Dr. Rebecca Quardokus Shares Her Passion For Microscopy

By Amanda Campanaro, IMS

There’s a special moment for most students when they discover what they really want to do with their major. For Rebecca Quardokus, Assistant Professor in Chemistry and associate faculty in IMS, that moment came as a junior at Grand Valley State University, Michigan, when her father sent her an article on Professor James Tour’s research at Rice University, Texas.

Dr. Quardokus, who had recently become a chemistry major, found the research fascinating. “His group had synthesized nano-sized cars with C60 fullerenes (buckyballs) for wheels, and they used scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) to image individual cars moving around on a gold surface,” Dr. Quardokus explains. “I was very excited to learn that STM, in addition to imaging, could manipulate individual atoms and molecules on the surface.” It was then she decided to attend graduate school to work with and master that “amazing technique.”

Now, Dr. Quardokus focuses her research on the engineering and reliability of molecular networks and two-dimensional materials for next-generation electronic devices. Her passion for learning STM has led her to begin a project working on developing new two-dimensional materials using surface-confined polymerization reactions.

“I use scanning tunneling microscopy, with its ability to measure individual atoms and molecules, to study the reactants and products,” she says.  “I will also study the charge and thermal transport properties of these materials.” Her group is hoping to tune specific properties for use in next-generation electronics.

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Chemistry Abroad – Adventures in Shanghai & Beijing

Sydney Scheirey and Joseph Gorecki, both rising Chemistry seniors, have been doing research abroad at Fudan University in Shanghai since May. In their down time, they have been able to see some of China’s famous landmarks – and shared some of their experiences with us!

 

 

Job Posting: Assistant Professor in Residence

The Chemistry Department within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Connecticut, invites applications for a non-tenure track faculty position at the Assistant Professor-in-Residence level.

The University of Connecticut (UConn) is in the midst of a transformational period of growth supported by the $1.7B Next Generation Connecticut (http://nextgenct.uconn.edu/) and the $1B Bioscience Connecticut (http://biosciencect.uchc.edu/) investments and a bold new Academic Plan: Path to Excellence (http://issuu.com/uconnprovost/docs/academic-plan-single-hi-optimized_1).

The successful candidate will assist with teaching general chemistry lecture and laboratory classes, advising undergraduate students and developing success and retention strategies for chemistry courses. This position requires an individual with a dynamic personality who can interact with undergraduate and graduate students in addition to faculty, and has the ability to work with Chemistry faculty across the regional campuses and at main campus in Storrs. The incumbent will share a deep commitment to effective instruction and to broaden participation among members of under-represented groups; demonstrate through their activities the richness of diversity in the learning experience; integrate multicultural experiences into instructional methods and research tools; and contribute to the development of pedagogical techniques designed to meet the needs of diverse learning styles and intellectual interests.

Minimum Qualifications: A Ph.D. in Chemistry and at least three years’ experience teaching and administration of large (greater than 150 students) general chemistry lecture and laboratory courses.

Preferred qualifications: Experience directly supervising teaching assistants, and course design and curriculum development with innovative methods designed to improve student success and retention.

This position is a full-time, nine (9)-month appointment, with a start date of August 23, 2017. This position reports to the Chemistry Department Head, Christian Brueckner. The position may be annually renewable based on performance, budget and needs of the department and college.  Salary is competitive based upon qualifications.  The successful candidate’s primary academic appointment will be at the Storrs Campus.

To apply, please visit the University’s Husky Hire online application system at: https://academicjobsonline.org/ajo/jobs/9240.

Applications must include:

  • cover letter;
  • a detailed curriculum vitae;
  • a teaching statement (including teaching philosophy, teaching experience, commitment to effective learning, concepts for new course development, etc.) with relevant teaching evaluations;
  • a commitment to diversity statement (commitment to diversity statement (including broadening participation, integrating multicultural experiences in instruction and research and pedagogical techniques to meet the needs of diverse learning styles, etc.);
  • and the names and contact information of three (3) professional references.

Evaluation of applicants will begin immediately. For more information regarding the Department of Chemistry, please visit the department website at www.chemistry.uconn.edu

Employment of the successful candidate will be contingent upon the successful completion of a pre-employment criminal background check. (Search # 2017547)

All employees are subject to adherence to the State Code of Ethics which may be found at http://www.ct.gov/ethics/site/default.asp.

_______________________________________________________________

The University of Connecticut is committed to building and supporting a multicultural and diverse community of students, faculty and staff. The diversity of students, faculty and staff continues to increase, as does the number of honors students, valedictorians and salutatorians who consistently make UConn their top choice. More than 100 research centers and institutes serve the University’s teaching, research, diversity, and outreach missions, leading to UConn’s ranking as one of the nation’s top research universities. UConn’s faculty and staff are the critical link to fostering and expanding our vibrant, multicultural and diverse University community. As an Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity employer, UConn encourages applications from women, veterans, people with disabilities and members of traditionally underrepresented populations.

