Ian Pavelich Awarded ARCS Fellowship

Ian Pavelich
Ian Pavelich

Ian Pavelich (Dunham Group) has been awarded an Advancing Science in America or ARCS Fellowship. The ARCS Foundation advances science and technology in the United States by providing financial awards to academically outstanding U.S. citizens studying to complete degrees in science, engineering and medical research. The awards are focused on helping researchers at the startup or “seed stage” of their work and discovery.

Ian’s project is titled “Molecular mechanisms of antibiotic tolerance.” “The project focuses on identifying the molecular mechanism for how pathogenic bacteria confer an antibiotic tolerance phenotype or behavior without the requirement for genetic mutations,” says Ian. “Currently, we’re attempting to identify how different stresses, like classes of antibiotics, activate different enzymes that trigger antibiotic tolerance.” The research has potential implications for the future of public health: “As modern medicine would be impossible without the use of antibiotics, further investigating these novel systems as potential new antimicrobial strategies is incredibly important.”

The ARCS Award is an unrestricted $7,500 award given directly to the scientist and may be renewed for up to three years. When asked how the ARCS Award will affect his work, Ian says: “I think that ARCS will provide a layer of flexibility in how we choose to answer the questions targeted by my research. I am extremely grateful that the ARCS committee granted me these funds, and with them I aim to expand the scope of my studies using more interdisciplinary approaches. I also plan to use funds to attend a range of diverse conferences.”

Outside the lab, Ian has been involved in outreach at Emory, working on a chemistry event during the annual Science Olympiad for area high school students that focused on fundamental gas laws and their quantitative uses. Ian’s ties to Emory go beyond chemistry, too. This month, his partner will be joining the Political Science Department graduate program at Emory: “we’ll be doing our PhDs side by side!”

Congratulations, Ian!

ChEmory Students Reflect on Attending the ACS Meeting in San Fransisco

ChEmory students pose at their booth during the ACS meeting in San Fransisco.
ChEmory students pose at their booth during the ACS meeting in San Fransisco.

For the past three years, the Department of Chemistry has been pleased to sponsor undergraduate travel to the annual American Chemistry Society meeting in San Fransisco for members of ChEmory, our undergraduate ACS club. The travel awards are generously funded by the J. Sam Guy Memorial Fund. Four students who attended this year share their reflections below:

Katie Woolard

As a chemistry major, it is always inspiring to attend the National ACS meeting whenever I can. This year I had the opportunity to network with other scientists and meet a few other students who are attending the same graduate program as I am in the fall. This year I took extra time to talk with vendors in the Expo Hall to better understand the machines that go into a lab as well as job opportunities at different chemical companies after graduate school. I always make a point to attend the Kavli Lectures, as they are interesting topics that are made  accessible to all knowledge levels through TED-talk style presentations. In addition to the Kavli Lectures, I took time to go to several talks on organic synthesis and natural product synthesis, as this is what I hope to focus on when I get to graduate school. These talks helped give me a better understanding of the chemistry that goes into these projects and fed my passion for research.

Jessica Southwell

I represented ChEmory at the American Chemical Society national meeting in San Francisco. I enjoyed meeting students from other ACS chapters, and learning about their programs. I also had the opportunity to go to a few lectures including one on CRISPR and some in the LGBT* graduate symposium, which was a good intersection of chemistry and my sociology minor.

Lucas Man

The ACS conference was a good opportunity for me to speak with graduate school to which I received acceptance letters for more specific information that I could not get easily get off of the internet. In addition, I found the lecture from DOW on the state of the academic system, and their solution to the funding problem, to be enlightening. I also found the job fair interesting, even though none of the jobs ended up being a good fit. The job fair gave me insight to what jobs in industry look for and what day to day life in the workforce outside of academia was like. Getting the opportunity to see the city was also a great experience.

