PhD Graduate Awards

DSM Science & Technology Awards

Recognizing, rewarding and nurturing talent

For the DSM Science and Technology Award program we team up with leading scientific associations in their respective fields:

  • The American Chemical Society Division of Polymer Chemistry (ACS Poly) in the case of our materials science award.
  • The America Society of Animal Science (ASAS) in respect of our animal nutrition science award.
  • The Federation of European Nutrition Sciences (FENS) in the case of our human nutrition award.

The Science and Technology Award not only gives PhD graduates a financial reward for their achievements, but also a platform to make a name for themselves in their chosen field. They also help participants make the all-important connection between scientific achievement and commercial and industrial success.

The Awards

Innovative PhD research in polymer technology

Awarded annually and open to PhD students and those who had recently obtained their PhD at a university in the Americas, this award was about recognizing and rewarding excellence in innovative PhD research in polymer technology. The 2019 award was presented to the winner at the American Chemical Society (ACS) national meeting in August 2019 in San Diego (CA), US.

Winner 2019

The winner of the 2019 award was Blaine McCarthy from Colorado State University. Blaine was recognized for her work on the development of more sustainable methods to make plastics using bio-derived starting materials and sunlight to drive the process. Read Blaine’s story about how her interest in science started and what the next steps in her career will be.

2019 theme: Polymers for a sustainable future

The theme for the 2019 award was "Polymers for a Sustainable Future’’. The theme spanned Nutrition & Health, Climate & Energy, and Resources & Circularity. Submissions could include, and preferably connect synthesis, characterization, engineering, material property assessment and application. Nominees were judged based on both the connection to the theme and the quality of their scientific research.

The prize

The award carried a cash prize of $5,000. The three runners-up each received $1,000. On top of their prize, all four finalists received an additional $1,000 to cover associated travel and conference registration costs.

Eligibility criteria

  • Nominations were open to current PhD students and those who had recently obtained their PhD at a university in the Americas.
  • Candidates could not have defended their PhD thesis before 1 January 2018.
  • The nominated work had to involve innovative research (fundamental or applied) in the area of Polymers for a Sustainable Future.

Selection & judging

From the total number of nominations received, four candidates were selected for the final judging round that took place during the ACS national meeting. These four candidates were invited to present their research results in a short lecture during a special DSM - ACS POLY Symposium. A judging committee comprising members from DSM and ACS POLY selected and announced the winner at a special award ceremony at the ACS meeting.

Nomination

  • Candidates had to be nominated by their PhD supervisor (one nominee per supervisor).
  • Nominations had to be accompanied by the following documents, combined into a single PDF submission:
    • A graphical abstract of the candidate’s lecture topic.
    • A list of all accepted publications, including DOI.
    • Copies of key publications (max. three) in full length (not including supplementary files).
    • The candidate’s complete curriculum vitae, including (expected) date of PhD defense.
    • A personal letter of recommendation prepared by the PhD supervisor.

Innovative PhD research in animal sciences

Granted annually and open to PhD students, this award is about recognizing and rewarding excellence in innovative PhD research in the field of animal sciences. The 2019 award was presented to the winner at the annual meeting of the ASAS Midwest Section, in Omaha (NE), US in March.

2019 winner

From the total number of nominations received, four candidates were selected by an independent jury for the final judging round and were invited to present their research results in a short lecture during a special DSM - ASAS Symposium. A judging committee comprising members from the DSM and ASAS community selected the winner, Chan Sol Park, at the commencement of the symposium.

Eligibility criteria

  • Nominations were open to current PhD students or those who had recently obtained their PhD at a university in the Americas.
  • Candidates could not have defended their PhD dissertation before 1 January 2018.
  • The nominated work had to focus on innovative research - fundamental or applied - in the general area of Animal Nutrition contributing to Sustainable Animal Farming.

The prize

The award carried a cash prize of $5,000. The three runners-up each received $1,000. On top of their prize, all four finalists received an additional $1,000 to cover associated travel and conference registration costs.

