Jozafina Milicaj Receives PhD


Dr. Jozafina Milicaj 

Dr. Jozafina Milicaj recently defended her Ph.D. and presented her work entitled, “Biophysical Exploration of Heptosyltransferase I for Potent Inhibitor Discovery.” Jozie started at Wesleyan University in 2015 after completing her BA in Chemistry at Manhattanville College where she was heavily involved with the American Chemical Society chapter and even holding the position as president for her senior year.  Jozie’s undergraduate research project was focused on analytical chemistry and the quantification of antioxidants from açaí berry sources through various extraction methods and UV-Vis radical capture assays. Upon starting at Wesleyan University, Jozie joined the research lab of Dr. Erika Taylor and began working on projects pertaining to Heptosyltransferase I substrate biosynthesis and optimization. Her projects then shifted to understanding and biophysically characterizing HepI and other glycosyltransferases like MshA for the purposes of inhibition of HepI. Having completed her degree at Wesleyan, Jozie will soon be starting her career in industry at Ginkgo Bioworks, a biotech company in Cambridge that professes in novel protein engineering where she will be characterizing and kinetically examining new proteins of interest.

Andrea Lee Receives PhD

     

Dr. Andrea Lee

Dr. Andrea recently defended her Ph.D. dissertation entitled “Examining Chromium(III)-based Contrast Agents for Use as a Model for Understanding Prototropic Exchange in ParaCEST MRI Contrast Agents.” Andrea started at Wesleyan University in 2014 after graduating with honors from the University of New Haven where she received a B.S. in Forensic Science and a B.S. in Chemistry. Her undergraduate thesis work focused on analyzing the triglycerides in biofuel made from acorns using HPLC with detection by FT-IR and UV-Vis. Upon starting at Wesleyan University, Andrea joined the research lab of Professor Westmoreland and worked on many research projects exploring various transition metal-based MRI contrast agents and their properties in aqueous solutions. She also received many opportunities as a teaching assistant which included taking on many responsibilities in the Introductory Chemistry Laboratory. She was also awarded the Tishler Teaching Award in 2018. This fall, Andrea will be starting as an Assistant Teaching Professor at Drew University where she will be teaching Analytical Chemistry.

Dr. Andrea Lee


Tom Lee


Dr. David Westmoreland


From left to right: Kimberly Lee, Terrie Tin, and Samantha Lee


Dr. Andrea Lee and Dr. David Westmoreland


A captive audience


From top to bottom, left to right: Eric Zanderigo, Kaylah Medvec, Annika Velez, Dr. David Westmoreland,
Dr. Andrea Lee, Jozafina Milicaj, Angelika Rafalowski, Dr. Alison O’Neil, Dr. Colin Smith
Sean McDarby, Mohammed Ullah, Oliver Cho, Kat Blejec


Celebratory cake

From left to right: Tom Lee, Kimberly Lee, Dr. Andrea Lee, Terrie Tin, and Samantha Lee

 

Fire & Ice Event 2021

On May 4th, the Chemistry Majors’ group, the Free Radicals, held the annual Fire and Ice Event on the patio of the Exley Science Center. Students performed a number of chemical demonstrations and entertained fellow students, faculty, and staff with lighthearted one-liners.  Among the experiments performed, students blew up several balloons with various gas concentrations, created a flaming tornado inside two shields, burned a quantity of magnesium inside a solid block of dry ice, ignited thermite within a clay pot, and blew up guncotton (nitrocellulose).

Student demonstrations were performed by: Emily Aoki, Gianna Argento, California Clark, Oliver Cho, Bryan Guarin, Sterre Hesseling, Dylan Judd, and Kyle Sylvester.

Click here for a short video from the event.

 

Vasileios Drogkaris Receives PhD


Dr. Vasileios Drogkaris

Dr. Vasileios Drogkaris successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis titled “Exploring the self-assembly of conjugated materials and the utility of the thiol-Michael reaction in macromolecular synthesis” on March 2nd, 2021. Vasili came to Wesleyan in 2014 after receiving his B.S. in chemistry from the University of Athens, Greece. While an undergraduate Vasili carried out research investigating ring-opening metathesis polymerization techniques using novel tungsten catalysts. At Wesleyan, Vasili joined the lab of Prof. Northrop and embarked on several research projects exploring the dynamic covalent self-assembly of boronic acids as well as the use of thiol-Michael reactions in macromolecular synthesis. Most prominently, Vasili developed the dynamic self-assembly of a series of boronate ester-bridged oligo(phenylene ethynylene) ladder compounds that have laid the groundwork for increasing our understanding of π-conjugation in one-dimensional versus two-dimensional materials. Vasili has recently accepted a position at Spartech, a leader in specialty plastics and packaging.

