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#1 Jonathan Sweedler

The Power List 2021

James R. Eiszner Family Endowed Chair in Chemistry, Director of the School of Chemical Sciences & Professor of Neuroscience and Molecular & Integrative Physiology at the Beckmann Institute, University of Illinois, USA

Heroes? I owe the reason I am an analytical chemist to my first real mentor and the first analytical chemist I worked with – Tomas Hirschfeld. I was fortunate to have worked with him as an undergraduate for three summers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He encouraged independence and crazy, novel ideas, while always being available to help ground my ideas with advice and practical experience. After the first summer, he pointed me to a file cabinet full of one-to-two-page measurement science concepts – literally many hundreds of them – and encouraged me to read through the files and pick one or two projects to work on. The limitless ideas, combined with more resources than I ever imagined, not only made these summers exciting and unforgettable, they also influenced my development as a researcher and mentor. Many times I have asked myself, “What would Tomas have done?” when trying to figure out a path forward. I wonder whether my students occasionally ask themselves, “What would Jonathan have done?” when navigating their own scientific careers. I hope so.

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