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.

Huw Davies Receives the Herbert C. Brown Award for Creative Research in Synthetic Methods

Congratulations to Dr. Huw Davies for being named the recipient of the Herbert C. Brown Award for Creative Research in Synthetic Methods given by the American Chemical Society for 2019. This award recognizes  outstanding and creative research involved in the discovery and development of novel and useful methods for chemical synthesis.

National award winners were honored at a ceremony in conjunction with the 257th ACS National Meeting on Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019 in Orlando, Florida.

Congratulations, Dr. Davies!

Dr. Dennis Liotta Receives the Alfred Burger Award in Medicinal Chemistry

Dr. Dennis Liotta received the American Chemical Society Alfred Burger Award in Medicinal Chemistry for 2018 for inventing antiviral drugs taken by more than 90% of persons infected with HIV in the United States. The award, established in 1978 by GlaxoSmithKline, recognizes outstanding contributions to research in medicinal chemistry. Dr. Liotta will be presenting an award address at the spring meeting of the ACS Division of Medicinal Chemistry.

This award is the most recent in Dr. Liotta’s impressive collection of accolades. He is the recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Award, the highest award given by Emory University,  the 2005 Herty Medal, sponsored by the GA Section of the ACS, the 2011 IP Legends Award, sponsored by Georgia State University College of Law and J. Mack Robinson College of Business, and the 2003 Biomedical Industry Growth Award, sponsored by the Georgia Biomedical Partnership. In addition, Dr. Liotta was elected to the National Academy of Inventors in 2014 and the Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame in 2010, and he received Honorary Doctor of Science degrees from both the University of Queensland and Queens college.

Congratulations, Dr. Liotta!

ChEmory Awarded Travel Grant for the 225th ACS National Meeting

ChEmory, Emory’s undergraduate American Chemical Society Student Chapter, was recently awarded the National Meeting Travel Grant for the 255th ACS National Meeting. The meeting this year, which will take place in New Orleans, LA between March 18th and 22nd, is titled “Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water”. The $300 grant award will provide financial support to members of ChEmory who will be traveling to New Orleans to attend the national meeting.

Congratulations, ChEmory!!

2017 National Chemistry Week: Chemistry Rocks!

This week, October 22nd -28th, the American Chemical Society will be celebrating the 30th Anniversary of National Chemistry Week. The goal of National Chemistry Week is to promote the value of chemistry in everyday life. ACS members and science enthusiasts are encouraged to spread awareness of chemistry by organizing events for ACS local sections, schools, businesses, and the general community.

In 1987, former ACS President Dr. George Pimentel organized a national event to celebrate the impact of chemistry. This single day of celebrating science evolved into an annual week-longevent where the scientific community engages in education and outreach. The events of the week are accompanied by the publication of Celebrating Chemistry, a booklet designed to engage and educate children in the basic principles of chemistry and to inspire the next generation of future scientists.

The theme of National Chemistry Week for 2017 is “Chemistry Rocks!”, which focuses on geochemistry. Topics include the chemistry of salt, the types of rock within the Earth’s crust, and the difference between a rock, a mineral, and a gemstone. Some activities in Celebrating Chemistry include growing crystals from Epsom salt and testing mud samples for clay content.

Previous topics of National Chemistry Week include “Solving Mysteries Through Chemistry”, “Chemistry Colors Our World”, “The Sweet Side of Chemistry—Candy”, and “Energy: Now and Forever”. Next year, events will focus around outer space in “Chemistry Out of this World”.

To spark widespread interest and appreciation for chemistry is a goal also shared with our graduate student social and service organization, Pi Alpha Chemical Society (PACS). On Thursday, October 26th, PACS and Graduation Generation, a collaborative family-school-university-community partnership, will host an outreach event at Toomer Elementary School involving 20-minute science demonstrations for kids in third through fifth grade. In addition, ChEmory, our undergraduate chemistry club will host a series of events in honor of National Chemistry Week including an alumni career seminar, science demonstrations, and periodic table cupcake baking!

Outreach opportunities like those presented by PACS, ChEmory, and National Chemistry Week give us the chance to share our love of chemistry and science with the community. Through education and outreach, we can cultivate an appreciation for chemistry and inspire the next generation to become as passionate as we are.

Interested in learning more about National Chemistry Week? Check out the ACS website! If you are interested in getting involved with the PACS outreach event, contact Elaine Liu.

 

ChEmory events this week:

Tuesday, October 24th

Demo Show: 6:30-7:30 pm at Memorial Student Center E208

            Wednesday, October 25th

ChEmory at Wonderful: 12-2 pm in Asbury Circle

Periodic Table Cupcake Baking: 7-8 pm in the LSM Kitchen

            Thursday, October 26th

Periodic Table Cupcake Decorating: 7-8 pm in the LSM Kitchen

ChEmory Recognized by the ACS

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.

