Chemistry Majors Blow Things Up for WesFest

The annual WesFest chemistry demonstrations show, (Barely) Controlled Substances, was held on Apr 12 for a large and appreciative crowd of visitors and Chemistry Department hangers-on. The demonstrations included the classics gun cotton and thermite, as well as exploding hydrogen/oxygen bubbles, elephant toothpaste, a chemical oscillator, and others. The Chemical Demos Student Forum (Shelly Duong and Victoria Yu as student leaders plus David Cabanero, Leticia Costa, Jessica Garcia, Allie Goss, Sojeong Park, and Kate Sundberg) treated the survivors to liquid nitrogen ice cream afterwards. Pictures and a link to a video (compiled by Shelly Duong and Chloe Qiu) are below.

Kate Sundberg ignites an inordinate amount of gun cotton, which is always a crowd pleaser.

Leticia Costa demonstrates the catalyzed decomposition of hydrogen peroxide to give “toothpaste”.

The Chemical Demonstrations student forum members; bottom row left to right: Sojeong Park (BA ’18, MA ’19), Kate Sundberg (’20), Allie Goss (’20), David Cabanero (’19); top row: Victoria Yu (’19), Jessica Garcia (’19), Leticia Costa (’19), Shelly Duong (’19).

VIDEO from the presentation (courtesy of Shelly Duong and Chloe Qiu):
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xg-snqCRKlVu6vEmsbJil2NmIZ61-XTM/view

BA/MA Completion Celebration: Zachary Hillman, Giselle Reyes

Giselle Reyes and Zachary Hillman during their celebration.

Giselle Reyes:

Giselle graduated in December 2017, having completed the graduation requirements in seven semesters. At that point she had already applied and been admitted to the B.A./M.A. program and had been working in my laboratory for two years, including two summers. Giselle’s research was a study of the electrochemical cleavage in acetonitrile of benzylic carbon-oxygen bonds, primarily those of benzhydrol and substituted benzhydrols but also simpler benzyl alcohols, taking advantage of the very negative potentials attainable in platinum cathodes in aprotic solvents. The reductions of benzhydrols were found to afford diphenylmethanes in high yield under these conditions. She then turned her attention to the same reductions carried out in perdeuterio acetonitrile (CD3CN). It was anticipated that reduction of the benzhydryl C-OH bond would produce benzhydryl carbanion, which would then abstract a deuteron from the solvent to afford the monodeuterio product (C6H5)2CHD. Surprisingly, the reactions were found by carbon and proton NMR spectroscopy to afford not only the expected monodeuterio product (C6H5)2CHD) but also substantial amounts of the dideuterio and diprotio isotopomers C6H5)2CD2 and (C6H5)2CH2, demonstrating the reversibility of proton transfer from acetonitrile to benzhydryl carbanion. Giselle successfully defended her thesis on December 19, 2018.

Zackary Hillman:

In Spring 2017, Zach received Honors for his senior thesis describing his research in my laboratory. He then applied and was admitted to the BA/MA program to continue his research on the reductive dimerization (Zn/AlCl3) of alkyl aryl ketones (C6H5COR) to 1,2-dialkyl-1-alkanones (C6H5)2CHRCOR) and reaction of the latter with superoxide ion, a reaction previously studied by Elaine Tsui of my group (now a graduate student at Princeton University). Our original work on this reaction had been limited to dimeric ketones in which both alkyl groups are the same. However, Zach showed that mixed dimers can be synthesized by using mixtures of two different ketones in the reductive dimerization step. An exciting development in the course of this work was his discovery that the reductive dimerization of cyclohexyl phenyl ketone affords a dicyclohexyl ketone in which ring inversion of one of the cyclohexyl groups is highly sterically constrained, i.e., that the ring is conformationally rigid, as confirmed by x-ray crystallography, variable temperature NMR spectroscopy, and quantum chemical computations. His thesis was defended successfully on December 21, 2018.

