2021 Speaker Biographies

Professor Tehshik Yoon

Tehshik was born in Montreal, Quebec, and raised in Blacksburg, VA, where his father is a professor of mining engineering at Virginia Tech.  Tehshik became intrigued by organic chemistry as an undergraduate, and he had the great fortune to receive his education at every stage of his career in the laboratories of some of the leading figures in contemporary asymmetric synthesis. At Harvard, Tehshik’s first learned about research by studying stereocontrolled aldol reactions in Dave Evans’ lab.  His Master’s degree with Erick Carreira exposed him to the concept of applying photochemistry to the synthesis of complex natural products. Tehshik then became Dave MacMillan’s first graduate student, first at Berkeley and then at Caltech, with whom he studied methods to control the stereochemistry of pericyclic reactions. As a postdoc, Tehshik returned to Harvard and investigated the use of hydrogen bonding urea catalysts in asymmetric synthesis.

Tehshik has been on the faculty at UW-Madison since 2005, where he is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry. He remains intrigued by the unique ability of chemical synthesis to control molecular shape and function with an atomic level of control. His research group is particularly interested in the application of open-shelled reactive intermediates such as heteroatom-centered radicals, alkene radical cations, and electronically excited organic triplets to complex molecule synthesis. His contributions to pedagogy and research have been recognized with a variety of awards, including the following selected awards: Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Award (2015), William H. Kiekhofer Distinguished Teaching Award (2013), Eli Lilly Grantee Award (2010), Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (2010), Amgen Young Investigator Award (2009), Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship (2009), Cottrell Scholar Award (2008), Beckman Young Investigator Award (2008) and the NSF CAREER Award (2007).

Professor Seth Herzon

Seth Herzon completed his undergraduate studies at Temple University in 2002 and obtained a PhD from Harvard University in 2006, where he worked under the guidance of Professor Andrew G. Myers.   His graduate studies focused on the synthesis of the antiproliferative alkaloids avrainvillamide and stephacidin B.  He was an NIH postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Professor John F. Hartwig at the University of Illinois,  Urbana–Champaign, from 2006­–2008.  In the Hartwig laboratory he developed new metal-catalyzed C–H functionalization reactions and new methods for high-throughput reaction discovery.  In 2008 he began his independent career at Yale.  He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2012 and Full Professor in 2013.  As of 2015 he also holds a joint appointment as Professor of Pharmacology at the Yale School of Medicine.  He is also a member of the Yale Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Developmental Therapeutics Program.

Professor Donna Blackmond

Donna G Blackmond received a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University. She has held professorships in chemistry and in chemical engineering in the US (University of Pittsburgh),
Germany (Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung), and the UK (University of Hull; Imperial College London), and she has worked in the pharmaceutical industry (Merck). She is Professor of Chemistry, Department Chair, and the John C. Martin Endowed Chair in Chemistry at Scripps Research, La Jolla, California. She holds joint US/UK citizenship.

Prof. Blackmond is an elected member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the US National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, and she is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. She has been recognized internationally for her research including the Wolfson Research Merit Award from the Royal Society, the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft Award for Outstanding Women Scientists, the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society, and the IUPAC Award for Distinguished Women in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering. She has been a Woodward Visiting Scholar at Harvard, a Miller Institute Research Fellow at Berkeley, and an NSF Visiting Professor at Princeton. Among other named lectureships, she has been the Merck Distinguished Lecturer at MIT, the Paul Gassmann Lecturer at the University of Minnesota, the Givaudan-Karrer Lecturer at University of Zürich, the 8th Anton Vilsmeier Lecturer at the Universität Regensburg, the Lemieux Lecturer at University of Ottawa, the Laird Lecturer at the University of British Columbia, and the Gordon Lecturer at the University of Toronto.
In 2021 she received a Humboldt-Forschungspreis from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Prof. Blackmond’s research focuses on mechanistic studies of organic reactions, including asymmetric catalysis. She pioneered the methodology of “Reaction Progress Kinetic Analysis (RPKA)” for fundamental mechanistic studies of complex organic reactions as well as for streamlining pharmaceutical process research. Prof. Blackmond is a Simons Investigator in the Simons Foundation Collaboration on the
Origins of Life where she studies prebiotic chemistry and the origin of biological homochirality. She has been invited by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to speak at two Nobel Workshops, “On the Origin of Life” (2006) and “Chiral Matter”
(2021).

Dr. Wendy Young

Wendy is a biotechnology, pharma and life science executive with more than 25 years of experience in the discovery and development of innovative drug discovery platforms and new medicines. Wendy recently joined MPM Capital, a life science venture capital firm, as an Executive Partner to advise on investments and support creation of new company ventures.  Prior to joining MPM, she was the Senior Vice President at Genentech where she actively built and led the small molecule drug discovery organization. Under her leadership, more than 25 clinical candidates, in the areas of oncology, immunology, neurology, and anti-infectives, progressed into development. Additionally, Wendy led the BTK discovery program and is co-inventor of fenebrutinib which is currently in Phase 3 trials for multiple sclerosis. Prior to joining Genentech, Wendy held roles of increasing scientific leadership at Celera Genomics and Scios, a J&J company.  Wendy is an inventor and/or author on more than 70 published patents and manuscripts.  

Known for her strong passion and contributions within the scientific community, Wendy has been involved with the American Chemical Society (ACS) for 20 years. In 2017, she was elected as the ACS National Chair of the Medicinal Chemistry Division (MEDI), and she currently serves as an associate editor of The Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. In 2018, Wendy was inducted as an ACS Fellow for her lifelong service to chemistry, society and medicine, and in 2019 highlighted as “One of the Top 20 Women in Biopharma” by Endpoint News. In 2020 she was awarded the prestigious Earle B. Barnes Award for Leadership in Chemical Research Management.

Wendy received a Ph.D. from Princeton University, having studied in the laboratories of Edward C. Taylor. At Princeton, and in collaboration with Eli Lilly, Wendy worked on folate analogs as antitumor agents and Alimta® was an outcome of this collaboration. Thereafter, as an American Cancer Society Fellow, she performed post-doctoral studies in the laboratories of Samuel Danishefsky at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and was part of the team that completed the total synthesis of Taxol®