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 17th in a series of 30.
Name: Magnus Johnson
Born: Malmö, Sweden
Current position: Postdoctoral researcher at Lund University/Gothenburg University
Education: BSc and PhD, both in inorganic chemistry, from Lund University
What is your field of research?
I am working in the field of chemical catalysis. Specifically, I am trying to discover and develop new methods of converting renewable raw materials into feedstocks for producing chemicals through strong bond activation.
What drew you to chemistry, and to that research area in particular?
I noticed early on that chemistry has a fairly poor reputation in society due to problems such as pollution and various environmental disasters. I believe that anything powerful has the ability to cause misfortune but can also do fascinating things of great importance to humankind. When I first realized this, I understood that chemistry is collectively underestimated to some extent and that it actually has great potential for solving important problems. This challenge has fascinated me ever since. Now, I am captivated by the versatility of transition metals as catalysts and how these can enable a wide range of reactions. I like to think that we have still only scratched the surface of what is left to discover.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I would like to continue working with catalysis in one way or another. I hope to continue to develop as a chemist, and to have a research group someday with students with whom I will work.
Who are your scientific heroes?
There are many great scientists that inspire me. I am especially fascinated by the scientists of the 18th and 19th centuries—Berzelius, Pasteur and Wöhler, to mention a few. They were pioneers in modern chemistry.
What activities outside of chemistry do you most enjoy?
I enjoy photography and sailing very much.
What do you hope to gain from this year’s Lindau meeting?
Meeting scientists and colleagues from other countries and cultures is very important in order to gain a better understanding of our different needs and objectives. I think many of the global problems scientists could tackle should be solved collaboratively. The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting is a great opportunity to meet with promising students and scientists from all around the world, and provides an excellent opportunity to discuss the challenges that chemistry faces today.
Are there any Nobelists whom you are particularly excited to meet?
Rudolph Marcus and Richard Ernst. Marcus developed the Marcus theory, which concerns the rates of electron-transfer processes, and Ernst was a pioneer in the field of nuclear magnetic resonance, which can be used to study the physical and chemical properties of molecules. I use NMR frequently in my work.
16. Nadja Bertleff
30 Under 30:
Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting
18. Maria Vittoria Dozzi