Summaries written by Professor Albert Fry

Chemistry Holiday Party 2018

Once again, the Chemistry Department’s holiday party, organized largely by the graduate students, was held on campus at the Daniel Family Commons at the end of last semester.  It is always a highlight of the year and nearly everyone attended. The addition of Wesleyan Chemistry Department Trivia was a huge success (except for the time one answer sheet was incorrectly scored. Never fear, Professor Westmoreland demanded to get his points back!!) And a big thank you goes out to Andrea Lee who organized it for us. Photos from the event are below.

Alex Humble, Angelika Rafalowski, Sean McDarby, Joshua Sigmore, Zain Khanna, Eija Kent
May Do, Tenzin Ngodup, Abrar Habib, Dan Chung
Anthony Davis, Alison O’Neil, Dan Dauchy, Melissa King, Tore King
Fiona Grishaw-Jones, Daniela Moreira, David Cabanero, Yoana Throssell, Andrea Lee
Jessica Garcia, Jozafina Milicaj, Jaina Wollowitz, Alexa Strauss, Jana O’Donnell, Melissa King
Colin Smith, Melisa Moreno Garcia, Carlos Jimenez-Hoyos
John Shaw, Andrea Roberts
Aracely Suto, Rob Suto
Examples of questions asked in trivia:   Question 1: In what year did Dr. Novick appear in a documentary about extraterrestrial life? Answer: 1997   Question 2: In 1996, Dr. Fry was the faculty advisor for the undergraduate tutorial Chem 412 which was run by senior Chris Asher out of his apartment in Middletown. What was the main topic of this tutorial? Answer: Home Brewing

Free Radicals Fall Day at Lyman Orchards

On a recent Saturday, the Free Radicals and chemistry graduate students traveled to Lyman Orchards for an afternoon of apple picking–a first-time adventure for several of the students. After filling their stomachs and bags with apples, Professor Andrea Roberts and the students had a tasty lunch and shopped for delicious cider, cider donuts, and Lyman cheese spread.

According to former Free Radicals officer and MA candidate Giselle Reyes ‘19, “It was nice to be able to spend some time with my fellow radicals outside of Hall-Atwater and fill my belly with tasty apples, donuts, and cider from Lyman Orchards. I discovered my new favorite apple (The Jonamac!) and strengthened friendships along the way.” Truly an unforgettable day for the chemistry majors, students de-stressed and bonded, simply enjoying each other’s company and the beautiful autumn scenery.

-submitted by Theo Prachyathipsakul

(From left to right, top to bottom): Dr. Susanna Stephens (Postdoctoral Research Associate in Novick lab), Yoana Throssell (Graduate Student in Calter Lab), David Cabanero ‘19, Giselle Reyes BA/MA in Fry Lab ’19, May Do ‘20, Tenzin Ngodup ‘20, Shelly Duong ‘19, Chien Ho ‘19, Alison Biester ‘19, Andrea Lee (Graduate Student in Westmoreland Lab), Professor Andrea Roberts, Sojeong Park BA/MA in Smith Lab ’19, Jing Jing Wang ‘20, and Theo Prachyathipsakul ‘19.

Graduate students Andrea Lee (TDW lab) and Yoana Throssell (MAC lab) with Dr. Su Stephens enjoying the sun on this chilly day.

Shelly Duong ‘19 and Alison Biester ‘19 covalently bonding.

A certain study group usually found lurking the depths of Hall-Atwater finally seeing sunlight.

One of the special aspects of being a chemistry major is the friendships formed between graduate students and undergraduates during their time at Wesleyan.

Some of the Free Radicals with Professor Roberts in front of the Apple Barrel.

(From left to right, top to bottom): Tenzin Ngodup ‘20, May Do ‘20, Vanessa Ramirez ‘19, Hayley Lipson ‘20, Jaquelin Aroujo ‘19, Liam Isaacs ‘20, and Jana O’Donnell ‘19.

(From left to right): Jana O’Donnell ‘19, Liam Isaacs ‘20, Hayley Lipson ‘20, Jaquelin Aroujo ‘19, and Chloe Qiu ‘19 posing in front of some apple trees.

