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2024 ACS National Award winners: Part V

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


Herbert W. Roesky.
Credit: Courtesy of Herbert W. Roesky
Herbert W. Roesky

Frederic Stanley Kipping Award in Silicon Chemistry: Herbert W. Roesky

Sponsor: Dow

Citation: For the preparation of unique compounds with low-valent silicon from commodities without using metals as reducing agents

Current position: Professor emeritus of chemistry, Georg August University of Göttingen

Education: BS, chemistry, MS, analytical chemistry, and PhD, inorganic chemistry, Georg August University of Göttingen

Roesky on what inspired him to become a chemist: “During the Second World War, my parents lost all their belongings, and when I tried to [enroll] for agriculture at college, I learned that job positions in that field were rare after finishing the studies and that chemists were needed and had a good income.”

What Roesky’s colleagues say: “Herbert is a true master of original syntheses. However, his research goes far beyond simply making molecules, and his very thorough investigations are invariably coupled with an impressive battery of physicochemical characterization measurements and careful exploration of the reaction chemistry of the new molecules.”—Tobin J. Marks, Northwestern University

David N. Beratan.
Credit: Courtesy of Duke University
David N. Beratan

Irving Langmuir Award in Chemical Physics: David N. Beratan

Sponsor: TheJournal of Chemical Physics and the ACS Division of Physical Chemistry

Citation: For pioneering the development of interdisciplinary predictive methods that have profoundly affected the fundamental understanding of biological electron transfer, bioenergetics, inverse molecular design, and molecular chirality

Current position: R.J. Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and professor of biochemistry and physics, Duke University

Education: BS, chemistry, Duke University; PhD, chemistry, California Institute of Technology

Beratan on his most memorable project: “Theoretical chemistry can seem abstract. After developing our tunneling pathway theory, I shared some color-coded figures with Harry Gray at Caltech that summarized our predictions. I walked past the Gray group office a day or two later, finding some of his group members huddled over the images, discussing them intensively. At that point, I learned the extraordinary value of conveying scientific ideas in a form that can be understood and used by one’s community.”

What Beratan’s colleagues say: “David’s work in theoretical chemical physics has had a truly transformative impact in modern chemistry. For example, our ability to understand biological electron transfer rates at the level of specific protein structures and structural fluctuations is due to David’s pioneering contributions.”—Harry B. Gray, California Institute of Technology

James K. McCusker.
Credit: Courtesy of James K. McCusker
James K. McCusker

Josef Michl ACS Award in Photochemistry: James K. McCusker

Sponsor: Endowed fund established by Josef Michl

Citation: For contributions to the understanding of the photoinduced properties of transition-metal complexes through the combined use of synthesis and ultrafast spectroscopy

Current position: MSU Research Foundation Professor of chemistry, Michigan State University

Education: BS and MS, chemistry, Bucknell University; PhD, physical-inorganic chemistry, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

McCusker on his scientific hero: “It’s Harry Gray, for his scientific integrity, wisdom, and curiosity, his infectious passion for science, and his unwavering support for younger scientists.”

What McCusker’s colleagues say: “Jim brought femtosecond ultrafast spectroscopy to inorganic chemistry. Prior to this, the field was blind to the energy flow within a metal complex at the instant light is deposited into the molecule. He has meticulously defined these dynamics and shown how charge-transfer and ligand-field excited states communicate with each other.”—Daniel G. Nocera, Harvard University

Rakesh Agrawal.
Credit: Courtesy of Rakesh Agrawal
Rakesh Agrawal

E. V. Murphree Award in Industrial and Engineering Chemistry: Rakesh Agrawal

Sponsor: ExxonMobil Technology and Engineering

Citation: For outstanding contributions to advancing sustainability by developing energy-efficient separation and gas liquefaction processes and innovative renewable energy technologies

Current position: Winthrop E. Stone Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering, Purdue University

Education: BTech, chemical engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur; MChE, chemical engineering, University of Delaware; ScD, chemical engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Agrawal on his proudest career moment: “It was the trip to the White House with my family, including my father, to receive the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Barack Obama.”

What Agrawal’s colleagues say: “Rakesh is building a more sustainable future through his transformative innovations in energy harvesting, conversion, storage, and use. His inventions have been incorporated in over 100 plants, with total capital investments amounting to several billions of dollars.”—Doraiswami Ramkrishna, Purdue University

Nobel Laureate Signature Award for Graduate Education in Chemistry: Melissa Lucero (student) and Jefferson Chan (preceptor)

Sponsor: Avantor

Citation: For outstanding accomplishments in developing biomarker-responsive imaging probes and for the innovative use of these probes as basic scientific tools, biopsy-free assessment agents, and companion diagnostic tests

What their colleagues say: “Melissa’s dissertation work is creative and inventive as well as rigorous and of high quality. The work is also impressive for its breadth, spanning [from] physical organic chemistry and organic synthesis to identifying and treating diseases in mice. Melissa is clearly a rising star.”—Amy E. Palmer, University of Colorado Boulder

Melissa Lucero.
Credit: Courtesy of Melissa Lucero
Melissa Lucero

Melissa Lucero

Current position: Postdoctoral fellow, National Cancer Institute

Education: BS, biochemistry and molecular biology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County; PhD, chemistry, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Lucero on her scientific hero: “My former mentors from my undergraduate and graduate experiences are my scientific heroes. They are some of the brightest minds I have met[, and they’ve] allowed me to learn from them and grow as a scientist. I hope to do the same for the next generation of scientists.”

