Talented 12: Chemical & Engineering News announces its 2017 rising stars in chemistry

WASHINGTON, Aug. 20, 2017 — Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly news magazine of the American Chemical Society (ACS), is today unveiling its annual “Talented 12” list. The young, rising stars in chemistry will be debuted at an event today at ACS’ 254th National Meeting & Exposition. They are also featured in this week’s issue of C&EN.

Chosen from a highly competitive pool of nominees, the dozen early-career scientists are working on some of the world’s toughest problems. Their research could contribute to cleaner, more efficient sources of fuel and chemicals; novel cancer immunotherapies that give oncologists a readout when treatment is working; new approaches to tackling the opioid epidemic; alternative routes to synthesizing important molecules; and ways to watch cellular processes in real time.

Below is the full list, which C&EN’s staff selected after an intense evaluation of more than 150 nominees submitted by a group of esteemed advisers, C&EN’s advisory board and last year’s Talented 12 winners. Nominees also were submitted by the public using an online nomination form.

Fikile Brushett, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Combining chemistry and modeling to advance energy storage devices

Luke Connal, Ph.D., University of Melbourne
Synthesizing enzyme-mimicking materials to improve everyday products

Jillian Dempsey, Ph.D., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Probing catalysts to help artificial photosynthesis fill fuel tanks of the future

Daniel DiRocco, Ph.D., Merck & Co.
Devising the optimum reactions for making life-saving molecules

Michael Feasel, Ph.D., U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center
Combatting the opioid epidemic by studying the drugs’ toxicity

Renee Frontiera, Ph.D., University of Minnesota
Developing spectroscopic tools to extract chemical and structural details from cells and other substances

Marie Heffern, Ph.D., University of California, Davis
Uncovering the roles trace metals play in hormone biology

Ashish Kulkarni, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Creating immunotherapies to simultaneously treat cancer and track patients’ responses

Corinna Schindler, Ph.D., University of Michigan
Designing environmentally benign reactions for building biologically important molecules

Stafford (Staff) Sheehan, Ph.D., Catalytic Innovations
Inventing commercially viable catalysts for renewable fuels

Bozhi Tian, Ph.D., University of Chicago
Dreaming up ways to probe and control electrical signaling in cells

Florence (Flo) Wagner, Ph.D., Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT
Taking the risk out of psychiatric drug discovery

"C&EN is thrilled to showcase the accomplishments and vision of these gifted young scientists. They represent the future and promise of our field," says Amanda Yarnell, C&EN's editorial director. "If you'll be at the ACS national meeting, I encourage you to join us Monday morning to watch the Talented 12 share their vision for their fields."

The full 2017 C&EN feature will debut Sunday, Aug. 20, at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time at Photos of the scientists are available upon request by emailing
The American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, is a not-for-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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