Gregory Hodgson, 2019 CAS Future Leader: Exciting First for Ryerson University
CAS Future Leaders – It’s something of a trophy in the chemistry community – an elite award program sponsored by creators of the largest chemistry content aggregator, SciFinder. Annual classes feature some of the most promising, early-career chemists in the world.
This year, Ryerson University celebrates its first ever to join the exclusive ranks: Greg Hodgson of the Impellizzeri Lab for NanoMaterials and Molecular Plasmonics.
The postdoctoral researcher is one of only eight Canadians to make the cut since the program’s inception in 2010. After surpassing hundreds of applicants, Hodgson is set to convene with a cohort of 30 during a two-week whirlwind of career boosting events in August. Activities start in Columbus at Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) headquarters and finish in San Diego at the semi-annual conference of the American Chemical Society, of which CAS is a division.
Not your Typical Scientist
Talking with the nano-materials chemist, it’s easy to see why Hodgson was selected as a CAS Future Leader. He’s a rare blend of 21st century competencies integrating STEM, business, communications, policy and savvy for building relationships.
Yet, his path didn’t follow a traditional trajectory. Hodgson began working straight out of high school and entered university a few years later.
Having discovered an affinity for chemistry, he eventually won an NSERC Postgraduate Scholarship while completing his PhD in Chemistry at the University of Ottawa. He’s now balancing a part-time MBA at Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Management with full-time research at the Impellizzeri Lab.
Modern-Day Renaissance Man
Hodgson’s CV is a smorgasbord of academic and extracurricular activity, filled with scholarships, awards, student governance, volunteering, outreach and committee work.
His scientific interests have also been diverse. While primarily concentrated on nanomaterials, Hodgson has delved into coding, fluorescence microscopy and catalysis. Through his MBA in business analytics, he’s now gaining experience in artificial intelligence, and his proposal to incorporate these leading edge tools into research in photochemistry and nanomaterials science went a long way toward being accepted into the CAS Future Leaders program.
The program will now give Hodgson the rare chance to look at how SciFinder works behind the scenes so that he can better leverage it for incorporating machine learning and AI into his research.
Hodgson’s collage of experiences have clearly shaped the multifaceted lens through which he views the world.
“I tend to see science through a business lens, and when I put on my business hat, I invariably see that through a scientific lens. Then, I ask whether there’s a policy aspect to it,” Hodgson explains. “My mindset has always been on wider impact, how to benefit society, how to apply fundamental research. All those things are very important to me.”
5-Year Outlook – “The Next Big Change”
Hodgson is thoughtful as he contemplates the future – for his work, the intersection of business and STEM, and Canada as a whole.
“Canada is really good at creating start-ups and fostering innovation,” Hodgson points out. “Now we need to focus on scale up so that we can retain homegrown technology rather than export it.”
For Hodgson, Ryerson University has been a microcosm.
“Ryerson has something really special in its approach,” he explains. “We’ve got a unique policy on intellectual property rights and a lot of cutting-edge working going on.”
In short order, Hodgson is already working with industrial sponsors interested in various applications of nano-materials. Projecting ahead, Hodgson foresees a role leading business strategy on science-related projects involving analytics and AI.
“The integration of science and business is a real opportunity,” he says. “I’m really looking forward to the next big change on my path.”
Looking back on his journey, Hodgson reflects on the support of his supervisor, Dr. Stefania Impellizzeri. “She’s been an amazing inspiration, and we make a really effective team. She encouraged me to apply for the Future Leaders Program, and I couldn’t have done it without her.”
Anticipating the upcoming CAS Future Leaders event, Hodgson is excited about benefiting to the full from the program.
“It’ll be really productive to connect with people at similar points in their careers, with big ideas and the same visionary personalities,” Hodgson concludes. “I think it’s going to be amazing.”
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