February 16, 2023

Tim Cernak, assistant professor of medicinal chemistry in the College of Pharmacy, is among the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s 2023 list of researchers who stand out as the next generation of leaders in scientific research.

Dr. Cernak is one of three U-M researched awarded the annual fellowship intended to support tomorrow’s leaders in science and their promising research and scientific minds. They are among 126 early-career researchers selected from 54 institutions in the United States and Canada.

“We are humbled and honored to be recognized in this way,” says Dr. Cernak. “With this support my lab aims to pivot our work in chemical synthesis and data science to impact multiple industries.”

Dr. Cernak’s lab studies the interface of chemical synthesis and computer science. The research explores the encoding in a small molecule’s structure and the synthetic strategies that access diverse molecular structures — paramount to the invention of novel, functional molecules such as dyes, agrichemicals, fragrances and pharmaceuticals.

The lab uses algorithms, robotics and data science to study new chemical reactions and synthetic routes to natural products and biochemical probes. Overall, the lab pursues opportunities to positively impact human health.

Dr. Cernak joined the College of Pharmacy’s Department of Medicinal Chemistry in 2018 after spending nearly a decade in the pharmaceutical industry.

“Sloan Research Fellows are shining examples of innovative and impactful research,” said Adam Falk, president of the Sloan Foundation. “We are thrilled to support their groundbreaking work, and we look forward to following their continued success.”

Fellows receive a two-year, $75,000 prize that can be used to advance their research. They must hold a doctorate or equivalent degree in chemistry, computer science, earth system science, economics, mathematics, neuroscience, physics or a related field.

Sloan Research Fellowships, in existence since 1955 and awarded to some of North America’s most noteworthy scientists including future Nobel Prize winners, often are seen as a marker of quality of an institution’s science faculty and a sign of an institution’s success attracting the most promising junior researchers.