Welcome to the Fall 2019 Entering Graduate Class!

We are excited to welcome our 2019 graduate cohort to campus! This group of early career scientists is distinguished by their broad research experience and training, including summer REUs and participation in programs including:

  • National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science (GEM)
  • Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP)
  • McNair Scholars
  • NIH Initiative to Maximize Student Development (IMSD)
  • NIH Post-Baccelaureate Research Education Program (PrEP)
  • NSF STEM Talent Expansion Program
  • Robert A. Welch Foundation Research Fellowship
  • Rotary Club Scholarship

Almost every student in the cohort has been a peer instructor for chemistry courses and many completed an honors thesis. Outside of the classroom, these scholars have pursued techniques relevant to chemistry via industry internships, training as a certified pharmacy technician, and beyond. They have conducted outreach in K-12 education, their universities, and the broader community. 

In recognition of their academic and research excellence, our new graduate scholars received generous support from highly competitive Laney Graduate School fellowships including:

  • 7 Centennial Scholars
  • 1 IMSD Fellow
  • 2 Laney Scholars
  • 2 Quayle New Student Awardees
  • 5 Women in Science Scholars
  • 3 Woodruff Scholars

Each of these students has their own story to tell and incredible potential to draw on Emory resources to forge an amazing scientific career.

Entering Class of 2019

Anna Blood
New College of Florida

Patrick Gross
College of Charleston

Kendra Ireland
Sam Houston State University

Noah Jaffe
Emory University

Ayanna Jones
Clark Atlanta University

Stacey Jones
Georgia State University

Christina Lester
East Tennessee State University

Kimberly Marroquin
University of West Georgia

Zakiria Mays
Georgia State University

Kirklin McWhorter
Auburn University

Yasir Naeem
Hunter College

Christian Sanchez
Pepperdine University

Gavin Smith
University of California, Santa Cruz

Sa Suo
Southern University of Science and Technology

Rachel Washington
Willamette University

We Are Hiring: Assistant Professor and Lecturer

We are hiring an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and a Lecturer to join our faculty! Both searches are now open and we are accepting applications through October 15th via the Interfolio application portal. Applicants are encouraged to submit all materials by September 15th to ensure full consideration.

Successful appointees will join the department during an exciting period of growth and help build our teacher-scholar model of excellence in both teaching and research.

We encourage interested applicants to view the full job descriptions:

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Lecturer, Department of Chemistry

The search committees are chaired by Dr. Brian Dyer (Assistant Professor) and Dr. Vincent Conticello (Lecturer). Applicants with questions are encouraged to contact  chemsearch [at] emory [dot] edu as a first point of contact for a swift response.

Department to Celebrate Spirit Week

What is spirit week?

In American elementary and high schools, “spirit week” is an opportunity for a school community to come together and celebrate. Often, the week is organized around an important activity like testing, the 100thday of school, a sports game, or commencement. Activities usually consist of a week of “themed” days culminating in a big event.

In August 2019, the Department of Chemistry will host our own spirit week to celebrate our new and continuing graduate students and to kick off a “Year of Celebration” in which our community will be encouraged to celebrate each other’s accomplishments. And of course, since we all love friendly competiton, our spirit week includes ways to collect points and win prizes!

When is spirit week?

Monday, August 26th, 2019 through Friday, August 30th, 2019

Who can participate?

All graduate students, postdocs, faculty, staff, and declared chemistry majors are welcome to participate! You can pick up a card to track your points. Prizes include a free t-shirt, your own pack of color powder for Friday’s “Color Game Day” and entries in a pizza party raffle!

What’s the schedule?

  • Monday: Emory Spirit Day
  • Tuesday: Twin Day
  • Wednesday: Rainbow Day
  • Thursday: Waldo Day
  • Friday: Color Game Day

Grab a card in the stockroom to keep track!

How do I track my points?

Use your card! We’re counting on the honor system for points, although there are a few activities that erquire you to post to social media to earn points.

Where do I get my prizes?

Prize pick up opportunities will be posted soon. There will be chances Tues-Thurs of Spirit Week!

Who is Waldo?

Waldo is a picture book character (“Wally” in England). He always wears blue jeans, a red and white striped shirt, a beanie hat, and glasses and carries a cane. He always finds himself in crowded situations and the readers of his books are tasked with finding him in the crowded pictures. Anyone can dress as Waldo for extra points!

Who is Super Waldo?

There will only be one Super Waldo. They will be wearing a cape to help you identify them.

What else do I need to know?

Tag @EmoryChem and #chemspiritweek when you post on social media! Have fun, get excited, and get ready to show your chemistry spirit!

