December 13, 2019

2020 trends in chemistry

Editors from ACS Central Science and Nature Chemistry have weighed in on new and major chemical research trends in a webinar from C&EN. Experts Chris Chang, a senior editor with ACS Central Science and chemistry professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and Stu Cantrill, the chief editor of Nature Chemistry are interviewed. Chang picked advances in protein degraders for his big trend of 2019. Cantrill chose advances in the chemical recycling of plastics for his trend of the year.

December 11, 2019


In new research reported in Nature, an international team of chemical engineers have designed a material that can capture carbon dioxide from wet flue gasses better than current commercial materials. One way to ameliorate the polluting impact of flue gases is to take the CO2 out of them and store it in geological formations or recycle it; there is, in fact, an enormous amount of research trying to find novel materials that can capture CO2 from these flue gasses.

December 10, 2019

Richard Andersen

Academic researchers are usually quick to recognize the accomplishments of their colleagues, heaping praise on them when they reach a milestone birthday or, sadly, when they pass away. A few seem to always rise above the accolades to a place of higher reverence. One of those is Chemistry Professor Richard A. Andersen of the University of California, Berkeley.

Robert Bergman

On the first day of graduate school, I went to my physical organic chemistry class feeling nervous and intimidated. The class was taught by Bob Bergman, a chemist whose extensive scientific record and research contributions I had learned about as an undergraduate. Many professors who excel at research are, unfortunately, not good teachers, so I had no idea what to expect. In his first lecture, Bergman played a movie of his young granddaughter experimenting with a saltshaker, and he explained how excited children are about figuring out how things work.

Frances Arnold joins the Board of Alphabet

Alphabet Inc. has announced the appointment of Frances Arnold (Ph.D. '85, ChemE) to its Board of Directors. Ms. Arnold is the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry and the Director of the Donna and Benjamin M. Rosen Bioengineering Center at the California Institute of Technology. A renowned innovator, she is also a celebrated leader in science having won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2018. Her appointment is effective immediately and she will serve on Alphabet’s Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee.

December 7, 2019

Joaquin Resasco

Alum Joaquin Resasco (Ph.D. '17, ChemE) has been named one of "Forbes 30 under 30 in Science" for 2020! Resasco has been reconginzed for his work aimed around shifting the decades-old paradigm of using petroleum for chemical energy into one that uses water and the atmosphere as stock for commodities, powered by renewable energy. To that end, he’s focused on designing catalysts that can be used for the sustainable production of essential chemicals and polymers.

December 5, 2019

Nitash Balsara

Protein-like molecules called “polypeptoids” (or “peptoids,” for short) have great promise as precision building blocks for creating a variety of designer nanomaterials, like flexible nanosheets – ultrathin, atomic-scale 2D materials. They could advance a number of applications – such as synthetic, disease-specific antibodies and self-repairing membranes or tissue – at a low cost.Scientists at Berkeley Lab are the first to use cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM) to image atomic changes in artificial proteins known as “peptoids.” Their findings have implications for the synthesis of soft, 2D materials for a wide variety of applications.

November 26, 2019

David Schaffer

Professor David Schaffer joins four other Berkeley faculty members who have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), an honor bestowed upon the society’s members by their peers. Schaffer has been elected “for pioneering contributions to biomolecular engineering, with particular attention to directed evolution to create viruses for the efficient, targeted and safe delivery of gene medicines.”

Ellen Pawlikowski

Clayton Radke, Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, is the recipient of a 2020 IOR Pioneer award from the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) for his important scientific research into surface interfaces. Professor Radke will be presented with the award during the SPEIOR conference in April, 2020. Radke's research focuses on combining principles of surface and colloid science towards engineering technologies where phase boundaries dictate system behavior.

November 20, 2019

Alexis Bell

The College of Chemistry is pleased to announce that Alexis Bell, The Dow Professor of Sustainable Chemistry, has been made a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS). The Membership of RAS is formed of its Members (Academicians), the Corresponding Members, and Foreign Members. All categories of membership are elected by the General Assembly of the RAS out of the candidates elected at the General Meetings of the Departments held prior to the General Assembly of RAS, which convenes every three years. All Academy members are elected for life.

