Jen Heemstra and Bill Wuest Named Scialog Fellows

Bill Wuest. Photo by Jessica Lily Photography for Work+Play.
Jen Heemstra. Photo by Jessica Lily Photography for Work+Play.

Associate Professors Dr. Jen Heemstra and Dr. Bill Wuest have both been named Scialog Fellows for the Chemical Machinery of the Cell. Scialog, supported by the Research Corporation for Scientific Advancement and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation,  aims to advance human knowledge by supporting and empowering early career scientists. Fellows work in community with other scientists in their theme area to learn and discover through the give-and-take of community building among multidisciplinary teams.

The Scialog on the Chemical Machinery of the Cell is based on the conviction that the time is right to bring together chemists and biologists to spark collaborations and develop interdisciplinary

Bill Wuest. Photo by Jessica Lily Photography for Work+Play.
Bill Wuest. Photo by Jessica Lily Photography for Work+Play.

projects that will catapult us to a deeper understanding of chemical machinery and reactions in the intact cell. The group will explore questions such as “How does the cell organize reactions in functionally distinct compartments that are not bound by membranes?” and “What combination of new chemical tools including chemical probes, optical techniques, and quantum methods can bring about molecular resolution of the chemical machinery in intact, living cells?”

Jen and Bill will have the opportunity to engage with other Chemical Machinery of the Cell fellows at the upcoming Scialog conference in Tucson, Arizona.

Congratulations, Jen and Bill!

 

Congratulations, 2017-2018 Graduates!

On Monday, May 14th, the Department of Chemistry celebrated the graduation of 63 undergraduate chemistry majors and 16 new PhDs. Congratulations to all of our graduates!

Jonah M. Adler
Raviteja Alla
Yusur Alsalihi
Eric Andreansky, Ph.D.
Rebecca Anne Bartlett, Ph.D.
Nia Nicole Bilal
Nika Braiman
Yulei Cao
Mandy Chan
Yuan Chang, Ph.D.
Bryant Chica, Ph.D.
Lekha Chilakamarri
Emily Bridget Crawford
Marika Deliyianni
Wallace Derricotte, Ph.D.
Long Di
Jose Armando Espinoza
Richard Xin Feng
Divine Joseph Francis
Up Next: Graduate School
Kyle E Giesler, Ph.D.
Akash R Gogate
You Na Ha
Ian I Heaven
Gillian G Hecht
Up Next: Graduate School at Columbia University Mallman School of Public Health(Future plans to attend medical school)
Daisha Holton
Up Next: PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences (Job offer for Teach for America in Houston)
Lillian Theresa Hough
Heejin Hur
Jessica Anna Hurtak, Ph.D.
Currently: Postdoc in the Tan Laboratory at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan
Cheston Husein
Ban-Seok Jeong, Ph.D.
Lisa Wang Jin
Yao Jing, Ph.D.
Verka Elena Williams Jordanov
Se Min Jung
Shashank Kalanithi
Parisa Keshavarz-Joud
Up Next: Research Technician with the Lutz Lab at Emory
(Future plans to attend graduate school for chemistry)
Carly Ryan Kies
2017-2018 Excellence in Undergraduate Educational Support Award (1st Year Mentor)
Up Next: Campus ministry in Australia for a year
Mooeung Kim, Ph.D.
Vishaal Kondoor
Georgia Kossoff
Carli Brooke Kovel
2018 Bobby Jones Scholar
Sang Don Kwan
Up Next: Medical school in Korea
Thomas Lampeter
Adonias C Lemma
2017-2018 Excellence in Undergraduate Educational Support Award (1st Year Lab TA)
Up Next: Emergency Department Medical Scribe with the Emory University Hospital
Yichen Li
Up Next: Grow Trainee in Manufacturing Department for BASF in Shanghai, China
Kuangbiao Liao, Ph.D.
Up Next: Senior Scientist at Abbvie Inc.
Yuhgene Liu
Samir Martin
Garett Michael
Charles Modlin, Ph.D.
Eddy Cristian Ortega
Analia Parana
Lilanni Perez
Thomas Nicholai Preiser
Chengyang Qian
Zheng Qiao
Ashwin Ragupathi
Up Next: Research Technician at MSKCC (Future plans to attend medical school)
Shambavi Jay Rao
Rolando Felipe Rengifo, Ph.D.
Adam M Ring
2017-2018 Excellence in Undergraduate Educational Support Award (2nd Year Lab TA)
Gabriela Rodriguez Bengochea
Daniel Rodriguez
Daniel Cristian Salgueiro
2017-2018 Outstanding Chemistry Major Award
2017-2018 Undergraduate Award in Organic Chemistry
Vivek Sawhney
Noah Allen Setterholm, Ph.D.
Nilang Nandlal Shah
Zoe Simon
Up Next: PhD in Chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh
Houston Hartwell Smith
2015 Recipient of the Early Career Achievement Research Grant
2017-2018 Excellence in Undergraduate Research Award
2017-2018 ACS P-Chem Award
Andrew Donald Steele, Ph.D.
Leann Quertinmont Teadt, Ph.D.
Matthew John Tucker
Catherine Urbano
Up Next: Medical School at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Katherine June Woolard
2016 Excellence in Undergraduate Education Award (General Chemistry Lab)
Benjamin Aaron Yosen
Junchu Zeng
Up Next: MS in Operations Research at Columbia University
Qingwan Zhang
Xiancong Zhang
Xiaoyi Zhang

