Talented 12: Chemical & Engineering News announces its 2019 rising stars in chemistry

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 25, 2019 — Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society (ACS), unveiled its annual “Talented 12” list today. Sponsored by Thermo Fisher Scientific, this feature, now in its fifth year, recognizes young stars in the chemical sciences that are working to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems. These up-and-coming innovators in chemistry will be debuted at an event today at ACS’ Fall 2019 National Meeting & Exposition in San Diego and are featured in this week’s issue of C&EN.

Using a rigorous review process, C&EN staff, Talented 12 alumni and members of the global chemistry community selected this year’s Talented 12 from a highly competitive pool of more than 500 nominees. The group includes chemists tackling what C&EN calls “some of the world’s most daunting problems.” Their research spans an array of impactful topics, from tracking pollutants in the Arctic to unravelling the chemistry and biology of human breastmilk.

Below is the full list of 2019’s Talented 12 class.

  • Loren Andreas, Ph.D., Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry
    NMR ace is advancing methods for analyzing proteins
  • Katelyn Billings, Ph.D., GlaxoSmithKline
    Synthesis strategist is helping to hunt for new drugs using DNA-encoded libraries
  • Michelle Lynn Hall, Ph.D., Moderna
    Molecular modeler is using computational chemistry to help craft mRNA therapies
  • Markita Landry, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
    Nanomaterials whiz is developing tools to deliver DNA to plants and detect brain chemicals
  • Frank Leibfarth, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Polymer powerhouse is tapping organic chemistry insights to build better plastics
  • Tina Li, Ph.D., Cabot Microelectronics
    Planarization prodigy is pushing microelectronics to new limits
  • Brenda Rubenstein, Ph.D., Brown University
    Quantum connoisseur is improving molecular simulations’ speed and accuracy
  • William Tarpeh, Ph.D., Stanford University
    Waste wizard is turning what we normally flush away into a resource
  • Steven D. Townsend, Ph.D., Vanderbilt University
    Oligosaccharide specialist is solving the mysteries of breast milk sugars
  • Cora Young, Ph.D., York University
    Pollutant detective is tracking trace chemicals that affect climate and air quality
  • Lauren Zarzar, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University
    Emulsion wrangler is designing liquid droplets that could act as microscopic lenses
  • Peng Zou, Ph.D., Peking University
    Interdisciplinary explorer is mapping biological chemistry in living cells

“We are proud to present this year’s Talented 12 class here in San Diego,” says Bibiana Campos Seijo, Ph.D., editor-in-chief and vice president of C&EN Media Group. “This annual list of innovators features our most diverse science yet and is comprised of a group of young pioneers who are determined to change the world. As some of the brightest and most influential minds in the chemical sciences, there is no doubt they will shake up our field. The future is bright. Prepare to be inspired.”

“We are especially proud to partner with the ACS and C&EN on the Talented 12 initiative,” says Chris Armstrong, president, Laboratory Chemicals, Thermo Fisher Scientific. “Our organizations share a commitment to help the next generation of scientific talent bring chemistry to life. Together we will bring awareness to how innovations in chemistry are making a difference in the world, and we’re excited to follow these young chemists as their careers develop.”

The full 2019 C&EN feature will debut Sunday, Aug. 25, at 6 p.m. Pacific time at A symposium will be held at the San Diego Convention Center on Monday, Aug. 26, beginning at 8 a.m. Pacific time, featuring keynote remarks from Paula T. Hammond, Ph.D., head of the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 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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