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

Brian Northrop Receives Binswanger Teaching Prize

Associate Professor of Chemistry Brian H. Northrop has been named a recipient of the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching. The prize is awarded by the Wesleyan University Alumni Association to recognize excellence in teaching, as exemplified by commitment to the classroom and student accomplishment, intellectual demands placed on students, lucidity, and passion. In the past few years Prof. Northrop has taught courses in first-year general chemistry, sophomore organic chemistry, nanomaterials, and physical organic chemistry. He is the sixth member of the department to receive the prize (with Michael Calter, Andrea Roberts, Irina Russu, Erika Taylor, and T. David Westmoreland).
The Prize will be presented at Commencement on May 26.

Dr. Alison O’Neil Joins The Chemistry Department

The Chemistry Department is delighted to welcome Dr. Alison O’Neil as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and an affiliated member of the Neuroscience and Behavior Program. As the first neurochemist in the department, Prof. O’Neil adds a new strongly interdisciplinary dimension to research and teaching in Chemistry. Her recently renovated lab, in the space formerly occupied by Rex Pratt, will be using motor neurons derived from adult stem cells to study the protein aggregation that occurs in ALS and related diseases. This semester she is teaching new course, CHEM 323, Biochemistry of Neurodegenerative Disease.

Prof. O’Neil received her B.S. while doing proteomics research with Prof. Anna Tan-Wilson at Binghamton University. She then went on to join the Research and Development Team at LigoCyte Pharmaceuticals (now Takeda Vaccine) working on a vaccine for Norovirus. She then joined the Chemistry and Biochemistry department at Montana State University and earned her PhD under Prof. Trevor Douglas. Prof. O’Neil’s private sector and graduate work was based on designing materials based on viral capsid assemblies. For her post-doctoral studies, she worked on modeling and understanding neurodegenerative diseases using human stem cells at Harvard University. While at Harvard, Prof. O’Neil authored collaborative work with Google, Vertex, and Biogen Idec.

Prof. O’Neil’s interdisciplinary research will combine her biochemistry and stem cell training to investigate the role of protein aggregates in the progress of neurodegeneration. The Chemistry Department is very pleased to have her join us.

Erika Taylor to Receive Binswanger Prize for Teaching

Prof. Erika A. Taylor

 

Associate Professor of Chemistry Erika Taylor has been named a recipient of the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching.  The prize is awarded by the Wesleyan University Alumni Association to recognize excellence in teaching, as exemplified by commitment to the classroom and student accomplishment, intellectual demands placed on students, lucidity, and passion.  In the past few years Prof. Taylor has taught courses in sophomore organic chemistry, biochemistry, medicinal chemistry, and environmental chemistry.  She joins four other members of the department who have previously received the prize (Michael Calter, Andrea Roberts, Irina Russu, and T. David Westmoreland).

The Prize will be formally presented at Commencement on May 27.

Read more on the Wesleyan Connection.

Personick group presentations at ACS meeting

Members of the Personick research group (left to right: David Solti ’18, Melissa King (grad), Prof. Personick, and Danny Robertson ’18) attended the American Chemical Society Spring National Meeting in New Orleans, LA from March 18-22, 2018. Danny gave a talk on Sunday on “(Ag)Au concave cubes as experimental models of computationally predicted active sites for the oxygen-assisted coupling of alcohols.” Melissa presented on Wednesday about her work on “Coupling competitive surface interactions: a synthetic route to enhanced grain boundaries at the exterior of multiply twinned palladium nanoparticles.” On Thursday, Prof. Personick presented the group’s recently published research regarding “Approaches for bridging dissimilar reduction kinetics in the synthesis of bimetallic nanomaterials.” All of the talks were well received by their respective audiences.

In addition to presenting their research, the Wesleyan contingent also recruited prospective graduate students for the Wesleyan PhD program at the graduate school recruiting fair, and Melissa was invited to participate in a panel on “Graduate School: The In’s and Out’s of Getting In” which was very highly attended. Prof. Personick caught up with Wesleyan alum Prof. John Keith (Univ. of Pittsburgh) over breakfast, and everyone spent time sampling the local cuisine.

