NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00)

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Dr. Rajat Maji

Teacher-Scholar Dr. Rajat Maji has received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), which will support his research to incorporate data science and high-throughput experimentation in organic reaction optimization and discovery.

The NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00) is for exceptional postdoctoral researchers completing the final years of their postdoctoral work and transitioning to a role as an independent scientist. Each award has two phases: the K99 phase supporting postdoctoral training, and the R00 phase supporting an independent research career.

“I’m beyond thrilled and humbled to have received a K99/R00 career transition grant from NIGMS,” Maji said. “It takes a village to raise a scientist, and eternally grateful to my incredible advisors, mentors & university for their unwavering support.”

Maji joined our Teacher-Scholar cohort in July 2023 as the Cram Teacher-Scholar, named after the UCLA faculty member and Nobel laureate Professor Donald J. Cram. The UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry Teacher-Scholar program allows postdoctoral scholars to experience research and teaching at the same time as a way to prepare them for future faculty or research positions. In addition to teaching Introduction to Organic Chemistry (30A) and Organic Reactions and Pharmaceuticals (14D) at UCLA, Maji conducts research in Professor Abigail Doyle’s group as a postdoctoral scholar, where he is designing radical polar crossover reactions aided by High Throughput Experimentation and Data Science.

“Abby is not only a great mentor and stellar scientist but also a role model who deeply values the importance teaching, grant writing, mentorship and supports her students to achieve their full potential,” Maji added. 

A native of Kolkata, India, Rajat received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Calcutta and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur, respectively. While at IIT, Maji worked on synthesizing modified carbohydrates, and asymmetric organocatalysis.  He received his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University, under the supervision of Professor Steven E. Wheeler, where Maji honed his knowledge of organic structure and reactivity through the lens of state-of-the-art computations. He then relocated to Europe and spent three years as a Marie Sklodowska-Curie postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Professor Benjamin List at the Max-Planck-Institut fur Kohlenforschung-Germany, where he worked on asymmetric olefin functionalizations before joining UCLA. 

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry,