Dan Fu receives a 2017 Beckman Young Investigator Award

Assistant Professor Dan Fu has been selected as one of eight recipients of the 2017 Beckman Young Investigator Award. The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation aims to support “the most promising young faculty members in the early stages of their academic careers in the chemical and life sciences, particularly to foster the invention of methods, instruments and materials that will open new avenues of research in science.” The recipients were selected from a pool of over 300 applicants after a three-part review led by a panel of scientific experts.

“We are excited to support these amazing researchers,” says Dr. Anne Hultgren, Executive Director of the Foundation. “The Foundation is committed to helping launch our next generation of talented scientists by giving them the funding and flexibility they need to pursue novel areas of study that have the potential for revolutionary breakthroughs.”

Additional coverage of Professor Fu’s research and his Beckman Young Investigator Award can be found in the Summer 2017 issue of the ChemLetter and the July 2017 Perspectives Newsletter from the College of Arts & Sciences.

To learn more about Professor Fu and his research, please visit his faculty page and research group website.

Ashleigh Theberge and Erwin Berthier receive Kavli Microbiome award

Assistant Professor Ashleigh Theberge and Affiliate Assistant Professor Erwin Berthier were selected to receive a Kavli Microbiome Ideas Challenge grant, which supports novel, cross-cutting tools and methods in the field of microbiome research. “The Kavli Microbiome Ideas Challenge is an exciting opportunity to support high risk, interdisciplinary research that does not normally receive traditional funding,” said Tim Donohue, Chair of the Scientific Advisory board for the Kavli Challenge. “The grants selected for funding demonstrated great potential for the generation of novel tools and methods that will be broadly applicable across the many environments and move the field forward in the causal understanding of microbial and community function. The Kavli Foundation is to be commended for investing in this rapidly emerging field with this program.”

The Theberge group, along with collaborator Nancy Keller at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, will use their Kavli grant to develop a tool for deciphering multi-kingdom communication molecules using engineer cellular traps. The team will create new analytical chemistry and engineering tools that pull out key molecules from a mix of molecular noise in order to selectively “listen” to molecular signals produced by specific fungi, bacteria, or human cells.

To learn more about Professor Theberge and her research, please visit her faculty page and research group website.

Brandi Cossairt named a 2017 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar

Assistant Professor Brandi Cossairt has been named a 2017 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar by The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation.

The Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards Program supports the research and teaching careers of talented young faculty in the chemical sciences. Based on institutional nominations, the program provides discretionary funding to faculty at an early stage in their careers. Criteria for selection include an independent body of scholarship attained within the first five years of their appointment as independent researchers, and a demonstrated commitment to education, signaling the promise of continuing outstanding contributions to both research and teaching. The Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards Program provides an unrestricted research grant of $75,000.

To learn more about Professor Cossairt and her research, please visit her faculty page and research group website.

UW Chemistry to establish a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship thanks to $12 million commitment from professor emeritus Larry Dalton and Nicole Boand

Building upon a long legacy of supporting scientific innovation and education, professor emeritus Larry Dalton and his wife, Nicole Boand, have committed $12 million to the UW Department of Chemistry. The majority of the gift will go to establish the Dalton Postdoctoral Fellowship in Chemistry — a postdoctoral fellowship similar to those at the nation’s most prestigious research institutions like Berkeley and Harvard.

One of only a handful of similarly funded fellowships at public universities across the United States, this fellowship will support researchers in the postdoctoral phase of their training. This is a formative and productive time for early-career scientists as they work to obtain research experience and publications to qualify them for full-time, tenure-track faculty positions. These promising scientists often play a critical role in accelerating fundamental research into real-world applications, as they are able to focus 100 percent on the research challenges before them.

“This postdoctoral fellowship will enable the Department of Chemistry to attract and support the brightest early-career scientists from across the nation, ensuring that the UW is a leader in next-generation research in the chemical sciences,” said Michael Heinekey, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry. “This gift will help to elevate our department to the level of top chemistry departments around the world.”

Building on past gifts to the department, this gift will also fund two endowed chairs to help the department recruit and retain top researchers. One chair will be named for Boand’s parents and the other named for Alvin Kwiram, UW professor emeritus of chemistry and vice provost emeritus for research. Additionally, the gift will create an endowed departmental support fund to ensure the department has flexible and reliable resources to respond to opportunities as they arise.

Dalton and Boand’s most recent investment in the Department of Chemistry serves to underscore and amplify their legacy of impact at the UW. Over the years, they have established two endowed professorships in chemistry and two endowed chairs. These endowments have provided meaningful research support to the six faculty members who have held them, and to the numerous undergraduate and graduate students working alongside those faculty.

“Larry Dalton has already made a phenomenal impact at the University of Washington, and to have a faculty member add to such a legacy by demonstrating this level of dedication to his field and to future generations of students and professors in the UW’s chemistry department is truly remarkable,” UW President Ana Mari Cauce said. “I am profoundly thankful for this commitment from Larry and Nicole, which will honor his work and support innovation at the UW for years to come.”

