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.
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.
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.
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
M.A. recipients: Paul Brauchle
Yoon Jeong Choi
B.A. recipients: Abby Cahn-Gambino
Joanna Korpanty (with High Honors)
Ji Yoon Park
Daniel Robertson (with High Honors)
David Solti (with Honors)
Aaron Stone (with Honors)
Jeanette Thornton (with High Honors)
Ann-Dorie Webley (with Honors)
Stephen Frayne recently defended his Ph.D. dissertation and will be receiving his degree at commencement this May. Steve joined the Department of Chemistry at Wesleyan in 2012 after having received his B.S. in chemistry from Fordham University. At Fordham Steve worked in the laboratory of Dr. Ipsita Banerjee focusing on the rational design of artificial biomaterials. While in the Banerjee group Steve investigated the pH-dependent self-assembly of plant-based acids such as abscisic acid and ellagic acid into templates for the growth of cadmium selenide (CdSe) nanoparticles, with potential applications in bioimaging, cell targeting, and environmental remediation. Upon coming to Wesleyan, Steve joined the lab of Prof. Brian Northrop where he has been conducting experimental and computational research with the aim of streamlining the design and synthesis of organic materials. Much of Steve’s work has focused on the fundamentals of thiol-Michael reactions and, in particular, selective thiol-Michael reactions that enable researchers to synthesize multifunctional polymers and dendrimers more rapidly and efficiently. After graduating Steve will be joining the lab of Prof. Jeffrey Grossman in the Materials Science and Engineering department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he will apply his experimental and computational expertise to develop new materials that address important energy related challenges, such as nanoporous membranes for water desalination.
David McCamant, an alum of the Class of ’95, has received the very first College Award for Undergraduate Teaching and Research Mentorship from the University of Rochester, where he is Associate Professor of Chemistry. He notes that “his goal is pass along to students the same excitement he felt as a chemistry undergraduate at Wesleyan University.” You can read the full story at the link below. Congratulations Prof. McCamant!
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.
Meet Joy Cote, a recent PhD student who graduated from the chemistry department in January. Joy came to Wesleyan after receiving her BS in chemistry from the College of Mount Saint Vincent in 2012. During her time as an undergraduate, Joy participated in two separate research projects. Both a synthetic project aiming to create porphyrins and a development project aiming to understand sperm development in Drosophila. Although both projects nurturedher scientific aspirations, she was not completely satisfied with either of them. Upon coming to Wesleyan, Joy joined Prof. Erika Taylor’s lab and spent the next 5 years investigating the dynamics of Heptosyltransferase I, an enzyme found in Gram-negative bacteria, using a variety of biophysical techniques. It was during this time that she realized that research focused on understanding proteins in a quantitative manner was something she was passionate about and would drive her future studies. Since graduating, Joy has started a post-doctoral associate position at Fox Chase Cancer Center. Here she is working with Dr. Andy Andrews on how acetylation of metabolic enzymes that play a role in regulation.