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ACS Editors Reflect on the Impact of Women Mentors

“Who has been an impactful women mentor in your career and what have you learned from them?”


Carolyn Bertozzi has been a role model for me ever since I was a young assistant professor, when we were both at Berkeley, where her knack for asking and fearlessly pursuing the biggest questions and recruiting and supporting the best students is something I’ve always admired and tried to take to heart in my building our own lab. She was/is universally generous with her time and energy, and I was lucky to have someone like her in the neighborhood.

Professor Christopher J. Chang
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
University of California Berkeley
ACS Central Science Senior Editor


As an assistant/associate/full Professor at Caltech during the 1990s, I had the pleasure of having as a colleague Professor Jaqueline Barton.  Jackie influenced me because of her contagious, passionate enthusiasm for science. She was tirelessly venturing out in exciting new directions at the tripartite interfaces of inorganic chemistry, biology, and medicine. Jackie was (and is) an amazing role model: Publishing in the very best journals, managing a large research group, serving on countless advisory boards, and working as a consultant, among other things. Jackie was a key mentor as I started my own independent career as a scientist.

Professor Erick M. Carreira
ETH Zurich
Editor-in-Chief, Organic Letters


“My post-doctoral advisor was Professor Elizabeth (Lisa) A.H. Hall at the Institute of Biotechnology at Cambridge University. Lisa not only taught be about how to do great science, and how to develop my career but she also left an indelible mark on how I run my research group. I learned an awful lot from her about the benefits of caring for your colleagues and students. Lisa was so pivotal in how I built my own career and I really owe an enormous debt to her for any success I might have had. I am very fortunate that we still meet at conferences,  get to discuss science and how to do science, and now she is a EAB member of ACS Sensors.

The other person I would like to mention is Professor Barbara Messerle who was appointed at UNSW at the same time as myself. Barbara, now an executive dean at Macquarie University was my Head of School for over six years with myself as her deputy. In that time Barbara rebuilt our School to its former place as one of the top Chemistry Schools in Australia. I learned so much from her about how to enable people to succeed and how investing in relationships is one of the keys to great leadership.”

Scientia Professor J. Justin Gooding
ARC Australian Laureate Fellow
Founding Co-Director, The Australian Centre for NanoMedicine
School of Chemistry, UNSW Australia
Editor-in-Chief, ACS Sensors


I have had several very important women as mentors early in my career, but I’d really like to give a shout-out to peer mentors. These peer mentors are often overlooked as they tend to be unofficial, but they are such an important part of support networks. Once I became a principal investigator, my female peer mentors became an endless source of sage advice and support whenever I experienced any setbacks. It’s hard to single out one person but Karen Chapman in particular has been a long term and very valued advisor, friend, and advocate for women in science.

Professor Catherine Abbott
The University of Edinburgh
Associate Editor, ACS Chemical Neuroscience


Unfortunately, I had male mentors in science only. However, my grandma, a World War 2 widow, and survivor with two little kids was a great inspiration to me. She taught me never to give up.

My mother made me aware of the beauty of art which is important to me because of the close relationship between art and science.

Professor Daniel Rauh
Technische Universität Dortmund
Associate Editor, ACS Chemical Biology


I have had the good fortune of interacting with excellent female mentors throughout every level of my career, including Eva Gordon, Carol Gross, and Isabella Graef. Some of the most important include my graduate thesis advisor, Professor Laura Kiessling (then at University of Wisconsin, Madison), who taught me everything about chemical biology and how to work on the biggest scientific problems. When I first started my faculty position, Professor Rowena Matthews (University of Michigan) was another key figure. She was endlessly patient, insightful, poignant and, most importantly, inspiring.

Professor Jason Gestwicki
University of California, San Francisco
Associate Editor, ACS Chemical Biology


“Mine would be Professor Karen Brewer of Virginia Tech, now deceased. Karen was generous with her time for an undergraduate researcher not in her own research group. She emphasized the importance of reaching the literature broadly to come up with research ideas and most importantly reinforced the notion that science was fun and part of a community effort.”

Professor Paul J. Chirik
Edwards S. Sanford Professor, Princeton University
Editor-in-Chief, Organometallics


“Professor Carol Stanier started me down the editorial path that led to my current role as Editor-in-Chief of Bioconjugate Chemistry. Carol was Editor of Journal of Materials Chemistry, back before there was an A, B, or C. Working with her as an Associate Editor,  I learned the key concepts that I work to foster at Bioconjugate Chemistry. First, handle papers promptly, fairly and efficiently.  Most importantly, remember that everyone in the community (authors reviewers and readers) are people, and treat them with respect.”

Professor Vincent M. Rotello
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Editor-in-Chief, Bioconjugate Chemistry


“Kristina Luthman, Professor in Medicinal Chemistry, Göteborg University, my co-supervisor during my Ph.D. Extraordinary scientist, careful with details, as well as a fantastic teacher and entrepreneur. On top of all that, a woman with the biggest heart one can find, who has the capacity to see the person. To me as a young scientist, it was fantastic to have a female role model as they were (and still are) very few at the time (early 2000). She is a strong reason for that I later pursued an academic career and I am very grateful to her for her time and knowledge investment in me!”

Professor Christel Bergstrom
Uppsala University
Associate Editor, Molecular Pharmaceutics


“I had a female chemistry teacher in high school who had a particular way of teaching. Each day to teach a subject in chemistry, she would call on one of the students (usually students with good marks in chemistry), while asking questions and making the students to write on board the answer. She would lead the questions and then introduce and teach the next subject during the question and answer with the student. I was one of the students, that would have been called often to the board. With this method, my Chemistry teacher (Mrs Najmi) kept me engaged, interested and always prepared. This experience, boosted my confidence and for the first time, made me interested in a career in education. Unfortunately,  she passed away only a few years after I finished high school. She did not have a long life, but has definitely left her mark on the life of her student.”

Professor Afsaneh Lavasanifar
University of Alberta
Associate Editor, Molecular Pharmaceutics


“An impactful female mentor in my career has been Professor Karen Wooley (Texas A&M) she taught me that the most important thing you do as an academic is train the next generation.”

Professor Rachel O’Reilly
University of Birmingham
Associate Editor, Macromolecules


“Linda Broadbelt, the Sarah Rebecca Roland Professor, Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and Associate Dean for Research in Engineering at Northwestern University, has been a tremendous mentor to me. There is no one way to do this job (i.e., academia) and I am so grateful for Linda’s accumulated wisdom and insights. Linda had a knack for helping me identify and realize my strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, she showed me how being a good listener to my colleagues, lab, students, which is vital to creating an inclusive and creative culture of innovation. On top of this, Linda was a champion of my cause, and our interactions have had a transformative impact on my career.”

Professor Michael C. Jewett
Northwestern University
Associate Editor, ACS Synthetic Biology


“Professor Carolyn Bertozzi (Stanford Chemistry), my postdoctoral advisor, encouraged me to think bigger about my own potential.”

Professor Kate S. Carroll
Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry
Associate Editor, Chemical Research in  Toxicology


“Professor Cindy Burrows. The value that a different perspective can have for creative solutions to scientific problems and opening new directions in research.

Also, the inspiration of the possibility to have great scientific success, strong community building, mentoring, and leadership, have an equal partner and children, all with humor, openness and joy for outdoor adventure.”

Professor Shana Sturla
ETH Zurich
Editor in Chief, Chemical Research in Toxicology

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