From Storrs to Shanghai, Chemistry Professor Aims to Bridge International Collaboration

By Amanda Campanaro, IMS

Yao Lin, Associate Professor of Chemistry in the Polymer Program of the Institute of Materials Science, has become very passionate about chemistry and polymer science—and about encouraging intercontinental collaboration on it. With a background in chemistry, polymer and molecular biology and a degree from Fudan University, China, Dr. Lin is interested in researching bio-inspired materials for the future and developing educational opportunities for students at home and abroad.

Dr. Lin and his lab are currently working on two projects which mimic certain natural protein polymers and complex enzymes to create synthetic, bio-inspired materials. One direction is trying to understand the cooperative folding and interactions between complex macromolecules containing synthetic polypeptides to mimic the dynamic process of protein polymerization. According to Dr. Lin, the protein polymerizations provide the filaments with excellent mechanical strengths for our muscles, our cells, and contribute to cell movement. The reason cells can move is partially because these protein fibers can grow on one end, and shrink on the other end.

The other direction involves mimicking an enzymatic structure that forms “teams” that can degrade cellulose into sugars. When bacteria develop complex structures like nano-machines that recruit six to ten different types of enzymes into a team, they can work much more effectively than individual enzymes. Dr. Lin and his group are researching whether they can replace that type of protein scaffold with synthetic polymers, and thus design the chemistry at interface between these polymers and proteins. This will allow them to recruit different engineered proteins in an organized manner.

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Professor Michael Smith Retires after 38 Years of Service

By Gabriella Reggiano

Michael Smith, professor emeritus of chemistry, on April 12, 2017. (Bri Diaz/UConn Photo)

Professor Emeritus of Chemistry Michael Smith, who recently retired after more than three-and-a-half decades of service, has made teaching organic chemistry to nearly 400 students seem easy. As Smith discusses his tips and tricks for managing a large class, it is difficult to picture him in any other profession. As Department Head Christian Brückner notes, “Few instructors are able to teach such large classes, and even fewer can command the stage of such large classrooms as effectively as Smith…His retirement from UConn leaves a large gap.”

But Smith did not originally imagine himself in academia. After graduating from Virginia Tech with a B.S. in Chemistry, he became an Analytical Chemist at Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., performing water analysis to keep the primary and secondary coolants of navy ships within specifications. When he realized that he wanted something different out of his career, he decided to go back to school to earn his Ph.D. Even then, he was not considering becoming a professor. “It just never entered my head that it was a possibility,” Smith recalled. “As a matter of fact, when I first went to graduate school, I had the idea to work in industry. That was really all I ever thought about. It wasn’t until I taught and I liked graduate school and I liked doing research.”

Instead, Smith entered into a long career in academia, leaving a lasting legacy as a teacher, author, and mentor at UConn. He joined the Department of Chemistry as an Assistant Professor in the fall of 1979, just two years after earning his Ph.D. Over the course of his tenure, Professor Smith has mentored 15 Ph.D. students, 13 M.S. students, and approximately 90 undergraduates. He has taught 75 semesters worth of courses, including both halves of undergraduate organic chemistry and graduate courses on organic synthesis and organic reactions. In addition to teaching at UConn, he has also taught courses at companies like Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb, as well as courses abroad in Spain and China. In the midst of all this, Dr. Smith found the time to author 25 books – which have sold in excess of over 100,000 copies.

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Islam Mosa wins AAAS Student Poster Award

Islam Mosa (Rusling Group) won the first place award in the 2017 Science AAAS student poster competition (Category: Physical Sciences). The award includes recognition of the poster title and the winner’s name in the March 24th issue of Science, a cash prize, certificate, and a one-year AAAS membership. A committee of 7 judges from Harvard, MIT, and industry evaluated all posters and selected the winner. The 2nd and 3rd places of the same category received honorable mentions in Science and were awarded to Hendrik Utzak and Anahita Zare from MIT and University of Missouri respectively.

See all poster competition winners and honorable mentions here >>>

Electrocrystallization: Breakthrough in Gold Nanoparticle Research

http://www.alphagalileo.org/AssetViewer.aspx?AssetId=122194&CultureCode=enA research team led by Professor Flavio Maran of the University of Padova (Italy), who is also a Research Professor with the Chemistry Department at UConn, reported a breakthrough in the creation of very high quality crystals formed of gold nanoparticles via electrocrytalization. This work was done in collaboration with Professor Kari Rissanen of the University of Jyväskylä (Finland). They published their recent work in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Their recent discovery has been featured in several news outlets.

Read more here >>>