Jun 15, 2021
Professor Hosea Nelson
Professor Hosea Nelson has been named one of 31 National Finalists for the 2021 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists.
 
Chosen from a pool of 298 nominated promising scientific researchers aged 42 years and younger from America’s top academic and research institutions, Nelson is one of nine Chemistry finalists. The finalists were selected based on their extraordinary accomplishments and their promise for the future. They now will compete for the largest unrestricted awards of their kind for early career scientists and engineers.
 
One finalist from each of the three categories - life sciences, chemistry and physical sciences and engineering - will be named the 2021 Blavatnik National Laureates on July 20, 2021. Each laureate will receive a cash prize of $250,000. 
 
 
Professor Hosea Nelson earned a B.S. in Chemistry from University of California at Berkeley in 2004 and a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 2012 with Professor Brian Stoltz. After postdoctoral training at University of California at Berkeley with Professor Dean Toste, Hosea joined the UCLA faculty in 2015. That same year he was chosen as one of C&EN’s Talented Twelve.  In 2017, Nelson and his team developed a new technique for breaking carbon-hydrogen bonds and making carbon-carbon bonds. The approach uses catalysts made of two abundant and inexpensive elements, silicon and boron. Their research was published in Science. Nelson is part of the team who have made profound discoveries through their use of electron microscopy, a field undergoing a revolution so significant that it was recognized through the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Nelson’s many other awards and honors include 2020 Novartis Early Career Award in Organic Chemistry, 2020 Eli Lilly Grantee Award for Organic Chemistry, 2019 Arthur C Cope Scholar Award, 2019 UCLA Alpha Chi Sigma (AXΣ) Glenn Seaborg Award, 2018 Pew Scholar in Biomedical Sciences, 2018 Sloan Research Fellowship, and 2017 Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering.
 
Originally founded by the Blavatnik Family Foundation in 2013 and independently administered by the New York Academy of Sciences to elevate the work and research of early-career scientists, the Awards recognize the past accomplishments and future promise of America's most talented young faculty-rank scientists and engineers. In an era where most scientific prizes honor lifetime achievement, the Blavatnik National Awards aim to support young scientists at a pivotal career juncture when money and visibility can catapult a scientist’s career, thereby accelerating the pace of scientific innovation and discovery for society at large.
 
Besides Nelson, the only other UCLA faculty members who have been National Finalists for the Blavatnik award are Professor Xiangfeng Duan in 2015, 2018 and 2019, Professor Neil Garg in 2020 and Professor Aydogan Ozcan (Department of Electrical Engineering) in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2020. UCLA alumni Columbia professor Dr. Luis Campos (Ph.D. Chemistry ’06, Garcia-Garibay/Houk groups) was a 2020 finalist and Northwestern professor Dr. Will Dichtel (Postdoc alum, Stoddart group) was a finalist in 2017, 2019, and 2020.
 
Excerpt from the award announcement:
 
THE 2021 BLAVATNIK NATIONAL AWARDS FINALISTS
 
The finalists, culled from 298 nominations by 157 United States research institutions across 38 states, have made trailblazing discoveries in wide-ranging fields, from the neuroscience of addiction to the development of gene-editing technologies, from designing next-generation battery storage to understanding the origins of photosynthesis, from making improvements in computer vision to pioneering new frontiers in polymer chemistry. Descriptions of the honorees’ research are listed below.
 
2021 Blavatnik National Awards Finalists in Chemistry
 
Hosea M. Nelson, University of California, Los Angeles - Hosea M. Nelson, Ph.D., is an organic chemist breaking new ground in synthesizing and characterizing the small organic molecules that serve as precursors to chemicals we use every day, from plastics to medicine. Nelson has contributed to the development of microcrystal electron diffraction (MicroED), a cutting-edge technique that can identify the structure of small molecules faster than ever, which can accelerate the production of new chemicals, like medicine and fuel. He has also discovered new reactions to create beneficial bioactive molecules using more sustainable catalysts, yielding more desired products than conventional catalytic methods. Nelson's work even applies to medical diagnostics—he is developing next-generation genetic tests for diseases, including COVID-19, that may be faster and less expensive than PCR-based tests.
 
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The finalists, culled from 298 nominations by 157 United States research institutions across 38 states, have made trailblazing discoveries in wide-ranging fields, from the neuroscience of addiction to the development of gene-editing technologies, from designing next-generation battery storage to understanding the origins of photosynthesis, from making improvements in computer vision to pioneering new frontiers in polymer chemistry. Descriptions of the honorees’ research are listed below.
 
“Each day, young scientists tirelessly seek solutions to humanity’s greatest challenges,“ said Len Blavatnik, founder and chairman of Access Industries, and head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation. “The Blavatnik Awards recognize this scientific brilliance and tenacity as we honor these 31 finalists. We congratulate them on their accomplishments and look forward to their continued, future discoveries and success.”
 
President and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences Nicholas B. Dirks said: “Each year, it is a complete joy to see the very ‘best of the best’ of American science represented by the Blavatnik National Awards Finalists.”
 
“On behalf of the New York Academy of Sciences, we are extremely proud to administer the Blavatnik National Awards. This prize honors scientists at a pivotal career juncture, where support and recognition can make a huge impact on their career and their potential for future innovations and discoveries,” he said.
 
Three highly respected independent juries – each representing one of the awards' categories – will determine the winning Laureates, who must be faculty-level scientific researchers and engineers 42 years of age or younger.
 
The Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists will celebrate the 2021 Blavatnik National Awards honorees in a ceremony on Sept. 28 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
 
About the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists
 
The Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists, established by the Blavatnik Family Foundation in the U.S. in 2007 and independently administered by the New York Academy of Sciences, began by identifying outstanding regional scientific talent in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The Blavatnik National Awards were first awarded in 2014 and, in 2017, the Awards were expanded to honor faculty-rank scientists in the United Kingdom and in Israel. By the close of 2021, the Blavatnik Awards will have awarded prizes totaling $11.9 million. Sixty-one percent of all Award recipients are immigrants to the country in which they were recognized and hail from 47 countries across six continents, reflecting the Blavatnik Family Foundation’s recognition that important science is a global enterprise. For updates about the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists, please visit www.blavatnikawards.org follow on Twitter and Facebook @BlavatnikAwards.
 
Read the full announcement here
 
 
Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.