Daniel Salgueiro

Attending the ACS conference in San Diego was an eye-opening experience for me. The demo exchange allowed is to interact with other undergraduates to see how they implement outreach programs in their home town, and how many ways there are to visually demonstrate chemistry. Additionally, I was able to network with graduate school recruiters and learn what PHD and master’s program admissions are looking for in a candidate. However, I did more than just networking on this trip. I attended multiple lectures on hot new research topics, as well as lectures involving the intersectionality of one’s own identity and their research. All in all, it was an amazing experience where I learned about how integral chemistry is to our lives.

Event Report: ChEmory Alumni Career Panel

On Wednesday evening, April 12th, ChEmory held their inaugural alumni career panel in Atwood Hall 360. The event was well attended by both undergraduate and graduate students.

Featured alumni guests were:

Dr. Vicky Stevens (American Cancer Society)

Vicky Stevens received a B.S. degree in Chemistry and her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Emory University and then did a postdoctoral fellowship at Merck Research Laboratories in the area of lipid metabolism.  She returned to Emory to begin her independent research career in 1990 and was subsequently promoted to Associate Professor in the Division of Cancer Biology in the Department of Radiation Oncology.  While at Emory, Dr. Stevens’ research focused on glycolipid metabolism and its role in regulating folate transport.

In 2003, Dr. Stevens joined the American Cancer Society in 2003 as a Research Scientist in the Department of Epidemiology and Surveillance. In 2006, she became the Strategic Director of Laboratory Services and in 2008, assumed responsibility for the Biospecimen Repositories for the Cancer Prevention Studies

Dr. Holly Carpenter (Aeon and HiQ Cosmetics)

Dr. Carpenter earned her doctorate in chemistry at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia in the area of peptide and protein engineering. With over 10 years of experience at the highest levels of academic scientific research in protein materials, Holly leads the research and development division of Aeon as well as coordinates projects in University Partnership initiatives and business development. She has recently launched a new company and venture in skincare and cosmetics.  HiQ Cosmetics leads the market in offering all-natural, high-performance luxury skincare products.

After graduating from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, Holly accepted a tenure-track faculty position at the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega, Georgia, where she achieved a status of tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Holly regularly taught courses for undergraduates in biochemistry and medicinal chemistry, as well as introductory chemistry courses.  For over 7 years, she conducted academic research with competitive national grants from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund in the area of protein engineering. Holly has also served as a reviewer for competitive grants at the national level for the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Nelly Miles (Georgia Bureau of Investigation)

Nelly Miles earned her Chemistry degree from Emory University in 1999.  In her undergraduate career, she served as a New Student Orientation Captain, President of the NAACP, and was a member of the Omicron Xi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Upon graduation, she began working as a Forensic Chemist for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).  After six (6) years, she was promoted to Assistant Manager of the unit.  A year later, she was promoted to the Forensic Chemistry Manager where she oversaw the daily operations of GBI’s Forensic Chemistry Unit for the next nine (9) years.

After 16 years with the GBI, she transitioned to the Public Affairs Office where she now serves as GBI’s Public Affairs Director.  In this role, she works with the media to communicate information to the public about the GBI.  Additionally, she serves as a legislative liaison to Georgia’s legislature and the Governor’s Office on behalf of the agency.

Mrs. Miles is a current member of Atlanta Metropol, the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors and holds past memberships in the Southern Association of Forensic Scientists and the American Chemical Society.

Mrs. Miles’ most significant role is that of wife and mother.  She resides in Stockbridge, GA with her husband, Cleveland Miles, and their three children.

The fourth panelist was current graduate student (and future alum!) Allyson Boyington who talked about graduate school as a career path. Ally is a second year PhD candidate in the Jui Group at Emory. She received her B.S. in chemistry and environmental science from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA.

The panel was spearheaded by ChEmory freshman rep Ashley Diaz (with help from PACS and Emory development representatives Robin Harpak and Michelle LeBlanc.) “I had a lot of people say that they didn’t even know some of those career paths were options. There was a lot of excitement about the possibilities,” said Ashley. “We have to do this again!”

Thank you to our alumni guests. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for our current students

 

 

PhD Candidate Luyao Zou Develops LaTeX Template for Dissertations

"New Website Soon Come" is a CC BY-SA 2.0 licensed photo by aesop on Flickr
“New Website Soon Come” is a CC BY-SA 2.0 licensed photo by aesop on Flickr

Luyao Zou (Widicus Weaver Group) has developed a LaTeX template (v1.0) to assist students completing dissertations. The open source code, available on GitHub, automates the required publishing process, helping students to complete a professional, accurate document for submission.

