Introducing New Chemistry of Materials and ACS Materials Letters EIC Professor Sara E. Skrabalak - ACS Axial | ACS Publications

Introducing New Chemistry of Materials and ACS Materials Letters EIC Professor Sara E. Skrabalak

Professor Sara E. Skrabalak is the new Editor-in-Chief of Chemistry of Materials and ACS Materials Letters. Professor Skrabalak, James H. Rudy Professor at Indiana University, Bloomington, is no stranger to ACS Publications. She is a longtime author and reviewer for many ACS Publications journals, having published research in Chemistry of Materials for the first time back in 2006.

In 2014, she joined the Chemistry of Materials’ Editorial Advisory Board serving in that role until December 2019. Most recently, she served as an Associate Editor at Nanoscale and Nanoscale Advances, both from the Royal Society of Chemistry.

ACS Publications is excited to have Sara take the helm of both journals and look forward to an exciting future ahead. In anticipation of this announcement, I sat down with Sara to get to know her a little better as well as discuss her vision for the journal.

What is it like to have started as an Editorial Advisory Board member of a journal and now be named its Editor-in-Chief?

Chemistry of Materials is a favorite journal of mine, with my appreciation for it starting when I was an undergraduate researcher working with Bill Buhro (he was and still is an editor with the journal). Having grown up scientifically surrounded by the journal, it was an honor to serve as an Editorial Advisory Board board member. I was excited to learn about the editorial process from then Editor-in-Chief Jillian Buriak and provide feedback. Likewise, being named Editor-in-Chief is an honor. I feel a tremendous amount of responsibility to support the community of researchers that call both Chemistry of Materials and ACS Materials Letters scientific homes and am very excited by the opportunities that are ahead.

What do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities in the field of materials science and engineering today?

There are many challenges. Materials are and will continue to play a substantial role in sustainable development, mitigating climate change, addressing human health needs, and meeting our infrastructure and security needs. Underlying all of these topics are fundamental questions. How do we control the processes of materials at the level of electrons? How do we identify and design materials with tailored properties? How do we efficiently synthesize materials with atomic precision from earth-abundant elements using energy-efficient means? These are just a few.

How do you see Chemistry of Materials, ACS Materials Letters, and the community working together to address those challenges and seize those opportunities?

These journals are platforms for sharing new knowledge, facilitating dialogue between researchers, and promoting ethical research standards for the field. Each is important to address these challenges, especially as the solutions will surely require the convergence of diverse expertise from a number of fields where materials are a bridge between them.

In your first editorial, you referred to Chemistry of Materials as the center of the scientific enterprise. What does that mean to you? And what does it mean for the authors who publish in the journal?

I believe that ​Chemistry of Materials has an exciting and broad scope that welcomes research from a variety of traditions. The journal celebrates inter- and multi-disciplinary research while uniting this work through a molecular-level perspective of materials. I welcome feedback from the journal’s authors (and perspective authors) on how they view the journal.

As a longtime author, how do you think your experience will shape the author experience with Chemistry of Materials and ACS Materials Letters?

My experiences bring emphasis on effective communication and support for the community of researchers.

There are so many papers being published now that it is often difficult to find the latest, exciting results in a field, and this difficulty is amplified for the work coming from earlier career scientists, smaller research groups, and the less well-connected. I hope to use the special article types of the journals and our social media platforms to amplify these voices and their excellent work.

Also, ​like many, I have had papers rejected. These rejections have helped me grow as a scientist and academic. One thing that I have learned is that, if the work is done rigorously, these rejections are more a reflection of how significant advances are articulated or of a mismatch between a journal’s scope and the research. I hope to help potential authors avoid these pitfalls so that their results are shared effectively.

What new and exciting things can we expect from the journals?

Previous Editor-in-Chief Jillian Buriak really amplified the social media profile of these journals, and she and the editorial teams also emphasized personalized communication. I intend to keep those traditions. At the same time, I am excited to use the editorial features of the journals in new ways to highlight research from different regions of the world and at the frontiers of materials-based research. Also, in these difficult times, I am excited to use social media in new ways to bring the community together virtually.

What new areas of research are you looking forward to seeing published in the journal?

Chemistry of Materials and ACS Materials Letters welcome research from many areas. I would like to see increased content on materials (including nanoscale and 2-D materials) with applications in energy and electronics. I am also excited to receive papers focused on materials that interface with AI or leverage big data approaches, quantum systems, and biology.

How do you spend your “free” time? Any hobbies?

I love to travel and see live music but the pandemic makes both impossible currently. Now, I have been spending my time gardening and cooking elaborate vegetarian and vegan meals. I also have a large vinyl record collection, which I started listening to in alphabetical order when stay-at-home orders were put in place. I just completed the “K’s” this week and am hoping the pandemic is under control by the time I have made it through the entire collection.

About Sara E. Skrabalak


Sara E. Skrabalak is a Provost-appointed James H. Rudy Professor at Indiana University – Bloomington. She has appointments in the Departments of Chemistry and Intelligent Systems Engineering. She received her B.A. degree in Chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis in 2002 and her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2007. She conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Washington in Seattle from 2007-2008 and began on the faculty at Indiana University – Bloomington in 2008. Prior to assuming the role of Editor-in-Chief for Chemistry of Materials and ACS Materials Letters, she served as an Associate Editor for Nanoscale and Nanoscale Advances, both from the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Her research interests span a broad number of topics, with a focus on solid-state chemistry and nanomaterials, with strong influences from chemical engineering. Her group is largely known for providing hypothesis-driven approaches for the synthesis of new materials with defined crystal shape and architecture for applications in energy science, catalysis, separations, plasmonics, chemical sensing, and secured electronics.

Paper Picks

Here are a few of Professor Skrabalak’s research highlights from Chemistry of Materials:

Role of Short-Range Chemical Ordering in (GaN)1–x(ZnO)x for Photodriven Oxygen Evolution
Chem. Mater. 2017, 29, 15, 6525–6535
DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.7b02255
Simple Reactor for Ultrasonic Spray Synthesis of Nanostructured Materials
Chem. Mater. 2017, 29, 1, 62–68
DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.6b02660
Aerosol-Assisted Combustion Synthesis of Single-Crystalline NaSbO3 Nanoplates: A Topotactic Template for Ilmenite AgSbO3
Chem. Mater. 2015, 27, 1, 174–180
DOI: 10.1021/cm503711r
Mechanistic Study of Galvanic Replacement of Chemically Heterogeneous Templates
Chem. Mater. 2019, 31, 4, 1344–1351
DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.8b04630
Simple Reactor for Ultrasonic Spray Synthesis of Nanostructured Materials
Chem. Mater. 2017, 29, 1, 62–68
DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.6b02660
Spatial and Temporal Confinement of Salt Fluxes for the Shape-Controlled Synthesis of Fe2O3 Nanocrystals
Chem. Mater. 2013, 25, 9, 1549–1555
DOI: 10.1021/cm3038087
On the Possibility of Metal Borides for Hydrodesulfurization
Chem. Mater. 2006, 18, 13, 3103–3107
DOI: 10.1021/cm060341x
Synthesis of Single-Crystalline Nanoplates by Spray Pyrolysis: A Metathesis Route to Bi2WO6
Chem. Mater. 2011, 23, 4, 1017–1022
DOI: 10.1021/cm103007v

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