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30 under 30: Probing Structures at the Nanoscale

Meet Evelyn Auyeung, one of the promising young chemists attending the 2013 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting



Courtesy of Fabian Erdel

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 10th in a series of 30.


Name: Evelyn Auyeung
Age: 25
Born: Hong Kong, China
Nationality: U.S.

Current position: PhD student at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., U.S.
Education: BA in chemistry from Amherst College in Amherst, Mass., U.S.

What is your field of research?
I study the DNA-directed assembly of nanoparticles into ordered lattices, where in this system the nanoparticles act as the nanoscale equivalent of atoms held together by DNA “bonds.” The properties of many materials (diamonds, silicon, etcetera) derive from the crystalline arrangement of their atomic constituents, and my work has been to synthesize the nanoscale equivalent of atomic solids, characterize them and probe their collective properties.

What drew you to chemistry, and to that research area in particular?
Before college, I never thought about science as a career, only as a subject that I found interesting in high school. It was not until my college advisor gave me the opportunity to work in her lab doing inorganic synthesis that I began to understand what scientific research meant, and it was then that I seriously began considering graduate school and research as a plausible career option. My research as an undergraduate introduced me to techniques for synthesizing and probing materials on the atomic and nanoscales (x-rays, electron microscopy), topics that continue to interest me as a graduate student.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years I see myself continuing a career in materials and chemistry research, although it’s hard to predict which specific scientific questions I will be trying to answer, since both the fields and my interests are continuously evolving.

Who are your scientific heroes?
Charles Darwin, Linus Pauling and Isaac Newton are my heroes because their work made science interesting for me in high school and college. Also, I admire Richard Feynman because his contributions toward the development of modern nanoscience have paved the way for my graduate school research.

What do you hope to gain from this year’s Lindau meeting?
When I first heard about Lindau as a first-year graduate student, I thought it was a brilliant idea for a conference and spent a few hours listening to talks from past meetings on the online archives. At the time, I could not have imagined attending Lindau in person, and to have it become a reality is a great honor for me. Personally, the Lindau meeting represents an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gain inspiration from the world’s best chemists as to how I can grow as a scientist and achieve my goals of eventually becoming a successful independent researcher. I look forward to hearing about each Nobel laureate’s unique process of discovery and chatting with them and other young researchers about what they believe are the important, unanswered research questions in science today.

 

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9. Fabian Erdel
30 Under 30:
Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting
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11. Aniket Magarkar

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