Chemist Sophie Rousseaux receives the 2020 Dorothy Shoichet Women Faculty in Science Award of Excellence

December 1, 2020 by Chris Sasaki - A&S News

Sophie Rousseaux, an assistant professor of biological and organic chemistry in the Faculty of Arts & Science’s Department of Chemistry, has received the distinguished 2020 Dorothy Shoichet Women Faculty in Science Award of Excellence.

Rousseaux’s research focuses on the development of enabling and transformative synthetic methods to access biologically active small molecules in a more efficient manner; for example, by producing less waste and taking fewer steps. Her work also aims to develop safer methods, such as the use of non-toxic reagents and the production of non-toxic waste.

Rousseaux’s research is fundamental to the synthetic chemistry used in the biotech, agrochemicals and materials sectors. Her work on synthetic methods is also of great interest to the pharmaceutical industry as evidenced by widespread interest in her publications as well as many invitations to speak from global pharmaceutical companies.

“Professor Rousseaux’s outstanding research is having a major impact in her field,” says Vince Tropepe, vice-dean, research. “She is pioneering new and exciting synthetic chemistry methodologies that could transform the way pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals or materials are made and used in various industries.”

“Professor Rousseaux is perfectly positioned to fulfill the purpose of the Dorothy Shoichet Award of Excellent for Women in Science,” says Alexie Tcheuyap, vice-dean, faculty, academic life & equity.

“As an early-career researcher in a key STEM field, we are confident that she is on the brink of moving from the opening years of a promising career into the brightly lit arena of international recognition. We are delighted to assist her as she makes this all-important transition.”

Rousseaux obtained her bachelor of science and PhD from the University of Ottawa, after which she was a visiting scientist at the École Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Montpellier, an NSERC postdoctoral fellow and Glasstone Research Fellow at the University of Oxford and a Junior Research Fellow at St John’s College. She joined U of T’s Department of Chemistry as an assistant professor in 2015.

The Dorothy Shoichet Women Faculty Science Award of Excellence was established in 2016 by Molly Shoichet in honour of her mother — who passed away in October 2020 — to help early-career female researchers focus on their research. It is awarded to female faculty members in any of the physical or life sciences, computer sciences or mathematics within the Faculty of Arts & Science.

Shoichet is a professor of chemical engineering & applied chemistry and biomaterials & biomedical engineering, holds the Canada Research Chair in Tissue Engineering and in 2014 was appointed University Professor, U of T’s highest faculty distinction.

She has described the award as a “gift [that] will provide one of the key ingredients to women science faculty seeking to advance knowledge in a meaningful way — a little more time at a key point in their career when often family, research, classroom teaching and service are all vying for attention.”