News

March 9, 2020

women trailblazers

Guided by CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna, a formidable entrepreneur in her own right, C&EN profiled 15 women working in the Chemical industry in academics and startups in C&EN's 2020 Trailblazers. Four of them are affiliated with UC Berkeley's College of Chemistry. They have collectively launched more than 30 start-ups aimed at developing treatments for rare diseases, building better batteries, and more. They’re chemical scientists at the top of their game. They’re role models building and mentoring teams. And yes, they’re badasses. They live by the motto “Nobody ever got anywhere by listening to no.”

March 4, 2020

Omar Yaghi

Omar Yaghi has been awrded the the 2020 August-Wilhelm-von-Hofmann-Denkmünze. The German Chemical Society bi-annually presents this prestigious award to an outstanding national and international chemists in a wide range of fields. Among the oldest chemistry awards, the August-Wilhelm-von-Hofmann-Denkmünze gold medal was first awarded in 1903. The award is intended to recognize outstanding achievements in chemistry; in particular by scientists working outside of Germany.

Gabor Somorjai

Gabor A. Somorjai, Professor of the Graduate School and Emeritus Chemistry Professor has been awarded the Helmholtz Medal by the members of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (formerly the Prussian Academy of Sciences.) The award honors his outstand­ing scientific achievements in the field of surface chemistry and catalysis, and especially the catalytic effects of metal surfaces. The Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities contin­ues the tradition established by the Prussian Academy of Sciences of awarding the Helmholtz Medal which was established in 1892.

March 3, 2020

plastic recycling

Plastic is a certainly versatile element. There is much we can do with it. Utensils, tools, parts for cars, technological devices. There is only one thing we do not know how to do with plastic: disappear when it is no longer useful. There the real headache begins and the enormous challenge of obtaining a circular or fully recyclable plastic is posed. Plastics contain various additives, such as dyes, fillers or flame retardants and very few of them can be recycled without loss of performance or aesthetics. The most recyclable plastic, PET (ethylene polyterephthalate), is only recycled at a rate of 20-30%. The rest generally goes to incinerators or landfills where it takes centuries to decompose.

polymer membranes

Biological membranes, such as the "walls" of most types of living cells, primarily consist of a double layer of lipids, or "lipid bilayer," that forms the structure, and a variety of embedded and attached proteins with highly specialized functions, including proteins that rapidly and selectively transport ions and molecules in and out of the cell. Scientists have long sought to develop synthetic membranes that could match the selectivity and high-speed transport offered by their natural counterparts. Now a team led by University of California Berkeley researchers has designed a novel polymer that is as effective as natural proteins in transporting protons through a membrane. The results of their research were published in Nature.

February 26, 2020

criegee intermediate research

Scientists in the lab of Kevin Wilson (Ph.D. '03, Chem), at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have made a surprising discovery that could help explain our risk for developing chronic diseases or cancers as we get older, and how our food decomposes over time. What’s more, their findings, which were reported recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), point to an unexpected link between the ozone chemistry in our atmosphere and our cells’ hardwired ability to ward off disease.

martin mulvihill

Wondering which plastic containers to avoid and which are safe to eat from? How to learn about chemicals in food packaging? Or how to make sure you are buying BPA-free foods? Foodprint recently held a Twitter chat with Dr. Martin Mulvihill (Ph.D. ’09, Chem), researcher and advisor at the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry and general partner with Safer Made, a mission-driven venture capital fund that invests in companies that remove or reduce the use of harmful chemicals in products and manufacturing processes and asked that very question.

Naomi Ginsberg

The American Society of Chemistry (ACS) has announced Naomi S. Ginsberg is a recipient of the 2020 early-career award in experimental physical chemistry. She is being recognized "For the development of new time- and space-resolved imaging and spectroscopy methods to study dynamical phenomena in heterogeneous materials". The Physical Chemistry Division of ACS annually sponsors senior and early-career awards in theoretical and experimental physical chemistry that are intended to recognize the most outstanding scientific achievements of members of the Division. The recipients will be honored at the the Fall ACS National Meeting in San Francisco.

