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.



C&EN celebrates emerging leaders in the chemical sciences with the Talented 12 program

by Bibiana Campos-Seijo
August 14, 2020 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 98, Issue 31


This is an image of the T12 logo.
Credit: Will Ludwig/C&EN

I wish I could say that C&EN’s Talented 12 program keeps getting better and better. But I can’t. Because it’s always been outstanding, right from the beginning—exceptional emerging leaders working to push the boundaries of what is possible across a range of fields in the chemical sciences.

C&EN has been supporting this program for more than 5 years, and I can sincerely say it is one of the best initiatives that the team has introduced since I joined ACS. The science is superb, and the personal stories of the Talented 12 are inspiring. The brief time the team and I have shared with each Talented 12 class at ACS national meetings has been exciting, enjoyable, and memorable. It’s always struck me that the 60-plus individuals who have now participated in the program have much in common: vision, resiliency, determination, a can-do attitude, and a strong moral and ethical center. They are perfect role models for aspiring chemists.

Once someone becomes part of the Talented 12 family, we stay in touch. We try to keep up with their progress and milestones so we can track and celebrate their advancement in the sciences. Our goal is not only to showcase excellent science and scientists but to create a network of people who are advancing the chemical sciences in a big way.

We continue to watch the careers of our alumni grow and are encouraged to see them become leaders and mentors to the next generation of chemists. Renã Robinson(class of 2016), for example, is president-elect of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers. As such, we have invited her to participate in C&EN’s Futures Festival as one of the guests at the Power Hour we are hosting in partnership with Gordon Research Conferences on Aug. 26. We’ll discuss a number of issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and you’ll have an opportunity to hear about Robinson’s vision for the organization. You can register for the free festival at

On the topic of diversity and inclusion, just last week two of C&EN’s Talented 12 alums—Marie Heffern (class of 2017) and Steve Townsend (class of 2019)—contributed to a four-author opinion piece for ACS Central Science that I thoroughly recommend. It is one of the best calls to action I have read—clear, frank, and practical.

There are many other success stories to share about the Talented 12, as the recognition and honors come fast and furious for this group. In only the past few months, Emily Balskus (class of 2015) became one of two recipients of the National Science Foundation Alan T. Waterman Award, worth $1 million over 5 years. A few weeks before that, 4 of 14 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards for 2020 went to T12 alums: Frank Leibfarth (class of 2019), Alison Narayan (class of 2016), Alexander Spokoyny (class of 2016), and Townsend. And the list of honorees’ achievements continues to grow.

So please turn to page 28 and check out the profiles of C&EN’s Talented 12 class of 2020. You’ll be delighted to read about the groundbreaking work of this global, multidisciplinary group of people in academia, industry, and government. We had more than 550 nominations this year for the 12 slots—a record.

Also, please do take the time to enjoy a walk down memory lane and revisit previous editions of the Talented 12.

And finally, if you haven’t registered yet, do not forget to sign up for the Talented 12 symposium, which will take place Aug. 25 at 9:30 a.m. ET, during the Futures Festival. Stuart Schreiber will headline the event.

I can’t wait.

Views expressed on this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of ACS.


This article has been sent to the following recipient:

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