Welcome the Newest Associate Editors of ACS Publications Journals: Q3 2018

When a scientific journal adds a new associate editor or senior editor, that change means more for readers than just a tweak to the masthead.  New editors bring new experiences, new perspectives, and new ideas to their publications. Get to know some of ACS’ latest editors and learn what unique gifts they’ll be bringing to their respective journals.
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Michael Hickner, ACS Applied Energy Materials

What do you hope to bring to your journal?

My field is polymers, and specifically, my group addresses how polymer properties like ionic conductivity and other transport properties influence the performance of energy conversion and storage devices such as fuel cells and batteries. I want to encourage authors to make the next step and test or at least project what impact their materials will have on devices. I think the American Chemical Society community can have a lot of impact on the translation of chemistry and materials research into device and system performance. Also, I want to encourage my polymer colleagues to think about how ACS Applied Energy Materials can serve their publishing needs. I’m wedded to chemistry and materials, but polymers will always be #1 for me.

Describe your current research.

My group at Penn State synthesizes new polymers, measures their properties such as ion conductivity, water diffusion, dielectric properties, nanophase separated morphology, mechanical properties and other physical property traits that tell us about how the structure of the polymer influences its properties. We have performed a lot of recent work using IR to interrogate thin polymer films and to measure interactions between our membranes and water. We address application areas such as membranes for all types of devices and we are also working in the additive manufacturing or 3D printing space. We’ve made contributions to new polymer chemistry directed towards innovations in membranes and in understanding how polymers transport ions and small molecules. That is the foundation of what we do. 3D printing is relatively new to our group and is just too cool of an opportunity to pass up! Polymers and polymeric composites have a major role to play in additive manufacturing and we want to be part of it.

What are the major challenges facing your field today?

Cost. Cost is the #1 issue in large-scale energy technology and cost plays a major role in new membrane deployment and innovations in additive manufacturing. As polymer scientists, we get cues about cost because the polymers field has a huge industrial infrastructure and we regularly interact with industrial researchers. But, in the research lab, the cost is about the 23rd thing we think about when we’re striving for a breakthrough. However, there is a lot of innovation that can be brought to bear on the cost question. We do what we have to do is to make wise choices about chemistry, processes, and pathways to try to project what might be reasonable if the work is translated. Sometimes it’s a stretch, we don’t exactly know what industry does, but if we make smart choices on monomers, solvents, and catalysts and learn from our industrial colleagues where cost really rules, we can innovate and also push our work towards potential translation – or at least be in the conversation. The academic chemistry community has had a tremendous impact on issues such as green chemistry and sustainability, we can similarly have impacts on issues of cost. We should prize top science as the goal, but it’s OK to think about practical issues like cost. It makes us more complete scientists and thinkers. Good science can be done with cost as part of the conversation – especially when we are working on megawatt technologies.

Anything else you’d like readers to know about you?

There are tremendous opportunities in membranes – using all types of chemistries and all types of materials. I would like to invite investigators into my world of membranes and encourage investigators to work at the interface of chemistry, materials science, and engineering. It’s a great place to be!

Do you have a recent paper in an ACS journal that you’d like to highlight?

We just published a paper with Greg Tew at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, on isothermal titration calorimetry of metal cation-based anion exchange membranes. This paper is a fundamental breakthrough in understanding these types of membranes. Before this work, we were struggling to understand how the cation structure impacts conductivity. Now, we just have to use this new fundamental information and execute new material designs now that we have insights that we didn’t have before this paper.

Thermodynamics of Counterion Release Is Critical for Anion Exchange Membrane Conductivity
J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2018, 140 (25), 7961–7969.
DOI: 10.1021/jacs.8b03979

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Ling Chen, Crystal Growth and Design

What do you hope to bring to your journal?

Crystal Growth and Design is a platform of integrating the fields of crystal engineering and crystal growth for chemists (syntheses), physicists (property understanding) and engineers (applications) of crystalline materials. I am willing to serve as a bridge between Chinese scientists and CGD, between the author and the journal, between the author and the reviewer.

Describe your current research.

My group carried out researches on solid state chemistry and materials chemistry, focusing on exploration synthesis, structure characterization and the understanding of the structure-property relationship of novel solid-state functional materials, especially of nonlinear optical materials (oxides, sulfides) and thermoelectric materials (sulfides, selenides and tellurides etc).

What are the major challenges facing your field today?

The state-of-art available materials, NLO materials, or TE materials, cannot meet the increasing demand of the real applications. We need a breakthrough in the discovery of high efficient materials in these fields. As the heart of these disciplines, the property-oriented design synthesis is a big challenge, innovation ideas are in great anticipation.

Do you have a recent paper in an ACS journal that you’d like to highlight?

Infrared SHG Materials CsM3Se6 (M = Ga/Sn, In/Sn): Phase Matchability Controlled by Dipole Moment of the Asymmetric Building Unit
Chem. Mater., 2017, 29 (2), pp 499–503
DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.6b05026

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Shengmin Sang, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

What do you hope to bring to your journal?

I would like to use my diverse research background in natural product chemistry, analytical chemistry, medicinal chemistry, and biochemistry of functional foods to ensure the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry publish high-quality cutting-edge original research.

Describe your current research.

The overall research goal in my lab is to identify bioactive components from functional foods and herbal medicine to prevent chronic diseases, such as cancer, obesity, and diabetic complications. I would like to establish an integrated program to conduct the following research: 1) purify and identify bioactive components from functional foods and herbal medicine; 2) study how post-harvest technologies, such as thermo-processing, storage, fermentation, and packaging affect the stability, bioavailability, and efficacy of the bioactive components in functional foods; 3) determine the biotransformation and bioavailability of the bioactive food components under cell culture conditions, in rodents, and in humans; 4) identify dietary biomarkers using metabolomic approaches; and 5) study the in vivo efficacy and the underlying molecular mechanism of the bioactive food components focusing on prevention of colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel diseases, and diabetic complications.

