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30 under 30: Searching for Pathways in Synthetic Chemistry and Rock Climbing

Meet Caroline Bischof, one of the promising young chemists attending the 2013 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting



Courtesy of Caroline Bischof

Each year hundreds of the best and brightest researchers gather in Lindau, Germany, for the Nobel Laureate Meeting. There, the newest generation of scientists mingles with Nobel Prize winners and discusses their work and ideas. The 2013 meeting is dedicated to chemistry and will involve young researchers from 78 different countries. In anticipation of the event, which will take place from June 30 through July 5, we are highlighting a group of attendees under 30 who represent the future of chemistry. The following profile is the seventh in a series of 30.


Name: Caroline Bischof
Age: 27
Born: Halle (Saale), Germany
Nationality: German

Current position: Postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Berkeley
Education: Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degrees, all in chemistry and from the Ruhr University Bochum

What is your field of research?
The postdoctoral research that I’m about to start will concentrate on the total synthesis of natural products with complex molecular architectures and promising biological activities.

What drew you to chemistry, and to that research area in particular?
During high school I was fascinated with how natural sciences could explain everyday phenomena as well as complex reactions with clear expressions. Being a curious person, I was eager to understand the principles behind and to learn this “science language.” I chose to become a synthetic chemist because I particularly enjoy the creative work and the continuous learning process, which is required for the design and realization of novel synthetic pathways.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I think I will still be affiliated with chemical research motivated by medical and biological questions. I hope that I will have contributed to new developments in my field of interest and that I will have the chance to teach and motivate a new generation of young researchers.
 
Who are your scientific heroes?
Robert Burns Woodward, James Whyte Black and Grace Eldering.

What activities outside of chemistry do you most enjoy?
I always played different kinds of sports until a friend took me rock climbing shortly after I started my PhD. Since then I am passionate about it, especially about bouldering. I train regularly, not only to free my mind from a long day in the lab, but also to challenge myself to progress to new levels. My dream is to master some famous boulder problems in Fontainebleau and Yosemite.

What do you hope to gain from this year’s Lindau meeting?
Science is mind sports. When one meets the most successful athletes—the leaders of the field—naturally one is inspired by their achievements. One becomes eager to learn from their experiences and motivated to contribute to future developments. Therefore, it is not only interesting how promising ideas arise, but also how a leader keeps their enthusiasm to realize those ideas, even if it takes decades. On the one hand, I hope to find answers to these questions in the stories of the Nobel laureates, and on the other hand, to meet the personalities behind these stories. Beyond that, I am looking forward to establishing new contacts with other young researchers who share my passion for chemistry.

Are there any Nobelists whom you are particularly excited to meet?
Since I spent a lot of time working on cryptates and ruthenium chemistry I am particularly interested in meeting Jean-Marie Lehn and Robert Grubbs. Beyond that, it would be very exciting to learn more about “science meets dharma” from Richard Ernst, and about personal experiences in the East Timor conflict from José Ramos-Horta.

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6. Jonathan Moerdyk
30 Under 30:
Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting
Check back tomorrow for #8

 

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