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30 under 30: Teasing Out the Secrets of Photosynthesis

Meet Jacob Kanady, one of the promising young chemists attending the 2013 Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting
Jacob Kanady



Courtesy of Jacob Kanady

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 30th in a series of 30.

30
Name: Jacob Kanady
Age: 26
Born: Redlands, Calif.
Nationality: U.S.

Current position: PhD student at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in chemistry Summa Cum Laude from University of California, Irvine

What is your field of research?
I am currently studying nature’s catalyst for the first chemical step of oxygenic photosynthesis—water splitting to dioxygen and reducing equivalents—by synthesizing accurate molecular models.

What drew you to chemistry, and to that research area in particular?
Plants are the world’s best chemists, so I was drawn to studying how they store solar energy through photosynthesis to hopefully shed some light on how mankind could do the same.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
With the increase in domestic fossil fuel production, I spend more time thinking about carbon dioxide sequestration and would love to work toward solving the chemical and scalability problems inherent to it.

Who are your scientific heroes?
Harry Gray and Alfred Werner.

What activities outside of chemistry do you most enjoy?
I am a certified SCUBA diver.

What do you hope to gain from this year’s Lindau meeting?
Throughout my career, four subjects have fascinated me: plant biology, inorganic chemistry, chemical biology and global energy usage. These integrate to furnish my curiosity in chemistry and drive my work on water oxidation in nature. At the 63rd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, I will interact with the brightest minds in chemistry —Nobel Llaureates and leading young researchers of my generation—about how these fields of academic chemistry affects society at large. International dialogue on the issues I care most about will be, in a word, priceless, inspiring new ideas and changing the course of my graduate education and scientific career. The wisdom garnered from the connection with numerous cultures and viewpoints, the formation of long-term, worldwide relationships with top scientists, and the inspiration from Nobel laureates will expand the way I see my research and show me my place in international scientific pursuits.

Are there any Nobelists whom you are particularly excited to meet?
I am most excited to learn from Robert Huber and Hartmut Michel for their work in membrane protein crystallography and Dan Shechtman because he stood by his hypotheses against the mainstream.

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29. Verena Resch
30 Under 30:
Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting
View all 30 Profiles »

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