Contributors to the emerging investigators issue 2020

image file: d1cs90015c-u1.tif
Neal Mankad is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). His research group studies small molecule activation and energy storage using binuclear metal complexes or radical mechanisms.

I am motivated by advancing sustainability of chemical processes and inspired by the ways in which biological systems are able to accomplish challenging feats using only earth-abundant chemical elements. Metalloenzymes feature active sites that either harness single-electron transfer (SET) chemistry productively or mediate multi-electron ET chemistry cooperatively, often using binuclear metal clusters and always with non-precious metals like Fe and Cu. Similarly, my group has used non-precious metal complexes ranging from mononuclear to binuclear and even tetranuclear to understand and utilize unusual mechanisms like SET processes or cooperative bond activation to solve challenging problems in chemistry. I also enjoy the fact that pursuing bio-inspired design strategies sets up clear hypothesis-driven projects suitable for training student researchers in the scientific method. However, our contributions to Cu-catalyzed coupling reactions that are included in our review in this themed issue were largely discovered serendipitously, so there is also value in following the chemistry where it takes us.

image file: d1cs90015c-u2.tif
Giorgio Volpe. I am an Associate Professor in Physical Chemistry at the Department of Chemistry, University College London (UCL). I lead a research group focussing on soft active matter and I lecture Thermodynamics and Soft Condensed Matter to undergraduate chemistry students. My team and I are fundamentally curious about the physical behaviours of small things that move and are out of equilibrium, including bacteria, self-propelled synthetic particles, droplets, etc. I am really passionate about learning new subjects and taking up new challenges. For this reason, I have followed a very international and unconventional academic path, taking every opportunity along the way to learn new research skills, ranging from optical manipulation to advanced microscopy, from single emitters and plasmonics to light propagation in complex media, from statistical physics to active matter. I am also passionate about popularizing cutting-edge research. To this respect, I have contributed to several open days, science fairs, science weeks and school visits with seminars and demonstrations. I have written more than 40 popular science articles to date. When not busy untangling the next science problem, I love spending time with my family. I love Italian cooking, hiking, visiting new places and discovering new cultures.

image file: d1cs90015c-u3.tif
Ashlee J. Howarth started her independent career as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Concordia University in Montréal in 2018. She holds a Concordia University Research Chair (CURC) in Metal–Organic Frameworks (MOFs). In 2019 she received The University of British Columbia (UBC) Chemistry Young Alumnus Award and in 2018 she was recognized by Forbes Magazine as a Top 30 under 30 in Science. The Howarth research group focuses on designing new rare-earth MOFs for applications in adsorption, catalysis, sensing, drug delivery, and batteries.

I was born and raised in London, Ontario, and my love for chemistry started at a young age while participating in local science fair competitions. In my final year of undergraduate studies at The University of Western Ontario, I discovered my passion for working in a research laboratory. The process of creating new molecules and studying their properties was fascinating to me. Although I worked on discrete coordination compounds during my PhD studies at UBC, I always found MOFs to be an intriguing class of materials. While carrying out postdoctoral studies at Northwestern University, I gained a new appreciation for MOFs, not only for their structural beauty, but also for their limitless potential in important applications.

image file: d1cs90015c-u4.tif
Han Zhang is a full Professor and Director of Shenzhen Engineering Laboratory of phosphorene and optoelectronics, Shenzhen University. He is an expert on the application of low-dimensional materials for optoelectronic devices and biomedicines. He has published over 300 peer-reviewed research and invited review articles in the last 10 years. Most of his publications are correlated to the photonic and optoelectronic applications of two-dimensional monoelemental materials (Xenes), mainly including graphene, black phosphorus, graphdiyne, etc. The related works have been published in many prestigious journals such as PNAS, Physics Reports, Nature Communications, etc. His publications have received >36[thin space (1/6-em)]000 citations, with an h-index of 105. He has been recognised as a Highly Cited Researcher by Clarivate Analytics in 2018 and 2019, and an OSA Fellow.

image file: d1cs90015c-u5.tif
Wei Gao started his independent career at the California Institute of Technology in 2017 after his postdoc research at University of California, Berkeley. He received his PhD in Chemical Engineering at University of California, San Diego in 2014. He is a recipient of the IEEE EMBS Early Career Achievement Award, IEEE Sensor Council Technical Achievement Award, MIT Technology Review 35 Innovators Under 35, and ACS Young Investigator Award (Division of Inorganic Chemistry). He is also a World Economic Forum Young Scientist and a member of Global Young Academy.

