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C&EN's Talented 12

Whether they’re searching for undiscovered reactivity in overlooked elements or novel ways to treat cancer, these enterprising chemists are solving some of science’s toughest problems

Welcome to C&EN’s annual Talented 12 issue, in which we highlight a dozen young rising stars who are using chemical know-how to change the world. These researchers are hunting for compounds in interstellar space and mapping the molecular signatures of parasite-ravaged hearts. They’re figuring out better ways to diagnose tuberculosis and dreaming up blueprints for building the next generation of computer chips.

We say this every year, but it’s true—narrowing our pool of outstanding nominees to just 12 is an increasingly daunting task. Yet, each year we’re thrilled to learn how these scientists stand on the cutting edge of chemistry.

Whether they’re searching for undiscovered reactivity in overlooked elements or novel ways to treat cancer, these enterprising chemists are solving some of science’s toughest problems

Welcome to C&EN’s annual Talented 12 issue, in which we highlight a dozen young rising stars who are using chemical know-how to change the world. These researchers are hunting for compounds in interstellar space and mapping the molecular signatures of parasite-ravaged hearts. They’re figuring out better ways to diagnose tuberculosis and dreaming up blueprints for building the next generation of computer chips.

We say this every year, but it’s true—narrowing our pool of outstanding nominees to just 12 is an increasingly daunting task. Yet, each year we’re thrilled to learn how these scientists stand on the cutting edge of chemistry.

Stats & Facts

C&EN has collected all the vital details about these impressive early-career scientists

Average
age
34
Number of
publications
377
Number of
patents
153*
*135 of which are from Rudy Wojtecki
We all spent a lot more time working from home this year. What best describes the Talented 12’s home offices?
Home office? You mean this corner of my kitchen table?         5
Messy! I know exactly what's in this giant pile of papers under my coffee mug. 1        
Tidy! There is a place for everything, and everything is in its place.   2      
Somewhere in between. I can live with a little clutter.       4  
Nearly all in-person meetings were canceled in 2020, so we asked our Talented 12 about their video-conferencing style. When they use Zoom, it is with:
Video on: I love a virtual background.       4      
Video off: I like a little mystery. 1            
Video on: Check out my bookshelf.             7
Virtual backgrounds:
  • Osvaldo Gutierrez: Anything but a bookshelf
  • Mireille Kamariza: A magnificent beach
  • Brett McGuire: The “This is Fine” meme edited to show me in the burning house
  • Wendy Lee Queen: For meetings with colleagues, Golden Gate bridge, because San Francisco is one of my favorite places; with the students, anything is game. It has become more of a competition to see who can come up with the best background.
Credit: C&EN/Shutterstock
We hear that pandemics cause stress eating. What are the Talented 12’s go-to office snacks?

Kevin Barnett
The kitchen creations of my Turkish wife!

Josep Cornella
A rib eye, delicious fish, or nice bottle of wine

Robert J. Gilliard, Jr.
Chai tea latte

Osvaldo Gutierrez
Potato chips with Valentina or Tapatío hot sauce!

Mireille Kamariza
Nuts and protein bars

Lingyin Li
Chocolate

Laura-Isobel McCall
Cheese, bread, and chocolate

Lynn McGregor
Peanuts with salt and pepper, Fritos, or Cheez-Its

Brett McGuire
Miss Vickie’s kettle chips

Wendy Lee Queen
Crunchy corn snacks, spicy hummus, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Jessica Ray
Fruit and vegetables

Rudy Wojtecki
M&M’s and sesame sticks

Reading list: Many scientists can point to a book that has had a big impact on their life or career. Some of our dynamic dozen gave us their picks.

Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader, Linda A. Hill and Kent Lineback —Mireille Kamariza

A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes, Stephen Hawking —Josep Cornella

Mastery, Robert Greene—Lingyin Li

Molecules That Changed the World, K. C. Nicolaou and T. Montagnon —Rudy Wojtecki

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, Michael Pollan —Lynn McGregor

One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez —Osvaldo Gutierrez

Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell —Kevin Barnett

So You Want to Talk about Race, Ijeoma Oluo, and White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism, Robin DiAngelo —Jessica Ray

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, Mark Manson —Wendy Lee Queen

The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson, and Hatchet, Gary Paulsen —Brett McGuire

Talented 12 contributors

Editorial leads: Bethany Halford and Lisa M. Jarvis
Project editors: Melissa T. Gilden and Alexandra A. Taylor
Writers: Celia Henry Arnaud, Leigh Krietsch Boerner, Katherine Bourzac, Ryan Cross, Bethany Halford, Laura Howes, Mitch Jacoby, Lisa M. Jarvis, and Sam Lemonick
Creative director: Robert Bryson
UI/UX director: Tchad K. Blair
Web production: Luis Carrillo and Ty Finocchiaro
Graphics editor: Yang H. Ku
Art directors: Robin L. Braverman and William A. Ludwig
Production editors: Arminda Downey-Mavromatis, Manny I. Fox Morone, Gina Vitale, and Marsha-Ann Watson
Copyeditor: Heather Holt
Engagement editors: Melissa T. Gilden and Dorea I. Reeser

 

About Funding Support

C&EN editorial staff produced this feature with funding from Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc., which did not influence any editorial decisions.

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Profiles

C&EN’s Talented 12

Whether they’re searching for undiscovered reactivity in overlooked elements or novel ways to kill cancer, these enterprising chemists are solving some of science’s toughest problems

by C&EN staff
August 14, 2020 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 98, ISSUE 31
09831-cover1-webopen.jpg

Credit: Will Ludwig/C&EN

Welcome to C&EN’s annual Talented 12 issue, in which we highlight a dozen young rising stars who are using chemical know-how to change the world. Paging through the profiles of the Talented 12 class of 2020 will take you on a voyage to science’s frontiers. These researchers are hunting for compounds in interstellar space and mapping the molecular signatures of parasite-ravaged hearts. They’re figuring out better ways to diagnose tuberculosis and dreaming up blueprints for building the next generation of computer chips.

We say this every year, but it’s true—narrowing our pool of outstanding nominees to just 12 is an increasingly daunting task. Yet, each year we’re thrilled to learn how these scientists stand on the cutting edge of chemistry.

To assemble this list, we consulted our staff and Talented 12 alumni. But the overwhelming majority of our nominations came from an online form submitted by C&EN’s readers. The world has changed so much since we started considering these candidates in late 2019. But no matter how the world continues to evolve, we’re sure these bright minds will have a hand in shaping the future.

TALENTED 12 CONTRIBUTORS

EDITORIAL LEADS: Bethany Halford and Lisa M. Jarvis

PROJECT EDITORS: Melissa T. Gilden and Alexandra A. Taylor

WRITERS: Celia Henry Arnaud, Leigh Krietsch Boerner, Katherine Bourzac, Ryan Cross, Bethany Halford, Laura Howes, Mitch Jacoby, Lisa M. Jarvis, and Sam Lemonick

CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Robert Bryson

UI/UX DIRECTOR: Tchad K. Blair

WEB PRODUCTION: Luis Carrillo and Ty Finocchiaro

GRAPHICS EDITOR: Yang H. Ku

ART DIRECTORS: Robin L. Braverman and William A. Ludwig

PRODUCTION EDITORS: Arminda Downey-Mavromatis, Manny I. Fox Morone, Gina Vitale, and Marsha-Ann Watson

COPY EDITOR: Heather Holt

ENGAGEMENT EDITORS: Melissa T. Gilden and Dorea I. Reeser

ABOUT FUNDING SUPPORT

C&EN editorial staff produced this feature with funding from Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc., which did not influence any editorial decisions.

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