Steven Townsend was born and raised on the lower east side of Detroit Michigan and completed his undergraduate education at Oakland University with a B.S. in chemistry. He completed a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Vanderbilt University, working with Professor Gary Sulikowski applying the [2+2] photocycloaddition toward the total synthesis of bielschowskyin. Townsend completed his education at Columbia University and Sloan-Kettering Institute in the Danishefsky labs, where he worked on glycoprotein synthesis and Diels-Alder methodology. He has been at Vanderbilt since 2014 and works broadly on bringing organic chemistry to bear on problems of biological interest. In his spare time Townsend composts, smokes and consumes meat, and collects plants and bonsai trees. He is a member of C&EN’s Talented 12 class of 2019.