Mary Watson, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Delaware, will receive a 2013 Rising Star award from the Women Chemists Committee of the American Chemical Society.
She is one of 10 "exceptional women scientists … who have demonstrated outstanding promise for contributions to their respective fields," according to the committee's announcement. The award program, which was established earlier this year to recognize the achievements of women chemists in the early to middle stages of their careers, is open to chemists and chemical engineers working in academic, industrial, government or nonprofit areas.
Watson conducts research in the development of new methods to construct organic molecules, using catalysts that enable transformations that are currently impossible.
"Synthetic organic molecules have enormous positive impact on our daily lives, improving everything from our health (medicines) to our entertainment (organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs)," she said recently in explaining her research focus. "Future advances rely on increased and more efficient access to complex molecules from simple and readily available building blocks."
Earlier this year, Watson received a Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation to support her research and an education program she has developed to make chemistry more exciting and accessible to potential young scientists. The highly competitive award recognizes junior faculty for their role as teacher-scholars and is given to those scientists and engineers considered most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century.
Watson and the other recipients will be presented their Rising Star awards at an ACS conference in New Orleans in April, where they will speak about their work. She was nominated for the award by the Delaware section of the ACS, with supporting letters from Joseph Fox, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UD, and Prof. Larry Overman of the University of California at Irvine.