Amy Solinski to Present at the ACS National Meeting

On the 25th of August, Amy Solinski will take the stage at the American Chemical Society National Meeting in San Diego to present at the Merck-sponsored Women Chemist Committee (WCC) Session. The opportunity is a wonderful recognition of Amy’s scientific excellence as well as her advocacy for women in science – she is a recipient of the 2018 ACS Georgia Section Women in Chemistry Scholarship, a member of the Georgia Chapter of the WCC, and a member of Emory’s Association for Women in Science (AWIS).

Amy Solinski’s contributions at Emory paint a picture of an engaged, curious, and creative scholar. From collaborations in the Wuest Lab and beyond to outreach with multiple organizations, she has had an impact on the Emory community. Her contributions to our community are made all the more impressive by the fact that, despite being a rising fifth year graduate student, she has only been at Emory for two years as of this June. She moved to Emory from Temple University with her advisor, Dr. Bill Wuest, when he joined the Emory faculty in 2017. Amy’s hobby of photography has had a visual impact on the community as well. Her work is featured on the Wuest Lab website, the Department of Chemistry website, and has been featured in multiple chemistry news stories.

In the Wuest Lab, Amy’s graduate research centers around the development of antibiotics derived from natural products. She uses chemical tools to study complex biological systems, specifically focusing on biofilm growth in the oral cavity. In fact, her manuscript, “Synthetic Simplification of Carolacton Enables Chemical Genetic Studies in Streptococcus mutans”, was recently published in ACS Infectious Diseases. This research will be the focus of her talk at the ACS meeting.

Amy appreciates the dynamic nature of the research in the Wuest lab. Although most of the research projects start with synthesis, they tend to branch out into medicinal chemistry, chemical biology, or other fields of chemical application. “You aren’t pigeonholed into one area of science,” says Amy. “If a project takes you in a new direction, you are encouraged to continue in that direction.” Fortunately, her lab members are keen to collaborate and, when she needed resources outside of her own lab, she was able to reach out to other labs. In fact, she has been a part of three separate collaborations so far!

When she isn’t spearheading collaborative research efforts, Amy is also a leader in the many organizations of which she is a member. For the AWIS Emory Graduate Student Chapter, Amy has served as the social networking chair, helping to plan networking events with other organizations. One event this last spring was a brunch social attended by members of the Georgia AWIS chapter, a few engineering organizations, and some members of the Georgia Tech community. As a member of the Georgia Chapter of the WCC, she has also helped manage communications efforts through social media.

Big things are on the horizon for Amy as she enters her fifth year. She has another manuscript soon to be published and has recently embarked on the search for a postdoc position. Although she is open to several possibilities, she is hoping to dive a little deeper into the realm of chemical biology. “I’m really into the idea of using synthesis and chemistry as a tool in biological systems,” Amy says. Her passion for research is matched by her passion for mentorship. Having mentored two undergraduate students and several younger graduate students, she is particularly interested in a career where she can provide one-on-one mentorship to students in a research setting.

“Research is hard!” says Amy. “Sometimes it’s hard to visualize the real impact, but persistence is key.” As she moves closer to the end of her graduate career, she is beginning to see the pieces of her project really come together. Amy is enthusiastic about her career trajectory, confident that she can reach her professional goals, and excited about her recent engagement! She is really looking forward to a bright and fulfilling future.

Chemistry Students Host Second Annual ComSciCon Conference

SciComATL swag for attendees. Photo by @ComSciConATL on Twitter.

Earlier this month, Emory University hosted the second annual ComSciCon ATL. ComSciCon is an organization that provides workshops hosted by and for graduate students with a focus on science communication. The ComSciCon ATL event was a collaborative efforts between organizers from UGA, Georgia Tech, and Emory. Dyer Group graduate students Helen Siaw and Brooke Andrews, both in their fourth year, were Emory’s event leads. The conference was funded, in part, by a generous gift from Emory’s Laney Graduate School among other sponsors. All conference expenses and meals were covered for participants.

SciComConATL participants (attempt to?) take a photo together on the stairs in the Science Commons Atrium. Photo from @SciConComATL on Twitter.

The event, which took place in the Atwood Chemistry Center, was two days full of professional panels, networking, activities, and breakout sessions. Attendees were given the unique chance to hone their communication skills, while hearing from a diverse cast of science communication experts.

The event included four panels:

SciComm Audiences

This panel was organized to address the questions surrounding the target audiences of science communications. The three panelists, Barbara Coble (Founder of Emory’s Graduation Generation), James Porter (Professor of Ecology and Marine Sciences at UGA), and Marc Merlin (Executive Director of the Atlanta Science Tavern), shared their unique experiences to provide insight into a variety of SciComm audiences.

Ethics of SciComm

This panel, which addressed some of the ethical considerations in the realm of science communication, was comprised of Veronica van Montfrans (Director of Learning Sciences Innovation and Research at Georgia Tech and the joint Emory/GA Tech Biomedical Engineering program), Aaron Levine (Associate Professor in the School of Public Policy at Georgia Tech), and Paul Root Wolpe (Professor of Jewish Bioethics and Director of the Center for Ethics at Emory).

