Keary Engle, PhD, a professor in the Department of Chemistry, has been named winner of the 2023 Leo Hendrik Baekeland Award from the North Jersey Section of the American Chemical Society (NJACS). Engle is recognized for his accomplishments in pure and applied chemistry, as well as the creativity and leadership displayed in his approach to research. This is the first time in 20 years that the award has gone specifically to an organic chemist.
The award is presented biennially to commemorate the technical and industrial achievements of chemist Leo Hendrik Baekeland and to encourage younger chemists to emulate his example. For this reason, the award is dedicated to early-career scientists under the age of 40. As this year’s recipient, Engle will receive a gold medal and a financial honorarium.
Engle’s research is focused on organic chemistry methods, seeking to streamline the synthesis of new complex molecules that could be applied as pharmaceuticals or agrochemicals. Engle aims to develop more practical and sustainable approaches that don’t require dozens of steps, consume significant reagents, require extreme conditions or result in toxic byproducts. In selecting Engle for the award, NJACS cited his specific achievements in the use of transition metal catalysts to advance the field of alkene functionalization. Methods and catalysts developed in the Engle lab are now used in nearly every sector of chemical science, breaking down barriers in the development of versatile compounds for academic, industrial and pharmaceutical research.
Engle has won numerous awards and honors throughout his career. Most recently, this has included the International Precious Metals Institute Advisor Award, the Kavli Frontiers in Science Fellowship, the ChemComm Emerging Investigator Lectureship and a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation.
Engle received his joint PhD/DPhil in chemistry/biochemistry from Scripps Research and the University of Oxford, and his BS in chemistry, economics, mathematics and statistics from the University of Michigan.