BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— Illinois Wesleyan University’s Manori Perera has been selected
as an inaugural recipient of the ACS Illinois Heartland Early Career Chemist Award.
Perera is assistant professor of chemistry and one of two inaugural recipients of the Early Career Chemist Award, which recognizes
outstanding scientific contributions of early career scientists to the field of chemistry.
The award is presented by the Illinois Heartland American Chemical Society, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to providing science education opportunities
to the community. The Illinois Heartland American Chemical Society, which includes
240 chemists, chemical engineers, and educators in an 11-county area in central Illinois,
is a local chapter of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society.
“I didn’t expect that I would win since the Heartland area has quite a number of institutions,”
said Perera, who said she was both surprised and honored to receive the award.
Perera’s colleagues nominated her for the award for her research, which extends from
studying reactions of astrochemistry to understanding antioxidant properties of tea
and wine. Because of Illinois Wesleyan’s strong research culture, Perera explained
that she had the opportunity to publish her research while working in close collaboration
with her students.
“Our university contributes to faculty development and to student scholarship,” said
Perera, who received her Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Massachusetts,
Amherst. “I was fortunate to be a part of this culture and this was especially important
to me as a junior faculty. I feel honored that my research was recognized through
Perera spent two years as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois
at Urbana-Champaign prior to working at Illinois Wesleyan. She said the opportunities
students at Illinois Wesleyan have as undergraduates in conducting and publishing
research are unique to the University.
“I am very proud of our research because all the work is done by undergraduate students,”
she said. “An undergraduate student doesn't get to publish a paper as a first author
or get the opportunity to build an instrument at large research universities. I enjoy
sharing these experiences with my students and encouraging the next wave of scientists
through my work.”