Texas A&M University chemistry graduate students Anuvab Das and Liang Feng have been selected as finalists for Elsevier’s 2020 Reaxys® PhD Prize recognizing innovative and original research in chemistry and the associated sciences.
Das and Feng are among 45 finalists chosen from more than 400 international entries for the coveted award, launched in 2010 by research publishing and information analytics leader Elsevier to celebrate ambitious early career chemical scientists who are pursuing or have recently completed their doctorates in any area of chemistry and who demonstrate the ideal qualities of outstanding researchers, including clarity of thought, scientific rigor and tractability, impact, innovation and originality.
Das’ entry, titled “Structural Characterization of Reactive Metal Nitrenoid Intermediates,” details his work aimed to develop new tools to directly characterize the structures of transient species that mediate carbon-hydrogen bond functionalization as a member of Texas A&M chemist David Powers’ research group.
Feng’s entry, titled “Assembling a Synthetic Toolbox for Hierarchical Metal-Organic Frameworks,” addresses his experiences developing synthetic strategies for hierarchical MOFs — versatile porous, grid-like materials with broad applications in fuel storage, emissions controls and drug delivery — within Texas A&M chemist Hongcai Joe Zhou’s research group.
“This year continues the tradition of excellence of the Reaxys Prize in attracting hundreds of outstanding applications from all across the globe,” said Reaxys Advisory Board Member and University of Pittsburgh Professor Donna Huryn. “Equally impressive are the 45 finalists, and that they represent the breadth of our field in terms of geography as well as discipline. I am looking forward to what will be an exceptional symposium.’’
Das and Feng and their fellow 2020 finalists are invited to attend the virtual Reaxys PhD Prize Symposium, set for September 30 to October 2 and open to the general public. The symposium will feature talks, including a keynote presentation from renowned University of California chemist Bruce Lipshutz, a virtual poster session and networking opportunities.
As part of the virtual symposium, 10 short-listed finalists will give oral presentations of their research. From these presentations, the Reaxys Advisory Board will select the three winners of the 2020 Reaxys PhD Prize, who will be announced on the final day of the symposium.
“Innovative young researchers from all over the world entered, and we plan to celebrate their achievements as we do each year,” said Dr. Friedrich Kroll, Elsevier’s Senior Manager of Scientific Affairs and co-organizer of the competition. “We are delighted to see the competition continue to draw this number and quality of submissions.
“The opportunity to establish networks to address current scientific challenges, particularly ones requiring interdisciplinary solutions, is an important aspect of the event. We’re also inviting our largest ever audience, with attendees from all previous years.”.
Das earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry from Presidency University (2013) and the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur (2015), respectively, before coming to Texas A&M in fall 2015 to pursue his Ph.D. in chemistry. As a member of the Powers Research Laboratory, he has spearheaded efforts to develop both new chemical reactions and analytical tools to generate and characterize reactive intermediates in carbon-hydrogen bond animation chemistry. He has authored a series of high-impact papers on organometallic chemistry, crystallography and catalysis and was invited to participate in the 2020 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. After graduation, Das will move to the California Institute of Technology to study biocatalysis in the laboratory of 2018 Nobel Prize winner Frances Arnold.
Feng earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Wuhan University in 2016, then opted to pursue graduate studies in chemistry at Texas A&M in fall 2016, where his research has focused on the development of synthetic strategies for hierarchical MOFs. For the past three years, he has served as the Zhou Group’s catalysis subgroup leader. He has 39 peer-reviewed publications, including 25 as first author or co-first author, in a variety of journals and earned multiple university, national and international awards, including a 2020 Materials Research Society Graduate Student Award, a 2020 Texas A&M Distinguished Graduate Student Award and a 2020 Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-Financed Students Abroad. After receiving his Ph.D. in May 2020, Feng will be joining the laboratory of Northwestern University chemist and 2016 Nobel laureate Sir Fraser Stoddart as a postdoctoral researcher this fall.
As finalists, Das and Feng each receive lifelong membership in the Reaxys Prize Club, an exclusive international network of chemists from all research areas and career paths, along with unlimited access to Elsevier’s research solutions Reaxys and Reaxys Medicinal Chemistry.
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