Data & Visual SciComm

Mica Duran (Board-certified medical illustrator), Michael Shaw (MD, educational filmmaker), Alex Nazzari (Emory undergraduate student, President of Science.Art.Wonder), and Becky Scheel (Service Designer with Harmonic Design) shared about possible advantages, obstacles, and applications of visual media in science communication.

Advocacy & Policy

The panel of Jasmine Clark (Lecturer of Microbiology and Anatomy and Physiology at Emory University), Berry Brosi (Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Emory), John Bowers (Chief of Game Management for the Wildlife Resources Division), and Robert Butera (Associate Dean for Research and Innovation in the Georgia Tech College of Engineering) discussed how scientists can use their voice to influence political action.

The workshop also featured an afternoon of activities where attendees were given the chance to make use of the valuable information they were learning throughout the day. During a write-a-thon, attendees were given constructive feedback on writing samples. Mock interviews were hosted to give advice on best interview practices for the field. During “Improv Hour”, attendees had the chance to show up in front of an audience and participate in fun and informative improvisation-based activities led by Highwire Comedy Company.

After a full first day, the evening wrapped up with a pizza and movie night featuring the documentary “Chasing Coral“—one of the many projects from Dr. Porter. The film explores what coral reefs can tell us about the health of our globe and the future of our planet. In addition, the film also provides a wonderful example of how scientists can make an impact through film and other forms of communication.

Storytelling training with Janece Shaffer. Photo by @HelenSiaw on Twitter.

On the second day, panel sessions were punctuated with short breakout sessions. One session was hosted by Janece Shaffer, Founder and Chief Story Consultant for Storycentric. Storycentric collaborates with companies to build impactful stories for marketing, brand development, and public speaking. Another breakout session hosted by Dan Samorodnitisky gave attendees the chance to develop a pitch that could be submitted to a media outlet. As an Editor with MassiveSci, Dr. Samorodnitisky is familiar with the ins and outs of story pitching, passing along some words of wisdom to those who are interested in submitting. Finally, the third breakout session focused on developing an online persona. In this session,hosted by Social Media Strategist Manu Muraro, attendees were given practical advice on best social media practices for building a brand.

Dr. Shepherd’s keynote address in Atwood Hall 360. Photo by @MAjayi_907 on Twitter.

The event concluded with a keynote address from Dr. Marshall Shepherd, a leading international expert in weather and climate. He hosts The Weather Channel’s award-winning Sunday talk show, “Weather Geeks“, and serves as the chair of the NASA Earth Sciences Advisory Committee. He shared his unique experience with science communication and emphasized the importance of effectively communicating science to the public.

Overall, the two-day workshop was a wonderfully fun and informative event. The perfectly curated cast of science communicators was able to provide unique insights and advice from all corners of the science communications arena. Attendees were given practical advice, networking opportunities, and the chance to ask questions and develop their skills.

Professional development workshops like this one are undeniably valuable to graduate students, so a huge “Thank you!” to everyone who made this event possible.

2018 STEM Research and Career Symposium Recap

The 2018 STEM Research and Career Symposium, organized by the Laney Graduate School, took place earlier this week.  Faculty and students from diverse backgrounds were invited to present their research, engage in networking opportunities, and get to know Emory’s graduate program. Attendees shared ideas and STEM experiences during oral presentations, breakout meetings, poster sessions, and meals. The Keynote speaker at the event was Dr. Jose Antonio Bowen, President of Goucher College and author of Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning. In an entertaining and humor-filled presentation, he discussed the biology of learning, tips to success, and more.

Davies group members Robert Kubiak and Yannick Boni presenting the CCHF poster.

Dr. James Kindt served as a Co-Organizer for the event alongside Dr. Eddie Morgan from the Department of Pharmacology. Several graduate students in the Department of Chemistry were spotted at the symposium mingling with visiting undergraduate students and sharing their amazing research. The event even featured a poster highlighting all that the Center for Selective C-H Functionalization (CCHF) has to offer.

Thank you to everyone who attended and represented the Department of Chemistry!

Photo from @Wuestlab on Twitter.

2018 Atlanta Mini Symposium on Theoretical and Computational Chemistry

On Saturday, September 8th, the Emory University Department of Chemistry teamed up with Georgia Tech to host the 2018 Atlanta Mini Symposium on Theoretical and Computational Chemistry. The event, organized by Francesco Evangelista (Emory) and David Sherrill (Georgia Tech) brought together theoretical and computational chemists across metro-Atlanta for connection and collaboration. Attendees heard talks from invited speakers and spent the afternoon sharing ideas with fellow chemists in the field. The group plans to make the conference an annual event for the local theoretical chemistry community.

Looking Back on 2017

Happy New Year! As we welcome 2018, let’s reflect on some of the great things that happened during 2017.

