COSAM News Articles 2021 July Making people lives better is our common goal as scientists explains NSF CAREER Award recipient

Making people lives better is our common goal as scientists explains NSF CAREER Award recipient

Published: 07/13/2021

By: Maria Gebhardt

As a chemist, Ming Chen researches discoveries that can help improve the quality of lives through an end result of better agricultural chemicals, new products in material science, or medicines.

Chen is the recipient of a prestigious $685,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award.

“I enjoy the opportunity to create molecules that did not exist before,” Chen said. “Being a chemist enables me to help the research communities through developing novel methods that can be utilized in agrochemical industry, material science, and medicinal chemistry with improving the overall quality of lives as the ultimate goal.”

Chen’s NSF CAREER Award, Enantioselective Syntheses of Organoboron Compounds via Transition-Metal Catalysis, will give him the ability to further research organoboron compounds-organic molecules that contain boron atoms.

In particular, he will study molecules that have two distinct boryl groups on the same carbon atom. These two boryl groups have different chemical reactivities, and these compounds have great potentials for chemical synthesis to create enantioenriched molecules.

“Transition-Metal catalysis is an excellent approach to form a chemical bond between two atoms,” Chen explained. “This is the most adopted strategy for developing chemical transformations.”

Chen adds this award to his list of accomplishments including a robust list of publications.

“Ming has distinguished himself as one of our department’s most prolific researchers,” said Doug Goodwin, chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “He consistently publishes in the leading journals of his field, and as a result, he is building an international reputation for his lab and for Auburn University.”

Chen, an assistant professor, earned his doctorate degree from Scripps Research, his master’s degree from Brown University and his bachelor’s degree in organic chemistry from Nanjing University or Nanda, a member of the elite C9 League of Chinese universities.

“Everyone wants a better quality of life for their children, parents and even grandparents,” Chen added. “Advancements and innovations in drug discoveries allow chemists to help others. At the macro-level, chemists are just trying to develop new technologies aiming to improve lives and help people. There is no greater work than making our communities a better place for everyone.”

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