I was born and grew up in Xuzhou, China. My interest is in developing versatile bioelectronic devices for fundamental and applied biomedical studies. My research group's research thrusts include fundamental materials and chemistry innovations as well as important device and system level applications toward personalized and precision medicine. Some examples of our devices include wearable biosensors for real-time health monitoring and medical micro/nanorobots for rapid drug delivery. Out of the academic life, I spend time with my family members including my wife Yan and our cat Paper; both my wife and I are food, travel, hiking, and snorkeling lovers.

image file: d1cs90015c-u6.tif
Justin Wilson started his independent career at Cornell University in 2015 as an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. Since the initiation of his research program, he has been recognized by a number of awards including the Cottrell Scholar Award, US National Science Foundation Career Award, and the Gordon Research Conference Metals in Biology Stiefel Lecture Award.

I grew up in Orange County, California near the coast. Although I excelled in math and science through high school, I had little direction about what I wanted to study or what I wanted to be. After high school, I matriculated in UC Berkeley, where I still felt aimless. Upon taking general chemistry (Chem 1A) and seeing the “magic” of chemistry in action, I was sold on my new field of study. My passion for chemistry was further bolstered by my undergraduate research experience at Berkeley. As I have gotten older and more advanced in this field, it has been my goal to maintain the initial curiosity and excitement for chemistry that I had when I began my undergraduate studies. Fortunately, I have had the privilege of working with very talented students and postdocs who bring in creative new ideas on a daily basis. Our lab is working broadly in the areas of metals in medicine. In addressing a range of different biomedical problems, we have carried out all sorts of different experiments, things that I would have never imagined us doing. The best part of this job is that I can continue to learn and grow as a scientist and human being!

image file: d1cs90015c-u7.tif
Jiyou Han received an MS in Public Health from Tufts University and PhDs in Animal Science and Toxicology from Michigan State University in 2008. After a research fellowship at Korea University in Seoul, she began her academic career in 2016 in the Department of Biological Sciences at Hyupsung University in Korea. Her research interests are focused on the development of theranostic drug delivery systems and in vitro/in vivo drug screening systems using human pluripotent stem cells.

The subject of her ultimate research is, of course, the development of new drugs that can predict and prevent diseases, including treatment of the ultimate disease. In particular, she would like to establish an in vitro system that accurately predicts clinical results by combining various fields of translational research. Therefore, these days she is focusing on setting up a 3D cell culture system that mimics the in vivo system using a variety of cell types. In that sense, the dynamic cell properties of somatic cell-derived human pluripotent stem cells or cancer stem cells can be a very valuable tool to study and to develop treatments for human diseases. Therefore, she has been actively conducting research with various joint research teams including chemists and clinicians.

image file: d1cs90015c-u8.tif
Bozhi Tian's lab seeks to find a non-genetic optical solution in minimally invasive biological modulation at the single cell or subcellular level. His lab uses semiconductor-based nanostructured materials to understand the fundamental bioelectric dynamics of individual cells, organelles and their networks. Based on this, his lab has developed a set of biological modulation methods through light interaction with semiconductor materials and devices. In parallel to the study of biological modulations, his lab has recently developed a set of tissue-like materials that display dynamic mechanical properties. The goal of his research is to identify key material parameters that could improve signal transduction for future biomedical implants and medical robotic devices.

