2022 Annual Chemistry Department Awards

The Chemistry Department is proud to announce the recipients of the 2022 Annual Chemistry Department Awards:

ACS Undergraduate Award in Analytical Chemistry: Sally Tepper
Awarded for excellence in analytical chemistry
ACS Undergraduate Award in Inorganic Chemistry: Anna Friedman
To recognize achievement in inorganic chemistry and to encourage further study in the field
ACS Undergraduate Award in Organic Chemistry: Annika Velez
To a student who has displayed a significant aptitude for organic chemistry
ACS Undergraduate Award in Physical Chemistry: Alex Seys
To recognize achievement in physical chemistry and to encourage further study in the field
ACS Connecticut Valley Section Award: Sophie Wazlowski
For outstanding achievement by a graduating chemistry major
American Institute for Chemists Award: Mohammed Ullah
For outstanding achievement by a graduating chemistry major
Bradley Prize: Dylan Judd & Annika Velez
To the senior or junior who excels in chemistry and particularly in special original work
Silverman Prize: Corin Grady
Awarded to a member of the junior or senior class for excellence in chemistry
Peirce Prize: Caroline Pitton
Awarded for excellence in biology
CRC Award (General Chemistry): Othmane El Houssi

For the outstanding first-year student in Principles of Chemistry
CRC Award (Organic Chemistry): Katherine Fhu
For the outstanding first-year student in Organic Chemistry
Hawk Prize: Nadiya Jaunbocus & Mia Kim
To the students who have done the most effective work in biochemistry
Martius Yellow Award: Emmet Sherman & Nabiha Syed
Awarded for excellence in Integrated Chemistry Laboratory
The Wallace C. Pringle Prize for Research in Chemistry: Sterre Hesseling
Awarded to a student for excellence in research
Peterson Fellowship: Bakar Hassan & Jozafina Milicaj
For graduate study in biochemistry
Tishler Prize: Josh Dudley
Awarded to the best graduate teaching assistant in chemistry

Commencement 2022


Graduates toss their caps into the air at the 190th Commencement

Twenty four degrees in Chemistry were awarded on May 22nd at the 190th Commencement. Join us in congratulating our new alumni!

Ph.D.
Andrea Gar Ting Lee
Sean Patrick McDarby
Jozafina Milicaj

M.A.
Giana Marie Argento
Akossiwa Brynn Assignon
Lucan Dresden Mani

B.A.
Colleen Michelle Carrigan
Oliver Cho
Anissa Tamilla Findley
Anna Pienza Friedman
Corin Louise Grady
Caitlin Eileen Grant
Mitchell Reuben Green
Sterre Nadine Hesseling
Nadiya Jaunbocus
Dylan Robert Judd
Mia Sunae Kim
Julia Lynnn Slamin Lanfear
Nabiha Syed
Dylan Robert Sylvester
Sally Landon Mossman Tepper
Mohammed Arfat Ullah
Annika Bo Velez
Sophie May Wazlowski

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

 

Dr. Michelle Personick Receives NSF Grant

“Electrochemistry as a Design Tool for Colloidal Syntheses of Polyhedral Metal Nanoparticles”

The funded work will use real-time electrochemical measurements to probe the growth of noble metal nanoparticles and to provide enhanced chemical understanding of how to predictively and controllably produce metal nanoparticles with well-defined shapes. The ability to tune the function of noble metal nanoparticles by tailoring not only their composition but also their shape makes them especially promising for applications in catalysis, particularly for improving the sustainable usage of energy resources and enabling the generation of sustainable fuels. However, the chemical environment under which these materials are made is complex and involves multiple competing parameters. As a result, it can be challenging to understand precisely how these materials form and, consequently, how to design methods for producing the new materials required for various applications. Electrochemistry provides a powerful means by which to address this challenge, and involves the measurement of current and voltage to understand chemical reactions, as well as the application of a current or voltage to drive chemical processes. An electrochemical approach that integrates both of these methods will be used to gain understanding of the chemical reactions involved in metal nanoparticle growth while they are happening and with a level of detail and insight that is not possible using existing methods. This research will establish core chemical principles to inform the deliberate, predictive design of new metal nanomaterials to meet the increasingly complex needs of emerging applications. Graduate, undergraduate, and high school students who are involved in this research will be prepared for future careers at the interface of chemistry, materials science, and chemical engineering. The project will also contribute to enhancing participation in science and research by developing publicly available resources to increase the accessibility of undergraduate science for students who are the first in their family to pursue this course of study.

Dr. Colin Smith Receives Rosetta Commons Grant

“Protein Structure Refinement with Ensemble-Based Scoring of Experimental Restraints”

Experimental data has been critical for protein structure determination with the Rosetta biomolecular modeling software. However, a key limitation in the way Rosetta handles that data is that a single structure must satisfy all data simultaneously. This in stark contrast to the physical reality that experimental data is derived from an ensemble of different protein conformations. The single structure approximation can therefore introduce artifacts and inaccuracies in the resulting protein structure models. The proposed work will develop computer code in Rosetta that enables scoring and optimization of multiple conformations simultaneously with experimental restraints or other score terms that are based on the entire ensemble and not a single structure alone.

We expect this will enable Rosetta to extract dynamics information from experimental data sources that explicitly capture structural heterogeneity. Such techniques include nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR), X-ray crystallography, electron microscopy (EM), X-ray scattering (SAXS), cross-linking mass spectroscopy (XLMS), etc. The accuracy of several of those techniques is limited by the lack of explicit atomic modeling of the ensemble of states the chemical labels or cross linkers can take, which could also be addressed with the proposed ensemble scoring methodology.

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.

Dr. Colin Smith Receives CAREER Grant from National Science Foundation (NSF)


Colin Smith, Professor of Chemistry

“Dynamics of Computationally Designed Fluorescent Proteins”

The goal of the research is to study and optimize the movement of microscopic, computationally designed proteins that use light to track the locations of biological molecules and reveal how living organisms work. While the structure of a protein is almost always necessary for function, it is often not sufficient. This project focuses on the critical but often neglected role of protein motion in enabling absorbance and reemission of light, a process known as fluorescence. We will first determine which protein shapes either enhance or inhibit fluorescence through detailed analysis of computer simulations and extensive experimental structural characterization. Second, we will test our models through redesign and experimental examination of brighter fluorescent protein variants. As part of these efforts, we will develop a general-purpose computer algorithm that enables rapid evaluation of how thousands of potential mutations affect the shape of the protein. Third, we will investigate the structural determinants of other important properties like the ability of the protein to prevent or facilitate switching fluorescence on and off. The ultimate aim of this project is to develop a detailed understanding of how these fluorescent proteins can be redesigned to make them truly useful tools for biological research. This will enable the creation of even more advanced versions of these and other protein machines (like enzymes) that can also help in the manufacture and recycling of materials at the chemical level.