 

Dr. Tianquan (Tim) Lian Awarded $7.5 Million for Fuel Cell Research

Dr. Tianquan (Tim) Lian was recently awarded $7.5 million from the U.S. Department of Defense for research on the electrochemical basis of fuel cell technology. Research in the Lian lab centers around the advancement of solar energy conversion particularly through the preparation, characterization, and fundamental understanding of photovoltaic and photocatalytic nanomaterials. The tools and techniques being developed in the Lian lab will contribute to the advancement of fuel cell technology, supporting the widespread efforts for innovation and discovery.

““A deeper understanding of electrochemical processes is important in the quest for more efficient, renewable forms of energy,’ Lian says. “We hope to make a lasting impact in the field, opening doors to do things with electrochemistry that are currently out of reach.’”

[Read Full Article]

10 Great Things About the Emory Chemistry PhD Program

Curious to learn more about the Chemistry PhD Program here at Emory? Look no further! From research and resources to community and collaboration, Emory provides the perfect environment for cultivating ideas and inspiring innovation. Here, we have provided a comprehensive list to highlight some of the wonderful attributes that our university has to offer its graduate students.

1. Diverse Research Opportunities

The research opportunities within the Emory Department of Chemistry are far from limited, with over 20 research groups exploring topics ranging from catalysis to sustainable energy. Our research groups span the four major subdisciplines—inorganic, organic, biomolecular, and physical chemistry—providing graduate students the opportunity to pursue research in a variety of topics.

2. Size of Program

The chemistry PhD program at Emory is considered to be a mid-sized program. A program of this size, with 141 graduate students, 21 research groups, and 15 full-time staff members, is large enough to span most areas of chemistry, but small enough to facilitate effortless intradepartmental relationships. Graduate students in this scientific community find themselves surrounded by like-minded individuals and a supportive faculty providing a personalized and productive research environment.

3. Funding

With $11.7 million in research funding in the 2017 fiscal year, the research endeavors in the Emory Department of Chemistry are well-funded. External financial support affords our program high-end technologies, top of the line equipment, and all necessary laboratory resources.

4. Resources

As mentioned above, Emory is fortunate to be equipped with the latest and greatest instrumentation. With the Mass Spectrometry Center, the Solid-State NMR Center, the Robert P. Apkarian Integrated Electron Microscopy Core, the NMR Research Center, and the X-ray Crystallography Center, chemists in our department have access to an arsenal of state of the art equipment for all their scientific inquiries.

