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

Melissa King Receives PhD

Melissa King recently defended her Ph.D. dissertation and will be receiving her degree at commencement this May. Melissa joined the Department of Chemistry at Wesleyan in 2014 after having received her B.S. in chemistry from Central Connecticut State University. At CCSU Melissa worked on the synthesis of chiral diols for the separation of racemic mixtures with Dr. Neil Glagovich. Upon coming to Wesleyan, Melissa joined the lab of Prof. Michelle Personick where she changed her research focus from the total synthesis of small organic molecules to the synthesis of inorganic nanocatalysts. Melissa has spent her time at Wesleyan studying the mechanisms of shape control in the growth of bimetallic nanoparticles and their subsequent relevance as catalytic materials. After graduating, Melissa will be joining the lab of Prof. Michael Ross in the Chemistry Department at the University of Massachusetts Lowell where she will apply her experimental expertise and strong fundamental understanding of tailorable nanomaterials to the study and development of sustainable photocatalytic materials.

 


Dr. Melissa King delivers her Open Ph.D. Defense to faculty, friends, and family


Pictured left to right: Dr. Joy Cote, Dr. Melissa King & her children, and Dr. Dan Obenchain


Dr. Melissa King


Dr. King’s Periodic Table Cake


Terry Emmons and Dr. Andrea Roberts


Pictured left to right: Sean McDarby, Joshua Signore, Jozafina Milicaj, Bakar Hassan, and Jeffrey Keyes


Pictured left to right: Dr. Michelle Personick, Dr. Dan Obenchain, Yoanna Throssell, Vasileios Drogkaris, and Dr. Anthony Davis

Free Radicals Trip to Lyman Orchards

On Saturday, October 12th, 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.

Pictured left to right: Andrea Lee, Annika Velez, California Clark, Sydney Taylor-Klaus, Jing Jing Wang, Professor Andrea Roberts, and Jessica Garcia.

Jessica Garcia

Pictured left to right: Jing Jing Wang, Andrea Lee, California Clark, Jessica Garcia, Jasmine Jason, Sydney Taylor-Klaus, and Annika Velez.

Sydney Talor-Klaus

Andrea Lee and Jessica Garcia

Pictured left to right: Jasmine Jason, Andrea Lee, Jing Jing Wang, Annika Velez, Jessica Garcia, California Clark, and Sydney Taylor-Klaus.

Andrea Lee and Jessica Garcia

Pictured left to right: Andrea Lee, Annika Velez, California Clark, Sydney Taylor-Klaus, Jing Jing Wang, Jasmine Jason, and Jessica Garcia

 

Commencement Spring 2019


Some of our happy and attractive 2019 graduates. From left to right: Prachiti Bhatawdekar, PhD; Theo Prachyathipsakul, BA; Alison Biester, BA; Fiona Grishaw-Jones, BA; Sojeong Park (BA ’18), MA; Chien Ho, BA; David Cabanero, BA; Jessica Garcia, BA; Vanessa Ramirez, BA.

Sojeong Park receives her diploma from President Roth.

Thirty-three Chemistry degrees were awarded on May 26 at the 187th Commencement. The department proudly acknowledges the accomplishments of its new alumni/alumnae and offer them our congratulations.

Ph.D. recipients:
Prachiti Bhatawdekar
Tsagan Ednyasheva

M.A. recipients:
Cody Hecht
Zachary Hillman
Will Orellana
Sojeong Park
Ivy Poon
Giselle Reyes
Cara Savino

B.A. recipients:
Jaquelin Aroujo (with Honors)
Alison Biester (with High Honors)
Liana Borges-Sotero
David Cabanero (with High Honors)
Leticia Costa (with High Honors)
Mallory Dubus
Shelly Duong
Matthew Erodici (with High Honors)
Jessica Garcia
Fiona Grishaw-Jones
Adis Halilovic
Chien Ho
Eija Kent (with Honors)
Zain Khanna
Mitchell Klein
Lucas Mani
Jana O’Donnell
Theo Prachyathipsakul (with Honors)
Chloe Qiu
Vanessa Ramirez
Joshua Signore (with Honors)
Alexa Strauss
Frank Tucci
Victoria Yu

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

Wesleyan Chemistry Mini-Reunion in Evanston, IL

On a recent visit to the Chicago area, Prof. Westmoreland stopped by Evanston, IL for a tasty brunch with the cohort of Wes alumni who are currently in the Northwestern University Chemistry Ph.D. program.  Everyone enjoyed hearing about the latest news from the department and waxed nostalgic for their days in the tender embrace of Hall-Atwater.

From left to right: Joanna Korpanty (’18), Max Distler (’18), Natalia Powers-Riggs (’13), Prof. Westmoreland, and Dan Laorenza (’16, M.A. ’17). Aaron Stone (’18) overslept and is not pictured. (Photo credit: Dana E. Westmoreland)

Prachiti Bhatawdekar Receives PhD

Dr. Prachiti Bhatawdekar successfully defended her PhD thesis, “Conservation of Enantiomeric Excess Throughout a Multistep Reduction / Elimination Reaction Sequence Starting with an Interrupted Feist-Bénary Product”, on November 30, 2018. Prachiti came to Wesleyan in 2011 after receiving her combined Master’s/Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from  Jiwaji University in India. Prachiti joined Prof. Calter’s lab in the fall of 2011 and worked on a number of projects before settling on a methodological study. She discovered the Interrupted Feist-Bénary products commonly produced in the Calter labs could be reduced to useful benopyran derivatives. Prachiti is now completing an industrial post-doc at CheminPharma in Branford, CT.

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

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.