Jun 2, 2022
Professor Abigail Doyle

Professor Abigail Doyle has been named one of 31 National Finalists for the 2022 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists.

Chosen from a pool of 309 nominated promising scientific researchers aged 42 years and younger from America’s top academic and research institutions, Doyle is one of ten 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.

The honorees were chosen from a highly competitive pool of 309 nominees from 150 leading universities and scientific institutions from 38 states across the United States. From that exceptional group, three winners—in life sciences, chemistry, and physical sciences & engineering—will be named on June 29, 2022, each receiving $250,000 as a Blavatnik National Awards Laureate.

Professor Abigail Doyle received her A.B. and A.M. summa cum laude in Chemistry and Chemical Biology from Harvard University in 2002 and her Ph.D. from the same department in 2008. Professor Doyle began her independent academic career in the Department of Chemistry at Princeton University in 2008. In 2021, she moved to UCLA as the Saul Winstein Chair in Organic Chemistry. 

Besides Doyle, the only other current UCLA faculty members who have been National Finalists for the Blavatnik award are Professor Elaine Hsiao (Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics) in 2022, 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. 

Excerpt from the Blavatnik National Awards announcement:

Recognizing America’s Leading Innovative Scientists, the 2022 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists Names 31 Finalists

NEW YORK – June 1, 2022 – The Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences announced 31 finalists today for the 2022 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists, the world’s largest unrestricted prize honoring early-career scientists and engineers.

The honorees, whose research is described below, were chosen from a highly competitive pool of 309 nominees from 150 leading universities and scientific institutions from 38 states across the United States.

"Since the Blavatnik National Awards were established nine years ago, many of our finalists have made extraordinary discoveries that have led to groundbreaking innovations in their respective fields,” said Len Blavatnik, founder and chairman of Access Industries and head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation.

Previous honorees have gone on to help develop COVID-19 vaccines and diagnostics, identify sustainable energy and battery technologies, tackle climate change through novel technologies, such as next-generation photovoltaics and sustainable new materials, and find cures for treatment-resistant diseases. Many also have received other prestigious honors, including being elected as fellows to the National Academy of Sciences or selected as MacArthur Foundation fellows.

“We are proud to honor their commitment to scientific excellence and celebrate their achievements. We look forward to following their continued success,” Blavatnik said.

President and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences Nicholas B. Dirks said: “There are many prizes for lifetime achievement in science, but there are only a few prizes that honor scientists at this critical crossroads in their careers. Why does this matter? It’s at this stage where support and recognition can make a tremendous difference, giving enormous visibility to their research.”

“On behalf of the academy, I also would like to thank our judges and our scientific advisory council—all eminent scientists from across the U.S. We couldn’t successfully administer these awards without their continued support and the engagement of the broader scientific community,” he said.

Three highly-respected independent juries—each representing one of the award categories—selected these finalists and will determine the winning Laureates. Laureates must be faculty-level scientific researchers, 42 years of age or younger, and nominated to the competition by their university or research institution.

About the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists

The Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists, established by the Blavatnik Family Foundation 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 expanded in 2017 to honor faculty-rank scientists in the UK and Israel. By the end of 2022, the Blavatnik Awards will have awarded prizes totaling $13.6 million. Visit blavatnikawards.org.

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.

2022 Blavatnik National Awards Finalists in Chemistry

Abigail G. Doyle, University of California, Los Angeles
The production of drugs and consumer chemicals conventionally relies on expensive and rare ingredients. Organic chemist Abigail G. Doyle, Ph.D., has devoted her career to discovering new chemical reactions that are more efficient and rely on cheaper precursors. Doyle has demonstrated a radical new method that uses nickel, a common metal, instead of palladium, which is much more expensive, to accelerate chemical reactions. She is also designing efficient new methods to incorporate fluorine into molecules that are important for pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals. Doyle is now employing machine learning to rapidly discover new chemical reaction methods, which can dramatically accelerate the production of important and necessary chemicals.

Read the full announcement here.

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