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Hub early-career researcher selected for prestigious Future Leaders program

The Institute for Frontier Materials’ Dr Ken Aldren Usman has been selected among peers from some of the world’s top universities, including Yale, Harvard & Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and MIT, to join the 2024 CAS Future Leaders Program.

CAS, a division of the American Chemical Society specialising in scientific knowledge management, selected 35 exceptional early-career scientists from a pool of global candidates who applied for a spot in the program known as one of the best leadership learning experiences in the world of science.

The 2024 cohort hail from 13 countries, working at 33 graduate or post-doctoral programs, and specialising in scientific disciplines that span computer-aided drug design, atmospheric/environmental chemistry, sustainable polymers, and cancer diagnostics.

“CAS Future Leaders offers early-career scientists the opportunity to participate in leadership and storytelling seminars, learn from industry thought leaders how to present their ideas in an impactful manner, engage in scientific discourse, and develop connections with peer scientists from around the world,” CAS Future Leaders program director Peter Carlton said.

Participants in the program, which will take place in August, will also get a behind-the-scenes look into how CAS connects the world’s science. They will present their research at ACS Fall 2024 in Denver, Colorado, and receive a three-year ACS membership.

Dr Usman is currently part of IFM’s Future Fibres group, where he focuses on understanding the chemistry of various nanomaterials such as metal oxides, metal organic frameworks (MOFs) and MXenes. He graduated with a PhD in 2023, with his work already being cited more than 900 times and has co-authored work with renowned researchers including MXene pioneer, Prof Yury Gogotsi of Drexel University, Prof Babak Anasori of Purdue University, and Prof Amanda Ellis of Melbourne University. He also was a visiting academic at Purdue University in 2023 where he shared his knowledge of MXene fibres with Prof Anasori’s research team.

Dr Usman is currently working alongside IFM’s Future Fibres theme leader and ARC Research Hub for Future Fibres Director Professor Joselito Razal, where he is mentoring PhD candidates as an associate supervisor.

“Dr Usman is an exemplar for the next generation of PhD candidates on how they can succeed in their PhD studies,” Prof Razal said.

“His research and leadership skills exemplify everything that an academic group needs to enhance its capacity and capability.”

Dr Usman said being named a CAS Future Leader has been a huge career highlight.

“In the next couple of years, I will be looking for opportunities to further widen my research network, hopefully securing research grants to continue my works and further mentor a new generation of students,” he said.

“I envisage that being a part of the CAS Future Leaders Program would allow me to further improve my leadership skills through the mentorship of distinguished researchers and opportunity to attend prestigious conferences like the ACS meeting.

“I am also really looking forward to meeting the alumni community of this program and hope to build a long term academical relationship and develop camaraderie.”

The 2024 CAS Future Leaders:

Aziz Abu-Saleh, University of Windsor, Canada

Noah Bartfield, Yale University, United States

Michelle Brann, Harvard & Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, United States

Rosemary L. Calabro, U.S. Army DEVCOM Armaments Center and United States Military Academy, United States

Xiangkun (Elvis) Cao, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States

Áine Coogan, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

Chiara Deriu, Politecnico di Torino, Italy

Madison Elaine Edwards, Texas A&M University, United States

Olga Eremina, University of Southern California, United States

Inès Forrest, Scripps Research Institute, United States

Patrick W. Fritz, University of Fribourg, Switzerland

Nabojit Kar, Indiana University Bloomington, United States

Stavros Kariofillis, Columbia University, United States

Joshua Kofsky, Queen’s University, Canada

Eric Kohn, University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States

Danielle Maxwell, University of Michigan, United States

Keita Mori, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Japan

Aditya Nandy, University of Chicago, United States

Akachukwu Obi, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States

Ernest Opoku, Auburn University, United States

Daisy Pooler, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden

Pragti, Indian Institute of Technology Indore, India

Stephanie Schneider, McMaster University, Canada

Ekaterina Selivanovitch, Cornell University, United States

Hanchen Shen, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, China

Lilian Sophie Szych, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

Alexander Umanzor, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, United States

Ken Aldren Usman, Institute for Frontier Materials, Deakin University – Waurn Ponds, Australia

Sara T. R. Velasquez, University of Twente, Netherlands

Gayatri Viswanathan, Iowa State University, United States

Kunyu Wang, University of Pennsylvania, United States

Athi Welsh, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Kyra Yap, Stanford University, United States

Yirui Zhang, Stanford University, United States

Junyi Zhao, Washington University in St. Louis, United States

Learn more about the 2024 CAS Future Leaders program.

About CAS

CAS connects the world’s scientific knowledge to accelerate breakthroughs that improve lives. It empowers global innovators to efficiently navigate today’s complex data landscape and make confident decisions in each phase of the innovation journey. As a specialist in scientific knowledge management, its team builds the largest authoritative collection of human-curated scientific data in the world and provides essential information solutions, services, and expertise. Scientists, patent professionals, and business leaders across industries rely on CAS to help them uncover opportunities, mitigate risks, and unlock shared knowledge so they can get from inspiration to innovation faster. CAS is a division of the American Chemical Society.