Frank S. Bates

Sponsor: Eastman Chemical

Citation: For pioneering the application of block copolymers to control the structure and enhance the performance of engineered polymer materials, including thermoplastics and thermosets

Current position: Regents Professor of chemical engineering and materials science, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Education: BS, mathematics, University at Albany; SM and ScD, chemical engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Bates on his proudest career moment: “I was privileged to be department head of chemical engineering and materials science at the University of Minnesota for 15 years, working with an extraordinary group of faculty and staff. Finding a path to finance and construct a building addition in the face of institutional bureaucracy was among my most satisfying accomplishments. The Gore Annex expanded our space by about 35%, making possible faculty hires for the foreseeable future.”

What Bates’s colleagues say: “Frank has played a lead role in our understanding of fundamental aspects of copolymer assembly. His contributions have led to important new materials development and the generation of polymer materials systems that form the basis of highly improved performance polymers and which address important industrial challenges for commercial polymers.”—Paula T. Hammond, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Ronald E. Majors.
Credit: Courtesy of Ronald E. Majors
Ronald E. Majors

ACS Award in Chromatography: Ronald E. Majors

Sponsor: MilliporeSigma

Citation: For outstanding contributions to the field of chromatography and long service to the separation science community

Current position: Retired senior scientist, Agilent Technologies

Education: BS, chemistry, California State University, Fresno; PhD, analytical chemistry, Purdue University

Majors on who inspired him to become a chemist: “It was Ms. Rogers at Roosevelt High School in Fresno, California. In 11th grade, I took chemistry and was strongly interested in analysis. Rogers saw my sparkle and interest. She asked me to be her lab assistant for my senior year, and I jumped at the chance. When I was interviewed for our high school newspaper about career choices, I was already determined to be an analytical chemist—the rest is history!”

What Majors’s colleagues say: “Ron is a prolific contributor to the technology side of the liquid chromatography world, but he is better known as an educator who has explained liquid chromatography to far more people than those of us in academia. His biggest contribution is the 30 years of monthly columns he wrote forLCGC magazine.”—Fred E. Regnier, Novilytic

Robert D. Tilton.
Credit: Courtesy of Robert D. Tilton
Robert D. Tilton

ACS Award in Colloid Chemistry: Robert D. Tilton

Sponsor: Colgate-Palmolive

Citation: For advancing the fundamental understanding of colloidal and interfacial phenomena involving compositional and structural complexity, especially those related to multicomponent fluids and nanoscale polymer brushes with controlled architectures

Current position: Chevron Professor of Chemical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

Education: BChE, chemical engineering, University of Delaware; MS and PhD, chemical engineering, Stanford University

Tilton on the most rewarding part of his job: “At the risk of sounding like a cliché, working with students truly is the best part of being a professor. Observing that moment when they have a breakthrough research idea or when an entropy balance on some process finally makes sense in a thermodynamics class is what makes this job so much fun.”

What Tilton’s colleagues say: “Bob is a remarkably thoughtful and generous contributor to the ACS colloids community, making outstanding scientific contributions to our understanding of complex fluids at interfaces and volunteering his time and good judgment to benefit our professional society.”—Nicholas L. Abbott, Cornell University

ACS Award in Industrial Chemistry: Carlos A. Martinez

Carlos A. Martinez.
Credit: Courtesy of Carlos A. Martinez
Carlos A. Martinez

Sponsor: ACS Division of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry

Citation: For pioneering biocatalysis applications to the environmentally friendly synthesis of drug substances in the pharmaceutical industry, through innovative biochemistry, molecular biology, microbiology, and enzyme engineering

Current position: Director of the Biocatalysis Center of Excellence, Pfizer

Education: BS, chemistry, University of Valle; PhD, chemistry, University of Florida

Martinez on what he hopes to accomplish in the next decade: “To expand the use of computer-driven models and large datasets to accelerate biocatalyst development, to broaden the classes of enzymes that can be implemented at the manufacturing scale, and to train the next generation of scientists.”

