Chemistry faculty members earn professional distinctions

Steve Koppes
Associate News DirectorUniversity Communications

Members of the University of Chicago chemistry faculty have collected a variety of local, national and international distinctions in recent weeks.

Yamuna Krishnan, professor in chemistry, has received the 2016 Innovator of the Year Award from the Association of Women in Science, Chicago. The award recognizes pioneers in the Chicago area who have provided innovative contributions to science and engineering. Krishnan’s team creates DNA-based nanodevices to interrogate living cells in whole organisms, carrying out bioanalytical chemistry inside cells and interpreting these signals for health monitoring and disease detection.

Steven Sibener, the Carl William Eisendrath Distinguished Service Professor in Chemistry and the James Franck Institute, has been elected a fellow of the American Chemical Society and of the American Vacuum Society. Both societies honored his work in surface chemistry and chemical dynamics, which deals with atomic-level chemical and physical processes that occur at interfaces, and are of importance for understanding the fundamental basis for heterogeneous chemical reactions, energy transfer, next-generation energy systems and materials performance.

The ACS cited Sibener for contributions to the science, profession and to the ACS community. His first citation was “for seminal studies of gas-surface interactions utilizing supersonic molecular beams and scanning probe microscopy with theory and simulations to elucidate the fundamental, underlying atomic-level chemistry and dynamics of interfaces.” The second citation was “for leadership in chemistry education for students and the public, including creating content for interactive and web-based museum exhibits that showcase chemistry and molecular reactivity to more than one million people annually.”

The AVS, meanwhile, cited Sibener “for contributions in the quest of developing a molecular-level understanding of surface chemistry through the study of structures, motions and reactions at solid surfaces.”

Bozhi Tian, assistant professor in chemistry, has received a Young Investigator Award and a Director of Research Early Career Award from the Office of Naval Research to support his bioelectronics research. Tian’s Young Investigator Award project is titled, “A silicon-based extracellular matrix for understanding three-dimensional dynamics in biofilms.” His Director of Research Early Career Award is titled, “Silicon-based cell-like biomaterials for studying multiscale emergent behaviors.”

Earlier this year, Tian also received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from the White House to support his work in semiconductor materials synthesis, device applications in photovoltaics, intracellular electrophysiology and tissue engineering.

Yossi Weizmann, assistant professor in chemistry, has received an Innovation Fund Award from the Polsky Innovation Exchange. The award will support the development of real-time infrared polymerase chain reaction technology that Weizmann has developed in collaboration with postdoctoral scholars Zoya Cheglakov and Jung-Hoon Lee. The technology would provide real-time, inexpensive, highly mobile and low-energy methods for precise detection and rapid diagnosis of new contagions, potentially changing how crises, such as the recent Ebola and Zika outbreaks, would be contained.

Hisashi Yamamoto, the Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Professor Emeritus, has been elected to a two-year term as president of the Chemical Society of Japan. He also serves as a professor and director of the Molecular Catalyst Research Center at Chubu University in Kasugai City, Japan. Yamamoto’s research involves the design and application of Lewis and BrØnsted acid catalysts for organic synthesis, including asymmetric synthesis and asymmetric oxidation.