Chemistry Department Welcomes Prof. Colin Smith

Prof. Colin Smith

The Chemistry Department welcomes Professor Colin Smith to the faculty where he also holds an affiliated appointment in the Molecular Biophysics Program.  He earned his BA from New York University and a PhD from the University of California San Francisco, where his research focused on protein design and developing new methods for computationally modeling protein flexibility. Prior to coming to Wesleyan, he was a postdoctoral scholar at the Max Plank Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen. There he studied protein motion at the atomic level and its implications for how biological activity is regulated.

At Wesleyan Prof. Smith will continue his work in protein dynamics, with a focus on determining the atomic-level mechanisms of how changes in regions far from the active site propagate through proteins and ultimately affect their functions.  For example, some remote mutations can cause proteins to malfunction and lead to disease. In other cases, protein engineering has discovered unusually located mutations that enhance activity, making new synthetic and therapeutic applications possible. Work by Prof. Smith and others has identified an increasing number of cases where this communication happens not through a change in the structure, but in the extent of protein motion.

Prof. Smith and his students will take a distinctly multidisciplinary approach, including computational simulation and modeling, in addition to high-resolution biophysical techniques like nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), to determine both structure and dynamics at the atomic level.  His group’s goal is to understand better how protein activity is remotely controlled by nature and ultimately enable its rational manipulation for therapeutic or synthetic applications.

Prof. Smith’s recent and near future course offerings include Practical NMR (CHEM 382), Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences (CHEM 381), and Molecular Modeling and Design (CHEM 396).

Chemistry Department Welcomes Prof. Carlos Jiménez-Hoyos

Prof. Carlos Jiménez-Hoyos

The Chemistry Department welcomes Professor Carlos Jiménez-Hoyos to the faculty as a computational chemist. He earned a BS in Chemistry from Monterrey Tech in Monterrey, Mexico and a PhD in Chemistry from Rice University, working under Gustavo Scuseria in developing computationally efficient methods to describe molecules and materials that are strongly correlated. He then moved to work with Garnet Chan at Princeton University and the California Institute of Technology as a postdoctoral scholar. There he worked, among other things, on the development of embedding methods for practical quantum chemical calculations.

At Wesleyan Prof. Jiménez-Hoyos plans to continue his work on the development of efficient, scalable methods for electronic structure to investigate chemical and physical properties on systems beyond the reach of current techniques. He is very interested in strongly correlated molecules and materials, such as molecular magnets and bioinorganic clusters. In addition, he aims to improve current computation approaches for studying heterogeneous catalysis at transition metal surfaces or nanoparticles, for which he plans to continue his work with embedding techniques. Lastly, Prof. Jiménez-Hoyos is interested in understanding the nature of delocalized excitations in molecular aggregates.

Prof. Jiménez-Hoyos will be offering the following courses in the near future: Thermodynamics, Statistical Mechanics, and Kinetics (CHEM 338) and Intro to Quantum Chemistry (CHEM 340).  He will also be a major contributor to our initiative to restructure the Introductory Chemistry Laboratory (CHEM 152).

Recent Retirements

Among the biggest recent changes in the Chemistry Department is the advancement of several of our faculty to emeritus status over the last few years.  The department wishes them well on their new adventures.

Wallace (“Pete”) Pringle retired in 2012 after 43 years at Wesleyan.  He divides his time between Connecticut and Florida.  When he’s in the state, Pete can frequently be found around Hall-Atwater, where he still collaborates with Stew Novick’s group.
Phil Bolton became emeritus in 2016 and still resides in West Hartford where he is devoting more time to his horticultural interests and going on hikes with his dog, Daphne.
Also retiring in 2016, George Petersson has relocated to the Philadelphia area where he still stays scientifically active as a Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Chemistry at Temple University. 
Rex Pratt became emeritus at the beginning of 2017 and has returned to Melbourne, Australia, quickly becoming an expert on the local pub culture and enjoying watching a lot more international cricket.
David Beveridge has simply moved across Lawn Avenue to assume the co-directorship of the Wasch Center for Retired Faculty.
Al Fry, who officially retired in Jan 2017, is still an active presence in the department and has no plans to do anything else until his current group of undergraduate and master students, has graduated.