Free Radicals Proselytize for the Chem Major

The Free Rads hosted a Chemistry Major Interest Lunch on October 12 where they mingled with prospective majors. A representative member from each research lab gave a short presentation about their work. The majors were also able to share their advice on navigating the major while juggling other majors, interests, extracurricular activities, and study abroad. Nearly thirty prospective students participated while enjoying Italian food and informal conversation. Lunch was follwed by lab tours and students were able to peer inside the inner workings of several research labs to see what opportunities await them.
(submitted by Jing Jing Wang)

Nearly thirty students arrived to this event to learn about the major or impart advice on the major.

Free Radicals Officer, Theo Prachyathipsakul ‘19, explaining the requirements for the major and the differences between the A track and the B track.

Alexa Strauss ‘19, a Chemistry and MB&B double major.

The Tie-Dye Tradition Continues

And the Free Radicals live on! The Free Radicals held their first major event on October 6, the annual Tie-Dye Lab Coat event, where the chemistry majors gathered outside of Hall-Atwater on a beautiful Saturday afternoon to dye their own lab coats. The day was organized by the Free Radical officers, Theo Prachyathipsakul, David Cabanero, and Jing Jing Wang with assistance from Professor Andrea Roberts. Around twenty Free Rads enjoyed Thai food and decorated their glamorous new lab coats, courtesy of the Chemistry department. Seniors who already had a lab coat from last year tie-dyed shirts. The group also colorized scarves for Professor Roberts and our administrative staff members, Terry Emmons and Aracely Suto. Check out the pictures from this event below! (submitted by David Cabanero)

Dan Chung ’20 drips emerald dye onto his lab coat with flourish.

(From left to right): Chien Ho ’19, Alison Biester ’19, Giselle Reyes ’18, (MA ’19), David Cabanero ’19, and Sojeong Park ’18 (MA ’19)

(From left to right)” May Do ’20, Sydney Taylor-Klaus ’20, Jana O’Donnell ’19, and Dan Chung ’20

Jaina Wollowitz ’20, and Jessica Garcia ’19

Some chemistry majors and their masterpieces

Tsagana Ednyasheva receives PhD

Dr. Tsagana Ednyasheva

Dr. Tsagan (Tsagana) Ednyasheva successfully defended her PhD thesis, “Novel Asymmetric Syntheses of Rocaglates and Their Analogs through a Cinchona Alkaloid-Catalyzed Interrupted Feist-Bénary-Like Reaction”, on June 20, 2018. Tsagana came to Wesleyan in 2012 after receiving her combined Master’s/Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Moscow State University. She had also spent the summer of 2010 working in the Pratt lab, along with her cousin Liudmila (Liuda) Dzhekieva. Tsagana joined Prof. Calter’s lab in the fall of 2012 and worked on a number of projects before settling on a synthesis of the potent anticancer compound, rocaglamide. She developed a rapid synthesis of a new set of analogs of the rocaglamides, taking the Calter group further into medicinal chemistry than it had ever gone. After a long overdue trip to Russia to visit family and friends, Tsagana started her first PhD level job at Exemplify BioPharma, where she joins fellow Calter group alumnus Alexander (Sasha) Korotkov.

26 Chemistry Students Present at the Research and Science Poster Session

The undergraduate summer research fellows presented posters on their accomplishments on July 26. Twenty-six of the presentations were on work done in the Chemistry Department, representing nine different research groups.  For more on the event, visit News @ Wesleyan.  A list of the chemistry presenters is below the photographs.

 

Eija Kent '19, Tenzin Ngodup '20, and Sonja Welch '20 stand in front of their posters
Eija Kent ’19, Tenzin Ngodup ’20, and Sonja Welch ’20

 

Image of Professor Carlos Jimenez-Hoyos and David Cabanero '19 standing in front of a poster discussing the project
Professor Carlos Jimenez-Hoyos and David Cabanero ’19

 

Image of Professor Michelle Personick and Frank Tucci '19 pointing out information on a poster to Professor Michelle Personick
Professor Michelle Personick and Frank Tucci ’19

 

Image of Rochelle Spencer '20 discussing her poster with Giselle Reyes (Grad)
Rochelle Spencer ’20 and Giselle Reyes ’18, MA ’19

 

