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30 under 30: Innovating Beyond Molecules in Nanotech and Cancer Medicine

Meet Loïc Stefan, one of the promising young chemists attending the 2013 Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting
Loïc Stefan



Courtesy of Loïc Stefan

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 26th in a series of 30.

26
Name: Loïc Stefan
Age: 25
Born: Mâcon, France
Nationality: French

Current position: PhD Student at the University of Burgundy’s Institute of Molecular Chemistry in Dijon, France
Education: BS in chemistry (honors) and Research Master’s degree in molecular chemistry and green process (honors), both from the University of Burgundy

What is your field of research?
I focus on the design, synthesis and study of bio-inspired and supramolecular systems, which are structures that are more complex than a typical molecule or contain many molecules. In particular I want to learn how these systems are able to modulate their properties depending on their environment. This knowledge would enable us to use one molecule for several kinds of applications. In this way, we developed a new multitasking molecular tool targeting specific DNA structures in cancer cells that can also be used as a catalyst for nanotechnologies.

What drew you to chemistry, and to that research area in particular?
I have always been fascinated by science because it offers the incredible opportunity to better understand the infinite potential and complexity of nature. From this inexhaustible source of inspiration, chemistry is able to develop and create new concepts only limited by imagination. It is directly linked to society: innovative technologies, new drugs or devices have the potential to improve life or preserve the environment. In my current area of research, I am fortunate to mix the best of both worlds by designing original molecular systems that mimic natural DNA in order to obtain a complex tool for many applications.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Ten years from now I would like to be doing chemistry as a permanent researcher in a multidisciplinary group. I am attracted to projects where physics, biology, engineering and nanotechnology are brought together to take an objective from fundamentals to application.

From a more personal point of view, I would like to keep working in an ethical environment where scientists like to share opinions and experiences. I am convinced that is the best way to learn and support scientific breakthroughs.

Who are your scientific heroes?
It probably sounds funny, but my first scientific hero was Dr. Emmett Brown in the Back to the Future trilogy. My interest for science certainly came from this incredible character. Now, as an adult, I greatly admire the career and life of Marie Curie. Her pioneering research on radioactivity exemplifies the impact and necessity of fundamental science. She is also indisputable proof of the importance of women in research and in the working world.

What activities outside of chemistry do you most enjoy?
I am passionate about indie rock, and I like to spend time discovering new bands and going to concerts. I also play my own compositions on piano and keyboard with my friends Cathy and Marie, on guitar and violin, [respectively].

The rest of my time is dedicated to traveling Europe (Scotland, Netherlands, Italy, Germany) or beyond (U.S., Australia) to discover other countries and meet local people.

What do you hope to gain from this year’s Lindau meeting?
The Lindau Nobel meeting is a great honor and a wonderful chance to spend a few days with the most representative and influential scientists from around the world. Sharing experiences, career choices and a scientific purpose with both seasoned Nobel laureates and young researchers will be particularly exciting and rewarding. It is unbelievable to meet researchers whose names are associated with principles, reactions, theories or mechanisms I have studied throughout my higher education.

The meeting will also offer the opportunity to discover new topics and fields of chemistry, improve my knowledge and increase my scientific curiosity. Thus, it should pave the way for new scientific orientations and aspirations for the future. The meeting should give me a boost to complete my PhD and make the best choice for my research career.

Are there any Nobelists whom you are particularly excited to meet?
All the Nobelists have impressive scientific careers, and I am enthusiastic to meet all of them—their experiences are invaluable for a young researcher. But if you ask me to pick one out, I would name Jean-Marie Lehn for two reasons: First, he is one of the fathers of the supramolecular chemistry that allows chemists to create dynamic molecular systems—thanks to reversible non-covalent interactions between molecules—and second, because of his ability to pass on knowledge to general public.

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25. Sandra García-Gallego
30 Under 30:
Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting
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27. Melanie Kim Müller

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