Chemical & Engineering News celebrates ‘The Talented 12’: Young science trailblazers

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 21, 2016 — Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) magazine is blowing the cover of 12 “secret agents” working to save us from the world’s most intractable science problems. At an event today at the 252nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and in its feature issue, C&EN will reveal the identifies of “The Talented 12,” a group of young, rising stars in chemistry.

“The Talented 12” is an annual feature of C&EN, ACS’ weekly newsmagazine, and profiles a dozen of the brightest young researchers using chemistry to solve global problems. The accomplishments of this impressive group include: creating more efficient solar cells, untangling the mysteries of aging, probing foods for contaminants, and developing drugs to treat Alzheimer’s and other diseases.

Why 12? “We chose that number as a nod toward the scientists’ chemical roots,” says C&EN Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Wolf. “Like many things in chemistry, it all comes back to the mole, a fundamental unit of measure for chemists. The International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry defines it with respect to the number of atoms in 12 grams of carbon-12.”

Below is the full list, which C&EN’s staff selected after intense evaluation of a pool of nominations by esteemed advisers, C&EN’s advisory board, last year’s Talented 12 winners, an online nomination form and nominees for the Nobel Laureate Signature Award for Graduate Education in Chemistry. The links will go live Sunday, Aug. 21, at 6:30 p.m. EDT.

  • Lauren Austin, Ph.D., Merck & Co.
    Code Name: Cellular Surveillant
    Using nanoparticles to track and assess cell health
  • Luis Campos, Ph.D., Columbia University
    Code Name: Electron-Doubling Agent
    Creating new, more efficient materials for solar cells
  • Karena Chapman, Ph.D., Argonne National Laboratory
    Code Name: X-Ray Manipulator
    Designing advanced X-ray tools to study energy-related materials
  • Anthony Estrada, Ph.D., Denali Therapeutics
    Code Name: Med Chem Marksman
    Developing drugs for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Daniel Fitzpatrick, University of Cambridge, U.K.
    Code Name: Reaction Hacker
    Automating and remotely running organic synthesis equipment
  • Lili He, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, Amherst
    Code Name: Contaminant Catcher
    Probing foods for pesticides and nanomaterials
  • Juan Pablo Maianti, Ph.D., biotech entrepreneur
    Code Name: Disease Decipherer
    Developing inhibitors of a previously unbroachable diabetes target
  • Bill Morandi, Ph.D., Max Planck Institute for Kohlenforschung, Germany
    Code Name: Molecule Machinist
    Finding sustainable ways of carrying out catalytic reactions
  • Alison Narayan, Ph.D., University of Michigan
    Code Name: Enzyme Mastermind
    Manipulating enzymes to carry out synthetic reactions
  • Renã Robinson, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh
    Code Name: Proteomics Provocateur
    Identifying biomarkers of aging and neurodegeneration
  • Alexander Spokoyny, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles
    Code Name: Inorganic Architect
    Creating inorganic materials for energy storage and catalysis
  • Ke Xu, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
    Code Name: Image Interrogator
    Using advanced microscopy to study cell structure and organization

“Congratulations to the Talented 12. C&EN is very proud to showcase these gifted young scientists. For the first time this year, we have organized a celebratory Talented 12 symposium at the ACS national meeting to give these rising stars the opportunity to share their visions for their fields,” says Bibiana Campos Seijo, editor-in-chief and vice president of C&EN Media Group.

The full 2016 feature will debut Sunday, Aug. 21, at 6:30 p.m. EDT at At that time, the links to individual profiles and the main Talented 12 webpage will be updated and live. Photos of the scientists are available upon request by emailing

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With nearly 157,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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