November 19, 2019

Douglas Clark

Douglas S. Clark was presented the 2019 D.I.C. Wang Award for Excellence in Biochemical Engineering at the Annual Meeting in Orlando on November 11, 2019, where he delivered his award lecture titled “From Artificial Cofactors to Synthetic Arrays: Teaching Old Enzymes New Tricks.”

November 18, 2019

UC Berkeley startups to watch

Even the hippest chemist doesn’t know how many potentially world-changing chemistry start-ups are out there. As we at C&EN present our fifth class of 10 Start-Ups to Watch (two companies are founded by UC Berkeley faculty and alum), we can confirm that there are definitely hundreds, and perhaps thousands. That makes the job of picking just 10 a challenge—though an inspiring one. This year’s choices were selected after vigorous debate by our writers and editors. We made our own lists based on our day-to-day reporting and scoured the hundreds of firms nominated by readers and advisers from around the world. We picked winners for their groundbreaking chemistry as well as the importance of the problems they are tackling.

Gilman Hall

We are delighted to announce student Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering recipients of recent scholarships and awards administered by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). All winners were invited to the Annual Student Conference which included four days of career information, social events, and competitions.

November 15, 2019

John Hartwig

John Hartwig is the Henry Rapoport Professor of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. He received the 2019 Wolf Prize in Chemistry. His research aims to find new metal-catalysed reactions, and he was one of the developers of the Buchwald-Hartwig amination, one of the most-used reactions in drug discovery. He spoke with Katrina Krämer at the 2019 American Chemical Society national meeting in Orlando, Florida.

Ron Cohen

Scientists who scanned the skies above dozens of U.S. cities have made a surprising discovery about the smog that’s suspended over Los Angeles: one of its key ingredients isn’t disappearing as fast as it once did. The finding may help explain why the once-steady improvements in air quality have come close to stalling out here even though nitrogen oxide emissions have continued to decline. It also suggests that the particular chemistry of L.A.'s air may complicate future cleanup efforts. “That’s certainly part of why we’re in a moment in Los Angeles where it’s harder to get the air cleaner,” said Professor Ronald Cohen.

November 12, 2019

Margaret Chu-Moyer

When Chu-Moyer was tapped to head up the research and chemistry groups across Amgen’s three U.S. R&D sites in 2014, she knew she would have to make some changes for the company to succeed in bringing a KRAS inhibitor into clinical trials, along with other novel treatments for cancer, cardiovascular disease and neurological disorders. For one, she needed to improve the collaboration between scientists who had different areas of expertise—and who lived and worked in different zip codes.

November 5, 2019

Dan Nomura

In the modern age of pharmacology, some of the newest heroes in the war against human disease are biologists and chemists working in chemical proteomics. Among the leaders in this research is the Novartis-Berkeley Center for Proteomics and Chemistry Technologies (NB-CPACT), a joint venture linking Novartis, a large pharmaceutical company, and the world’s leading public research university. Launched in October 2017, the center is developing new technologies to further the discovery of next-generation therapeutics for cancer and other diseases.

November 4, 2019

Nitash Balsara

The Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT Kanpur), one of the first Indian Institutes of Technology and a globally acclaimed Institute of national importance, has just completed celebrating its diamond jubilee. As part of the celebrations, alumni from the College, including Professor Nitash Balsara were honored for their academic excellence, professional excellence and entrepreneurship.

Alumni in the news

Professor Emeritus Klaas Bergmann has been awarded the 2020 Davisson-Germer Prize in Atomic or Surface Physics by APS Physics “for the invention of Stimulated Raman Adiabatic Passage (STIRAP) that became universally used for coherent transfer in quantum systems with unprecedented efficiency and robustness."

Dr. Lisa Onishi, Chemical Engineer, Researcher and Senior Process Engineer at Intel, has been recognized with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award for her "dedication, achievements, and leadership as a professional engineer".

November 1, 2019

Pimentel Hall

George Pimentel was a famous physical chemist and is renowned for having conducted work that is the pinnacle of UC Berkeley’s research in chemistry. The inventor of the chemical laser, Pimentel died in 1989 in Kensington, California. While the scientist did achieve great success on our campus, no one expected him to return to UC Berkeley from beyond the grave. Nonetheless, in 1990, the rumors started. Copies of the periodic table started cropping up around campus. Chemistry students in lab in Latimer Hall started hearing voices telling them how to correctly perform their experiments...."