FSU chemistry alumnus named to ‘Talented 12’ list of top young scientists

| Wed, 08/24/22
Florida State University alumnus Gabe Gomes (Courtesy: Carnegie Mellon University)
Florida State University alumnus Gabe Gomes (Courtesy: Carnegie Mellon University)

A Florida State University alumnus has been named to Chemical and Engineering News’ (C&EN) prestigious “Talented 12” List. Each year, the list highlights a dozen young scientists on the rise conducting research in their fields to solve formidable global problems.

Making this year’s list is FSU College of Arts and Sciences graduate Gabe Gomes, who earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in 2018. After graduating from FSU, Gomes accepted a postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Toronto and is now an assistant professor of chemistry and chemical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.

“It’s surreal,” Gomes said of the recognition. “I have read about the ‘Talented 12’ since 2016 or so, and through the years there are so many amazing people that show up in those lists — people that I really admire and people that now I have the privilege to call friends and collaborators. So be to be amongst this list is a real privilege and I'm extremely happy about it.”

Gomes became interested in attending Florida State while completing his undergraduate at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. His dream was realized when he received a Latin American Student Education and Research (LASER) Fellowship from FSU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. The LASER Fellowship aims to strengthen connections between FSU and Latin American universities and create opportunities for educational research, providing a stipend for Latin American students to travel to the United States to work on research projects for two months.

FSU Distinguished Research Professor Igor Alabugin met Gomes before he arrived at Florida State and was immediately impressed by his curiosity and passion for research.

“Gabe contacted me before coming to FSU with a few questions about our research projects and to my surprise, after he received these questions, he didn't just disappear,” Alabugin joked. “He came back with an email a few days later in which he presented his own calculations and computational analysis of a reaction energy profile that helped us to understand this reaction better. It was clear that he was able to do independent research and was very capable intellectually and practically.”

After his fellowship research, Gomes returned to FSU to begin working toward his doctorate. Gomes was named a Florida State University Student Star in 2018 and was also featured in the Summer 2019 edition of Spectrum magazine for his outstanding work in the field of chemical research during his four years as a graduate student at FSU.

“Gabe has an amazing track record of accomplishments. He graduated from Florida State with somewhere between 30 and 40 papers. I don't even know the exact number because it keeps changing, we continue publishing papers from research he did during his time at FSU,” Alabugin said.

Alabugin adds that Gomes’ story is not only a nod to his impressive body of work, but to the consensus that FSU provides a hospitable atmosphere to students, faculty, and researchers from all over the world.

“Gabe came from Brazil, but he was at home at Florida State,” Alabugin said. “I think that shows that if you’re willing to work hard, this is still the land of opportunity.”

At Carnegie Mellon, Gomes currently heads up his own lab, which focuses on studying transformative digital molecular design. His team finds new ways computers can be utilized in chemistry and chemical engineering to develop materials by accelerating the understanding of chemical reactions and the discovery of new reactions.

"It really comes together by using state-of-the-art machine learning approaches and computational chemistry to tackle difficult problems,” Gomes said. “We're also very interested in bringing more automation and machine intelligence to the lab, and asking, what is the lab of the future and how are we going to do chemical science and engineering in the next 100 years?”

Gomes hopes that FSU students will embrace their own potential, be fearless, and try new things when it comes to forging their own path in research and tackling problems.

“If I could give advice to current FSU students, I would say really enjoy the faculty that you have there — you have access to some of the world's experts in so many different fields from chemistry to computer science. FSU is an outstanding university — President Richard McCullough was a professor in chemistry at Carnegie Mellon and then he went on to work at Harvard and now at Florida State, so that tells you how interesting and attractive FSU is,” Gomes said.

Visit C&EN online to read more about Gomes and the rest of the “Talented 12.”