Professor Chunying Chen, who was born in Changchun, Jilin Province, grown up in Wuhan, Hubei Province and now lives in Beijing, has been named the winner of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Environment Prize, celebrating the most exciting chemical science taking place today.
Based at National Center for Nanoscience and Technology of China, Professor Chen won the prize for pioneering contributions in exploration of the nano–bio interface, providing fundamental insights into the fate of nanomaterials in biota and the environment.
Professor Chen also receives ￡3000 and a medal.
On receiving the prize, Professor Chen said: “I felt very honoured and happy when I received the prize. Thanks to the prize committee and our team members. It is not only an appreciation for me, but also encouragement – I will face more challenges and strive to make my own contribution to chemistry.”
Nanoscale materials have unique physiochemical properties compared to bulk materials and are present in thousands of products we use in daily life. Professor Chen’s research focuses on the fate of nanomaterials in biota and the environment and the interactions that happen at the nano-bio interface and molecular level.
Her team have established a reliable and quantitative methodology for measuring protein corona formation and the absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, toxicity (ADME/T) and translocation of nanomaterials in vivo by using isotope-labelling and synchrotron radiation-based techniques.
Professor Chen's work has expanded our understanding of nanomaterial exposure scenarios and their human toxicological effects in vivo, as well as the discrepancy between in vitro and in vivo behaviour, providing fundamental insights for environmental health and the sustainable development of nanotechnology.
Dr Helen Pain, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said:
“All of us have experienced tremendous challenges in the last year and the chemical sciences community has been integral to how the world has responded on a number of levels. From developing vaccines for COVID-19 to continuing to work towards a more sustainable world – the contribution of chemical scientists has never been more tangible or important.
“In a recent review of our recognition portfolio, we committed to ensuring that our prizes reflected the incredible diversity and excellence of chemistry being carried out today. Professor Chen’s work is a prime example of what we are so passionate about and we are proud to recognise her contribution with this prize.”
The Royal Society of Chemistry’s prizes have recognised excellence in the chemical sciences for more than 150 years. In 2019, the organisation announced the biggest overhaul of this portfolio in its history, designed to better reflect modern science.
The Research and Innovation Prizes – of which the Environment Prize is one – celebrate brilliant individuals across industry and academia. They include prizes for those at different career stages in general chemistry and for those working in specific fields, as well as interdisciplinary prizes and prizes for those in specific roles.
Of those to have won a Royal Society of Chemistry Prize, over 50 have gone on to win Nobel Prizes for their pioneering work, including 2019 Nobel laureate John B Goodenough.