Rutgers-Newark chemistry professor earns Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship

Newark- Rutgers-Newark Assistant Professor of Chemistry Frieder Jaekle traces his early interest in Chemistry to one of his high school courses while he was growing up in Germany. He never imagined that his early interest in the field would lead to him receiving one of science's most prestigious honors- the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship. The Fellowship is awarded annually to a small number of outstanding researchers throughout the United States and Canada who have demonstrated excellence early in their careers.

"I was thrilled when I heard the news," said Jaekle, a Jersey City resident. "You always hope that your work will be recognized, but you can't really expect something like this to happen."

Candidates for the fellowships are nominated by department chairs and other senior scholars familiar with their research achievements. A total of 116 awardees are selected annually from several disciplines that include physics, chemistry, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, computer science, economics, mathematics and neuroscience. Earning the Sloan Fellowship is normally a harbinger for future success. For example, in the 50 years that the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has been awarding research fellowships, 34 Sloan Fellows have gone on to win Nobel Prizes and hundreds have received other prestigious awards and honors.

Jaekle and his team of researchers at Rutgers-Newark focus primarily on the use of multifunctional and polymeric Lewis acids for applications ranging from catalysis to materials chemistry. For instance, one of his group's research projects aims at the development of new functional materials which offer brighter and sharper alternatives to current plasma and liquid crystal display technology used in television, computer and cell phone screen monitors.

Noting that his initial interest in chemistry was the result of his exposure to a passionate high school chemistry teacher, Jaekle also makes community outreach and education a priority for his laboratory. Jaekle and several of his Chemistry Department colleagues conduct demonstrations for students from Jersey City's McNair High School and allow them to participate in experiments.

"My high school chemistry teacher was an excellent teacher- he had a unique talent to stimulate our interest in the sciences through laboratory experiments and field trips which gave us a sense of the widespread applications and importance of chemistry in every day life," Jaekle recalled. "I feel it is important to give other young students the same opportunities."

Jaekle's recent honor is the second significant milestone in his young career. Two years ago, he earned the National Science Foundation Career Award. A Rutgers-Newark faculty member since 2000, Jaekle completed his post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Toronto in 2000. In 1997, he earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry summa cum laude from Technical University in Munich, Germany and his bachelor's degree in Chemistry in 1994, also from Technical University.

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