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2020 Reaxys PhD Prize winners tell how Reaxys supports their work as early-career chemistry researchers

By: , Posted on: April 6, 2021

The Reaxys PhD Prize is – a global competition that recognizes accomplished young chemists for their innovative research, and is open to anyone who is doing or has recently completed a PhD in any discipline of chemistry. Each award winner receives a prize of USD $2,000 and, together with the other finalists, become part of a private network of talented chemists from around the world, the Reaxys Prize Club. In 2020 45 finalists were selected from over 400 submissions. Eleven were shortlisted to present their research and be considered for the prize. The three equally ranked Reaxys PhD Prize 2020 winners were announced:

  • Dr. Keiichi Yano from Professor Yoshimitsu Itoh’s group at the University of Tokyo
  • Dr. Jianchun Wang from Professor Guangbin Dong’s group at the University of Chicago
  • Mr. Rupert Proctor from Dr. Robert Phipps’ group at the University of Cambridge

For 10 years, Elsevier has proudly promoted exciting research from early-career scientists through this competition, and honored to be able to help them do this important work through the use of tools like Reaxys, an expertly-curated chemical database that improves R&D productivity. Our three winners reflect on how Reaxys supported their outstanding, award-winning research in chemistry and associated sciences.

Jianchun Wang, PhD thinks that every organic chemist would agree that Reaxys is a very useful and user-friendly tool and provides an example of how he uses it. “When we want to run a reaction, and especially if it’s one we don’t know that well, we can search on a different set of conditions and compare which one is most promising,” he explains. “We can search other disciplines, such as medicinal chemistry, if it’s likely they’re using something similar, and if we discover something we think is new, we can check whether it’s a known reaction. It saves a lot of time and introduces you to a lot of new information.”

Fellow prize winner Rupert Procter, PhD, finds that Reaxys is a valuable tool in his discipline as well. “I use Reaxys to find out how to make all the compounds I need for my research. That’s pretty much what you do in synthetic chemistry – you make stuff,” he says. “Reaxys can help you find good conditions quickly, which speeds up the process a lot.”


Keiichi Yano, PhD also appreciates that Reaxys gets him better results faster. “I used Reaxys when I made my new molecule,” he shares. “It’s kind of a tricky molecule, with three parts: a core part, a side chain part and a termini part. Each of those are very sensitive to reaction conditions such as basic or acidic. So it’s kind of tough to make an optimized reaction. Plus, in my research, it requires a lot of material, so process optimization is really important — you can’t afford to get it wrong and Reaxys helps me get it right. In that regards, Reaxys plays a very important role in ensuring I can synthesize enough quantity of my materials.”

Reaxys is built on expert-curated chemistry information and enriched with cutting-edge technology. It is also the leading database for bioactivity data. Scientists in corporate R&D and academia gain actionable insights that lead to innovation, while saving time and money. Reaxys also supports teaching excellence in chemistry education. Reaxys is available to academic and corporate organizations via enterprise annual subscriptions with multi-user access.

Learn how Reaxys can help achieve your research goals.

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A field as broad as chemistry is cross-disciplinary by nature. Chemistry researchers, in their work or study, may encounter issues in materials science, biochemistry, chemical engineering, or a wide range of other disciplines. In addition to the major areas of organic and inorganic chemistry, Elsevier content covers advanced topics such as quantum chemistry, analytical chemistry, physical and theoretical chemistry, energy generation and storage, nano-chemistry, surface and interface chemistry, and environmental chemistry. This content is available over a spectrum of formats that includes journals, books, eBooks, undergraduate textbooks, multi-volume reference works, and innovative databases and online products like Reaxys. Learn more about our Chemistry books here.