Dr Tian received his PhD degree in physical chemistry from Harvard University in 2010. He then did his postdoc at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Exploration and curiosity have largely driven his research for new findings. While scientific achievements are important for his lab, the success of his current and past lab members is the essential thing for him. Dr Tian enjoys painting, digital art, and many other artistic endeavours during his free time.

image file: d1cs90015c-u9.tif
Nicholas (Nick) White started his independent career at the Australian National University at the end of 2015. He has been awarded the Royal Australian Chemical Institute's Rennie Medal for early career research, an Australian Research Council DECRA fellowship and a university teaching award.

I was born in the UK but completed high school and my undergraduate degree in New Zealand, studying for a BSc(Hons) with Sally Brooker at the University of Otago, before completing a DPhil at the University of Oxford with Paul Beer and then taking up a Killam Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of British Columbia with Mark MacLachlan. My small research group is interested in many areas of supramolecular chemistry, including the development of robust hydrogen-bonded frameworks and understanding the factors that control self-assembly. Outside of chemistry, I enjoy nerding out about coffee and listening to music, particularly Bob Dylan and Nick Cave. I love living in Canberra – Australia's “bush capital”, as it's incredible to get out of the city to do outdoorsy things. I am particularly keen on running and bouldering, and enjoy getting out to local granite bouldering spots most weekends.

image file: d1cs90015c-u10.tif
Alison Narayan's main research interest is identifying enzymes from secondary metabolite pathways with potential synthetic utility and developing methods based on these biocatalysts to enable access to biologically active target molecules.

Narayan holds a PhD in organic chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. She completed her undergraduate studies in chemistry at the University of Michigan, where she later returned as a postdoctoral research fellow in the lab of David Sherman. She started as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Life Sciences Institute at Michigan in 2015. Since this time Alison and her research group have been recognized as a part of C&EN’s Talented 12, an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, a Cottrell Scholar and as the inaugural recipient of the Life Sciences Institute Outreach award.

image file: d1cs90015c-u11.tif
Xu Hou started his independent career in 2016 at Xiamen University, China. He is currently a Professor and selected to represent ‘Fm’ in the Periodic Table of Younger Chemists of IUPAC. In 2013, he published his first academic book at Springer for recognition of outstanding PhD research and got the Springer Theses Prize. In 2014, he received the Harvard Postdoctoral Award for Professional Development, in honor of excellence and achievement in his academic research and was awarded the 2014 SciFinder Future Leader in Chemistry. In 2018, he won the Chinese Chemical Society Award for Outstanding Young Chemist. In 2019, he was selected as a member of the 2019 Class of Influential Researchers from Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research of the American Chemical Society and won the Young Investigator Award of Colloid and Interface Chemistry of the Chinese Chemical Society. In 2020, he was awarded with the ‘National Scientific Innovation and Advancement Award’ Certificate.

I was born in Chengdu, China in 1983. I received my PhD from NCNST in 2011 under the supervision of Prof. Lei Jiang. After postdoctoral work at Harvard University (Prof. Joanna Aizenberg, supervisor), I began my independent research, and my interests are focused on Liquid Gating Systems, Membrane Science, and bioinspired and smart materials.

image file: d1cs90015c-u12.tif
Alexander Miller joined the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2012, where he is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry.

With initial interests in both philosophy and chemistry as an undergraduate student, it was the wonder of synthesizing a new-to-this-world molecule that set the direction of my career. My interests evolved to encompass inorganic synthesis, organometallic catalysis, electrochemistry, and mechanistic inquiry. Today, I collaborate with an amazing research group to design catalysts for the sustainable synthesis of chemicals and fuels and to elucidate the molecular-level details of catalytic mechanisms. To support this research, I work to build strong and supportive cultures of safety and wellness. I felt comfortable on campus from the start of my independent career, thanks to my lifelong passion for North Carolina college basketball. I also play basketball whenever I can, continuing a long tradition of chemistry students and faculty playing lunchtime pickup basketball.

image file: d1cs90015c-u13.tif
Zhi-Jian Zhao established his independent research career at Tianjin University in 2015 as an Associate Professor at the school of chemical engineering and technology. He was promoted to full professor in 2019. He serves as an Associate Editor for Chemical Engineering Science, and has won the 1st prize of Tianjin's Natural Science Award, National Ten Thousand Plan, etc.