 

Dr. Michelle Personick Conferred Tenure

It is with great pleasure that the Chemistry Department announces the promotion of Dr. Michelle Personick, who was conferred tenure by the Board of Trustees at its most recent meeting. In the summer of 2015, Michelle joined the faculty at Wesleyan University as an assistant professor of chemistry, where her independent research program continues to include an assortment of colorful noble metals. Dr. Personick’s research in inorganic chemistry is focused on developing tailored metal nanoparticles that function as improved catalysts for energy- and resource-efficient chemical synthesis and the clean production of energy. Her goal is to transform the overall energy landscape and offset the driving forces of climate change. She has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and one book chapter, and her work has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, Army Research Office, and American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund. Professor Personick offers courses on Principles of Chemistry II, Advanced Inorganic Chemistry, Chemistry of Materials and Nanomaterials, and Nanomaterials Laboratory. Join us in celebrating this momentous achievement!

 

Michelle Personick, Associate Professor of Chemistry

 

Yoana Throssell Receives PhD

Dr. Yoana Throssell successfully defended her PhD thesis, “Asymmetric IFB-Like Reactions of 1,2,3-Triones and Electron-Rich Phenols for the Synthesis of a Tetracyclic Antiviral’ on May 7, 2020. Yoana came to Wesleyan in 2013 after receiving her B.A. in chemistry magna cum laude from Mount Holyoke College and her M.A. in chemistry from Brown University. Yoana worked on the design and development of pharmaceutical formulations at Integral Biosystems, before coming to Wesleyan. Yoana joined Prof. Calter’s lab in 2014 and worked on a number of projects before settling on the development of a novel set of asymmetric carbon-carbon bond forming reactions. She prepared a number of analogs of a novel antiviral compound, effective against picornaviruses. Yoana has moved to Boston to work in the pharmaceutical industry and is planning a trip to Europe to visit family and friends.


Dr. Throssell delivering her Open Defense over Zoom to faculty, friends, and loved ones.

Dr. Throssell’s Open Defense:”Asymmetric IFB-Like Reactions of 1,2,3-Triones and Meta-Substituted Phenols for the Synthesis of a Tetracyclic Antiviral”


Dr. Throssell surrounded by loved ones

 

Conclusions and Future Directions of Research


Dr. Throssell’s Congratulatory Cake

 

 

 

Virtual Commencement 2020

thumbnail image

Wesleyan’s 188th Commencement Ceremony, honoring the graduating Class of 2020, was held through a virtual setting on May 24th.

Ph.D.

Melissa Elizabeth King

Yoana Throssell

 

B.A.

Anik Macy Bernstein

Yin-Tung Grace Chen (with Honors)

Daniel JongHwa Chung (with Honors)

Calvin Robert Coffey

Joshua Pohn Crane

May Do

Alexandra Nicole Goss

Liam Nathan Isaacs

Alexander James Kapphahn

Miranda Lillie Nestor

Dillon James Noone

Josephine Margaret Russ

Anastasia C. Saar (with Honors)

Iman Iqbal Sigman

Rochelle Barrie Spencer

Katherine Hanson Sundberg (with Honors)

Sydney Maya Taylor-Klaus

Aryan K. Vavila

Claire Jing Jing Wang (with Honors)

Sonja Maria Welch

Jaina Wollowitz (with High Honors)

 

Chemistry Majors Perform Virtual Demonstrations for WesFest 2020

The annual WesFest chemistry demonstrations show, (Barely) Controlled Substances, went virtual this year along with the rest of WesFest.  The Science and Art of Chemical Demonstrations student forum, led by Kate Sundberg (’20), and Abrar Habib (’21), made a video version, incorporating footage of classic demonstrations from previous years as well as new ones from students’ kitchens and front porches.  In addition to the leaders, the video features the quarantined, but highly adaptable Aaron Arkin (’21), Joshua Crane (’20), Sophia Marra (’21), Emma Shapiro (’21), Sydney Taylor-Klaus (’20), and Sonja Welch (’20), with a cameo appearance by their faculty sponsor, Prof. Westmoreland.

