Sharon Hammes-Schiffer, Swanlund Professor of Chemistry, and So Hirata, Blue Waters Professor and Alumni Research Scholar in Chemistry, have been elected Members of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science (IAQMS). Typically, only 3 to 8 scientists are elected to this prestigious academy annually, and there are only about 130 members worldwide. In addition to joining this elite group, it is particularly distinctive that both Prof. Hammes-Schiffer and Prof. Hirata have been elected while still in their 40s. They join chemistry Professor Nancy Makri and physics Professor David Ceperley as members of IAQMS, making four on our campus, more than any other university in the world (Aarhus, Pisa, Berkeley, Chicago, and Harvard each have three members, and only a few others have two). Fewer than 45 of the members of IAQMS are from the US, so we have reason to be proud of Illinois's stature within this community.
Prof. Hammes-Schiffer's research focuses on chemical reactions in solution, in proteins and at electrochemical interfaces, particularly the transfer of charged particles driving many chemical and biological processes. Her group has developed theories that blend classical molecular dynamics and quantum mechanics, as well as theories that describe proton-coupled electron transfer reactions. This work has applications in catalyst design for solar cells, understanding how enzymes work, protein engineering and drug design. She Hammes-Schiffer earned her doctorate from Stanford University in 1993 and carried out postdoctoral studies at AT&T Bell Laboratories. After holding faculty positions at Notre Dame and Penn State University, she joined the faculty at Illinois in 2012. Among many other honors, she is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Chemical Society, and both AAAS academies. She is also a Deputy Editor for The Journal of Physical Chemistry.
Professor Hirata received his B.S (1994) and M.S. (1996) from the University of Tokyo and his Ph.D. (1998) in theoretical chemistry from the Graduate University for Advanced Studies (Institute for Molecular Science) in Japan. He then became a visiting scholar (1998-1999) at University of California at Berkeley and a postdoctoral research associate (1999-2001) at University of Florida. He was a senior research scientist (2001-2004) at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory before being appointed as an assistant professor at the University of Florida, where he was promoted to an associate professor in 2009. Professor Hirata joined the University of Illinois faculty in August, 2010, where he is also an alumni research scholar and a faculty member of the Institute for Advanced Computing Applications and Technology. Among his previous awards are the Hewlett-Packard Outstanding Junior Faculty Award, the Medal of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science, an NSF CAREER Award, a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, and the Scialog Collaborative Innovation Award of the Research Corporation for Science Advancement. He was elected a fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2012. His research focuses on the development of new many-body theories describing concerted motions of electrons in atoms and molecules in the gas and condensed phases and in crystalline solids.
Excerpt from an email sent by Gregory Girolami