Inside Rensselaer
Strong Showing at American Chemical Society Annual Meeting
* Jonathan Dordick
Jonathan Dordick

Rensselaer had an impressive showing at the 234th American Chemical Society (ACS) Meeting held in late August in Boston, Mass. Along with one professor winning a pair of major awards, nearly 60 faculty, researchers, and students presented papers and research findings on diverse topics ranging from proteomics to bioinformatics and the design of functional nanostructure materials.

At the event, attended by more than 13,500 scientists from around the world, Jonathan S. Dordick, the Howard P. Isermann Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and department chairman, received the ACS’s prestigious Marvin J. Johnson Award in Microbial and Biochemical Technology. The award, given annually, is the ACS’s highest biotechnology honor.

Nearly 60 faculty, researchers, and students presented papers and research findings on diverse topics ranging from proteomics to bioinformatics and the design of functional nanostructure materials.

The ACS said the award “recognizes many of Professor Dordick’s achievements leading to functional bioengineered materials, enzyme-based nanocomposites, and bioactive agents that impact human health and bioprocesses.” After accepting the award, which was sponsored by Pfizer Inc., Dordick presented the lecture “Molecular Bioprocessing: From Design to Discovery to Dreams.”

A little trivia: Dordick is the second Rensselaer researcher to win the Johnson Award. Henry Bungay, now a professor emeritus in the same department as Dordick, won the award in the early 1990s.

Dordick also received the ACS Biochemical Technology Division’s 2006 Elmer Gaden Award in the Biochemical Technology Division. The award, also presented at the Boston conference, recognized Dordick’s article “Controlled hierarchical assembly of switchable DNA-multiprotein complexes” as the top paper published in 2006 in the journal Biotechnology & Bioengineering. Dordick delivered a lecture on the paper, which was co-authored by Grazyna Sroga, a postdoctoral researcher who worked under Dordick and is now with associate professor Wilfredo Colon in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. The 2006 Gaden Award was sponsored by Biotechnology & Bioengineering publisher Wiley-Blackwell.

“I was extremely honored to have received both the Marvin J. Johnson Award and the Elmer Gaden Award,” Dordick said. “Both awards are very special to me. The Johnson Award is the top biotechnology award of the ACS, with past winners among the leaders in biotechnology. Being honored with this award recognizes not only my work, but all the hard work of my many students, post-docs, and collaborations with numerous colleagues. It also recognizes the strengths of the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department at Rensselaer.”

Dordick said the Gaden Award is named after Elmer Gaden, who is often considered the father of biochemical engineering, which is Dordick’s specific field within biotechnology.

ACS conferences are beneficial for gaining exposure to cutting-edge research being conducted in labs across the world, as well as making connections in the field. The ACS is the world’s largest scientific society dedicated to a single discipline, with more than 158,000 members. Dordick said his first talk at a professional meeting was the ACS conference in 1984 in Philadelphia.

“Interestingly, right after that talk I found out that my apartment in Boston had burned down — quite an eventful day!” he said. Dordick later served as the chairman of the ACS Biochemical Technology Division in 1992. Dordick received his doctorate in biochemical engineering in 1986 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and joined the Rensselaer faculty in 1998. He is a fellow of both the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Rensselaer’s success with the ACS is already shaping up to continue into next year. The ACS recently announced its 2008 National Award Winners, and professor Georges Belfort is the recipient of the E.V. Murphree Award in Industrial and Engineering Chemistry. The award, sponsored by ExxonMobil Research & Engineering Co., is designated for scientists who conduct “outstanding research of a theoretical or experimental nature in the fields of industrial chemistry or chemical engineering.”

Belfort, the Russell Sage Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Rensselaer, will be honored next April at the 235th ACS national meeting in New Orleans.

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 1, Number 3, September 13, 2007
©2007 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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