A scientist to watch

Chemistry professor Prashant Jain recognized as one of the nation's top young scientists
Prashant Jain
Prashant Jain (Photo by L. Brian Stauffer.)

Chemistry professor Prashant Jain has recently been named to Science News’ 2020 SN 10: Scientists to Watch list. Jain is only the fourth scientist from the University of Illinois to be included on the prestigious list.

All scholars included in the list are under 40, and were nominated by Nobel Laureates, recently elected members of the National Academy of Sciences, or previous SN 10 scientists. 

Jain’s research focuses on the understanding and control of interactions between light and matter and the use of confined light for mimicking photosynthesis and probing the behavior of complex solids and catalysts.

Jain, 38, was recognized by the magazine for one of his most recent innovations, which essentially uses light to convert carbon dioxide into fuels such as propane and methane. His groundbreaking work is being funded by Shell Oil, the Energy and Biosciences Institute, and the National Science Foundation.

“(Jain has) always viewed what others see as failure as moments of clarity that build up to moments when things make more sense,” said Karthish Manthiram, a chemical engineer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who worked with Jain, to Science News. “For me that was an important lesson in how to be a scientist.”

For Jain, being included on the list is a testament to the in-depth, long-lasting work he and his group have done in the field.

“I am excited to be named among this talented group of scientists. This is truly a recognition of the efforts of my research laboratory,” Jain, who was recently named an Alumni Scholar in the Department of Chemistry, said. “I am thankful for the support of my colleagues over the years.”

Jain recently received the 2020 Provost’s Campus Distinguished Promotion award recognizing his new appointment to full professor. The award is given to selected scholars for extraordinary contributions to the university. 

Jain received his bachelor’s degree from the Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai before moving to the United States to pursue graduate studies. He received his PhD in physical chemistry from Georgia Tech, and he was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University and a Miller Fellow at the University of California-Berkeley before joining the University of Illinois faculty in 2011.

At Illinois, Jain has affiliations with the Materials Research Lab, the Department of Physics, and the Beckman Institute.

News Source

Kimberly Wilson