Romanian chemist Dr. Mirca Dincă from MIT is this year's winner of the 2015 Dream Chemistry Award international competition. This is how the Scientific Committee has expressed its appreciation for the forward-looking project for the production of catalysts that mimic catalysis occurring in cells.
The Dream Chemistry Award (DCA) is awarded for a visionary research project in chemistry and where it borders with other natural and technical sciences. This year's 2015 DCA statuette and 15,000 euros was won by Dr. Mircea Dincă from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, USA, for his project for the production of catalysts that mimic catalysis occurring in biological cells. The presentations of the five finalists of the current edition of the Dream Chemistry Award, culminating in the emergence of a winner, were held today in Warsaw at the headquarters of the contest organizer, the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IPC PAS).
“Chemistry is not particularly well-renowned throughout society. People easily remember the few industrial accidents, and forget about the thousands of other things that are owed to chemistry. And yet it has had a significant share in, at the least, prolonging our lives from 40 to 80 years. My dream project is to not only increase the efficiency of chemical processes in industry, but also to improve the public's perception of the whole field,” said Dr. Dincă, winner of the 2015 Dream Chemistry Award.
Dr. Dincă conducts research on the catalysis of chemical compounds that play an important role in contemporary industry. His long-term goal is to minimize the energy and environmental costs associated with the manufacture of chemical products. His inspiration is provided by nature, especially the cells of living organisms, where catalytic reactions occur with particularly high efficiency.
“Dreams are an integral part of science. I think that even among Nobel Prize winners the majority are really dreamers. But science gives us, scientists, something more than just a dream: it gives us the ability to materialize these beautiful ideas, to transform them into effect,” said Dr. Dincă.
The other 2015 Dream Chemistry Award finalists are:
- Dr. Eric Daniel Głowacki from Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria, for his project of biocompatible materials to build bioelectronic interfaces;
- Dr. Denis Menshykau from Bayer Technology Services in Leverkusen, Germany, for a project to create drugs with molecules that have structures that are individually adjusted to the characteristics of a given patient's body;
- Dr. Yogesh Surendranath of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, USA, for a project on the uses of catalysis to capture carbon dioxide in graphene;
- Dr. Jiayin Yuan from the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam, Germany, for a project to build a power plant generating electricity through appropriate ion membranes, using a the salinity gradient between freshwater and saltwater.
“The projects submitted by the finalists of the current edition of the Dream Chemistry Award are the dreams of pragmatists, convinced of the possibility of putting their ideas into practice. In some cases, the prospect of implementing these dreams does not seem particularly distant,” commented Prof. Marcin Opałło, director of the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the PAS.
The Dream Chemistry Award Competition is open to young scientists under the age of 36 years from all over world, who presented their doctoral thesis (in this year's competition) in 2008 or later. For their submission to be accepted, the candidate must have been nominated by a researcher holding the academic doctoral degree or higher, with at least ten years’ experience in exact/life sciences since the date of publication of his/her first scientific paper.
The Honorary Committee of the Dream Chemistry Award competition is made up of renowned chemists: Nobel laureate Prof. Richard R. Schrock (MIT), Prof. Krzysztof Matyjaszewski (Carnegie Mellon University) and Prof. Bartosz Grzybowski (Uslan National Institute of Science and Technology). The decision on the awarding of the prize is made by the Scientific Committee composed of several professors from the best Polish scientific institutions specializing in chemistry, physics, biology, medicine and materials science.
The winner of the previous Dream Chemistry Award was Dr. Evan Spruijt, a chemist from Ecole Superieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles (ESPCI) in France. He was awarded the prize for his project for the production of microdroplets of water that could be programmed in such a way as to automatically grow and divide in the appropriate physico-chemical conditions – thus modelling the most important characteristic of living cells.
Detailed information about the Dream Chemistry Award competition can be found at: