Carnegie Mellon University
May 26, 2020

Chemistry Professor Honored as One of World's Best Young Scientists

By Ben Panko

Assistant Professor of Chemistry Stefanie Sydlik was recognized as one of the world's leading young scientists in 2020 by the World Economic Forum.

“We are looking forward to working with the Class of 2020 Young Scientists to help leaders from the public and private sector better engage with science and in doing so, help young researchers become stronger ambassadors for science, which the world needs now and will continue to need post-COVID-19,” said Alice Hazelton, Programme Lead, Science and Society, World Economic Forum.

Sydlik, a 2007 Mellon College of Science graduate, synthesizes innovative new polymers for biological uses in her Carnegie Mellon lab. By modifying graphite with calcium phosphate, for example, her lab has been able to turn the material found in pencil lead into a scaffold that can be used to help heal traumatic bone injuries and then naturally degrade away. In a similar vein, her lab has also worked to develop additives for medical adhesives that can allow those adhesives to carry small-molecule drugs such as analgesics for pain or anti-inflammatories.

Annually, the World Economic Forum selects a class of rising-star scientists under the age of 40 from a wide range of fields to connect them with world leaders and help solve major issues.

"I'm really excited to be involved in this global network and to be in a group where we can talk about the big problems and affect policy going forward," Sydlik said of the honor. In particular, she said she's hoping to engage with non-scientists from around the world and learn about the problems they hope scientists will work to solve.

One particular issue Sydlik is interested in tackling is microplastics, minute fragments of plastic that can accumulate in the environment and affect animals and even humans.

Sydlik joined the faculty at Carnegie Mellon in 2015 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship in chemical engineering and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at MIT. As an MCS undergraduate, she was selected as a Beckman Scholar in 2006 and received the 2007 Judith A. Resnik Award.