This gift follows Dalton’s decades of research in photonics and nonlinear optics. He joined the UW Department of Chemistry in 1998. In 2000, Dalton and his collaborators published a foundational paper in Science, which laid the groundwork for innovations in opto-electronics, with major implications for telecommunications, sensor technology and information technology. Dalton went on to found Lumera Corp. — now part of GigPeak — to develop and manufacture opto-electronic devices. His research was instrumental in securing a major grant from the National Science Foundation to launch the Center for Materials and Devices for Information Technology Research at the UW, which was foundational for what would become the UW Clean Energy Institute.

During his nearly 20 years in the Department of Chemistry, Dalton invested his time, energy and resources to support students and burgeoning researchers. Both he and Boand have shown through their philanthropy a deep commitment to the next generation of science and scientists. The Dalton Postdoctoral Fellowship in Chemistry, along with the newly endowed chairs and other departmental support, is a culminating expression of that commitment.

“We make this current contribution in the hope and belief that it will promote recruitment and retention of the best and brightest researchers and educators in STEM fields to the University of Washington,” said Dalton. “Nicole and I appreciate the critical impact that STEM research has made and is making to the economy and well-being of Washington and the nation, and to the importance of quality education which assures continuation of this broader impact of STEM research.”

Karen Goldberg named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Karen Goldberg, Professor and Nicole A. Boand Endowed Chair in Chemistry, joins 228 new members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences this year. “It is an honor to welcome this new class of exceptional women and men as part of our distinguished membership,” said Don Randel, chair of the Academy’s Board of Directors. “Their talents and expertise will enrich the life of the Academy and strengthen our capacity to spread knowledge and understanding in service to the nation.”

Goldberg’s research focuses on designing more efficient catalysts. Better catalysts can transform industrial production methods for everything from pharmaceuticals to construction materials. Goldberg’s approach is to gather detailed data on the mechanisms by which certain chemical reactions occur and synthesize the desired products. This information is crucial to help develop catalysts that are more precise in the types of chemical products they yield, and more efficient and sustainable in terms of the amount of materials and energy used.

Goldberg also serves as director of the National Science Foundation-funded Center for Enabling New Technologies through Catalysis, a consortium of 20 faculty members and research labs at more than a dozen universities and research institutions that are pursuing innovative approaches to catalysis. Goldberg is a member of the Washington State Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in 2016 received the American Chemical Society Award in Organometallic Chemistry.

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and  Sciences is one of the country’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers, convening leaders from the academic, business and government sectors to respond to the challenges facing the nation and the world. Current research focuses on higher education, the humanities, and the arts; science and technology policy; global security and energy; and American institutions and the public good.

Members of the 2017 class include winners of the Pulitzer Prize and the Wolf Prize; MacArthur fellows; Fields medalists; Presidential Medal of Freedom and National Medal of Arts recipients; and Academy Award, Grammy Award, Emmy Award, and Tony Award winners. A full list can be found here.

Michael Gelb receives the 2017 University Faculty Lecture Award

The University of Washington has selected Michael Gelb, Professor and Boris and Barbara L. Weinstein Endowed Chair in Chemistry, as the 2017 recipient of the University Faculty Lecture Award. The award will be presented at the 47th Annual Awards of Excellence ceremony on June 8 in Meany Hall.

Since 1976, the University Faculty Lecture Award has honored current or emeritus faculty whose research, scholarship, or art has been widely recognized by their peers and whose achievements have had a substantial impact on their profession, on the research or performance of others, and perhaps on society as a whole, acknowledging outstanding creativity and scholarship by University faculty.

Professor Gelb will deliver the annual University Faculty Lecture during the 2017-18 academic year, scheduled for January 23, 2018 at 7:00 pm at Kane Hall. (Further details will appear on both the University and Department websites.)

To learn more about Professor Gelb and his research, please visit his faculty page and research group website.

Matt Bush to receive the 2017 Arthur F. Findeis Award

Assistant Professor Matt Bush has been named as the recipient of the 2017 Arthur F. Findeis Award for Achievements by a Young Analytical Scientist. The Arthur F. Findeis Award is given annually by the American Chemistry Society’s Division of Analytical Chemistry to recognize and encourage outstanding contributions to the fields of analytical chemistry by a young analytical scientist. The award will be presented at the 254th ACS National Meeting to be held August 20-24, 2017, in Washington DC.

To learn more about Prof. Bush and his research, please visit his faculty page and research group site.

David Ginger receives 2017 Cottrell Scholars TREE Award

David Ginger, Alvin L. and Verla R. Kwiram Endowed Professor of Chemistry and Associate Director of the UW Clean Energy Institute, has received the 2017 Cottrell Scholars TREE Award from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement. “TREE awards recognize the outstanding research and educational accomplishments of the community of Cottrell Scholars,” said RCSA Senior Program Director Silvia Ronco. She added, “The awards serve to encourage the improvement of science education at American universities and colleges.”

