Four Chemists
Four chemists (from left to right): Eric Anslyn, Jennifer Brodbelt, Hung-Wen (Ben) Liu, Jonathan Sessler receive major awards. Image Credit: University of Texas at Austin

Four UT Austin faculty members in chemistry have won major awards for 2019 from the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the International Conference on Calixarenes for their contributions to an array of research areas.

Three UT Austin chemistry professors are recipients of national awards administered by the ACS. Recipients will be honored at an awards ceremony during the ACS National Meeting in Orlando, Florida in April 2019.

Professor Jennifer Brodbelt is the recipient of the Frank H. Field & Joe L. Franklin Award for Outstanding Achievement in Mass Spectrometry, sponsored by Waters Corp. The Brodbelt group both develops and applies the technique of mass spectrometry to biological problems such as characterizing mixtures of biomolecules with trackable mass tags and determining the correlation between protein structure and function.

Professor Eric Anslyn is the recipient of the James Flack Norris Award in Physical Organic Chemistry, sponsored by the ACS Northeastern Section. Anslyn uses a variety of techniques to study natural receptors and molecular recognition. He has created rapid screening assays to "read" and fingerprint the makeup and characteristics of substances from nerve agents to wines to carcinogenic toxins. He is currently focused on studying kinase activity and screening kinase inhibitors, which are being developed to target cancer, and is beginning work on reversible covalent bonding, a new technique to create compounds that can change their arrangement based on external conditions for a wide range of applications including materials and synthetic receptors.

Professor Hung-Wen (Ben) Liu is the recipient of the Claude S. Hudson Award, presented by the ACS Division of Carbohydrate Chemistry for outstanding contributions to carbohydrate chemistry in education, research or applications. Liu studies ways to regulate enzymatic reactions in three main areas: enzyme mechanism and inhibitor design, metabolic pathway engineering and protein function regulation. These techniques allow him to identify and improve the delivery and efficacy of therapeutic drugs.

In addition, professor Jonathan Sessler is the recipient of the C. David Gutsche Award, designated by the Advisory Committee of the International Conference on Calixarenes. Sessler's award lecture will be featured at the Conference in June 2019. The Gutsche Award is given to a senior researcher in the field of calixarenes, a group of organic molecules studied for their cancer-treatment potential. Sessler's research involves engineering molecules for medical and biological applications.

For more information, contact: Marc Airhart, College of Natural Sciences, 512-232-1066.