Jefferson Chan.
Credit: Courtesy of Jefferson Chan
Jefferson Chan

Jefferson Chan

Current position: Associate professor of chemistry, University of Illinois Urbana-​Champaign

Education: BS, chemistry, University of British Columbia; PhD, chemistry, Simon Fraser University

Chan on his proudest career moment: “It was winning this award. This honor recognized not only my student’s achievements but also my contributions as their advisor, showcasing a shared journey of success.”

David Crich.
Credit: Courtesy of David Crich
David Crich

James Flack Norris Award in Physical Organic Chemistry: David Crich

Sponsor: Endowed fund established by the ACS Northeastern Section

Citation: For sustained commitment to the study and application of mechanistic organic chemistry toward the greater understanding of organic, carbohydrate, and medicinal chemistry, including glycobiology

Current position: Professor of pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, University of Georgia

Education: BSc, chemistry, University of Surrey; Dr ès Sc, organic chemistry, University of Paris-Sud

Crich on his most memorable project: “I’ve had many, but most recently the counterintuitive development of hydroxylamine-based anticancer antibiotics and the use of physical organic principles to predict and then exploit previously unrecognized aspects of glycosidase reaction mechanisms.”

What Crich’s colleagues say: “David’s attention to detail in understanding reaction mechanisms and applying those ideas in synthesis has transformed how we think about a number of reactions, particularly in the carbohydrate field.”—Keith Woerpel, New York University

Umit S. Ozkan.
Credit: Courtesy of Umit S. Ozkan
Umit S. Ozkan

George A. Olah Award in Hydrocarbon or Petroleum Chemistry: Umit S. Ozkan

Sponsor: Endowed fund established by the Morris S. Smith Foundation and Dow

Citation: For outstanding contributions to the literature of hydrocarbon chemistry and for dedicated service to the higher education and scientific communities

Current position: Distinguished University Professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, Ohio State University

Education: BS and MS, chemical engineering, Middle East Technical University; PhD, chemical engineering, Iowa State University

Ozkan on the most rewarding part of her job: “There is nothing more gratifying than working with bright, talented people, seeing growth in each of them in the process. I have been extremely fortunate in that I have worked with a great many such individuals—incredible people who have challenged me, inspired me, motivated me, and energized me. They have enriched my life in more ways than words can express. Every award, every recognition I have received in my career really belongs to them.”

What Ozkan’s colleagues say: “Umit is an innovator in the field of catalysis and has made substantial impacts in the discovery and understanding of catalytic materials. Throughout her 35 years of catalysis research, she has also provided mentoring and leadership to over 100 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.”—Jeffrey T. Miller, Purdue University

Donald J. Wink.
Credit: Courtesy of Donald J. Wink
Donald J. Wink

George C. Pimentel Award in Chemical Education: Donald J. Wink

Sponsor: Endowed fund established by the ACS Division of Chemical Education and the Board of Publications that supports theJournal of Chemical Education and Chemical Education Xchange

Citation: For work with diverse learners of chemistry in college and for contributions to faculty and teacher education through new approaches toward instruction, assessment, and epistemology

Current position: Professor of chemistry, University of Illinois Chicago

Education: BS, chemistry, University of Chicago; PhD, chemistry, Harvard University

Wink on who inspired him to become a scientist: “My father, someone who never finished formal high school but who, through wondrous exploration of museums, put me in touch with a scientific view of the natural world.”

What Wink’s colleagues say: “The leadership, creativity, and passion of Donald as he humbly lends his expertise in chemical education has literally made a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, and Chicago citizens.”—Stacey Lowery Bretz, Ohio Northern University

Glenn T. Seaborg Award for Nuclear Chemistry: Kenneth L. Nash

Sponsor: ACS Division of Nuclear Chemistry and Technology

Citation: For training next-generation scientists in the use of the kinetic and thermodynamic properties of actinide coordination chemistry to develop practical bench-to-industrial-scale separation processes

Current position: Professor emeritus of chemistry, Washington State University

Education: BA, chemistry, Lewis University; MS and PhD, inorganic chemistry, Florida State University

What Nash’s colleagues say: “Ken has demonstrated the ability to assemble and lead multidisciplinary research teams and networks that stretch to a global scale to solve difficult problems in nuclear and radiochemistry. Further, his commitment to the advancement of separations and actinide science has inspired many researchers into successful careers around the world.”—Leigh R. Martin, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Charles T. Campbell.
Credit: Courtesy of Charles T. Campbell
Charles T. Campbell

Gabor A. Somorjai Award for Creative Research in Catalysis: Charles T. Campbell

Sponsor: Endowed fund established by Gabor A. and Judith K. Somorjai

Citation: For thermodynamic measurements of adsorbates and metal atoms in supported catalysts with various particle sizes and supports and for key equations related to kinetics and catalyst design

Current position: Professor emeritus of chemistry, University of Washington

Education: BS, chemical engineering, and PhD, physical chemistry, University of Texas at Austin

Campbell on the most rewarding part of his job: “Being able to work and socialize with scientists and engineers of all ages who invariably have great intelligence, are motivated by a desire to make the world a better place, are highly energetic, and are just plain fun to be around. I am so very fortunate.”

