Meet the Recipients of the 2021 Advances in Measurement Science Lectureship Awards - ACS Axial | ACS Publications
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Meet the Recipients of the 2021 Advances in Measurement Science Lectureship Awards

ACS Sensors, Analytical Chemistry, Journal of Proteome Research, and the ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2021 Advances in Measurement Science Lectureship Awards. This annual award recognizes individuals from three major geographic regions (the Americas; Europe, The Middle East, and Africa; and Asia-Pacific) who have made a recent and major impact in the field. The awards will be presented at Pittcon 2021 in March, where recipients will receive an award plaque, a $1,500 honorarium, and an additional $1,500 for travel and accommodations to attend the conference. Learn about last year’s winners here.

Meet the 2021 Recipients

Below are three brief interviews with the winners regarding their research and their thoughts on the latest in measurement science.

Representing the Americas: Professor Kevin Plaxco, University of California, Santa Barbara

Tell us about yourself.

My training is in molecular biophysics, but some years ago I realized that the naturally occurring mechanisms I was studying, such as binding-induced protein folding, could be used to solve some long-standing problems at the interface of biology and engineering.  Specifically, much of my training and early career had focused on protein folding physics.  From that, we realized that it is quite easy to re-engineering single domain proteins and nucleic acids such that they only fold upon binding their target.  It wasn’t much of a step from there to the realization that this mechanism, which couples target recognition to an enormous change in polymer physics, could have real-world applications, such as being a facile means of transducing binding events into easily measurable output signals for sensing purposes.

What does this award mean to you?

It’s really an honor to receive recognition in the field of analytical chemistry.  My background is very much in molecular biophysics and thus, all the more, it is a delight to see this new direction that my laboratory has taken being so well received by my new community.

What are you working on now?

Our technology allows us to monitor arbitrary molecules (irrespective of their specific chemical or enzymatic reactivity) in real time in the living body and with seconds resolution.  About a third of my group continues to optimize and develop the technology, about a third of the group is focused on some basic biophysics problems -the physics of biomolecules on surfaces- that has important ramifications in both technologies like ours and in biology, and about a third of my work is focused on the scientific applications of our new measurement capabilities.

Why do you choose to regularly publish your work in ACS’ Measurement Science Journals?

I am a devoted fan of society-run, rather than for-profit, journals.  I appreciate what the ACS has done for the dissemination of all forms of chemistry, and want to give back when I can.

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

The ability to measure any but a handful of specific molecules in real time in the body is nascent, but has tremendous scientific and clinical potential; I look forward to being surprised by what other platforms achieve this, and where the field takes these new technologies.

Representing Europe, The Middle East, and Africa: Professor Perdita Barran, University of Manchester

Tell us about yourself.

I hold a Chair of Mass Spectrometry in the Department of Chemistry and am the Director of the Michael Barber Centre for Collaborative Mass Spectrometry at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, The University of Manchester, U.K.

My research interests include biological mass spectrometry; Instrument and technique development; Protein structure and interactions; Dynamic and Disordered Systems; Parkinson’s disease Diagnostics; HDX-MS; Proteomics; and Molecular modeling. I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and was awarded the Theophilius Redwood Award from the RSC in 2019, Researcher of the Year 2020 from the University of Manchester, and the ACS Measurement Science Lectureship 2021.  In 2020, I co-founded the COVID-19 Mass Spectrometry coalition and leads a multi-omic consortium in the UK which aims to identify biomarkers that are risk factors to indicate the severe and long-term progression of Sars-CoV-2 infection.

I have a fantastic research group of 15 junior and senior scientists. Thirty people have obtained their PhD. under my guidance to date and I have also mentored 12 postdoctoral scientists. Many of these individuals still work in mass spectrometry. Being able to work with such talented individuals from all over the world and watching them go on to achieve more is a great honor.

What does this award mean to you?

I am absolutely delighted to receive this award. It is of course shared with my group past and present as well as my collaborators. I have a lot of respect for the ACS, as a society, and as a publisher. I have published some of the work I am most proud of in ACS measurement science journals. For me receiving this award along with my co-recipients is pretty exciting – especially this year, where we have needed things to be happy about more than ever.

The noble laureate A.V. Hill said in 1933 that science cannot progress properly except by the fullest internationalization and the fact that these prizes recognize scientists across the globe is very good evidence of this sentiment – which I share.

What are you working on now?

Our work in Parkinson’s Disease diagnostics is gathering momentum with some new findings about to come out. We are doing some really interesting work in the use of mass spectrometry to monitor the products of enzymatic reactions, and how ion mobility mass spectrometry can be used to separate chiral compounds. Our work measuring conformational dynamics in proteins is always exciting, look out for some in the new year with variable temperature IM-MS  and with photoactivation. Finally, we have a number of virus-related projects, we are building a charge detection mass spectrometer to measure the mass of intact viruses, we are working with a big pan-European consortium SPIDOC-MS to build a totally new mass spectrometer that will allow us to obtain x-ray structures of viruses, and here in the U.K., I am helping with efforts to use mass spectrometry to diagnose COVID-19 infection and to discover prognostic biomarkers to stratify the host response.

Why do you choose to regularly publish your work in ACS’ Measurement Science Journals?

Because they are well respected and widely read.

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

In-situ robust electrospray sources coupled with high-resolution ion mobility and lower resolution mass spectrometry for point of care diagnosis and screening.

Mapping of biomolecule conformational space with IM-MS data and statistical methods for functional analysis.

Representing Asia-Pacific: Professor Chaoyong Yang, Xiamen University

Tell us about yourself.

I received my Ph.D. at the University of Florida and was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. I am a professor at Xiamen University and associate editor of ACS Applied Bio Materials. My current research is particularly focused on molecular engineering, molecular recognition, microfluidics, and single-cell analysis.

What does this award mean to you?

This award means a great deal to me. It represents an important recognition from international colleagues that my research work has been valued by the community.

What are you working on now?

I am developing new microfluidic platforms for high throughput single cell multi-omic sequencing. The platforms will allow one to study the correlation between genome, epigenome, and transcriptome at the level of single-cell, reveal the heterogeneity of single-cell and its mechanism in growth and development, disease occurrence and progression from the multi-omics level, and provide important research tools for biomedical research and disease diagnosis.

Why do you choose to regularly publish your work in ACS’ Measurement Science Journals?

I have been trained as an analytical chemist. Like many of my colleagues, I read articles from ACS’s Measurement Science Journals every day. ACS’ Measurement Science Journals have great influence in the analytical chemistry community. I choose to regularly publish our work in these journals to rapidly share our results with the community.

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

The fast development of DNA sequencing technologies has promoted the Human Genome Project and revolutionized life science and medicine. In contrast, less progress has been made for single-molecule protein sequencing and glycan sequencing. I hope to see a multiple-function single-molecule sequencer that allows deciphering of DNA, Protein, and glycan.

Congratulations to the Winners!

Stay up-to-date on the correlating Pittcon award symposium, as well as the 2022 award nomination process, by signing up for journal alerts here

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