CCHF SACNAS and Outreach Events

Along with facilitating conversations about synthetic organic chemistry between professionals across a global platform, the NSF Center for Selective C-H Functionalization (CCHF), based at Emory University’s Department of Chemistry, also strives to increase scientific awareness to broader audience. They explain on their website, “A large part of the Centers mission is to bring C–H Functionalization into the mainstream of organic chemistry and one of the key ways we are seeking to do that is informing future generations of scientists by engaging students from K through 12.” By partnering with various organizations in outreach initiatives, the CCHF can connect with the community and share some of their fascinating scientific happenings.

Recently, some members of the Emory Department of Chemistry travelled to Utah to attend the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) conference. During the event, our representatives, in collaboration with the CCHF, participated in recruiting, dissemination of infomercials, research seminars, and poster judging. Dr. Cora MacBeth gave a presentation in a technical symposium organized by alumni, Omar Villanueva. Emory University even had a booth at the event where Dr. Lloyd Munjanja of the CCHF, Monica Kiewit of the Dyer Group, and Bryant Chica of the Dyer Group could interact with visitors.

During the conference, the Center partnered with the Leonardo Museum of Creativity and Innovation in an outreach event organized through the collaborative effort of the Directors of Education, Outreach, and Diversity from 3 NSF Centers for Chemical Innovation, Dr. Lloyd Munjanja (CCHF), Dr. Danielle Watt (CaSTL), and Christopher Parsons (CCE). CCHF members from the Sigman and Du Bois research labs interacted with over 100 middle school students and their teachers through a series of hands-on chemistry activities and demonstrations. One activity involved the students building molecules from marshmallows and toothpicks!

Some photos from the SACNAS conference and the outreach event at the Leonardo Museum of Creativity and Innovation are shown below.


Bill Wuest Receives 2017 ACS Infectious Diseases Young Investigator Award

Bill WuestBill Wuest has been named one of three recipients of the 2017 ACS Infectious Disease Young Investigator Award given by ACS Infectious Diseases and the ACS Division of Biological Chemistry.  Winners received a plaque, an award of $1,000, and up to $500 in travel reimbursement to attend the 2017 ACS Fall National Meeting in Washington, D.C., and present at an ACS Division of Biological Chemistry symposium in their honor. In addition, they were honored at the ACS Infectious Diseases Young Investigator Awards Symposium during the meeting.

Brooke Howell interviewed Dr. Wuest regarding the honor.

What’s next in your research?

With my group’s recent move to Emory University, I felt that this would be an ideal time to expand our research focus beyond bacterial biofilms and look into other areas antibacterial research. More specifically, we are looking to expand our “narrow-spectrum” research program with a focus on Pseudomonad-specific therapies in collaboration with the CF-Atlanta group. Likewise, we also plan to work closely with the Antibiotic Resistance Center here at Emory to further investigate mechanisms of antibiotic resistance development by both using our current, and continuing to develop, chemical probes.

Read the full article in the ACS Axial.

Joel Bowman Keynote Speaker at International Conference on Computational Science and its Applications

Dr. Joel Bowman is one of three keynote speakers at the upcoming 2017 International Conference on Computational Science and its Applications to be held in Trieste, Italy. He will speak on “Computational Approaches to Molecular Science.”

From the conference website:

Computational Science is a main pillar of most of the present research, industrial and commercial activities and plays a unique role in exploiting Information and Communication Technologies as innovative technologies.

The ICCSA Conference offers a real opportunity to discuss new issues, tackle complex problems and find advanced enabling solutions able to shape new trends in Computational Science.

Congratulations, Joel!

Dennis Liotta Keynote Speaker for 2017 MSP Research Symposium

Dennis LiottaDr. Dennis Liotta will give the keynote address at the 2017 Molecular and Systems Pharmacology Graduate Program Symposium on Tuesday, June 13th at the Emory University School of Medicine Building, Room 120. In addition to serving as Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Chemistry, Dr. Liotta is the Executive Director of the Emory Institute for Drug Development and the Associate Director of the Emory Center for AIDS Research.

Symposium Schedule:

2:20-2:20pm: Keynote Address

3:30-5:00pm: Student Poster Session

5:00-6:00pm: Reception and Awards Ceremony


Brian Dyer Meets His Majesty the King of the Belgians

conference_booklet710On Wednesday morning, October 19th, Dr. Brian Dyer met King Philippe of Belgium in Brussels, Belgium. Dr. Dyer is attending the 24th Solvay Conference on Chemistry and Catalysis in Chemistry and Biology hosted by the International Solvay Institutes.

The Conference is organized and chaired by Kurt Wutrich, Nobel Laureate 2002 and is being held at the Metropole Hotel where the very first Solvay conference took place in 1911. The historic conference has continued for over 100 years, hosting eminent scientists such as Albert Einstein and Hendrik A. Lorentz. The conference is the central activity of the Solvay Institutes.

Dr. Dyer will present an introductory statement at a session on “Catalysis by Protein Enzymes” on Friday, October 21st.