Brynn Assignon “Expressing and Characterizing Heptosyltransferase Enzymes”
Alison Biester “Selectivity and Byproduct Formation in Thiol-Michael Reactions”
David Cabanero “Computational Studies on the Catalytic, Asymmetric ‘Interrupted’ Feist-Benary Reaction”
Grace Chen “Characterization of the solution speciation of vanadyl complexes through longitudinal and transverse relaxation times”
Dan Chung “Mapping the Allosteric Network of Glutathione Peroxidase-4 (GPX4)”
Mary Do “Synthesizing Analogs of Anti-Cancer Molecule, Rocaglamide”
Emanual Fetene “Expression and Purification of Computationally Designed Mini-Proteins”
Jessica Garcia “Synthesis of 6-(aminomethyl) picolinate”
Allie Goss “Synthesis of Nigrospine”
Abrar Habib “Synthesis of Bimetallic Palladium-Copper (Pd-Cu) & Silver-Platinum (Ag-Pt) Nanoparticles”
Chien Ho “Non-Linear Dependence of 1H Relaxation Rates on the Concentration of Copper Hexaaqua Ion”
Eija Kent “Investigation of Seed-Mediated Synthesis of Gold Containing Nanoparticles”
Amy Liu “Subcloning LpxE from pET-15b to pNGFP-BC”
Lucas Mani “Modification of Pyridine Donating Groups in TPADA and TPAMA to Optimize Stability and Relaxivity”
Tenzin Ngodup “Fingerprinting Biomolecules and the Detection of Disease Markers Through the Use of Rhodium Nanocubes For Surface Enhanced Resonance Raman Spectroscopy”
Theo Prachyathipsakul “Synthesis and Study of a Water-soluble Macrocycle”
Kristen Scopino “Molecular Dynamics of the 530 Loop of the Ribosome”
Kendar Serindag “Computational Design of DNA Scaffold for Optimization of CryoEM”
Joshua Signore “Conformational Isomerism of 1-Iodopentane and 1-Iodohexane”
Rochelle Spencer “Dendrimer Synthesis via Highly Efficient Thiol-Michael Reactions”
Kate Sundberg “The Synthesis of a Probe for Lignin Depolymerization Detection”
Grant Tillinghast “Kinetic Ensemble Refinement Improves Protein NMR Structures”
Frank Tucci “Mutagenesis of E. coli Heptosyltransferase I to Disrupt Enzyme Dynamics and Chemistry”
Aryan Vavila “Ab Initio Investigation of Radical Organic Compounds”
Sonja Welch “Electrochemical Synthesis of Gold Concave Nanocubes”
Jaina Wollowitz “A Computational, Energetic Analysis of the Roles of Initiators in Thiol-Vinylsulfone Reactions”

 

Summer Picnic!

The Annual Chemistry Department Summer Picnic was held on June 27.  In addition to being a nice break from the usual routine, the annual picnic serves as an effective way of zeroing out the department’s discretionary budget before the end on the fiscal year.  Students, staff, and faculty enjoyed the traditional grilled treats.  Fireworks (commercial and legal, of course) were a highlight.

 

39 Chemistry degrees awarded at 2018 Commencement

Graduates toss their caps into the air at the 186th Commencement

A total of thirty-nine degrees in Chemistry were awarded on May 27 at the 186th Commencement.  The department proudly congratulates all its new alumni/alumnae.

Ph.D. recipients:
Joy Cote
Stephen Frayne
Kyle Throssell

M.A. recipients:
Paul Brauchle
Yoon Jeong Choi
Haeyoon Jung
Corey Phillips
Robie Ryan

B.A. recipients:
Abby Cahn-Gambino
Angela Chung
Ethan Chupp
Shemaiah Clarke
Maya Craffey
Luke Davoren
Matthew DiGiovanni
Max Distler
Shione Donahue
Adi Gandhi
Trevon Gordon
Cody Hecht
Levi Huang
Emily Kessler
Nahian Khan
Joanna Korpanty (with High Honors)
Marjorie Kozloff
Christine Little
Maya Marshall
Ryan McMahon
Carlo Medina
Ji Yoon Park
Sojeong Park
Ivy Poon
Giselle Reyes
Daniel Robertson (with High Honors)
David Solti (with Honors)
Aaron Stone (with Honors)
Jeanette Thornton (with High Honors)
Ann-Dorie Webley (with Honors)
John Xu