What are the major challenges facing your field today?

Functional foods and their bioactive components have received a great deal of attention from researchers, the general public, and food industries. Although most of the laboratory in vitro and in vivo studies show consistent protective effects of bioactive food components, no clear-cut conclusion can be drawn in human due to many different confounding factors. From the chemistry point of view, there are many factors that affect the chemical composition of a food, which include the varieties, the stability of food compounds during post-harvest, storage, and thermo-processing, and the regional and seasonal differences. In addition, there are many factors that affect the bioavailability and metabolism of food components, such as the food matrix and the genetic and microbial differences. Furthermore, gender, age, and health status are important factors, which should be considered in studying the health effects of functional foods and their bioactive components.

Do you have a recent paper in an ACS journal that you’d like to highlight?

Avenanthramide Aglycones and Glucosides in Oat Bran: Chemical Profile, Levels in Commercial Oat Products, and Cytotoxicity to Human Colon Cancer Cells
J. Agric. Food Chem., 2018, 66 (30), pp 8005–8014
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.8b02767
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Guangjun Nie, Nano Letters

What do you hope to bring to your journal?

My research background is in biochemistry and physiology. When I came to China from McGill University in 2008, I completely switched my research to nanobiology and nanomedicine, where I found there are many opportunities to apply nanotechnology into biomedical sciences. I wish I can bring to Nano Letters (our journal) a hybrid view, combining nanoscience and biology and medicine. With the rapid development of nanoscience and nanotechnology, more and more evidence suggests there is plenty of room at the interface of nanoscience and nanotechnology with biology and medicine. There are many unmet biomedical challenges where the marriage of nanotechnology and biotechnology may offer new solutions.

Describe your current research.

The combination of nanotechnology and biotechnology will bring into new solutions not only for cancers but also for metabolic diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, and cardiovascular diseases.

My research interests include:

  1. The targeting and regulation of tumors and their microenvironment by intelligent nanorobots for diagnostic and therapeutic applications, especially in the contexts of pancreatic and liver cancers.
  2. The design and synthesis of biological system-inspired, novel biomaterials, with a focus on incorporating functional molecular machines.
  3. Cellular membrane vesicles or membrane functionalized nanostructures for their biological effects and drug delivery.
  4. The development of novel nanomedicines for the treatment of metabolic diseases and neurodegenerative diseases.

What are the major challenges facing your field today?

Although numerous nanoscale delivery systems have been proposed for cancer therapy, only a small number of nanotherapeutics have been applied in clinical trials. There is a need to advance the field of nanomedicine with rationally created, new classes of nanoparticles as well as a deeper understanding of tumor biology.

The current lack of clinical translation of nanotherapeutics is largely because the field of nanomedicine is still in the early stages of development. The field is now mainly focused on developing the methods to design and characterize nanoparticles that can kill tumor cells and exhibit improved imaging properties. However, a systematic study that identifies patterns of nanoparticle behavior in vivo, based on defined design features at the molecular level, is still lacking. Such an approach is important to the development of nanotherapeutics that surmount biological barriers to precisely reach diseased sites.

Anything else you’d like readers to know about you?

We recently developed several nanotherapeutics mainly targeting or modulating the tumor microenvironment components, such as the blood supply, angiogenesis, intratumoral platelets, fibroblasts, and ECM, by employing DNA, polypeptides, liposomes, polymers or natural proteins as nanoplatforms. DNA nanotechnology has enabled the synthesis of monodispersed nanostructures with precise control over size, shape, chemical composition and drug loading, making the structures highly stable and reproducible for further application. The self-assembly of polypeptide nanoparticles provides unlimited design potential with the ease of synthesis, considering the well-defined process of polypeptide biosynthesis and covalent or non-covalent drug conjugation. The scaling up of liposomal or polymeric nanoparticle production can readily be achieved using manufacturing unit operations and such particles have been widely studied in preclinical testing and clinical trials. Although there are still numerous lessons to be learned regarding other parameters that afford nanoparticles with effective immune evasion and tumor cell targeting, and therefore improved pharmacokinetics and biodistribution, the rational design and scalability of synthesis undoubtedly offer researchers the possibility of exploring the interplay of different parameters.

Do you have a recent paper in an ACS journal that you’d like to highlight?

Chaperonin-GroEL as a Smart Hydrophobic Drug Delivery and Tumor Targeting Molecular Machine for Tumor Therapy
Nano Lett., 2018, 18 (2), pp 921–928
DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.7b04307

In this work, we fully utilized ATP molecule, which is in excess in the tumor microenvironment, as a trigger for spatiotemporal controlled drug release in tumor tissue. Instead of trying to affect tumoral ATP production, we developed a protein-based nanomachine to target the delivery of Dox to tumors with an ATP-dependent drug release manner, resulting in effective inhibition of tumor growth. The well-known chaperone complex, GroEL, was originally identified in bacteria. This protein forms a cage-like structure consisting of a hydrophobic pocket and a hydrophilic shell as verified in our study. When ATP is present, the structure of GroEL changes, exposing the cargo contained within the hydrophobic pocket. More interestingly, we observed that GroEL also responds to the plectin protein, which is overexpressed on the surface of tumor cells. This is totally unexpected observation. In biological systems, there are plenty of natural existing nanostructures with well-defined conformations and biological functions. One can expect to fully use these natural nanostructures to further modify or functionalize them for specific biological applications, which involves nanotechnology and biotechnology. Our study not only revealed a new mechanism of action for GroEL structure formation but also suggested that natural protein complex may be a class of attractive nanocarrier for drug or other cargo delivery.

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