February 19, 2020

water adsorption

Adsorption is a process which plucks water molecules from air that has less than 100% relative humidity by attaching them to the surface of a solid material. The molecules are held there by electrostatic connections called Van der Waals forces that link them with the molecules of the pertinent surface. To collect a lot of water this way therefore requires a material that has two properties. One is a large surface area. The other is an appropriate Van der Waals response. Experimental traps that employ this principle have been made using substances called metal-organic frameworks.

heavy elements

As we push the Periodic Table of the Elements further and further into the unknown, its familiar columns and rows are threatening to crumble. What’s next for this science icon? Superheavy elements exist for a fraction of time and are nearly impossible to catch. But understanding them could force us to reimagine the most iconic scientific symbol of all time..

Yao Yue Lao

In honor of Engineers Week, Aerospace Corporation is spotlighting a few of our many great engineers and getting a peek at the exciting projects that they’re focused on. Find out about Yao (B.S. '08, Chem) wound up at the Aerospace Corporation doing exciting work in photovoltaic characterization and solar array modeling.

February 12, 2020

David Altman

On the brink of his 100th trip around the sun, the secret to David Altman’s (Ph.D. '43, Chem) long and illustrious life isn’t rocket science. At least, not entirely. It’s a strategy that seems to have worked well for Altman, who will officially become a centenarian on Thursday. His dizzying number of accomplishments in rocket science — papers written, patents held, awards won — seem to indicate that not a moment was wasted in all of his one hundred years.

Discovery of new class of phages

Scientists have discovered hundreds of unusually large, bacteria-killing viruses with capabilities normally associated with living organisms, blurring the line between living microbes and viral machines as reported in new research findings in Nature. These phages — short for bacteriophages, so-called because they “eat” bacteria — are of a size and complexity considered typical of life, carry numerous genes normally found in bacteria and use these genes against their bacterial hosts.

February 5, 2020

William Lester

Dr. William Alexander Lester, Jr, is a Chemist & Educator for the University of California, Berkeley. He was just recently selected for the Lifetime Achievement Award for 2019 and as Top Chemist Educator of the Year for 2018 by the International Association of Top Professionals (IAOTP) for his outstanding leadership and commitment to the field. With close to 6 decades of professional experience as a seasoned and trusted Chemist and Educator, Dr. Lester has certainly proven himself as an accomplished professional and expert in the field.

February 3, 2020

green chemistry

An injection of cash helped the University of California, Berkeley, reform its general chemistry lab instruction. Back in 2012, the College of Chemistry received a gift of money from the Dow Chemical Company Foundation. Most of the funds were used to completely renovate the teaching labs, adding new equipment and modern instrumentation. But, says Anne M. Baranger, UC Berkeley’s director of undergraduate chemistry, $1 million was earmarked for developing a new teaching curriculum to match the labs. And the focus was on sustainability.

Carolyn Bertozzi’

Carolyn Bertozzi, the glycoscience evangelist has spent her career illuminating the importance of the sugar structures coating our cells. As she turns from building biological tools to building biotech companies, will she see a new wave of converts?

January 24, 2020

Halide perovskite crystal that emits blue light. Courtesy Peidong Yang.

University of California, Berkeley, scientists have created a blue light-emitting diode (LED) from a trendy new semiconductor material, halide perovskite, overcoming a major barrier to employing these cheap, easy-to-make materials in electronic devices.

January 23, 2020


 U.S. National Archives)Eric Seaborg, a writer and author, outdoorsman and environmentalist, has a love for hiking that he shared with his father, the late chemist and Nobel laureate Glenn Seaborg (1912-1999) who blazed trails in element and isotope discoveries during an illustrious career at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and UC Berkeley.

January 13, 2020

Jennifer Doudna

Jennifer Doudna, UC Berkeley professor of molecular and cell biology and of chemistry, has won the 2020 Wolf Prize in Medicine, a prestigious international prize awarded in Israel for unique contributions to humanity.

Polly Arnold. Photo courtesy Chemistry World, Carlos Chavarra.Polly Arnold is a champion of actinide chemistry and diversity in science. Kit Chapman asks her what comes next as she starts her new role at a US national lab

‘Do I have imposter syndrome?’ Polly Arnold raises an eyebrow at the question, as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world. ‘Yes, of course I do. Everybody who didn’t go to Eton has imposter syndrome. Not just the women, it’s the men who didn’t go to a brilliant school, too. The only people who don’t have imposter syndrome are those told from childhood they’re born to rule.’