Hertford Fellow recognised as UK finalist of Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists
17 January 2024
Chemistry fellow Fernanda Duarte has been recognised as a UK finalist in the prestigious Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists. The awards celebrate the past accomplishments and future potential of the UK’s most innovative young scientists and engineers working in the three disciplinary categories of Life Sciences, Physical Sciences & Engineering, and Chemical Sciences.
Fernanda and her team are pioneering computational tools to simulate chemical reactions, optimise chemical synthesis, and guide molecular design. Employing a bottom-up approach, they efficiently leverage chemistry knowledge, molecular modelling, and advances in computer science to address pressing challenges. Their work encompasses elucidating complex reaction pathways, realistically modelling solvent effects, and identifying potential therapeutic agents for global health challenges.
The Duarte group is tackling the problem of molecular design from multiple angles, developing a diverse array of tools that bridge the gap between computational and synthetic chemistry. The integration of a broad spectrum of computational and theoretical techniques has enabled them to tackle scientific challenges at the intersection of different fields. For example, their open-source platforms, such as autodE, cgbind, and mlp-train have streamlined and automated reaction modelling tasks that have been traditionally computationally expensive and/or limited to experts. The widespread interest from academia and industry attests to the impact of their work, and the incorporation of these methods into the core of computational chemistry will transform how chemical modelling is harnessed to predict new molecules and catalysts.
Fernanda says: “This recognition celebrates the dedication, creativity, and collective efforts of the fantastic team I have had the privilege to lead. Many thanks to all of them, my mentors, parents, and husband” .
Len Blavatnik, Head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation, says: “Encouraging and supporting young scientists is essential if we are to successfully address society’s challenges. By honoring these young individuals and their achievements we are helping to promote breakthroughs in science and technology that define how our world will look over the next century“.