December 17, 2019

extracting drinking water from the air

Last year, researchers from the lab of Professor Omar Yaghi at UC Berkeley and Saudi Arabia published research announcing advancements in their MOF water capture system research. Now, the US military has established a new research program via DARPA looking for advanced ways to hydrate its soldiers. Instead of sending the precious cargo of H2O, the military wants its soldiers to be able to take water from the very air they breathe.”

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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...."

October 29, 2019

organometallic asymmetric synthesis

In a new publication released by ACS Publications, Dean Toste (Gerald E.K.Branch Distinguished Professor of Chemistry) joins Shu-Li You (Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry) penning the introduction to "Asymmetric Synthesis Enabled by Organometallic Complexes", a special edition on asymmetric synthesis enabled by organometallic complexes. According to the authors, "Chiral molecules in their enantioenriched or enantiopure forms today are targets of great significance for their widespread applications, ranging from medicinal chemistry to materials science. Asymmetric synthesis enabled by organometallic complexes is one of the preeminent routes toward these targets."

October 25, 2019

College of Chemistry ranked #1

UC Berkeley has announced it tops the list of public universities in global rankings by U.S. News & World Report for the fifth straight year. For the third year in a row, the campus ranks fourth-best overall among publics and privates. Across 23 subject ratings, UC Berkeley ranked first in chemistry; second in environment/ecology; third in economics and business, space science and in physics; fourth in biology and biochemistry and in plant and animal science; and fifth in mathematics, materials science and in engineering.

October 23, 2019

Ron Cohen

We hear a lot about bad air quality in California. And, it’s hard to know what to do about it. But thanks to a 2017 law, two Bay Area communities known for their air pollution are helping set their own air quality policies. But what does putting air pollution in the hands of the people really look like? In this Cross Currents report from KALW, reporter Brett Simpson attends an important community air quality meeting in Richmond as a committee of residents decide how much monitoring they should do before putting stricter standards in place. Richmond, California has some of the worst air pollution in the country. The committee was divided between more monitoring and wanting to enact stricter standards now.

October 22, 2019

Martin Head-Gordon

Learn about Martin Head-Gordon, a theoretical chemist at the University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and a recently elected member of the National Academy of Sciences. He develops electronic structure theory to permit improved calculations of molecules, including the strength of chemical bonds. To better understand how and why bonds form, he also works on energy decomposition analysis (EDA), which gives the value of physically different contributions to chemical bonds.

Birgitta Whaley

Birgitta Whaley, a UC Berkeley professor of chemistry and co-director of the Berkeley Quantum Information and Computation Center, has been appointed to the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), the White House announced on Tuesday, Oct. 22. Whaley, who is also a faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, was among seven new advisers, the first PCAST members appointed by President Donald Trump since his inauguration three years ago. Upon signing an executive order this morning launching PCAST, President Trump indicated that he would appoint another nine advisers, for a total of 16.

October 16, 2019

Doug Clark, Terry Rosen, Tori Rosen

Alumnus Terry Rosen, the CEO of Arcus Biosciences, and his wife, Tori, have donated $25 million to the College of Chemistry for a building to be named in honor of Terry Rosen’s beloved mentor and former chemistry dean, Clayton Heathcock. Rosen, who obtained his Ph.D. in 1985 while working in Heathcock’s lab, has fond memories of the four years he spent at UC Berkeley and decided that naming a building after Heathcock was a great way to say, ‘Thank you.’

October 14, 2019

Harold Urey

Harold Urey worked for the Manhattan Project. But by contrast, the Nobel-prize winning chemist distanced himself from nuclear weapons development after the war. His search for science beyond defense work prompted a shift into studying the origins of life and lunar geology. Now, this absorbing biography "The Life and Science of Harold C. Urey" by science historian Matthew Shindell, uses the researcher’s life to show how a conscientious chemist navigated the cold war.

October 9, 2019

Carlos BustamanteIn the mid-1970s, Professor of Chemistry, Physics and, Molecular and Cell Biology Carlos J. Bustamante, left Peru to go to graduate school in the US. He intended to return, but political and economic turmoil prevented that. He wound up staying for a postdoc. He then joined the chemistry faculty at the University of California, Berkeley, where he works on single-molecule manipulation and detection.