Marist Alumna Recognized as One of the Nation’s Top Chemists

Elisabeth Tavarez

Cathy DeBlase Mulzer, Class of 2011

August 24, 2018 - Congratulations go out to Marist alumna Cathy DeBlase Mulzer ’11, who was selected by Chemical & Engineering News for their fourth annual “2018 Talented 12” issue, which debuted on August 20 and recognizes rising stars in chemistry ( C&EN is a weekly trade magazine that has been published by the American Chemical Society since 1923; it providesprofessional and technical information in the fields of chemistry and chemical engineering. To assemble the list, the magazine’s editors consulted its staff, advisory board, and Talented 12 alumni. C&EN readers also had the opportunity to submit the names of nominees.  In all, 350 people were vetted through a lengthy research and evaluation process, leading to the dozen names on the final list.

This recognition is the latest in a long line of honors Mulzer has received since she entered Marist as a freshman in 2007.  Majoring in chemistry with a mathematics minor, she was an academic standout from the beginning. During her time at the College, Mulzer received two of the nation’s most prestigious awards in science, the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. She was also valedictorian of the Class of 2011 and received three awards at the annual Baccalaureate ceremony. 

Faculty-mentored research was an integral part of Mulzer’s undergraduate experience, leading to two published articles in top chemistry journals and presentations at several local and national conferences. According to her Marist research advisor and mentor, Associate Professor of Chemistry Jocelyn Nadeau, “As an undergraduate, Cathy was an academic powerhouse who, from day one, asked questions and produced solutions to problems that were just over-the-top brilliant. She immediately distinguished herself as an exceptional scholar, and her intellectual contributions to our research endeavors were unquestionably at the graduate level.”

Mulzer reflected on the role Marist has played in her success: “I cannot measure the value of my Marist education. The individualized attention I received from the professors in the Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Physics Department fostered my passion for chemistry. Dr. Nadeau taught me how to do research, which facilitated my transition to graduate school and laid the foundation for my professional research career. Beyond the chemistry lab, the Marist liberal arts education taught me to think critically while working in teams, an essential skill in industry.”

Cathy DeBlase Mulzer at baccalaureate ceremony with Dr. Dennis Murray

After graduating from Marist, Mulzer went on to earn a doctorate in organic chemistry at Cornell University, studies that were funded by her NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Working with her graduate advisor and mentor William Dichtel, who is now at Northwestern University, on the development of covalent organic frameworks for energy storage applications, she published six scholarly articles. Dichtel described Mulzer as “the perfect combination of intellectual firepower and outstanding attitude for research.” Mulzer’s hard work in graduate school paid off, and the Cornell chemistry faculty gave her the Simon Bauer Scholarship Award in recognition of her excellence in teaching, research, and service.

Now a scientist at DowDuPont in Marlborough, Massachusetts, Mulzer is busy developing next-generation polymer materials. Just last year, she received the DSM Science and Technology Award Americas 2017 at the annual American Chemical Society meeting in Washington, DC. The award honors bright young scientists in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.  When considering Mulzer’s journey from being a Marist undergraduate to one of the country’s top chemists, Nadeau observed, “I am in awe of, but not at all surprised by, Cathy’s selection as one of C&EN’s 2018 Talented 12. Having the privilege to work with and mentor her has been one of the true highlights of my career, and I continue to enjoy following her incredible achievements.”

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