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Three scientists recognized as exceptional young researchers

William Dichtel, Michael Jewett and Emily Weiss are finalists for Blavatnik National Awards

Blavatnik awards Dichtel weiss jewett
William Dichtel, Emily Weiss and Michael Jewett are among 31 finalists for the 2019 Blavatnik National Awards

Northwestern University faculty members William Dichtel, Michael Jewett and Emily Weiss have been named finalists for the 2019 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists. They are among 31 scientists and engineers being recognized nationally this year.

The finalists are considered to be some of America’s most important young scientific researchers aged 42 years or younger, driving the next generation of innovation by addressing today’s most complex and intriguing scientific questions. They now will compete for the largest unrestricted awards of their kind for early career scientists and engineers.

There are 10 finalists in each of three categories: life sciences, chemistry and physical sciences and engineering. The 2019 Blavatnik National Laureates, one from each category, will be announced on June 26. Each laureate will receive a cash prize of $250,000. 

The annual Blavatnik Awards were established in 2007 by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and are administered by the New York Academy of Sciences. 

Dichtel, the Robert L. Letsinger Professor of Chemistry at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, is a finalist in chemistry. He was also a Blavatnik finalist in 2017. Dichtel works at the frontiers of organic, polymer and materials chemistry. He has pioneered efforts to understand a new frontier in polymerization — the formation of 2D grids and 3D scaffolds. These materials, as well as other disordered structures that also contain tiny pores, possess extremely high surface areas and have applications in water purification and energy storage.

Dichtel is a member of Northwestern’s International Institute of Nanotechnology.

Jewett, the Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence, a professor of chemical and biological engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering and co-director of Northwestern’s Center for Synthetic Biology, is a finalist in life sciences. His work focuses bio-manufacturing therapeutics, materials and chemicals. Jewett invented cell-free techniques that harness biological systems without intact cells, creating new routes toward on-demand synthesis of medicines, expanding the chemistry of life, portable molecular diagnostics and education kits.

Jewett is a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern University, Simpson Querrey Institute, the Chemistry of Life Processes Institute and the International Institute of Nanotechnology.

Weiss, the Mark and Nancy Ratner Professor of Chemistry at Weinberg, is a finalist in chemistry. She was also a Blavatnik finalist in 2018. Weiss’s transformative, cross-disciplinary work focuses on light-driven chemical reactions, high-time resolution biological imaging, chemical systems out of equilibrium and new mechanisms of charge transport in nominally insulating materials. Much of her lab’s research uses nanoscale semiconductor particles, called quantum dots, to transduce visible and near-infrared light energy to chemical and electrical energy, and for fundamental studies of processes at interfaces. 

Weiss is a member of Northwestern’s International Institute of Nanotechnology.

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