Meet the 2020 Recipients of The Journal of Physical Chemistry – PHYS Division Lectureship Awards - ACS Axial
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Meet the 2020 Recipients of The Journal of Physical Chemistry – PHYS Division Lectureship Awards

The Journal of Physical Chemistry (JPC) and the Physical Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society (PHYS) are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2020 The Journal of Physical Chemistry and PHYS Division Lectureship Awards:

  • Amir Karton – Associate Professor, Faculty of Science, School of Molecular Sciences, The University of Western Australia, Australia
  • Gabriela Schlau-Cohen – Thomas D. and Virginia W. Cabot Career Development Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
  • Robert Baker – Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, The Ohio State University, USA

The Journal of Physical Chemistry – PHYS Division Lectureship Awards honor the contributions of investigators who have made major impacts on the field of physical chemistry in the research areas associated with each section of the journal – JPC A, JPC B, and JPC C.

I spoke with the recipients to find out what the award means to them.

Amir Karton – JPC A Recipient

What does this award mean to you?

As an early career researcher, it’s sometimes hard to know if you’re on the right track, so receiving an award from the American Chemical Society is extremely encouraging. I feel deeply honored by this Lectureship, which recognizes not only my own work but also the contributions of my students, mentors, and collaborators.

What are you working on now?

I am a theoretical and computational chemist. My lab is focusing on the development of quantum chemical theory and its application to problems of chemical structure, mechanism, and design. We use quantum chemistry to tackle challenging chemical problems that span several disciplines, ranging from biochemistry to nanochemistry. These include the computational design of two-dimensional functional materials for catalysis, molecular sensing, and hydrogen storage, the computational design of small bioactive molecules, and highly accurate simulations of astrochemically- and atmospherically-relevant chemical reactions.

What advances are you hoping to see in your field in the next decade?

Major advances in electronic structure theory and supercomputer technology in the 21st century have increased the accuracy of quantum chemical methods and the size of systems they can treat by roughly an order of magnitude. This makes quantum chemistry one of the most detailed ‘microscopes’ available for examining chemical processes at the atomic level. Yet, to further increase the predictive power of the theory, additional advances are needed in the development of cost-effective methods for (i) predicting accurate solvation energies, (ii) automated reaction path searches, and (iii) accurate description of nuclear motion (e.g., anharmonic corrections to zero-point vibrational energies and Born–Oppenheimer corrections). I anticipate that significant advancements will be made on these fronts in the coming years.

Why do you choose to publish your research with The Journal of Physical Chemistry?

I publish in The Journal of Physical Chemistry A for two reasons: reputation and readership. The Journal of Physical Chemistry A is arguably the top international journal in the field of physical chemistry. The journal is a strong supporter of theoretical and computational chemistry and publishes extensively in this area. Accordingly, many of its readers are theoretical and computational chemists, and I know publishing in this journal will bring my work to their attention.

Read JPC A articles published by Amir Karton:

Highly Accurate CCSDT(Q)/CBS Reaction Barrier Heights for a Diverse Set of Transition Structures: Basis Set Convergence and Cost-Effective Approaches for Estimating Post-CCSD(T) Contributions
J. Phys. Chem. A 2019, 123, 31, 6720-6732
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpca.9b04611
***
Performance of DFT for C60 Isomerization Energies: A Noticeable Exception to Jacob’s Ladder
J. Phys. Chem. A 2019, 123, 1, 257-266
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpca.8b10240
***
From High-Energy C7H2 Isomers with A Planar Tetracoordinate Carbon Atom to An Experimentally Known Carbene
J. Phys. Chem. A 2018, 122, 46, 9054-9064
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpca.8b08809
***

Explore Professor Karton’s papers published in The Journal of Physical Chemistry and The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters.

Biography

Associate Professor Amir Karton leads the theoretical and computational chemistry group at the University of Western Australia. He currently holds an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship. His research interests focus on the development of quantum chemical theory and its application to chemical problems spanning several disciplines, ranging from biochemistry to nanochemistry. These include the computational design of two-dimensional functional materials and catalysts, elucidating the mechanisms by which enzymes catalyze molecular transformations, and highly accurate simulations of atmospherically relevant chemical reactions. Karton’s work has been recognized by a number of recent awards including the Le Fèvre Medal from the Australian Academy of Science (2018) and the Royal Australian Chemical Institute Physical Chemistry Division Lectureship (2019).

Visit his website for further information or follow him on Twitter: @CompQuantumChem

Gabriela Schlau-Cohen – JPC B Recipient

What does this award mean to you? 

I’m honored to receive this award. My first first-author publication and my first corresponding-author publication were both in The Journal of Physical Chemistry, so the journal has played a special role in my career.

What are you working on now?

My group uses single-molecule spectroscopy and ultrafast spectroscopy to explore the energetic and structural dynamics of biological and bio-inspired systems. In particular, we develop and apply tools to uncover the conformational and photophysical mechanisms of photosynthetic light harvesting and its regulation.

What advances are you hoping to see in your field in the next decade?

