National, international awards recognize faculty innovation in ASU's School of Molecular Sciences


June 7, 2019

The Arizona State University charter describes a commitment to linking innovation with the advancement of research and discovery of public value. The establishment of the School of Molecular Sciences from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry embodies this commitment to research that directly addresses such major public and societal issues.

Current School of Molecular Sciences research takes a molecular approach on issues such as the identification and treatment of disease, the development of new strategies for renewable fuels and the creation of new materials for electronics and nanodevices. Recent School of Molecular Sciences recognized faculty. Download Full Image

Research at the School of Molecular Sciences has previously been recognized in terms of the quality and impact of its publications. The school is consistently in the top 10 among chemistry and biochemistry programs for publications in the journals Science and Nature, and a study by Thompson Reuters ranked the school No. 6 in terms of publication impact, ahead of MIT, Stanford and Berkeley. 

The school has recently been receiving a different form of national and international recognition in terms of faculty awards. The last two to three years have been particularly successful. 

“Amazing discoveries are taking place at the School of Molecular Sciences,” said Neal Woodbury, director of the School of Molecular Sciences. “We need to share our successes and tell our story; if you choose to attend ASU, you will be getting a world-class education and have the opportunity to work with top-tier faculty and do truly innovative research.” Importantly, these recognitions have been earned by faculty at all levels, from the most junior to the most senior.

The school is proud to highlight the recent accomplishments of its faculty who represent both the foundation and the future of innovative research. 

President's Professor Ariel Anbar

2019 European Association of Geochemistry Science Innovation Award — The award recognizes scientists who have recently made particularly important and innovative breakthroughs in geochemistry.

2017 Teaching Innovator Award — Professor Anbar is recognized by the Chronicle of Higher Education in their inaugural list of teaching innovators.

Regents' Professor Austen Angell

2019 Gothenburg Lise Meitner Award — The award from the Gothenburg Physics Centre recognizes a breakthrough discovery in physics.

2018 ISPE Galileo Galilei Award — This award from the International Symposium on Polymer Electrolytes recognizes the promotion of ionic liquids in science.

2018 Otto Schott Research Award — The award recognizes outstanding scientific achievement in the field of glass and ceramics.

Regents' Professor Peter Buseck

2019 Roebling Medal — The Roebling Medal is the highest award of the Mineralogical Society of America for scientific eminence as represented primarily by scientific publication of outstanding original research in mineralogy. 

Assistant Professor Alexander Green

2017 NIH New Innovator Award — The award from the National Institutes of Health supports exceptionally creative early career investigators who propose innovative, high-impact projects.

2017 DARPA Young Faculty Award — The Young Faculty Award program identifies and engages rising stars in junior research positions.

2017 Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship — The fellowship is awarded to early-career scholars described as the most promising scientific researchers working today.

Professor Sidney Hecht

2019 Senior Member of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) — NAI Senior Members are active faculty who have produced technologies that have brought, or aspire to bring, real impact on the welfare of society.

Professor Joshua LaBaer

2018 Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors — The NAI Fellows Program highlights academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation that has made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.

Assistant Professor Gary F. Moore

2017 National Science Foundation (NSF) Career Award — The CAREER award is the most competitive and prestigious awards given by the NSF to junior faculty. 

Emeritus Professor Michael O’Keefe

2019 Gregori Aminoff Prize in Crystallography — The Gregori Aminoff Prize is awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. O’Keefe was selected for his fundamental contributions to the development of reticular chemistry.

Associate Professor Steve Presse

2017 National Science Foundation Career Award — The CAREER award is the most competitive and prestigious awards given by the NSF to junior faculty.

Professor Everett Shock

2019 ACS Geochemistry Division Medal — The American Chemical Society Geochemistry Medal is awarded for outstanding accomplishment in geochemistry.

Assistant Professor Nicholas Stephanopoulos

2018 National Science Foundation Career Award — The CAREER award is the most competitive and prestigious awards given by the NSF to junior faculty.

2018 NIH New Innovator Award — The award from the National Institutes of Health supports exceptionally creative early-career investigators who propose innovative, high-impact projects.

