Chemistry’s Ross Wang named a 2021 Cottrell Scholar

Chemistry Professor Ross Wang

Assistant Professor of Chemistry Rongsheng (Ross) Wang is among 25 outstanding teacher-scholars in chemistry, physics and astronomy to receive a 2021 Cottrell Scholar Award. Presented by the foundation Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA), each award is $100,000.


Recipients are chosen through a rigorous peer-review process of applications from top research universities, degree-granting research institutes and primarily undergraduate institutions in the United States.


“The Cottrell Scholar Award allows me to join a national community of outstanding teacher- scholars,” says Wang, who joined Temple University after four years as a postdoctoral researcher at the Scripps Research Institute. “The award recognizes excellent teaching and research as well as academic leadership, goals that shape me as a faculty member here at Temple.”


Wang’s winning research proposal is titled A Fluorine Displacement Based Bioorthogonal Labeling Approach to Interrogate Non-Histone Substrates of “Histone” Deacetylases. My lab is inventing bioorthogonal chemical reactions that can occur efficiently in aqueous solutions without interfering with normal biological processes,” explains Wang. “We are interested in exploiting these novel reaction methodologies to develop probes and to study the identities, structures, and functions of proteins that are pivotal to diseases-related signaling pathways.”


As part of the project’s science education component, Wang wants to expand opportunities for CST undergraduates to experience more interdisciplinary research. “I plan to incorporate deacetylation research, based on my lab’s bioorthogonal labeling strategy, into an undergraduate laboratory research course,” explains Wang. “Such a discovery-based, curiosity-driven active learning experience will expose undergraduates to using chemistry to answer interesting questions in biology.”


Wang believes his project will significantly impact the college’s efforts to recruit and retain students interested in interdisciplinary areas, such as chemical biology. Temple has a fantastic and diverse undergraduate student body, ready to experience emergent interdisciplinary research,” says Wang, “which has been shown to advance students’ critical thinking and cognitive development, as well as improve their overall confidence and increase their interest in STEM disciplines.”    


“In these challenging times, more than ever, science needs young faculty with fresh ideas and a commitment to student success,” said Daniel Linzer, president and CEO of RCSA, which has a 100-year history of supporting basic research in the physical sciences. “The 2021 class is a diverse, dedicated and welcome addition to the Cottrell Scholar community.”


Wang is excited to be part of the network of Cottrell Scholars. “I’m looking forward to attending the annual conference, to sharing insights with leaders in integrated research and teaching and to working on team projects that can be funded by the Cottrell Scholars Collaborative,” says Wang. “It’s a great opportunity to be a part of reshaping tomorrow’s advanced research and science education.”


-Greg Fornia

March 1, 2021