ChEmory, Emory’s undergraduate chemistry club, has been recognized by the American Chemical Society as a Commendable chapter for 2016-2017. This places ChEmory in the top 10-20% of all undergraduate ACS chapters.

2017-2018 is also shaping up to be an excellent year for ChEmory. The club has been awarded two ACS grants for activities–a Community Interaction Grant and a New Activities Grant.

Congrats to the ChEmory officers and members for all their hard work!

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.

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.

Student Spotlight: For Julia Gensheimer, Chemistry is a Passion

Julia Gensheimer in an ACS chemistry t-shirt that she designed.
Photo: Julia wears a t-shirt she designed for a contest prior to the 2016 ACS meeting. Julia’s design—designed in ChemDraw – won over 70% of the votes in an online contest to choose a conference t-shirt. “It began as chemistry doodles that I thought looked like letters,” says Julia. The shirt was for sale during the ACS conference in Philadelphia.

“I can’t imagine doing chemistry anywhere else!”

That was what Julia Gensheimer (EC ’19) told her mother after going on a tour of the new addition to Emory chemistry’s Atwood Hall. With its soaring atrium, shiny new labs, and innovative teaching space, it’s easy to see how the Atwood Addition could get a student excited about chemistry. However, Julia’s tour took place in the summer of 2015, while the building was still being built.

“It was exciting to have an exclusive tour for students interested in chemistry,” says Julia of the hard-hat tour of the construction site led by chemistry Director Todd Polley.

Julia’s ability to see potential in the unknown brought her to Emory and it’s part of what makes her such a successful chemistry major. Julia is excited about what chemistry offers—and what it doesn’t.  “In the lab, you are looking for an answer to some research question and if you answer that question, you ask another one! You search and you re-search,” says Julia. “There is always something to discover.”

As a freshman, Julia enrolled in CHEM 221Z, an accelerated course for students with AP credit. The class was taught by Jose Soria and Dennis Liotta. Julia was excited to be working with top researchers as a freshman and the course further fueled her interest in chemistry. Dennis Liotta says, “Julia has excelled at everything she’s done at Emory. As far as I’m concerned, she’s a future superstar.”

“Julia is great,” agrees Stefan Lutz, Julia’s sophomore biochemistry instructor. “She is an enthusiastic student and a hard worker.”

While Julia is a rising star (and a self-described “chemistry fangirl”) that doesn’t mean coursework and research come easy. In fact, says Julia, “chemistry doesn’t come naturally to me at all!” Like many students, Julia found organic chemistry challenging, but the community she built in the classroom carried her through. “They are some of my best friends,” she says of her organic classmates, “We formed a little organic chemistry family and continue to take classes with each other. We study together and support one another.”

A "Sciku" submitted by Julia during the 2017 Atlanta Science Festival. The poem was selected as a first-round winner for the Sciku contest.
A “Sciku” submitted by Julia during the 2017 Atlanta Science Festival. The poem was selected as a first-round winner for the Sciku contest.

Outside the classroom, Julia has been involved in research in the Rafi Ahmed Lab in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology since February 2016. She’s building on experience she gained in high school after spending two summers in the lab of Dr. Michael Jensen at the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research in Seattle.

How did a high schooler end up traveling across the country to get involved in cutting-edge cancer research?

She asked.

“I saw an advertisement about a cancer treatment without radiation or chemotherapy, known as immunotherapy at Seattle Children’s. The initiative was led by Dr. Michael Jensen and in minutes, I became his number one fan. So, I emailed him. To my surprise and utter joy, I received a reply and got the internship! I flew from my small town in Kentucky to Seattle where I volunteered full-time in the Jensen laboratory.”

The lab invited Julia back the next summer for ten weeks (funded in part by Emory’s Civic Scholars Program) where she completed an independent project. Her time in the Jensen lab also sparked another interest: triathlons.

Of course, in chemistry you can work hard and achieve. But triathlons—you must have an aptitude for those, right? Or at least experience?

“Maybe,” says Julia. “I did a triathlon my sophomore year of high school because I competed on the swim team at the time. After a triathlon hiatus, my lab members convinced me to participate in a triathlon relay over the summer. I enjoyed it so much that I joined Emory’s club triathlon team and finished my second triathlon last September. I will race again in the spring! I’m a terrible runner though so I really have to train for that part.”

Taken together, Julia’s accomplishments tell a story about a student who isn’t afraid to try, to test, to take risks. “I wouldn’t be happy if I wasn’t constantly challenged in some way.” Her next challenge? A summer research experience in the Ahmed Lab continuing her work in cancer immunology.

She isn’t exactly sure what she wants to do next – maybe a career in chemistry and biology research, most likely on the MD/PhD track. Or possibly on some track that hasn’t been built yet. Because if anyone can find the next cool thing and take off in pursuit, it’s going to be Julia Gensheimer.