 

A link to the virtual WesFest Chemistry demonstrations may be found here:

http://videos.wesleyan.edu/futurecardinal/detail/videos/archived-events/video/6149638843001/barely-controlled-substances?autoStart=true

 

 

2020 Annual Chemistry Department Awards

Awards – ACS Younger Chemists Committee

The Chemistry Department is proud to announce the recipients of the 2020 Annual Chemistry Department Awards:

ACS Analytical Award: Rochelle Spencer
Awarded for excellence in analytical chemistry
ACS Award in Inorganic Chemistry: Jing Jing Wang 
To recognize achievement in inorganic chemistry and to encourage further study in the field
ACS Award in Organic Chemistry: Jaina Wollowtiz
To a student who has displayed a significant aptitude for organic chemistry
ACS Award in Physical Chemistry: Iman Sigman 
To recognize achievement in physical chemistry and to encourage further study in the field
ACS Connecticut Valley Section Award: Sydney Taylor-Klaus
For outstanding achievement by a graduating chemistry major
American Institute for Chemists Award: Anastasia Saar
For outstanding achievement by a graduating chemistry major
Bradley Prize: Grace Chen 
To the senior or junior who excels in chemistry and particularly in special original work
Silverman Prize: Allie Goss
Awarded to a member of the junior or senior class for excellence in chemistry
CRC Award (General Chemistry): Edrea Jiang 
For the outstanding first-year student in Principles of Chemistry
CRC Award (Organic Chemistry): Michael O’Sullivan 
For the outstanding first-year student in Organic Chemistry
Hawk Prize: Kate Sundberg
To the students who have done the most effective work in biochemistry
Martius Yellow Award: Sophia Marra
Awarded for excellence in Integrated Chemistry Laboratory
The Wallace C. Pringle Prize for Research in Chemistry: Jaina Wollowitz 
Awarded to a student for excellence in research.
Peterson Fellowship: Angelika Rafalowski 
For graduate study in biochemistry
Tishler Prize: Bakar Hassan 
Awarded to the best graduate teaching assistant in chemistry

Chemistry Department Holiday Party 2019

At the culmination of each Fall semester, the Chemistry Department hosts an annual Holiday Party to commemorate the hard work of students, faculty, and staff.  It is always a highlight of the Holiday Season and a welcomed respite from the stress of exams and papers. Largely organized by graduate students within the Chemistry Department, the Holiday Party featured a wide array of pot-luck food items, as well as departmental trivia. A special thanks goes out to Andrea Lee who directed the flawless execution of the event.

Chemistry Department Holiday Beaker Tree and Menorah

Pictured left to right: Jaina Wollowitz, Kate Sundberg, Sonja Welch, Bobby Bourque, Alyssa Cortes, Lucas Mani, Iman Sigman, Daniela Estrada, Cali Clark, and Sydney Taylor-Klauss

Pictured left to right: Angelika Rafalowski, Jozafina Milicaj, Sue Stevens, and Sean McDarby


Andrea Lee

 

Pictured left to right: Dr. Anthony Davis, Joshua Dudley, and Camille Keeler

Pictured left to right:  Bakar Hassan, Dr. Melissa King, Dr. Anthony Davis, and Joshua Dudley

Pictured left to right: Bobby Bourque, Alyssa Cortes, and Lucas Mani


Pictured left to right: Cali Clark, Sydney Taylor-Klauss, and Hannah Xu


Dr. Michael Calter

Pictured left to right: Joshua Dudley and Camille Keeler

Pictured left to right: William Selleck and Jessica Cuneo

Pictured left to right: Kat Blejec and Mikayla McLaughlin

Chemistry Mug – Trivia Prize

Pictured left to right: Tenzin Ngodup, Jing Jing Wang, and Grace Chen

Pictured left to right: Terry Emmons, Aracely Suto, and William Selleck