University of Utah biomedical engineering assistant professor Jessica R. Kramer is one of four national recipients of the Marion Milligan Mason Award, a bi-annual honor bestowed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The prestigious award is given to promising early-career women in the chemical sciences.

The AAAS, founded in 1848, is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the eminent journal Science. The Mason Award is made possible by the late chemist and long-time AAAS member Marion Milligan Mason. Mason bequeathed the organization $2.2 million to go toward accelerating the research career of up-and-coming female chemists.

Kramer, who also holds an adjunct assistant professorship in molecular pharmaceutics, was selected to receive the 2022-23 Mason award, and it’s $55,000 grant, after a competitive two-phase review process based on the candidate’s “value of proposed research, their support of equity in chemical sciences, and the impact the award will have on their career.”

Kramer says she is truly honored to have both her research and citizenship efforts recognized and is grateful to the Milligan Mason family. She plans to use the award to support and mentor female scientists in her own lab.

Her current research is as wide-ranging as it is innovative. The Kramer Lab focuses on the design and application of synthetic polypeptides (the chains of amino acids that form protein) to “address unmet medical needs, and to probe the structure and function of unique natural proteins.” This manifests in probing cancer biology, the cryopreservation of medical tissues, and the modeling of protective mucosal tissues from viral and bacterial infection.

She joined the U’s Department of Biomedical Engineering in January, 2017. Her academic career began at the U as well, where she obtained an Honors B.S. in Chemistry. She then worked in industry for Echelon Biosciences Inc. synthesizing phosphoinositide and isoprenoid compounds and related assay products.

After receiving her Ph.D. in chemistry at UCLA in 2012, Kramer joined the lab of professor Carolyn Bertozzi at UC Berkeley and Stanford as an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow and a UC Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow.

She has received a National Institute of Health MIRA award, a National Science Foundation CAREER award, the international Dream Chemistry Award, the Henkel Award for Outstanding Graduate Research in Polymer Chemistry, Norma Stoddart Prize, Saul and Sylvia Winstein Dissertation Award, and the Excellence in Graduate Polymer Research Award, among others.