2021 Royal Society of Chemistry Horizon Prize for Education

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Team led by Professor Neil Garg awarded the 2021 Horizon Prize by the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Education Division. 

The Horizon Prize highlights the most exciting, contemporary chemical science at the cutting edge of research and innovation. These prizes are for teams or collaborations who are opening up new directions and possibilities in their field, through ground-breaking scientific developments. 

Garg and his 27 collaborators are being recognized for the creation of innovative chemical education resources that benefit how students, children, and the general public learn organic chemistry. 

The team of “Molecular Educators” consists of Garg’s young daughters, Elaina Garg and Kaylie Garg, IT expert Dr. Daniel Caspi (Element26, Inc.), current UCLA Ph.D. students Francesca Ippoliti and Jason Chari, and more than twenty additional current and former students and postdocs from UCLA and Baylor University.

Garg%2BNeil%2BRSCPPrize Montage

The award is unique in that recognizes all the team members behind the discovery. The team members (pictured above) are (in alphabetical order): 1st row: 

Alyssa Ayala

(Baylor University),

Daniel Caspi


Jason Chari

(Garg PhD student),

Izza Chatta

(Baylor University),

Jacob Dande

r (Technical Advisor, Life Sciences, Haley Guiliano, LLP, PhD with Garg),

Johnny Dang


Evan Darzi

(CEO, ElectraTect, former Garg postdoc). 2nd row: 

Elaina Garg & Kaylie Garg

(Garg’s daughters),

Professor Neil Garg


Francesca Ippoliti

(Garg PhD student),

Tara Kappel


Andrew Kelleghan


Brian Lin

(UCLA). 3rd row

Matthew McVeigh

(Garg PhD student),

Milauni Mehta

(Garg PhD student),

Preeya Mehta


Melinda Nguyen

(UCLA, former Garg undergraduate researcher),

William Parsons


Stefan Prisacaru


Melissa Ramirez

(Postdoc, Caltech, PhD with Garg). 4th row: 

Shawn Schwartz


Nikhil Shah


Rishabh Shah


Emily Siegler


Ernst Schmid


Justin Soffer


Julia Yuan


According to the RSC announcement, their work includes interactive technologies that aid in the visualisation of 3D chemical structures and help teach organic chemistry concepts. Additionally, they have created three organic chemistry colouring books and a children’s activity book that are aimed toward improving scientific literacy among children and non-scientist adults. These readily accessible, interactive educational tools complement traditional approaches to teaching chemistry, which, in turn, improve both the value of chemical education and public perception of organic chemistry.

Earlier this year, Garg and PhD student Jason Chari were part of the team led by Professors Yi Tang and Ken Houk that received the 2021 Horizon Prize by the Royal Society of Chemistry for their research on pericyclase enzymes.

From UCLA Newsroom (by Stuart Wolpert):

Neil Garg, UCLA students, his daughters win Royal Society of Chemistry Horizon Prize

The Royal Society of Chemistry’s Education Division has awarded a team led by Neil Garg, UCLA’s Kenneth N. Trueblood Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, a 2021 Horizon Prize for the creation of innovative chemical education resources that benefit how students, children and the general public learn organic chemistry. Garg, the 2018 recipient of the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching, has been getting large numbers of UCLA students to love organic chemistry for many years, and has won many awards for his teaching and research. His web-based chemistry resources and apps include RSChemistry.com, which helps organic chemistry students master their assignments, and is free for non-commercial purposes, as is his QRChem.net, which has more than 60,000 users in nearly 150 countries; a free smartphone app called “Backside Attack” that teaches organic chemistry concepts; virtual reality chemistry; a series of organic coloring books to help children learn the wonders of organic chemistry, starting with this one and a Re(Activity) Book for children. His co-authors on the coloring books include his daughters, Elaina and Kaylie, who are 14 and 9, and were 9 and 4 when they starting writing the first coloring book. All of the resources were created in collaboration with Garg’s former graduate school colleague and IT developer, Daniel Caspi. The 2021 Horizon Prize also recognizes more than two dozen of Garg’s students and colleagues who worked with him on these educational resources. “It is really unique that this is a team award. I think the world of the students and greatly value our partnership!” Garg said. Those honored with Garg are, in alphabetical order, Alyssa Ayala, Daniel Caspi, Jason Chari, Izza Chatta, Jacob Dander, Johnny Dang, Evan Darzi, Elaina Garg, Kaylie Garg, Francesca Ippoliti, Tara Kappel, Andrew Kelleghan, Brian Lin, Matthew McVeigh, Milauni Mehta, Preeya Mehta, Melinda Nguyen, William Parsons, Stefan Prisacaru, Melissa Ramirez, Ernst Schmid, Shawn Schwartz, Nikhil Shah, Rishabh Shah, Emily Siegler, Justin Soffer and Julia Yuan. Organic chemistry, the chemistry of molecules made up largely of carbon, has a major impact on our lives. Garg emphasizes its relevance and importance in his teaching and educational activities. Garg, who last week won the 2022 Mukaiyama award from the Society of Synthetic Organic Chemistry, Japan in recognition of his contributions to synthetic organic chemistry, shared his teaching secrets in this TEDxUCLA talk. _______________________________

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.