Nomination

  • Candidates were nominated by their PhD supervisors (one nominee per supervisor). Nominations were accompanied by the following supporting documents:
    • An abstract (according to ASAS guidelines) of the candidate’s lecture topic.
    • Copies of key publications (maximum 3) in full length (not including supplementary files).
    • The candidate’s complete curriculum vitae, including GPA, publications and (expected) date of PhD defense (if not defended already).
    • An application letter where the candidate described his or her accomplishments and future goals.
    • Two letters of recommendations – one prepared by the PhD supervisor.

Innovative PhD research in human sciences

Awarded annually and open to PhD students and those who had recently obtained their PhD at a university in Europe, this award was about recognizing and rewarding excellence in innovative PhD research in Human Nutrition. The 2019 award was presented to the winner at the European Nutrition Conference held by the Federation of European Nutrition Societies (FENS) in October 2019 in Dublin, Ireland.

Winner 2019

The winner of the 2019 award was Aoife Caffrey, from Ulster University. Aoife was recognized for her work on maternal folate nutrition and offspring brain health.

2019 theme: Personalized nutrition and novel technologies for health in the modern world

The theme for the 2019 award was ‘’personalized nutrition and novel technologies for health in the modern world’’. Nominees were judged based on both the connection to the theme and the quality of their scientific research.

The prize

The award carried a cash prize of €5,000. The three runners-up each received €1,000. On top of their prize, all four finalists received €1,000 to cover associated travel and conference registration costs.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Nominations were open to current PhD students and those who had recently obtained their PhD at a university in Europe.
  • Candidates could not have defended their PhD thesis before 1 January 2019.
  • The nominated work had to involve innovative research (fundamental or applied) in the area of personalized nutrition and novel technologies for health in the modern world.

Selection and Judging

From the total number of nominations received, four candidates were selected as finalist. These four finalists were invited to present their research results in a short lecture during a special DSM-FENS Symposium on 17 October at the European Nutrition Conference in Dublin. The judging committee comprised members from both DSM and FENS. 

Nomination

  • Candidates had to be nominated by their PhD supervisors (one nominee per supervisor). 
  • Nominations had to be accompanied by the following documents, combined into a single PDF submission:
    • An abstract of the candidate’s lecture topic.
    • A list of all accepted publications, including DOI.
    • Copies of key publications (max. three) in full length (not including supplementary files).
    • The candidate’s complete curriculum vitae, including (expected) date of PhD defense.
    • A personal letter of recommendation prepared by the PhD supervisor.

Recent PhD winners

Over the years our past winners span a huge range of topics and nationalities. Since winning, their careers have moved in equally diverse directions - from the heights of academia to major commercial success. Here's a couple of interviews with recent winners and their hopes, dreams…and a little advice along the way.

Blaine McCarthy

On Wednesday 28 August, Blaine McCarthy, from Colorado State University, received the DSM Bright Science Award 2019 during the American Chemical Society (ACS) Conference held in San Diego, California. Blaine was recognized for her work on the development of more sustainable methods to make plastics using bio-derived starting materials and sunlight to drive the process.

When and how did your interest in science start?

Growing up, science was always my favorite subject at school, and I was fortunate to have parents who were very supportive of my interests across the different scientific disciplinesHowever, my interest truly came to life at university. 

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"When studying for my Bachelor’s degree at Clark University, I joined the lab of Professor Charles 'Chuck' Jakobsche, which turned out to be key to my decision to pursue chemistry at graduate school in Colorado. By allowing me to work on an independent project at an early stage of my undergraduate studies, Chuck introduced me to the excitement of scientific research and helped me develop the perseverance needed to overcome experimental challenges.”

Who is your biggest inspiration in the scientific world?

There are far too many to mention! In a broader sense, though, I’m inspired by 1) a handful of “famous” scientists, 2) my professors and mentors throughout my undergraduate and graduate studies, and 3) women in chemistry who have demonstrated success in both their careers and personal lives.”

Why did you decide to pursue a PhD in the field of polymer sciences?

My interest stemmed from a deep-rooted fascination with the physical properties of polymeric materials and a respect for their ubiquity in our everyday lives. I continue to be fascinated by the range of macroscopic physical properties that arise from the macromolecular structures of polymers. Moreover, the utility of polymeric materials in all areas of our lives motivates me to continue working in the field of polymer science in the future.” 

Which societal challenges can we solve with your research?