Current gradate students, you can access the template here or from the graduate student resources section of our website.

Learn more about Luyao’s PhD journey in his blog about professional development training at radio telescope school!

 

Francesco Evangelista Recognized at Phi Beta Kappa Ceremony

The Fall 2016 PBK class pictured during the induction ceremony.
The Fall 2016 PBK class pictured during the induction ceremony. Photo by James Morey.

Professor Francesco Evangelista and chemistry student Junchu Zeng were both recognized for their accomplishments at the Phi Beta Kappa initiation ceremony at Emory on Tuesday, November 15th, 2016 in Canon Chapel. Students elected to Phi eta Kappa are asked to name a faculty member “who has encouraged and helped students to excel, and who exemplifies intellectual rigor and enthusiasm for scholarly pursuits.”

The Emory College chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, Gamma of Georgia, was founded in 1929. Emory students are elected to the society based on scholarship, breadth of culture, and general promise. Ten percent of U.S. colleges and universities have Phi Beta Kappa chapters and chapters select only ten percent of their arts and sciences graduates to join.

Congratulations, Junchu and Francesco!

Emory Hosts Merck Lecture Series

Merck LecturesIn November and December, Emory is hosting a special series of Merck lectures on process chemistry. Merck is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Emory is only the third graduate school to host lectures in this series—previously, the Merck lectures were held at Berkeley and Princeton. The lectures are part of a special graduate course being taught by Dennis C. Liotta and Huw Davies, CHEM 729R: Special Topics in Chemistry: Process Chemistry in Research.

The lectures are part of the “Preparing Future Innovators” series developed by the NSF-funded Center for Selective C-H Functionalization. Preparing Future Innovators offers lectures that prepare chemistry graduate students for a broad range of future careers via interactions with leaders in chemical industry.

The Merck lectures feature Merck leadership working in the field of process chemistry. The lectures seek to highlight the important differences between process chemistry and medicinal chemistry, particularly the ways in which process chemists can develop techniques that help to bring medical innovations to the public. Students attending the lectures will be better prepared to understand the differences between medicinal chemistry and process chemistry and will therefore by better able to consider a range of careers that apply chemistry to human health.

In addition to the lectures, visitors are attending meet-and-greet and lunches with students. Huw Davies, the Director of the Center for Selective C-H Functionalization, says “This is a great opportunity for our students and faculty to become familiar with cutting edge research in the pharmaceutical industry, and for the Emory chemistry department to develop a close relationship with Merck.”

Merck Lectures in Process Chemistry Schedule

All lectures take place from 4-6pm in Atwood 360. Current Students, there will be a Meet-and-Greet with Merck visitors at 11am on the day of each lecture in Atwood 316.

November 1st, 2016:

Merck Process Chemistry: Discovery & Development Of Innovative Synthetic Methods To Drive Best Chemistry
Rebecca T. Ruck, Ph.D.
Director, Process Chemistry, Merck Process Research & Development
Rahway, NJ

Merck Milestones in Chemistry: Medicine through Inspired Science
Michael H. Kress, Ph.D.
Vice President, Process Research and Development, Rahway NJ

 

November 29th, 2016:

Enabling High-Throughput Experimentation through High-Throughput Analysis
Yun Mao, Ph.D.
Director, Analytical Research and Development, Merck Research Laboratories

High-throughput Experimentation For Chemists: Rationally Designed Large Arrays Of Experiments For Solving Complex Chemical Problems
Michael Shevlin
Associate Principal Scientist, Catalysis Laboratory,Department of Process Research & Development

 

December 6th, 2016:

Biocatalysis At Merck
Matt Truppo, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Merck & Co., Inc

Best Chemistry And World Class Supply
Ian Davies, Ph.D.
Department of Process Research & Development, Merck & Co., Inc.