What Campbell’s colleagues say: “Charlie is a remarkably innovative researcher who is leading the catalysis community in the elucidation of the fundamental aspects of surface science to interpret and control the performance of heterogeneous catalysts under industrially relevant reaction conditions.”—James Dumesic, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Prashant V. Kamat.
Credit: Courtesy of Prashant V. Kamat
Prashant V. Kamat

Henry H. Storch Award in Energy Chemistry: Prashant V. Kamat

Sponsor: Endowed fund established by the ACS Division of Energy and Fuels

Citation: For advancing energy chemistry through the elucidation of the basic principles underlying light-induced charge-transfer processes in quantum-confined semiconductors, molecular systems, and their hybrids

Current position: Rev. John A. Zahm Professor of Science, University of Notre Dame

Education: BS, chemistry, Karnatak University Dharwad; MS and PhD, physical chemistry, University of Bombay

Kamat on his research area: “My journey into renewable energy research, which started in 1974 [when I was] a PhD student, continues today with the same rigor and passion. When I first started research, the utilization of photovoltaics was criticized as a fantasy. Today, we see renewable energy as part of our energy supply chain. It is a privilege to experience such a transformation during the period of my scientific career.”

What Kamat’s colleagues say: “Prashant has made exceptional contributions in interactions [between light and matter] in light-harvesting assemblies with organic sensitizers, semiconductor nanostructures, and nanocarbons. Over his three-decade-plus illustrious career, he has worked to build bridges between physical chemistry and materials science to develop these assemblies that promise cleaner and more efficient light energy conversion.”—Thomas E. Mallouk, University of Pennsylvania

Warren S. Warren.
Credit: Courtesy of Warren S. Warren
Warren S. Warren

E. Bright Wilson Award in Spectroscopy: Warren S. Warren

Sponsor: Endowed fund established by the ACS Division of Physical Chemistry and friends and colleagues of E. Bright Wilson

Citation: For fundamental advances in the theoretical understanding of nuclear magnetic resonance and optical spectroscopy and for the demonstration of practical applications of these techniques

Current position: James B. Duke Professor of Chemistry, Duke University

Education: AB, chemistry and physics, Harvard University; MS and PhD, chemistry, University of California, Berkeley


Warren on the most rewarding part of his job: “It is watching graduate students mature to the point where they can tell me, ‘Warren, you are wrong,’ back that statement up, and be correct.”

What Warren’s colleagues say: “Warren has a superb scientific track, spanning from fundamental discovery in nonlinear spectroscopy to femtosecond laser pulse shaping to pump–probe microscopy. This work enables high-resolution, high-contrast microscopy for important applications in medicine.”—Margaret Murnane, University of Colorado Boulder

Anne L’Huillier.
Credit: Courtesy of Anne L’Huillier
Anne L’Huillier

Ahmed Zewail Award in Ultrafast Science and Technology: Anne L’Huillier

Sponsor: Endowed fund established by Newport

Citation: For pioneering and sustained contributions to ultrafast science and technology, in particular attosecond science and high-order harmonic generation

Current position: Professor of atomic physics, Lund University

Education: MS, physics and mathematics, and PhD, physics, Pierre and Marie Curie University

L’Huillier on her proudest career moment: “It was when I heard that I was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics on Oct. 3, 2023.”

What L’Huillier’s colleagues say: “For over three decades, Anne’s research has opened new frontiers in the areas of atomic physics, ultrafast optics, and high-field attosecond science. She has also shown a career-long commitment to education and is known to be a remarkable mentor to her many students.”—John Dudley, University of Franche-Comté

National Fresenius Award: Maxwell J. Robb

Maxwell J. Robb.
Credit: Courtesy of Maxwell J. Robb
Maxwell J. Robb

Sponsor: Phi Lambda Upsilon

Citation: For synthetic, mechanistic, and theoretical advances in polymer mechanochemistry, including mechanochromic materials and new approaches to small-molecule release

Current position: Assistant professor of chemistry, California Institute of Technology

Education: BS, chemistry, Colorado School of Mines; PhD, chemistry, University of California, Santa Barbara

Robb on his most memorable project: “In one of our first publications, and still one of my favorites, a very helpful peer reviewer suggested that our interpretation of a particular phenomenon was incorrect. They turned out to be completely right, and in the following couple of weeks, we intensely revised our analysis and devised an entirely new model. That was certainly memorable!”

What Robb’s colleagues say: “Since beginning his independent career in 2017, Max has quickly emerged as a scholar and leader in the field of mechanochemistry, and he is recognized for his rigorous, scholarly, and mechanistically guided approach to mechanophore design.”—Dennis A. Dougherty, California Institute of Technology

Nina Notman is a freelance writer based in Salisbury, England.


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