5. Collaboration Opportunities

Motivated by the idea that the best teaching and research happens in the context of a scientific community, everything from building design to department events are poised to promote collaboration. Graduate students in the chemistry department can connect with other researchers across the campus through seminars and courses and across the world through study abroad opportunities.

6. Support

Students in the department can find themselves armed with support throughout the duration of their graduate career. New students are paired with a senior graduate student at the start of their studies for mentorship and their progress is measured with yearly checkpoints. In addition, every new graduate student is automatically inducted into the social and service organization, Pi Alpha Chemical Society, where they will have the opportunity to strengthen relations with other graduate students in the program.

7. Future Careers

Graduate students from our department are uniquely equipped with the skills and training to be successful in a multitude of future careers. Some graduate students have gone on to hold faculty positions in colleges and universities across the country, while others hold positions in industry at companies such as DuPont or Pfizer. Our graduates are not limited to research-driven careers, with many branching out into law, medical practice, tech start-ups, government, science writing, or teaching. Strong alumni connections provide current students with networking opportunities and career resources.

8. Amazing Building

The heart of the program is centered in the beautiful, recently-renovated Sanford S. Atwood Chemistry Center on Emory’s main campus. With plenty of lab space, a glass-fronted atrium, numerous collaborative spaces, and an aroma-filled coffee shop, the Atwood Chemistry Center provides the perfect arena for innovation and discovery.

9. Beautiful Campus

Our main campus has been ranked by The Best Colleges as one of the top ten “most amazing college campuses”, ranking number 8 on the most beautiful campus list. Located in the magnificent Druid Hills neighborhood, the 630-acre campus features unique marble architecture amongst splendid trees and lush greenery.

10. Awesome City

Emory is situated in northeastern Atlanta, a city bursting with culture. The city, the capital and most populous city in Georgia, is home to Zoo Atlanta, the World of Coca-Cola, the Georgia Aquarium, the Atlanta Botanical Garden, and countless parks and museums. Atlanta takes pride in its dynamic culture, diverse cuisine, and southern hospitality, with no shortage of experiences for its tourists and residents.

Interested in learning more about our graduate program? Refer to our website or contact us at gradchem [at] emory [dot] edu.

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.

       

Dr. Widicus Weaver: Outer Space and Outreach

Scientific outreach events give us the opportunity to disseminate our ideas, share our scientific discoveries, present collaboration opportunities, or even inspire the next generation of scientists. On Wednesday, November 8th, Dr. Widicus Weaver shared her passion for astrochemistry, biology, and space with a room full of enthusiastic second graders at Westchester Elementary School. She discussed topics ranging from star formation to molecules in space, drawing from her research on pre-biotic astrochemistry. The children even had the chance to look through hand-held spectroscopes!

Outreach events like this one allow scientists the unique chance to bring awareness to the scientific endeavors taking place here at Emory and provides those in the community the chance to learn a new topic from a true expert. The children who attended Dr. Widicus Weaver’s seminar got an exclusive look into the amazing science happening far beyond our planet.  Some photos from the event are shown below.

13th Annual Emerson Center Lectureship Award Symposium

Dr. Emily Carter

On November 2nd, 2017, the Emerson Center held its 13th annual Lectureship Award Symposium. The theme this year was “Sustainable Energy: Fundamental Principles, Multidisciplinary Approaches, and Progress.” This year’s lectureship award winner, Dr. Emily Carter from Princeton University, gave the Keynote presentation entitled Quantum Mechanics Derived Solutions for Sustainable Energy. During her talk, Dr. Carter summarized her use of quantum mechanics “to help accelerate discovery, understanding, and optimization of materials for sustainable energy conversion processes.”

Her presentation was followed by talks from Dr. Christopher Jones, Dr. Jean-Luc Bredas, and Dr. Vince Conticello on topics ranging from atmospheric CO2 extraction to organic electronics to peptide and protein nanomaterials. These talks were proceeded by a poster session, during which students and postdocs were given the opportunity to present their research. Brandon Haines was the Poster Award winner .