What Martinez’s colleagues say: “Carlos has demonstrated that enzymatic methods can be applied for the manufacture of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and intermediates, thereby reducing costs of production and making important medicines more widely available. These processes are also greener, more sustainable, and hence provide real-world solutions and alternatives for API production.”—Nicholas J. Turner, University of Manchester

Frank Neese.
Credit: Courtesy of Frank Neese
Frank Neese

ACS Award in Inorganic Chemistry: Frank Neese

Sponsor: MilliporeSigma (a business of Merck KGaA)

Citation: For outstanding accomplishments in combining high-level theory with experiment to obtain insight into the properties and reactivities of transition-metal complexes and metalloenzymes

Current position: Director of the Department of Molecular Theory and Spectroscopy, Max Planck Institute for Kohlenforschung

Education: Diplom and Dr. rer. nat., biology, University of Konstanz

Neese on his scientific inspirations: “Heroes are for novels, but I admire many colleagues, past and present, for their outstanding intellectual brilliance, creativity, and insights. An early, strong influence was Michael Zerner, the developer of the quantum chemistry program ZINDO. He had an amazing way of feeling chemical problems and then constructing the right tool for solving the problem using a combination of intuition, elegant thinking, and mathematical rigor.”

What Neese’s colleagues say: “Frank has had a very profound impact on the [inorganic and bioinorganic] chemistry communities. He is regarded as a theoretician with the heart of an inorganic spectroscopist. It is this unique combination that allows him to address challenging questions in [inorganic and bioinorganic] chemistry that neither theory nor experiment could answer alone.”—Laura Gagliardi, University of Chicago

Louise A. Berben.
Credit: Courtesy of Louise A. Berben
Louise A. Berben

ACS Award in Organometallic Chemistry: Louise A. Berben

Sponsor: Dow

Citation: For fundamental advances in understanding reaction selectivity in electrochemically driven hydride transfer chemistry, including the proton-coupled electron transfer chemistry of metal carbonyl clusters

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

Education: BSc, chemistry and applied chemistry, University of New South Wales; PhD, chemistry, University of California, Berkeley

Berben on her research area: “Inorganic chemistry has been my academic interest since I was an undergraduate student. The field includes a broad scope of approaches and applications of metal ions. The community continues to advance fundamental science in many areas of synthesis and catalysis. Electrochemically driven hydride transfer catalysis has the potential to find widespread use in areas such as organic synthesis and renewable fuels production, including the reactive capture of CO2. I’m excited to see what the future holds.”

What Berben’s colleagues say: “Louise is a dedicated and extraordinarily productive investigator who has made important advances in our understanding of organometallic chemistry. Her advances were essential to achieving high product selectivity and optimal catalytic activity in CO2 conversion to [products containing C–H bonds].”—Alan L. Balch, University of California, Davis

Eugenia Kumacheva.
Credit: Courtesy of Eugenia Kumacheva
Eugenia Kumacheva

ACS Award in Polymer Chemistry: Eugenia Kumacheva

Sponsor: ExxonMobil Technology and Engineering

Citation: For research accomplishments in the study of polymers, including in polymer-induced lubrication, interactions between polymer-tethered nanoparticles, hydrogels, and the microfluidic synthesis of polymers

Current position: Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, University of Toronto

Education: BS and MSc, chemical engineering, Saint Petersburg State Institute of Technology; PhD, polymer physical chemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences

Kumacheva on her scientific hero: “It is George Whitesides at Harvard University, with whom I spent my sabbatical. His outstandingly broad vision in science and technology and unorthodox way of thinking have inspired me to delve into research areas that I would have never considered otherwise.”

What Kumacheva’s colleagues say: “Eugenia’s imaginative research has reached across traditional boundaries of physics, chemistry, and materials of polymers to provide us with insights into polymer-induced lubrication mechanisms, a new understanding of polymer organization on multiple length scales, novel strategies for creating advanced polymer materials, and truly revolutionary developments in microfluidic synthesis of polymer colloids.”—Michael Rubinstein, Duke University


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