I still remember the day when I entered Prof. Qi Wang's lab, my bachelor and master thesis supervisor, and learned how powerful modern computational chemistry and supercomputers are. They together have offered new opportunities to rationalize the underlying mechanisms of a chemical reaction at the atomic level. After nearly ten years training all over the world, I moved back to China and started my research group at Tianjin University. Here we mainly focus on the development of efficient catalysts for conversion of small molecules, i.e. CH4, C2H2, C3H8 and CO2. We are highly interested in integrating modern artificial intelligence algorithms with computational chemistry and trying to develop a new way to computationally describe complex heterogeneous catalytic systems beyond the well-developed research paradigm with single-crystal surfaces, eventually achieving a fast and low-cost screening technique to assist new catalyst design.

image file: d1cs90015c-u14.tif
Dan Ding received his PhD degree from the Department of Polymer Science and Engineering in Nanjing University in 2010. After postdoctoral training at the National University of Singapore, he joined Nankai University, where he is currently a Professor in the State Key Laboratory of Medicinal Chemical Biology, Key Laboratory of Bioactive Materials, Ministry of Education, and College of Life Science. He also conducted his work in The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology as a visiting scholar. His current research focuses on the design and synthesis of smart/functional molecular imaging probes and exploration of their biomedical applications.

image file: d1cs90015c-u15.tif
Huanping Zhou started her independent career at Peking University, China in 2015 as an Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. She was honored with the 2018 Technology Review 35 Innovators Under 35 by MIT Technology Reviews.

I received my PhD degree in inorganic chemistry from Peking University in 2010. After that, I joined the University of California, Los Angeles, as a postdoctoral researcher from 2010 to 2015. I am a chemist of materials with expertise in the fields of nanoscience, thin film optoelectronics, and device development and fabrication, such as photovoltaic cells, LEDs, photo-detectors, etc. I am actively pursuing the development of inorganic and organic/inorganic hybrid materials and their application in energy related optoelectronic devices. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, reading, and sports.

image file: d1cs90015c-u16.tif
Yuning Hong started her independent research career at La Trobe University in 2016, where she is currently a Senior Lecturer and a Leader of the Molecular Design Theme. She was awarded an ARC DECRA Fellowship in 2017.

I grew up in Shantou, a coastal city in eastern Guangdong Province, China. I found chemistry very interesting when I was in high school. During my undergraduate study in SYSU, I spent a semester as an exchange student in HKUST, where I found my passion in fluorescence. I then pursued my PhD and postdoc on fluorescence related research. My current project includes creating new probes and methodologies for monitoring and modulating protein folding and modifications in cells under stress and their implications in disease. Working at the intersection of chemistry and biology, I am motivated by the robustness of chemistry to tackle complex biological problems and hope to promote communications between these two disciplines. I feel fortunate to have supportive mentors, enthusiastic students and open-minded collaborators to inspire and encourage me in my career. Apart from science, I enjoy coffee, traveling, gardening, and observing Australian native birds and animals.

image file: d1cs90015c-u17.tif
Ying Diao is a Beckman Fellow, Dow Chemical Company Faculty Scholar, Lincoln Excellence for Assistant Professor Scholar at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She received her PhD degree from MIT in 2012. Her doctoral thesis was on understanding heterogeneous nucleation of pharmaceuticals by designing polymeric substrates. In her subsequent postdoctoral training at Stanford University, she pursued research in the thriving field of printed electronics. The Diao group, started in 2015 at Illinois, focuses on understanding the assembly of organic functional materials and innovating printing approaches that enable structural control down to the molecular and nanoscale. Her work has been frequently featured in scientific journals and news media. She was named to the MIT Technology Review's annual list of Innovators Under 35 as a pioneer in nanotechnology and materials. She is also a recipient of the NSF CAREER Award, 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award and was selected as a Sloan Research Fellow in Chemistry as one of the “very best scientific minds working today”. One fun activity her lab enjoys is converting failed experiments to art work. In fact, her lab frequently wins “Science as Art” competitions, some of which have been displayed in the local airport and showed up in children's magazines!

image file: d1cs90015c-u18.tif
Joseph (Joey) Cotruvo, Jr began his independent career in 2016 at Penn State University, where he is currently an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Louis Martarano Career Development Professor.