The RCSA stated in their press release: “Ginger is known for his pioneering development of powerful tools for new scanning probe microscopy, allowing scientists to visualize the dynamic behavior of electrons in new materials with unprecedented precision. Ginger has also pioneered the application of scanning probe microscopy tools to challenging problems in chemistry, physics, and materials science. His primary research focuses on what is arguably the most important challenge facing civilization today: how to supply our society with low-cost, environmentally benign sources of energy, such as solar power. He has made major contributions to understanding organic photovoltaic devices and to developing the optoelectronic properties of colloidal nanocrystals, and he is widely recognized as an international leader in the development of frontier scanning probe microscopy techniques. In addition, Ginger is noted for his work to improve the educational experience for his undergraduate students, receiving the UW Chemistry’s departmental teaching award in 2007. His teaching emphasizes computational problem solving of context-rich, inquiry-based problems.”

The TREE Award consists of an unrestricted $20,000 award sent to the awardee institution on behalf of the recipient’s educational and scholarly work. The recipient is encouraged to use these funds to foster advancements in his or her research and educational accomplishments. An additional $5,000 award is provided to the recipient to support lectures and travel to other institutions to help broadly communicate innovative research and educational accomplishments. For more information about the TREE Award, read the press release.

Recipients of the TREE Award must have previously been selected by the RCSA as Cottrell Scholars, an honor which Professor Ginger received in 2006. In 2011, he was named as a Scialog Fellow by the RCSA, along with his colleague, Professor Daniel Gamelin.

For more information about Prof. Ginger and his research, visit his faculty page or research group website.

Recent work by Anne McCoy and coworkers published in Science

McCoy 2015 editWater conducts electricity, but the process by which this familiar fluid passes along positive charges has puzzled scientists for decades.

But in a paper published in the Dec. 2 issue of the journal Science, an international team of researchers has finally caught water in the act — showing how water molecules pass along excess charges and, in the process, conduct electricity.

“This fundamental process in chemistry and biology has eluded a firm explanation,” said co-author Anne McCoy, professor of chemistry. “And now we have the missing piece that gives us the bigger picture: how protons essentially ‘move’ through water.”

The team was led by Mark Johnson, senior author and a professor at Yale University. For over a decade, Johnson, McCoy and two co-authors — Professors Kenneth Jordan at the University of Pittsburgh and Knut Asmis at Leipzig University — have collaborated to understand how molecules in complex arrangements pass along charged particles.

Read the full UW News story here. To learn more about Professor McCoy and her research, visit her faculty page and research group website.

Recent work by David Masiello and coworkers published in Nature Photonics

masiello_nature-photonics_squareRecent work by Associate Professor David Masiello and colleagues was highlighted in a November 7 article in Nature Photonics. The research was also highlighted in Chemical & Engineering News and in a News & Views feature article in Nature Photonics.

Measurement of the two distinct components—scattering and absorption—of a single nanoscale object’s optical extinction provides fundamentally important and complementary information on how that object processes light: either scattering it back to the far-field or converting it into internal excitation. Today, various techniques exist to measure the scattering from individual nanoscale objects, all relying on the detection of scattered photons in regions of zero background. Measuring their absorption, however, is much more complicated due to the fundamental inability to detect extremely small reductions in transmission over statistical fluctuations in the number of photons. This means that the spectroscopic signature of the vast majority of molecules—specifically, those that are transformed into dark states through photoreactions—is difficult to access.

To overcome this challenge, researchers in the Masiello group and the Goldsmith group at the University of Wisconsin–Madison devised a new experimental route to measure the absorption spectra of individual, nonemissive nanoscale objects by photothermal contrast in an optical microresonator cavity.

Photothermal spectroscopies function by inferring an object’s absorption from the localized temperature increase and resulting refractive index inhomogeneity produced by the excited object’s nonradiative decay. In their work, the team coupled individual plasmonic nanorods to an ultrahigh-quality optical microresonator cavity and succeeded in determining the nanorod’s absorption spectrum by monitoring the temperature-dependent attometer shifts in the resonance frequency of microresonator’s whispering gallery modes. These exceedingly small but detectable resonance shifts correspond to temperature increases of ~100 nK (measured at room temperature!), making their absorption spectrometer simultaneously one of the world’s best thermometers. Suprisingly, the nanorod’s absorption spectrum revealed a dense array of sharp Fano interferences arising from its interaction with the whispering gallery modes of the microresonator, allowing the team to deeply explore the hybridization of plasmonic and photonic cavity modes.

This collaborative effort brought together the creativity and talents of several graduate students and postdocs in multiple departments between the two institutions. The results were achieved following years of hard work involving both theorists and experimentalists. Future directions will explore the feasibility of this system to serve as a platform for studying quantum physics at room temperature.

To learn more about Professor Masiello and his research, visit his faculty page and research group website.