Chemistry Major Sam Zinga Receives Prestigious McMullen Award

Chemistry major Sam Zinga has been named the 2019 McMullen Award Winner. The McMullen Award is one of the most prestigious awards given by Emory College to graduating seniors. Sam joined the Widicus Weaver Group as a high school intern from the Gwinnett School of Mathematics and Technology in the summer of 2014. In addition to continuing undergraduate research with the Widicus Weaver Group, Sam served as a peer leader with Dr. Antonio Brathwaite in physical chemistry courses during his time at Emory. He is headed to Yale University School of Medicine to pursue a year-long research position next fall. In future, he plans to pursue an MD/PhD.

Read more about Sam’s Emory journey and future plans in this Emory News Center profile.

EBCC Featured in Emory News

The Emory Biotech Consulting Club, founded by members of the Wuest Lab and supported in part by Dennis Liotta, is featured in a recent Emory News report. The article includes quotes from Henry Zecca (Jui Group) and Bill Wuest.

Young Emory scientists wanted a taste of what biotech business careers might be like. So they visited the world’s largest poultry industry conference, and got advice from officials at the Food and Drug Administration – all within a couple months.

“I learned a ton about chickens – more than I thought possible. I’ve been explaining it all to my friends,” says Henry Zecca, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry.

Zecca’s experience and others emerged at a “Gala” Tuesday evening showcasing the Emory Biotech Consulting Club, which aimed to pair student advisory teams with fledgling startup companies emerging from university research.

The full article is available online from the Emory Report.

Two Chemistry Majors Awarded Prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

Chemistry majors Austin Lai and Liz Enyenihi have been selected as 2019 Goldwater Scholars, the nations’ premier scholarship for undergraduates studying math, natural sciences, and engineering. The college juniors will each receive $7,500 per year until the completion of their undergraduate degree to go towards the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board. This year, the competition received over 5,000 applications for only 496 scholarships.

A Woodruff Scholar, Enyenihi has modeled RNA exosome malfunction in a budding yeast model system to explore why the mutations in the genes that encode components of this complex cause such distinct, sometimes fatal, diseases working in the lab of Dr. Anita Corbett.

Lai, a biology and chemistry double major, is researching Fragile X Syndrome in the lab of Dr. Gary J. Bassell, professor and chair of the Department of Cell Biology in the School of Medicine.

Read more about these amazing scholars, and all four 2019 awardees from Emory, in the Emory Report. [Full Article]

Dunham Lab Paper Selected as Editor’s Pick

Ha An Nguyen

The Dunham Lab recent paper in the Journal of Biological Chemistry has been named an Editor’s Pick. The paper, “Importance of a tRNA anticodon loop modification and a conserved, noncanonical anticodon stem pairing in tRNACGGPro for decoding” is also the first paper for graduate research Ha An Nguyen who is featured in an author profile. In the profile, Ha An shares one of the most exciting parts of the research process:

“It was when we saw diffraction spots at high resolution for the first time! I spent a year setting up about one hundred crystallization trials and subsequently screening hundreds of beautiful crystals with not much success. It was very emotionally taxing to be sleep-deprived (most of our synchrotron times were during the night) and have your precious crystals diffract poorly. While I understood spending a year attempting to perform X-ray crystallography is not much time, as a starting graduate student, I couldn’t help but feel that I was a failed crystallographer. That one crystal ended up being all I needed, and the structure, along with the biochemistry, seemed to fall into place. We collected the X-ray data in October 2018 and wrote the paper in 3 months.”

Congratulations to Ha An and the Dunham Lab!

Further Reading

Alumni Spotlight: Suk Cho Thrives “Living Life to the Fullest”

Dr. Suk Cho, Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder of Joy Nutritionals, is no stranger to hard work. Guided by the mindset of “living life to the fullest”, he has seized numerous opportunities to expand his knowledge, gain experience, and truly develop as a scientist. The way he sees it, attitude is everything. “You don’t have to be the best chemist, and you don’t have to be the best manager,” he says. “But do your best.” His accomplishments have fueled his motivation, raising him through the ranks from graduate student to senior scientist to Chief Scientific Officer.

After earning his undergraduate degree from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, Dr. Cho attended Miami University, where he earned his master’s degree in organic chemistry. Having kept an eye on some of the great research going on here at Emory, he officially joined the Emory community in 1985 as a PhD student in the lab of Dr. Lanny Liebeskind.