Dunham Group Publication in Nature Chemical Biology

Graduate student Ha An Nguyen of the Dunham Group recently published a News and Views article for the journal Nature Chemical Biology entitled, “Genome Mining: Digging the Tunnel for Chemical Space” based on a July article published in the same journal, “Klebsazolicin Inhibits 70S Ribosome by Obstructing the Peptide Exit Tunnel”.

In her review, Ha An summarizes the major findings of the Metelev et al. paper and emphasizes the value of genome mining in the discovery of new antimicrobials. “We previously thought we had beaten bacterial infections with ‘miracle drugs’ but if you look at the numbers from the CDC, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections in the United States alone,” Ha An says. “Techniques such as genome mining used in this paper can help sift through tons of sequencing data and can lead us to places we would have never thought of to look.”

Beyond its scientific contributions to the field, this manuscript held particular value to Ha An. “As a novice scientist, this paper on klebsazolicin provides a nice story of a scientific study that walks through the project from conception in silico and into the laboratory for mechanistic and structural investigation,” she says. “It also let me dip my toes into making figures of ribosomes structures, which I am hoping to do a lot of during my time in the Dunham lab to tease out the details of bacterial translation with atomic-level resolution.”

Victor Ma Receives Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award

Victor Ma, a fourth-year graduate student in the lab of Dr. Khalid Salaita, was recently selected as one of twenty-six Predoctoroal to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award Fellows from the National Institute of Health. This award will provide Victor with two years of funding to complete his doctoral thesis and an additional four years of funding for future postdoc training. In the Salaita lab, with co-mentorship by Dr. Brian Evavold, Victor’s research focuses on developing technologies to study mechanobiology at the molecular scale. With an ultimate goal of establishing an alternative mechanism for regulating T cell activity, he studies the roles of mechanical forces in T cell activation, whether these forces are coordinately controlled by mechano-sensitive proteins, and the importance of these forces for T cell biological function. The findings from these studies can provide insight into a potential strategy for developing effective immunotherapies.

In his postdoc, Victor plans on transitioning into the field of tumor immunology, where he hopes to capitalize on his skillset to elucidate the physical mechanisms responsible for preventing T cells from interacting with tumor cells. “My ultimate career goal is to become an independent investigator at a research-intensive university, where I can assume teaching duties and direct a research lab that combines knowledge from various disciplines to innovate career research,” says Victor. “This award will surely serve as a stepping stone to help achieve my goal!”

Congratulations, Victor!

Congratulations, Dr. Kyle Giesler!

On Friday, October 20th, Kyle Giesler successfully defended his thesis, “The Design, Synthesis, and Evaluation of Novel LipidProdrugs for Nucleoside Analogues.” Kyle’s thesis committee included his thesis advisor, Dr. Dennis Liotta, and members Dr. Khalid Salaita and Dr. Frank McDonald.

During his time at Emory, Kyle designed a novel prodrug strategy for tenofovir and other antiviral nucleosides that “unlocks” their therapeutic potential and significantly rivals well-accepted conjugation strategies used in the clinic. His research contributed to 8 publications and a patent application. In addition, Kyle initiated a collaboration between Emory and Morehouse School of Medicine, developed analogs for the treatment of chronic viral infections and cancer, and was awarded the Graduate Diversity Fellowship awarded to outstanding graduate students showing academic excellence and “exceptional promise as future leaders in their fields”.

Looking forward, Kyle plans to pursue a post-doctoral position at U.C Berkeley with Dr. Nirem Murthy where he intends to jump into bioengineering and develop delivery strategies for genome editing technology. After that, Kyle hopes to land an industrial position at the interface of chemistry and biology and be a part of a creative and team that operates at the forefront of human knowledge to design and discover novel therapeutics to change the course of human disease.

Congratulations, Dr. Giesler!