2016 Air Force Young Investigator Award — The Young Investigator Award supports scientists showing exceptional ability and promise for conducting basic research.

Associate Professor Ryan Trovitch

2017 National Science Foundation Career Award — The most competitive and prestigious awards given by the NSF to junior faculty.

Milton D. Glick Distinguished Professor Hao Yan

2019 Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business 2019 — Awarded to visionary leaders who have moved an industry forward in an unprecedented way. Yan received the award for his work using nanobots to fight cancerous tumors by choking off their blood supply.

Communication specialist, School of Molecular Sciences

ASU alumna shares perspective with STEM undergraduate researchers


June 7, 2019

This past March, Megan Thielges returned to Arizona State University not as an undergraduate chemistry student, but as the keynote speaker at the 26th annual Undergraduate Research Symposium hosted by the School of Life Sciences, in conjunction with the SOLUR Undergraduate Research Program.

The symposium provides a chance for undergraduate researchers to present what they've learned through their research experiences. The event is open to faculty, staff, students and the general public. Indiana University Bloomington Professor Megan Thielges and SMS Professor James Allen. Download Full Image

In a talk titled "Trek of a Biophysicist," Thielges shared her story of progress from an undergraduate at ASU to an associate professor in the department of chemistry at the University of Indiana Bloomington. She described her personal development in science while sharing a broader perspective gained along the way.

“My career as an academic professor should be considered a lifestyle. I feel very fortunate to do what I love,” Thielges said. “The freedom to pursue my interests is the key advantage of my specific position.”  

Thielges received her BS (summa cum laude) at ASU in 2003. She was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship for training in biophysics at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, where she earned a PhD under the direction of Professor Floyd E. Romesberg in 2009. She went on to a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Institutes of Health-funded postdoctoral fellowship with Professor Michael D. Fayer at Stanford University. She joined the faculty at Indiana University in the summer of 2012.

From left to right: Megan Thielges, Joann Williams and James Allen Photo. Courtesy Jacob Sahertian, School of Life Sciences

Thielges answered a few questions about her experience at ASU, her work today and the advice she has for those who are interested in studying in the STEM field.

Question: How did your undergraduate experience in the School of Molecular Sciences at ASU prepare you for your current career path?

Answer: My experience in a research group as an undergraduate was most valuable to my career trajectory. The experience convinced me to pursue a career in academic research and bolstered my application for top graduate programs, setting up my path to becoming a professor myself.

Q: What is it like applying your degree in a new area?

A: The interdisciplinary nature of our research is very challenging. Gaining depth of understanding in multiple scientific areas requires versatile thinking and simply more time. For this reason, I also find it difficult to train new students in our research group. However, I am excited by the science so the challenge is worthwhile.

Q: Can you describe your Sun Devil story? What brought you to ASU?

A: Honestly, having grown up in the cold of North Dakota, initially I considered ASU because of the warm weather and the offer of a generous scholarship package. I had just applied for fellowships, which made me aware of the importance of research experience. When I visited, ASU promoted their undergraduate research programs, and learning about all the opportunities cemented my decision to attend ASU.

Q: What are some of your favorite memories of ASU — academic, research or otherwise?

A:  My time in the laboratory was the highlight of my undergraduate years. I worked with a fantastic bunch of graduate students, and my mentors were very supportive. A research lab becomes one’s family.

Q: What is your advice for current students in the School of Molecular Sciences who are thinking of pursuing a career path similar to yours?

A:  While my work is satisfying, the career also is very competitive, so you have to be consistently dedicated, which can mean giving up other things in life, as well as getting used to handling setbacks and criticism. There are many excellent career paths in which you can do science. Also, as an undergraduate, I did not realize how so-called “soft” skills, like communicating effectively both verbally and in writing or interacting with and motivating people with diverse personalities, are just as critical to your success as your technical understanding of science.

Q: What would you tell a prospective ASU student that they need to know about studying in the School of Molecular Sciences at ASU?

A: Take advantage of all that is offered. Don’t be shy to engage your professors. Enjoy being a student. Your undergraduate years likely will be among the best times in your life. 

Communication specialist, School of Molecular Sciences