Since my PhD work, I have been fascinated by the problem of how to selectively recognize one metal ion over another. While achieving metal selectivity is a grand challenge for chemists, biology accomplishes this feat for a living. Therefore, my lab aims to learn biology's solutions to challenging metal selectivity problems that have important real-world applications in mining, separations, environmental monitoring and remediation, medicine, and more. We discover, characterize, and re-engineer novel biomolecules and, in collaboration with biologists, engineers, and other chemists, we develop strategies to address a range of technological problems – from recovery and separation of valuable metals, such as the lanthanides and actinides (the focus of the present review in the themed issue), to imaging metal ions in cells in order to study their contributions to infectious and neurodegenerative disease. Outside of the lab, I devote a lot of time to music in several capacities. In particular, I play piano and I give carillon recitals around the U.S. as a member of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America.

image file: d1cs90015c-u19.tif
Alex Speed started his independent career at Dalhousie University in 2015, and is now an Associate Professor in the Chemistry department.

I’ve been interested in science for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a big wooden Victorian house with large wild and rambling gardens. In the ground behind my house were many old, interesting and colourful glass bottles (that were once somebody's trash). I think that ignited a lifelong obsession with glass and bottles. The first time I saw a lab, I was captivated by all the glass and bottles of various things, and I guess learning about their purpose and contents sparked my interest in chemistry! When I am not in the lab, I’m interested in keeping various plants, and Victorian architecture, and shells, and swimming in the lakes and sea. I also have a feather collection. Professionally, I like looking for chemistry that is easy to use, but enables powerful transformations. My background in total synthesis taught me that useful transformations need to be robust and reliable. Overpopulation, pollution, and resource depletion will be defining challenges of our future, and we seek to develop new reactions that will be sustainable far into the future.

image file: d1cs90015c-u20.tif
Amanda E. Hargrove is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at Duke University. Prof. Hargrove earned her PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at Caltech. Her laboratory at Duke works to understand the fundamental drivers of selective small molecule:RNA recognition and to use this knowledge to functionally modulate viral and oncogenic RNA structures. Her passions outside the lab include developing course-based undergraduate research experiences, working toward equity in chemistry at the departmental and national level, and watching old movies with her awesome family.

image file: d1cs90015c-u21.tif
Noémie Elgrishi started her independent career as an Assistant Professor at Louisiana State University in 2017. Her group studies electrocatalytic methods for water purification from oxyanions and electrocatalyst stabilization in confined spaces using non-covalent interactions.

During my Bachelor's and Master's Degrees at École Normale Supérieure and Sorbonne University, I met wonderful professors and had the opportunity to do research abroad. I was a visiting graduate student in the labs of Jonathan Nitschke at the University of Cambridge and of Daniel Nocera at MIT. I then completed my PhD focused on molecular electrocatalysis with Marc Fontecave at Collège de France. I have learned so much from my postdoctoral mentor, Jillian Dempsey at UNC-Chapel Hill, as I explored parameters influencing PCET processes. At the end of my postdoc I co-authored a paper teaching electrochemistry to non-experts. Its reception has spurred me to continue working on improving electrochemistry education in the US, which is a critical skill in a growing number of fields. Being French, I find it amusing to now be in Louisiana, the most French part of the USA. I enjoy the gorgeous campus and the unique culture. Aspects of the work I particularly appreciate are student mentoring and community outreach.

This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2021