We believe organocatalyzed atom transfer radical polymerization (O-ATRP), a light-driven method for the synthesis of well-defined polymers, can help in addressing multiple societal challenges, including climate change, by presenting a more economical and energy-efficient alternative to analogous, heat-driven polymerization methods.

“Specifically, we have demonstrated that bio-derived monomers can be polymerized efficiently via O-ATRP, thereby reducing society’s dependence on the petroleum-refining industry and reducing the carbon footprint of plastics production. More widely, the catalysts developed for O-ATRP methods have the potential to improve sustainability across a wide range of industries, including agrochemicals and pharmaceuticals, and could even enable the advancement of materials produced via additive manufacturing/3D printing." 

What does it mean for you to win this award?

I’m extremely grateful, as it has provided a platform for me to share my research with a broader audience of scientists. At the same time, I hope this award highlights the excellent work done by my advisor, Garret Miyake, and our research group at Colorado State University. Garret is an outstanding advisor who has given me considerable support in pursuing this award. I’m also fortunate to work with an incredible team of scientists within my research group and as part of multi-institution collaborations, many of whom have made critical contributions to the research that I presented during the award symposium.”

What will be the next steps in your career?

I’m excited to be finishing my doctoral degree this year and to be moving to the next stage of my career. I’m motivated to continue pursuing interesting and impactful research toward developing materials for a sustainable future, and energized to find a position working with colleagues who are as supportive and inspiring as my current research group.”

Chan Sol Park

On 13 March 2019, Chan Sol Park, from Purdue University, received the DSM Science & Technology Award Animal Nutrition (Americas) 2019 during the annual meeting of the ASAS Midwest Section in Omaha. Chan was recognised for his thesis on protein quality in experimental diets and amino acid digestibility in feed ingredients for pigs.

When and how did your interest in science start?

“As a child I was always interested in animals, but living in a city meant I had few opportunities see and spend time with them, so I watched a lot of nature documentaries on TV. My interest in science started around then.

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"Watching these documentaries allowed me to learn many interesting facts about animals and stimulated my curiosity. When I realized that there are still a lot of unsolved questions in nature, I decided to become a person who finds the answers.

Who is your biggest inspiration in the scientific world?

There are two people who always inspire me to step forward: Dr. Beob Gyun Kim and Dr. Layi Adeola. Dr. Kim, who was my supervisor during my Master’s degree, taught me the basics and introduced me to the broad spectrum of research in animal nutrition. Dr. Adeola is currently supervising my PhD program and supporting me in improving and expanding my ideas. They always give me the best advice on how to think further, and their endless passion for research strongly motivates me to work harder.

Why did you decide to do a PhD in the field of monogastric animal nutrition?

During my Master’s program, I realized that continuous research is necessary to deal with current issues and to improve the livestock industry. In addition, I was fascinated by designing and conducting research for animal nutrition, so I decided to continue my research through a PhD program to further study monogastric animal nutrition which can contribute to the livestock industry.

Which societal challenges can we solve with your research?

The livestock industry is currently facing many issues, including regulation of the use of antibiotics, environmental pollution caused by livestock manure, and the fluctuating price of feed ingredients. Therefore, precision nutrition is necessary to cope with current issues and achieve sustainable animal farming. My research mainly focuses on improvement of nutritional supply to monogastric animals and accurate evaluation of nutritional quality in feed ingredients, all of which can contribute to maximizing the livestock production, as well as minimizing the detrimental effects on the environment and product consumers.

What does it mean for you to win this award?

It means a lot to me. I am very grateful for this award, and it will encourage me to move forward in my research. It will also always remind me of my colleagues – who give me selfless support. I could not have achieved this without their help.

What will be the next steps in your career?

My future goal is to be part of the faculty at a major research university and continue to conduct research in animal nutrition. I have studied animal nutrition under the supervision of great professors, who have helped me to develop creative and critical research competency. I would like to follow their career paths and contribute to the industry as well as education and science.

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  • Bright Science Awards

    DSM's Bright Science Awards are open to PhD graduates; seasoned scientists worldwide, in everything from human & animal nutrition to materials science.

  • Lifetime Achievement Awards

    Lifetime achievement awards go to seasoned scientists all over the world for their pioneering research in human and animal nutrition and materials sciences.

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