Congratulations to our 2018 Award Winners



Martin J. Buerger Award to Frank C. Hawthorne

Distinguished Professor of Geological Sciences

University of Manitoba


Frank C. Hawthorne, has been selected to receive the 2018 Buerger Award which recognizes mature scientists who have made contributions of exceptional distinction in areas of interest to the ACA. Frank has revolutionized our fundamental understanding of minerals and their behavior in Earth's processes and is seen by many as the world's foremost mineralogist.


Hawthorne has spent his career at the University of Manitoba, from his time as a post-doctoral fellow to the present. His graduate work was done at McMaster University studying amphiboles, the most complex group of rock-forming minerals. His continuing interest in these minerals led to a 1983 journal article (of 308 pages!) for which he was awarded one of his three Hawley Medals.

During his career, Hawthorne has studied an extremely wide range of crystalline materials and with a range of techniques. Using crystallographic techniques to probe long-range order and various spectroscopic methods to evaluate short-range order, Hawthorne has developed an unparalleled intuitive feel for the behavior of atomic arrangements in general. His work has gone beyond the typical bounds of mineralogy and has provided insight into the wider field of solid-state chemistry.


Hawthorne is well-known for his systematic studies of the crystal chemistry of major mineral groups, including amphiboles, tourmalines, staurolites, borosilicates, sulfates, and diverse transition element oxysalts.  It has been said that "He has left few stones unturned in the mineralogical world."


Over the past decade, using chemistry, physics and mathematics, Hawthorne has focused on developing a mathematically rigorous understanding of what controls many aspects of the chemical compositions and arrangements of atoms in minerals. The approach he has taken also provides a link between the bond topology of a structure and its thermodynamic properties.


He has received many awards that honor the breadth and depth of his work.  Among them, he has received the principal medals from the Royal Society of Canada (1993), the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain (1995), the Geological Association of Canada (1996), the Mineralogical Association of Canada (1999), the International Mineralogical Association (2010) and the Mineralogical Society of America (2013). He is one of few Foreign Members of the Russian Academy of Science (2012). He was appointed a Canadian Research Chair in Crystallography and Mineralogy (2001), was made an Officer of the Order of Canada (2005), and awarded the Killam Prize in Natural Sciences (2008). His prominence is truly international; in 2016 he was elected Honorary Fellow of the Società Italiana di Mineralogia e Petrologia and, in 2017, he was awarded the Fersman Prize from the Russian Academy of Sciences.  


The award presentation and Dr. Hawthorne's lecture is scheduled for Monday, July 23, at 8:00am.





Bertram Warren Award to Simon Billinge

Professor of Applied Physics, Applied Mathematics and Materials Science, Columbia University

Scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory


This award "recognizes an important recent contribution to the physics of solids or liquids using x-ray, neutron, or electron diffraction techniques."

Billinge's career started in the United Kingdom where he earned a BA in Materials Science at Oxford. He moved to the United States, earned a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania in Materials Science and moved to Los Alamos where he was a post-doctoral fellow. He joined the faculty of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Michigan State University and rose through the academic ranks.  In 2008, he moved to his current position at Columbia University.


Materials research seeks to design novel materials where the atomic arrangements on the nanometer scale can be controlled to obtain some desired functionality. One impediment to this is the so-called "Nanostructure Problem." Billinge is being honored for his role in both highlighting this problem and providing seminal contributions to solving it for a bulk sample of nanoparticles. The nanostructure problem is a statement of the fact that when materials get very small (below about 10 nm), traditional x-ray crystallography breaks down because it is based on Bragg scattering which presumes periodic structures. Billinge's work is built around the use of atomic pair distribution function (PDF) methods. He has championed a generic approach which combines diverse experimental results and theory in a coherent computational framework.  He is considered the world leader in characterizing structures of nanomaterials. His most significant contributions have come in the application of sophisticated x-ray and neutron diffraction techniques to study local structure property relationships in complex solid state materials.


Billinge is a committed teacher and mentor. Not only has he made highly significant scientific discoveries, he has further developed the theory underpinning the use of PDF approaches to structure analysis and the software tools needed to exploit this approach. These widely used tools have contributed to the explosive growth in the use of PDF analysis for a wide variety of different structure problems.  He has taught numerous workshops and has mentored high school students, undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and visiting professors.


Billinge is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a Fellow of the Neutron Scattering Society of America, and received, with his collaborator Takeshi Egami, the J.D. Hanawalt Award from the International Centre for Diffraction Data.


The award presentation and Dr. Billinge's lecture is scheduled for Sunday, July 22, at 8:00am.




Etter Early Career Award to Jason McLellan

Assistant Professor of Biochemistry

Geisel School of Medicine

Dartmouth College


This award "recognizes outstanding achievement and exceptional potential in crystallographic research demonstrated by a scientist at an early stage of their independent career." 

Jason earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Wayne State University in 2003 and his doctoral studies were carried out at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine under the guidance of Daniel Leahy. Here he learned x-ray crystallography and applied this technique to Hedgehog proteins interacting with a new family of co-receptors.  He had started on his path of using structural information to provide insight into the function and evolution of a disease pathway in humans. 


From 2008-2013 he was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Peter Kwong at the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) at the National Institutes of Health. At this time, he also met and started collaborating with Barney Graham, the VRC's head of clinical trials and Chief of Viral Pathogenesis. His time at NIH proved very productive, resulting in more than 24 publications, with Jason as first author on eight of them including two papers in Science, one in Nature and one in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology. The structure of the postfusion form of the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) F glycoprotein formed the basis for a clinical development program at Novartis Vaccines (now owned by GSK).  This is significant since there is currently no vaccine available to prevent RSV infection, a major pathogen, and only one drug for its treatment. 


Next, he was interested in the determination of the structure of the RSV F glycoprotein in its prefusion state.  In order to get a crystal he developed a co-transfection and purification procedure to obtain stabilizing complexes of antibodies bound to RSV F. The information from this structure allowed him to engineer a prefusion-stabilized variant of RSV F which elicited high titers of neutralizing antibodies in mice and rhesus macaques. A paper on this work provided proof-of-principle for structure-based vaccine design and was declared the runner-up for Science's 2013 "Breakthrough of the Year."


In that same year, Jason accepted a position as assistant professor at the Geisel School of Medicine where he continues to pursue his passion for "applying structural information to the rational design of interventions for viruses."  He is being very successful. One of his recent projects was highlighted on the cover of Science Translational Medicine (May 2017).  He and his collaborators have been seeking "to develop a highly potent monoclonal antibody with an extended half-life ...  that could act as a vaccine surrogate to prevent severe RSV disease in infants" and this paper describes the binding of variants of a potent human monoclonal antibody to RSV F protein. Jason's lab provided structural characterization of the binding of the most potent antibody and provided an explanation as to why certain RSV isolates were not neutralized as well as others.  


Jason is a productive scientist who has continued to carry out ground-breaking work as an independent researcher. As one of his colleagues said "I don't know what he will be doing in 10 years, but I am sure it will be interesting - and involve solving important biological and medical problems at the molecular level."


The award presentation and Dr. McLellan's lecture is scheduled for Tuesday, July 24, at 8:00am.