3 Encouraging Insights for the Next Generation of Women Scientists

We Asked Chemical Synthesis Collaborators “What Advice Would You Give a Young Woman Interested in a Science Career?”

In recognition of the third International Day of Women and Girls in Science on Feb. 11, we asked three of our collaborators in chemical synthesis what advice they had for budding female scientists. We hope their responses and inspiring career paths help shed light on the increasing opportunities for women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.

International Day of Women and Girls in Science was first celebrated Feb. 11, 2016, after the United Nations adopted a resolution to help raise awareness about the critical role of women and girls in science and technology communities. The day also seeks to recognize role models who shape the aspirations of women and girls and promote more women in science at decision-making levels.

As a company, our purpose is to solve the toughest problems in life science by collaborating with the global scientific community. We are proud to support the International Day of Women and Girls in Science by highlighting the work of our female chemistry collaborators and by encouraging women everywhere to pursue their dreams in science.

What Advice Would You Give a Young Woman Interested in a Science Career?

Helen Blackwell: Go for It!

“Go for it! It’s an amazing job and incredibly rewarding. There is so much unknown to discover.”

Over the last decade, Dr. Helen Blackwell has led a research program that has developed a range of synthetic compounds and chemical strategies that allow her team to intercept a key cell-cell signaling pathway in bacteria called “quorum sensing.” The broad goal of the research is to understand the role of chemical signals in bacterial interactions and infectious disease.

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Dr. Blackwell attended Oberlin College for her undergraduate studies and completed her doctoral program at the California Institute of Technology. She has received many honors including a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award and an American Chemical Society (ACS) Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award. She was also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Learn more about Dr. Helen Blackwell and her research.

Anita Mattson: Be Your Own Biggest Fan!

“Be your own biggest fan! It is most important that you believe in what you are doing.”

Anita Mattson is currently focused on advancing catalysts and methodologies for the enantioselective construction of monomeric and dimeric chromanones. Over time, she plans to pursue a chromanone-based drug discovery project. She continues her research as lead of the Mattson Research Group, a team that concentrates on catalyst design, methodology development, complex molecule synthesis, and drug discovery.

Dr. Mattson grew up in Marquette, Michigan, near the shores of the “Gitche Gumee.” She attended Northern Michigan University for her undergraduate studies and completed her doctoral program at Northwestern University. She has received a Thieme Chemistry Journals Award and a Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award from the National Institutes of Health.

Her greatest professional accomplishment is designing boronate ureas and silanediols as new families of noncovalent catalysts.

Learn more about Dr. Anita Mattson and her research.

Ohyun Kwon: Be Imaginative!

“Read broadly and be imaginative. Pay close attention to what excites you. What is hot today is unlikely to be an area of significant impact by the time that you lead your independent career. Hopefully your career will be long and you will face some challenges along the way. But your love for science will sustain you.”

Dr. Ohyun Kwon’s group develops new catalysis reactions and catalysts that are applied in the total syntheses of natural products and nonnatural molecules of biological importance. Of note, her team collaborates with many biologists and medical doctors in the United States and other countries to develop pharmaceuticals.

Dr. Kwon was born and raised in Gangwon-do in South Korea. She attended the Seoul National University for undergrad and completed her doctoral studies at Columbia University. She also has a master’s of science in chemistry from Yale University. She has received the Amgen Young Investigator Award, Thieme Chemistry Journals Award, and the University of California−Los Angeles’ Glenn T. Seaborg Medal.

Dr. Kwon has been invited to give 158 seminars around the world and has written seven reviews that are now book chapters and journal articles. She cites the creativity, breadth, and insight of her group’s research as critical for establishing phosphine catalysis as one of the main areas of organocatalysis research.

Learn more about Dr. Ohyun Kwon and her research on our Professor Portal.

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