DETROIT — Wen Li, assistant professor of chemistry in Wayne State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, was one of 126 researchers selected to receive a $50,000 Sloan Research Fellowship for 2013.

The fellowships, awarded annually since 1955, are given to early-career scientists and scholars whose achievements and potential identify them as rising stars — the next generation of scientific leaders.

Li’s research focuses on the most exquisite details of chemical reactions.

“Many things in everyday life come down to chemical reactions,” Li said. “In my lab, we study the motion of nuclei and electrons during such reactions. While people have been studying the nuclear motion of chemical reactions for a while, we are focusing on electrons, which for a long time people considered too fast to study. To date, no technique has been developed to track down their motions in real time, and this is what my research program aims to do in the next few years. This ultimately could help control chemical reactions.”

Added Hilary Ratner, vice president for research at Wayne State: “The Sloan Research Fellows are among the best of the best of young scientists. Dr. Li is most deserving of this award along with the many other accolades he has received in his young career.”

In late 2012, Li received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government to science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. Li will receive a $1 million grant for that achievement, which will aid his Department of Defense research in providing a dynamic picture of how lasers interact with matter.

For more information about the Sloan Research Fellowship, visit

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