Class of 2020 In-Person Commencement

Graduates from the Class of 2020 finally convened for an in-person commencement celebration on Sunday, June 5th. These alumni reunited after being separated at the end of their Wesleyan careers due to the global pandemic. Join us in celebrating the Class of 2020!

Graduates toss their caps into the air at the 188th Commencement

Ph.D.
Melissa Elizabeth King
Yoana Throssell

B.A.

Anik Macy Bernstein
Yin-Tung Chen
Daniel JongHwa Chung
Calvin Robert Coffey
Joshua Crane
May Do
Alexandra Nicole Goss
Liam Nathan Isaacs
Alexander James Kapphahn
Miranda Lillie Nestor
Dillon James Noone
Josephine Margaret Russ
Anastasia C. Saar
Iman Iqbal Sigman
Rochelle Barrie Spencer
Katherine Hanson Sundberg
Sydney Maya Taylor-Klaus
Aryan K. Vavila
Claire Jing Jing Wang
Sonja Maria Welch
Jaina Sarris Wollowitz

Rewatch the 2020 Commencement

 

Chemistry Majors Elected to Phi Beta Kappa

Spring 2022 elections to Wesleyan’s Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa have been announced, and it is with great pleasure that we recognize

Dylan Robert Judd and Mia Sunae Kim.

To be elected, a student must first have been nominated by the department of their major. The student also must have demonstrated curricular breadth by having met the General Education Expectations and must have achieved a GPA of 93 or above.

The emblem contains the three Greek letters “Phi,” “Beta,” and “Kappa,” which are the initials of the Greek motto, Philosophia Biou Kybernetes, or “the love of wisdom is the guide of life.”


Dylan Robert Judd, 2022
Chemistry, Environmental Sciences


Mia Sunae Kim, 2022
Chemistry

Induction will take place on May 21, 2022 at 4:00 p.m. in the Memorial Chapel.

PhD Celebration – Dr. Sean McDarby & Dr. Jozafina Milicaj

The Chemistry Department gathered at the beginning of the month to celebrate two of our graduate students who completed their PhD defenses this semester – Dr. Sean McDarby and Dr. Jozafina Milicaj.


Boston Cream Cake for Sean McDarby


Dr. Michelle Personick delivers a few remarks


Dr. Jozafina Milicaj pops a bottle of champagne 


Dr. Jozafina Milicaj & Dr. Sean McDarby


Dr. Erika Taylor & Dr. Jozafina Milicaj 


Tiramisu Cake for Jozafina Milicaj


Dr. Erika Taylor & Dr. Jozafina Milicaj 

Sean McDarby Receives PhD


Dr. Sean McDarby

Dr. Sean McDarby recently defended his Ph.D and thesis entitled, “Synthesis and Measurement of Noble Metal Nanoparticles with Well Defined Shapes by Electrochemical and Electroless Approaches.” Sean started at Wesleyan University in 2015 after completing his BS in Chemistry at Southern Connecticut State University where he conducted research under Dr. Gerald Lesley. His undergraduate research focused on the synthesis of novel MOF precursors involving the manipulation of air-free inorganic pathways. Upon starting at Wesleyan University, Sean joined the research lab of Dr. Michelle Personick and began a project to develop a new method to electrochemically synthesize shaped noble metal nanoparticles. The project was quickly successful, and the method was transitioned into a cyclical tool to create shaped nanoparticles by collecting electrochemical data about any particle growth reaction and translate that to either an electrochemical or colloidal approach. Further work involved the creation of novel shaped nanoparticles, mostly with palladium in both systems. Having completed his degree at Wesleyan, Sean will be starting his career as a federal contractor for Universities Space Research Association at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio where he is joining the Microgravity Sciences division and is focusing on the production and applications of boron nitride for space and aeronautics.

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