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 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.

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2017 Connecticut Middle School Science Bowl

Science Bowl audienceOn Saturday, February 25, 2017, the Connecticut Regional Middle School Science Bowl event welcomed approximately 200 students and coaches—and their family members—to UConn for a day of learning and friendly competition. The Middle School Science Bowl is a fast-paced, question-and-answer-style event that emphasizes the importance of STEM education. This year, 32 teams from 19 different middle schools throughout Connecticut participated in the Science Bowl competition where they answered questions in the fields of biology, chemistry, Earth and space science, physics, and math. It is through the Science Bowl that students are able to engage in a challenging academic competition with peers that share a similar passion for science.

The Connecticut Middle School Science Bowl is hosted by the UConn Chemistry Department and organized by Assistant Professor in Residence Joe DePasquale and Program Assistants Aneesa Bey and Ashley Orcutt. This event would not be possible without the assistance of approximately 85 volunteers who donate their time to prepare for and participate in this exciting competition. Among the volunteers are undergraduate students, graduate students, alumni, and local high school students. Many of the volunteers are STEM-based majors who share the same affinity and aptitude for science as the young competitors.

The Department of Chemistry would like to thank Gerber Technology, the UConn College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, and the UConn Institute of Materials Science for their support. The Department would also like to thank the UConn School of Engineering Diversity & Outreach Center, Connecticut Science Center, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Subway Restaurant for their contributions to this event as well.

The top teams of the day were:

First Place: Talcott Mountain Academy (Avon, CT)
Second Place: Middlesex Middle School (Darien, CT)
Semi-Finalist: Cloonan Middle School (Stamford, CT)
Semi-Finalist: Irving A. Robbins Middle School (Farmington, CT)

Talcott Mountain Academy will represent Connecticut’s middle schools at the National Science Bowl competition in Washington, D.C. April 27 – May 1.

The National Science Bowl is a nationwide academic competition hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy. “The National Science Bowl® continues to be one of the premier academic competitions across the country and prepares America’s students for future successes in some of the world’s fastest growing fields in science, technology, and engineering,” said Dr. J. Stephen Binkley, Acting Director of the Department’s Office of Science, which sponsors the nationwide competition, now in its 27th year. “Each year the DOE Office of Science provides this unique opportunity, and I am honored to congratulate all the competitors who are advancing to the national finals, where they will continue to showcase their talents as top students in math and science.” More than 14,000 students compete in the NSB each year.

More information can be found on the CT Middle School Science Bowl website and the National Science Bowl website.

Paper Published in Nature Chemistry

Ryan Baumgartner, Hailin Fu, Ziyuan Song, Yao Lin and Jianjun Cheng “Cooperative polymerization of α-helices induced by macromolecular architecture” Nature Chemistry, DOI: 10.1038/NCHEM.2712 (2017).
Figure in Nature Chemistry Publication
This work is a collaboration between Prof. Jianjun Cheng at UIUC and the Lin Group at UConn. This research demonstrates the use of macromolecular architecture to facilitate an unusual auto-catalytic polymerization process, and elucidate the underlying mechanism by a two-stage kinetic model using principles from nucleation-controlled protein polymerizations; the key difference being the irreversible nature of this polymerization. Ryan Baumgartner (UIUC) and Hailin Fu (UConn) made the central contribution to this work.

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Paper Published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society

Guberman-Pfeffer, M.; Greco, J. A.; Samankumara, L.; Zeller, M.; Gascón, J.; Birge, R.R.; Brückner, C. ‘Bacteriochlorins with a Twist: Discovery of a Unique Mechanism to Red-shift the Optical Spectra of Bacteriochlorins’ J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017139 (1), 548–560. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.6b12419
Figure from ACS publication
A collaborative effort within the chemistry department brought experiment and theory together to explain the unique optical properties of a class of analogues to the bacterial photosynthetic pigments. We hope this work will point the way in the design of mechanochromic dyes, i.e., dyes that change their color when exposed to mechanical stress.

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