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C&EN’s 2020 Trailblazers: Celebrating badass women entrepreneurs in chemistry

With guest editor Jennifer Doudna, CRISPR pioneer

March 8, 2020 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 98, Issue 9

Guided by guest editor Jennifer Doudna of CRISPR fame, we selected and profiled the amazing women on this list. They’re scientists at the top of their game. They’re role models building and mentoring teams. And yes, they’re badasses

feature1: A day with Jennifer Doudna: Trying to keep up with one of the world’s most sought-after scientists

feature2: CRISPR technology: Where female entrepreneurs thrive

feature3: Jennifer Doudna’s tips for new entrepreneurs

feature4: Samantha Du builds biotechs, and everyone in China follows

feature5: Yamuna Krishnan’s goal: Find drugs for neurodegenerative diseases

feature6: Frances Arnold on founding a company: ‘Building the right teams is critical’

feature7: After launching 7 companies in 12 years, Carolyn Bertozzi says she’s not slowing down

feature8: Olga Malinkiewicz wants to make good on the promise of perovskites

feature9: Mariana Matus means to combat the opioid epidemic with chemical data

feature10: Erika Milczek is replacing banned chemicals in consumer products

feature11: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw on her career: ‘I call myself an accidental entrepreneur’

feature12: Amy Prieto is building safer, more powerful batteries

feature13: Sarah Richardson on prestige publishing: ‘Luckily, I don’t give a crap about that’

feature14: Naomi Halas on being a scientist: ‘We need to be attracted to the big, hard problems’

feature15: Paula Hammond on women in science: Life will always be busy; start a company anyway

feature16: Amy Ripka on being a CEO: ‘Nobody ever got anywhere by listening to no’

feature17: Cristina Sáenz de Pipaón wants to put CO2 to good use

feature18: BioCellection’s Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao aim to make treasure out of plastic trash.

In 2020, we celebrate badass women entrepreneurs in chemistry
With guest editor Jennifer Doudna, CRISPR pioneer

In total, the women profiled in C&EN's 2020 Trailblazers have launched more than 30 start-ups aimed at developing treatments for rare diseases, building better batteries, and more. They’re scientists at the top of their game. They’re role models building and mentoring teams. And yes, they’re badasses. They live by the motto “Nobody ever got anywhere by listening to no.”

Guided by CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna, a formidable entrepreneur in her own right, we selected and profiled the amazing women on this list. They shared the secrets to their success and their visions for the future.

Keeping up with Jennifer Doudna: Spend a day in our guest editor’s shoes

It’s really hard to have mentors when you’re doing something that nobody has done before. … I think it’s important for me to nurture the next generation of leaders, whether male or female.

I can’t remember how many times I tried a certain reaction and it failed, but I can always remember the feeling of when it first worked. I think that’s important for a scientist.

You have to believe in what you are doing, and you should be passionate about it. This passion will prevent you from giving up and encourage you to do your best and even more.

Where female entrepreneurs thrive
We profile a few entrepreneurs among the many who are leading gene-editing projects.

Janice Chen

CTO of Mammoth Biosciences

Nicole Gaudelli

Senior scientist at Beam Therapeutics

Rachel Haurwitz

CEO of Caribou Biosciences

Ponsi Trivisvavet and Catherine Feuillet

CSO and CEO of Inari Agriculture

Read full article
Keeping up
with Jennifer
Read about how her role in the discovery of CRISPR has changed our guest editor’s life.
Read full article
Entrepreneurship 101:
Jennifer Doudna’s
top tips for success
Our guest editor is no stranger to starting a company.
Read on to see her advice for budding academic entrepreneurs
Read full article


Editorial lead: Lauren K. Wolf
Guest editor: Jennifer Doudna
Project editor: Gina Vitale
Writers: Celia Henry Arnaud; Leigh Krietsch Boerner; Britt E. Erickson; Bethany Halford; Cheryl Hogue; Laura Howes; Kerri Jansen; Lisa M. Jarvis; Jyllian Kemsley; Megha Satyanarayana; Lakshmi Supriya, special to C&EN; Cici Zhang, special to C&EN
Creative director: Robert Bryson
Site designers: Tchad K. Blair, Ty Finocchiaro, Kay Youn
Photographers: Gretchen Ertl, Christine Hochkeppel, Jennifer Leahy, Laura Morton, Kayana Szymczak, Kira Vos
Editors: Lisa M. Jarvis, Linda Wang, Andrea L. Widener, Amanda Yarnell
Art directors: Robin L. Braverman, Yang H. Ku, William A. Ludwig
Production editors: Melissa T. Gilden, Alexandra A. Taylor, Marsha-Ann Watson
Copyeditor: Sabrina Ashwell
Engagement editors: Arminda Downey-Mavromatis, Dorea I. Reeser

Behind the scenes: Learn more about how we produced this issue

About our funding support

C&EN editorial staff produced this Trailblazers issue with funding support from Pfizer, which did not influence any editorial decisions.


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