Chemistry Highlights


Highlight Example

Recent Highlights

Highlight Instructions

Each year NSF Program Directors are asked to provide descriptions of program accomplishments, or "Highlights", on the results of NSF awards. Reporting these outcomes of the NSF Chemistry investment advance the Division's mission by:

  • Communicating the value of chemistry research advances and innovations to the public and to Congress
  • Illustrating the NSF Chemistry portfolio to the public, industry, and government audiences
  • Justifying our future budget requests
  • Documenting outcomes of program investment, as required by the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA)
  • Highlight Example

Research Highlight funded by Chemistry of Life Processes (CLP) Program

Observing 3-hydroxyanthranilate-3,4-dioxygenase in action through a crystalline lens

A picture containing diagram  Description automatically generatedThe synthesis of quinolinic acid from tryptophan is a critical step in the de novo biosynthesis of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) in mammals. Dr. Aimin Liu and his group at U Texas-San Antonio solved the missing piece of the information by investigating a dioxygenase that regulates quinolinic acid levels. The results from this project provide a comprehensive view of the dioxygenase mechanism by enabling step-by-step visualization of the catalytic cycle and the protein dynamics during catalysis. The results also reveal how the enzyme regulates metabolic pathway product distributions, including the non-enzymatic product of biologically significant compounds. This knowledge will help to understand NAD+ hemostasis, immune regulation, and oxygen activation and utilization. This project was funded by the Chemistry of Life Processes (CLP) Program in the Division of Chemistry, initially (CHE-1623856 and CHE-1808637).

The Figure shows seven intermediate crystal structures of 3-hydroxyanthranilate-3,4-dioxygenase (HAO) that were determined during the in crystallo reaction; Figure credit: Aimin Liu and his group. This work was published in PNAS, 2020, 117, 19720-19730.

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  • Recent Highlights

  • Chemical Catalysis (CAT):

Merging chemo-catalysis with bio-catalysis, in water - Lipshutz, Bruce/University of California, Santa Barbara -

Chemical catalysis for diastereoselective synthesis of biodegradable bacterial polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) - Chen, Eugene/Colorado State University -

Diverse Catalytic Hydrogenation Reactions Without Need for External, Compressed Hydrogen Gas - Lakshmanm, Mahesh/The City College of New York -

  • Chemical Measurement and Imaging (CMI):

Making Invisible Chemistry Visible: Role of Salts in Materials Formation - Blum, Suzanne/University of California, Irvine -

  • Chemical Struture, Dynamics, and Mechanisms (CSDM-A):

Boron Makes Quadruple Bond with Rhodium - Wang, Lai-Sheng/Brown University -

Templated Growth of a Homochiral Thin Film Oxide - Sykes, Charles and Gellman, Andrew/Tufts Universities -

  • Chemical Struture, Dynamics, and Mechanisms (CSDM-B):

RUI: Chemical Methods for Isolating Metal Clusters Inside Large Fullerene Cages - Stevenson, Steven/Purdue University -

Cyclopropenone-based Platform for Light-directed Drug Delivery, Photo-medicine, and Bio-imaging - Popik, Vladimir/University of Georgia -

  • Chemical Synthesis (SYN):

Organic Electron Delocalization Modulated by Ligand Charge States - Berben, Louise/University of California, Davis

Breaking the strong carbon-fluorine bond - Lu, Connie/University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

  • Chemical Theory, Models, and Computational Methods (CTMC):

Next-Generation NMR Crystallography Through Ab Initio Structure Refinement - Beran, Gregory/University of California, Riverside

Theory and Computation Usher In New Actinide Chemistry - Furche, Filipp/University of California, Irvine

  • Chemistry of Life Processes (CLP):

Structure-Function Correlations in a Type III Extradiol Dioxygenase Enzyme-in-Action Movie: Observing 3-hydroxyanthranilate-3,4-dioxygenase in action through a crystalline lens - Liu, Aimin/University of Texas at San Antonio -

  • Macromolecular, Supramolecular, and Nanochemistry (MSN):

Breakthrough in Molecular Electronics: Analytical Model Matches Experiments - Frisbie, C. Daniel/University of Minnesota

Chemical defects stabilize and brighten trions - Wang, YuHuang/University of Maryland

Elucidation of Diverse Solid-State of Electron-Deficient Expanded Helicenes via Microcrystal Electron Diffraction Packing in a Family - Tilley, T. Don/University of California, Berkeley

Mild and Selective Hydrogenation of Nitrate to Ammonia in the Absence of Noble Metals - Vela, Javier/Iowa State University -

Other Chemistry Programs: Integrative Chemistry Activities (ICA)

  • Centers for Chemical Innovation (CCI):

Multiblock Compatibilizers for Recycling PET and PE Mixed Waste - Ellison, Chris/University of Minnesota -

Chronic Exposure to Complex Metal Oxide Nanoparticles Elicits Resistance in Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 - Hamers, Robert/University of Wisconsin at Madison -

Advanced material modulation of nutritional and phytohormone status alleviates damage from soybean sudden death syndrome - Hamers, Robert/University of Wisconsin at Madison -

Disclaimer: The research highlights are provided by National Science Foundation grantees based upon work supported by corresponding NSF grants. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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  • Highlight Instructions

We ask all current and recent awardees to consider submitting a Highlight to the Division. Your institution’s Public Information Office can help you generate text and graphics that are compelling for the audiences we describe above. Some general guidelines and best practices on creating Highlights are listed below.

  • Prepare the Highlight on the Chemistry Division Highlight Template.
  • The Highlight should feature an accomplishment or project outcome, not merely describe your award. The accomplishment can be a technical advance, but it could also focus on the technical, economic or societal broader impacts.
  • The Highlight should include a compelling graphic image(s). Select images that best represent or capture the essence of the project outcome reported for this Highlight. In general, graphs, spectra, and reaction diagrams are not compelling to the more general audiences targeted by the Highlights, so you might consider alternate images. Please also note that due to copyright issues, CHE may not be able to publicly disseminate figures, images or text that are included in published articles. This may limit the use of the highlight. Animations, audio and video clips are all welcome. We have provided space for an image caption and an image credit. Captions should clearly describe the image(s). Please be careful about copyrights and permissions.
  • The text (about 300 words) should be accessible to a general audience (limit jargon, please).
  • Complete the NSF Multimedia Permission & Use of Copyrighted Material Form. This can be electronically signed and returned with the Highlight.

The Highlight should be submitted using the Chemistry Highlight Template available at Highlight Template.

The Multimedia Permission & Use of Copyrighted Material Form is available at

The completed Highlight Template and Multimedia Permission Form should be emailed to Please title the "subject" line of your e-mail with the format "PI Last Name-Award #-Highlight". Please contact your Program Director for additional information or guidance regarding Highlights.

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