“Suk Cho was a confident and strong PhD student during his tenure in graduate school at Emory University,” says Lanny. “His research generated high-quality scientific results and led to a number of significant peer-reviewed publications.  I remember him as very personable, with an assured and engaging personality that, in retrospect, portended the future successes in his professional endeavors.”

Originally, Dr. Cho assumed he would use his expertise in chemistry to pursue a career in pharmacy. However, the more he learned about the importance of chemistry in the production of cosmetics, food, and other diverse products, he became more drawn to this side of research and development. “Everything is chemistry,” says Dr. Cho. “I’m very proud of becoming a chemist. I can apply it to just about everything.” As a curious, creative, and committed student, Dr. Cho felt confident that he could succeed in such an industry setting. Having assimilated to a new way of life after immigrating from Korea during his teenage years, Dr. Cho was prepared for a transition from academia to industry

With this can-do attitude and a freshly earned doctorate degree, Dr. Cho went on to work for Unilever, a company that strives to make sustainable living commonplace, supplying over 400 household brands from Dove and Vaseline to Lipton and Ben & Jerry’s. While working at Unilever, Dr. Cho was motivated to learn as much as he could about his industry. Beyond the basic chemistry behind the efficient production of household products, Dr. Cho learned about toxicology and environmental impact, large-scale production and its consequences, consumer demands, and sales and marketing. He also learned that these aspects of the industry truly guide the science behind production.

Dr. Cho went on to spend a brief couple of years as Sr. Scientist with PPG before becoming the Vice President of Research and Development at Melaleuca: The Wellness Company. In this role, he oversaw the production of hundreds of products for nutrition, personal care, skin care, and the household to be used around the globe. Dr. Cho then transitioned to Chief Science Officer at Isagenix, a company built to inspire and empower individuals to “live their best life through a journey of nutrition, health, and overall wellness.” He led the Product Innovation, Research and Science, Quality Assurance, and Regulatory teams at Isagenix, while also serving as Consultant/Owner of Ideate, LLC.

Now, with over 30 years of research and product development, he serves as Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Joy Nutritionals. With a mission to “promote healthy, energetic, active lifestyle choices”, Joy Nutritionals offers lifestyle-based solutions supported by science, community, and technology. The company strives to provide high quality, good-for-you products to promote everyday health and wellness. Dr. Suk Cho is responsible for developing such products, giving everybody a chance at a healthy life.

Echoing the messages of health and wellness that define his industry, Dr. Cho also hopes to encourage people to make decisions that guide them towards a healthier lifestyle. “A lot of our diseases stem from our poor lifestyle choices,” he says. “I want to advocate for investing in yourself mentally, physically, psychologically, and emotionally.” By reminding us to live life to the fullest, while protecting our health and well-being, Dr. Cho shows us a stunning example of how we, too, can find joy.

While his work has broad potential impact, Dr. Cho has already inspired the work of a very important future leader – his daughter, Belle. The business major and chemistry minor is studying at the University of Arizona where she is focused on a future in game development. (Her first game, “Furthest Reach,” has a release date set for 2020.) “There has never been someone to inspire me as much as my father has,” says Belle. “My dad came to the United States from Korea when he was sixteen years old, knowing very little English and [the] school he attended wasn’t really ‘prepared’ for a non-English speaking student at that time. However, it didn’t stop him from going to college and majoring in one of the most challenging science fields. My outlook on education has changed so much in the last two years and I really have my dad to thank for that. I am grateful for the life I have and all the things he has provided for the family.”


Rachel Kozlowski (Dyer Group) Awarded Dean’s Teaching Fellowship

Rachel Kozlowski

Rachel Kozlowski (Dyer Group) has been awarded the Dean’s Teaching Fellowship for the 2019-2020 academic year. Dean’s Teaching Fellowships are selected based on progress towards completing the Ph.D. degree as well as a strong commitment to teaching. This year, 12 students were awarded the fellowship, which provides financial support through a $19,000 stipend.

As a Dean’s Teaching Fellow, Rachel will be designing and teaching a section of CHEM-150: Structure and Properties as an instructor of record this coming fall. CHEM 150 is the first  course in the Chemistry Unbound curriculum and focuses on starting students in their chemistry studies with an “atoms first” approach.

“Being awarded this teaching fellowship is an excellent opportunity for me, as my career goal is to be a professor at a primarily undergraduate institution (PUI),” says Rachel. “Professors at PUIs have a much greater emphasis placed on teaching, so while I will still have a small undergraduate research group, most of my job responsibilities will involve teaching students. Having the opportunity to be an instructor of record while still working towards my PhD degree is invaluable.”

Congratulations, Rachel!