Hopefully, ones that I can’t predict! One of the exciting things about science is unexpected discoveries. My research group is at the interface of physical and biological chemistry, so advances could include improvements in temporal, spectral, and spatial resolution of our measurements or new abilities to isolate and manipulate proteins.

Why do you choose to publish your research with The Journal of Physical Chemistry?

As I mentioned above, I have published in The Journal of Physical Chemistry throughout my career. The journal has a long history of publishing foundational papers across physical chemistry, and I am proud to share my work there.

Read JPC articles published by Professor Schlau-Cohen:

Comparison of the Energy-Transfer Rates in Structural and Spectral Variants of the B800–850 Complex from Purple Bacteria
J. Phys. Chem. B 2020, 124, 8, 1460-1469
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.9b11899
***
Photophysics of J-Aggregate-Mediated Energy Transfer on DNA
J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2017, 8, 23, 5827-5833
10.1021/acs.jpclett.7b01898
***
Single-Molecule Identification of Quenched and Unquenched States of LHCII
J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2015, 6, 5, 860-867
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpclett.5b00034
***

Explore Professor Schlau-Cohen’s papers published in The Journal of Physical Chemistry and The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters.

Biography

Gabriela Schlau-Cohen is the Thomas D. and Virginia W. Cabot Career Development Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She joined the faculty of MIT in 2015. Prior to MIT, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow of the Center for Molecular Analysis and Design at Stanford University, where she worked with Prof. W.E. Moerner.

Dr. Schlau-Cohen received her Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry in 2011 from the University of California, Berkeley, where she worked in the lab of Prof. Graham Fleming as an AAUW American Fellow. She received a B.S. with honors in Chemical Physics in 2003 from Brown University. She is the recipient of an NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, the Beckman Young Investigator Award, the Smith Family Award for Excellence in Biomedical Research, the Sloan Research Fellowship in Chemistry, and she was selected as a CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar.

Robert Baker – JPC C Recipient

What does this award mean to you?

It is really an honor to be selected for this award. Physical chemistry has a lot to offer society, and it is a lot of fun to be a part of this exciting field. I am particularly grateful for my research advisors who helped shape me and for my group members who have done the work. When you look at the past recipients of this award and other leaders in this field, it is great to be able to interact with and learn from these individuals, so I am thrilled to be selected for this award.

What are you working on now?

We are trying to develop new ways to watch how electrons move at surfaces and interfaces. So many important processes happen at an interface. This includes charge separation for energy conversion, catalytic reactions, and information processing. The ability to make femtosecond bursts of XUV light offers some exciting new tools to watch these processes in real time with chemical detail. To a physical chemist, it is always exciting to try to see something that has never been seen before.

One tool, which my group helped develop, is XUV reflection-absorption spectroscopy. This is a core-hole spectroscopy, which means that each element has its own spectral signature. Watching how these features evolve on the femtosecond time scale shows how charge is moving between elements or across an interface. Observing these processes is teaching us important lessons about how to make materials more efficient for a wide range of applications. For example, we are learning how to better separate electrons and holes as well as how to improve charge mobility at the surfaces of semiconductors.

What advances are you hoping to see in your field in the next decade?

I would love to see XUV spectroscopy find its way into the hands of more users so that the average chemist or material scientist can utilize this tool to really guide the design of new molecules and materials. This field is progressing rapidly right now, and I am excited for what is coming in the next 10 years.

Why do you choose to publish your research with The Journal of Physical Chemistry?

The Journal of Physical Chemistry sets a high standard, and I think this journal really defines the field. Since my early time as a graduate student until now, The Journal of Physical Chemistry has always been the go-to place for high-quality physical chemistry research, and this journal really does a great job serving the community.

Read JPC articles published by Professor Baker:

Ultrafast Electron Trapping and Defect-Mediated Recombination in NiO Probed by Femtosecond Extreme Ultraviolet Reflection–Absorption Spectroscopy
J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2018, 9, 17, 5047-5054
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpclett.8b01865
***
Hole Thermalization Dynamics Facilitate Ultrafast Spatial Charge Separation in CuFeO2 Solar Photocathodes
J. Phys. Chem. C 2018, 122, 21, 11300-11304
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.8b02996
***
Catalysis at Multiple Length Scales: Crotonaldehyde Hydrogenation at Nanoscale and Mesoscale Interfaces in Platinum–Cerium Oxide Catalysts
J. Phys. Chem. C 2017, 121, 25, 13765-13776
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.7b03886
***

Explore Professor Baker’s papers published in The Journal of Physical Chemistry and The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters.

Biography

Robert Baker received a BS degree from Brigham Young University in 2007 and an MS degree from Brigham Young University in 2008.  He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, under the supervision of Gabor Somorjai in 2012.  Following his Ph.D., he performed postdoctoral research with Stephen Leone before joining The Ohio State University in 2014.  His research interests are in ultrafast spectroscopy, heterogeneous catalysis, and surface science.  He is a recipient of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award, the Department of Energy Early Career Award, and the Young Innovator Award in NanoEnergy. He is the lead principal investigator of the NSF National eXtreme Ultrafast Science (NeXUS) facility.

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