 

 

Chemistry Students Advance in Collegiate Inventors Competition

Aaron Blanchard and Khalid Salaita with the Rolosense.
Aaron Blanchard and Khalid Salaita with the Rolosense. Photo via Georgia Tech.

Kevin Yehl and Aaron Blanchard (Salaita Lab) have advanced to the national finals in the 2016 Collegiate Inventors Competition in Alexandria, Virginia. Their invention, Rolosense, turns chemical energy into rolling motion.

Founded in 1990, the Collegiate Inventors Competition recognizes and rewards the nation’s top collegiate inventors. In partnership with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the Collegiate Inventors Competition is the nation’s foremost competition encouraging innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity in students who are working on cutting-edge inventions at their colleges and universities. The Competition is a program of the National Inventors Hall of Fame and is sponsored by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and AbbVie Foundation, with additional support from Arrow Electronics.

For more on their achievement, check out this article in the GA Tech/Emory Biomedical Engineering program newsletter.

Congratulations, Kevin and Aaron!

Update: The Rolosense team won bronze!

Photo Gallery: ChEmory Visits the Georgia Bureau of Investigation

 

ChEmory students visited the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday, October 26th. Asma Syed (EC ’19) provided the following report:

The forensics tour was a success: very informative, and great for recent Emory graduates majoring in chemistry looking for a job right out of college or just for people (like myself) really interested in learning more about the forensic sciences!

We were given a tour of the Division of Forensic Science where we learned about the most common illegal substances used in the Atlanta area. We were shown impressive sequencing machines, areas where TLC techniques were performed, and we learned about gas chromatography-mass spectrometry machines. We learned about the process involved with testing materials to determine the substance composition, the purity, and the age. We also learned a lot about the job application process and the training required to be a field agent. My personal favorite part of the tour was getting to see a recent case: we passed by a room with 2000 pounds of marijuana in bags that was being analyzed for prosecution purposes. 

Alumni Spotlight: Chris Curfman’s Transition from Science to Law

Chris Curfman. Photo by Yuan Chang.
Chris Curfman. Photo by Yuan Chang.

By: Yuan Chang (Salaita Group)

When Chris Curfman (00G) entered Emory, he could not have imagined where he would end up two decades later. After completing a PhD in chemistry, Chris shifted his focus away from academic research to pursue a career in intellectual property law. Since then, he has been named a Georgia Super Lawyers “Rising Star” by Atlanta Magazine and became a founding member of Meunier Carlin & Curfman, which has since evolved into one of the largest intellectual property firms in the Southeast. In a climate where more PhD students pursue careers outside the professoriate, Chris’ story is an inspiration. “While we are all united by our intellectual curiosity and our love of science, this common drive can diverge into various fulfilling careers,” says Chris. From his trials and triumph with his research at Emory to his self-discovery and transformation into the rising star that he is today, Chris has accumulated a vast wealth of memories and insight, which is highlighted in this edition of Alumni Spotlight.

During graduate school, Chris joined the lab of Dennis C. Liotta, who would have a profound impact on his trajectory. Chris undertook a particularly difficult thesis project working with sphingolipid analogs. The process of constantly overcoming challenges instilled in him the crucial lifelong value of perseverance that would later prove pivotal outside of the lab. This determination was also critical in prevailing over another personal challenge. While Chris had always fostered a passion for teaching, he grappled with a fear of public speaking. As one of the graduate qualification exams, he was required to present his research in front of the entire Department of Chemistry student body. He recalls that he would “enter the conference room when it was empty and practice over and over again.” He went on to deliver a successful talk. Invigorated by this positive experience and his innate passion for teaching, Chris began to actively seek out opportunities for public speaking, which paved his way to standing on the podium of Emory law school as an adjunct professor.

Nonetheless, Chris’s time at Emory was not “all work and no play.” Chris has fond memories of his time as the president of the Pi Alpha Chemical Society. He recalls organizing graduate events, such as movie nights and picnics, to promote social interaction and collaboration amongst graduate students. To him, “It was a fun and great environment. It was a place where you could set aside the work and just talk and socialize.”

