Back in 1985, chemist Peter Schultz drew considerable attention when, at the young age of 29 and after only two years on the job as assistant professor of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, he was promoted to associate professor with tenure, one of the quickest such promotions in the institution’s history.

Today, the young Schultz’s fast-rising career has soared once again. At the age of 31, he has been named this year’s winner of the National Science Foundation’s prestigious Alan T. Waterman Award. The award, named in honor of the first director of the NSF, includes a medal and an NSF grant of $500,000 over three years to fund research and advanced studies. It is given annually to an outstanding young researcher who has shown high quality, innovation, and potential for discovery in his or her field of science, mathematics, or engineering. A recipient must not be over...

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