During Chris’ last year of graduate school, his advisor began to take notice of his skill at technical writing and public speaking, as well as his proficient interpersonal skills. Realizing that Chris’ skill set complemented the profession of patent law, Liotta catalyzed Chris’ foray into the world of patent law by inviting him to events where he could network with established lawyers. It was at one of these events that Chris had a fateful meeting leading to an interview offer. That was an electrifying time in Chris’ life. Within the span of that final summer in graduate school, Chris managed to simultaneously complete 3 milestones: defending his PhD, gaining acceptance into law school, and receiving a job offer working in a law firm.

After Chris completed his J.D. at Georgia State University, he practiced several years at a small intellectual property firm. However, that firm was acquired by a much larger general practice and Chris found himself at a crossroads. Chris felt that the large firm business model did not align with his own passions and goals. Chris wanted to retain the close relationships with his clients and have the opportunity to devote more time and attention to their needs, yet he found this more difficult in a large general practice firm. It was at this pivotal moment that Chris received a life-changing phone call from a former colleague who shared a similar vision. That initial conversation ultimately blossomed into a group of eight like-minded patent lawyers who pooled together their resources and brought their vision to a new company. When asked about his emotions at this time, Chris said, “this was both a thrilling and terrifying period in my life. I had to invest everything I had into this venture, including putting my life savings on the line, but I could finally do what I had originally set out to do.” At long last, he had the autonomy to become the champion he had dreamed of becoming for clients who must navigate the treacherous waters of patent law.

It has been nearly two decades since Chris made that decision to transition from lab work to law, but all the lessons he learned during graduate school still serve him well today. Chris says that he finds his current profession to be fulfilling and fun, and he feels fortunate to be involved in a career that allows him to intersect science with people, especially being in a position to be able to help others achieve their goals. When asked what words of advice he would give to current graduate students, he implored encouraged them to “never give up, finish their Ph.D., practice public speaking and effective writing, and network whenever you can.” Chris’ journey serves as an inspiration for the next generation of students looking to apply their doctoral studies to broader society.

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Yuan Chang

Yuan Chang is currently a graduate student in the lab of Dr. Khalid Salaita. She entered Emory in 2011 and has been studying live cell tension using molecular tension fluorescent microscopy (MTFM).

Research Spotlight: A Summer Start at Emory

By: Michelle Leidy (Scarborough Group)

Last summer, I began my graduate career at Emory University doing research for Dr. Nate Jui in the Department of Chemistry. In his lab I was exploring how ureas and carbamates can be taken advantage of for use as catalysts in the ortho-functionalization of aniline and phenol, respectively.

A visualization of reactions-- ureas (top) and carbamates (bottom)
A visualization of reactions– ureas (top) and carbamates (bottom).

I tested these reactions under several sets of conditions. By the end of the summer, I learned that neither of the reactions worked. I even tried making the palladium-carbamate complex to see if the first steps in the catalytic process were going as they should. It turns out, that wasn’t working either.

Visualization of the palladium-carbamate complex--this didn't work either!
Visualization of the palladium-carbamate complex. Also did not work!

This was frustrating for me, as my two undergraduate projects had been successful, with virtually no setbacks. But I learned that when nothing works, you sometimes have to go one step back to (eventually) go two steps forward. As someone who grew up afraid of failure, I am only now realizing that it is the thing that drives new ideas and creativity, as long as we can learn and grow from it.

Overall this rotation was a good learning experience. I was able to transition into graduate life, become familiar with the facilities, and make some new friends without the stress of classes. 

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Michelle LeidyMichelle Leidy began her studies at Emory in the summer of 2015 and is an Initiative to Maximize Student Development (IMSD) fellow. Currently, she is a member of the Scarborough Group working on synthesizing catalysts that can activate hydrogen peroxide by using second sphere hydrogen bonding, which would be useful in challenging industrial oxidation processes. Outside the lab, Michelle enjoys music and the arts, and can often be found going to concerts, plays, or swing dancing the night away if not relaxing at home. After graduation, Michelle hopes to continue her career doing research in a lab. 

A version of this post originally appeared on the IMSD blog in February 2016.