Paper Published in the Nature Journal’s Scientific Reports

Spundana Malla, Karteek Kadimisetty, You-Jun Fu, Dharamainder Choudhary,
John B. Schenkman & James F. Rusling

Methyl-Cytosine-Driven Structural Changes Enhance Adduction Kinetics of an Exon 7 fragment of the p53 Gene. Sci. Rep. 7, 40890; doi: 10.1038/srep40890 (2017).
nature-scientific-report
In a collaborative effort with UConn Health (Profs. Schenkman and Choudhary), Spundana Malla, Karteek Kadimisetty, Dr. Fu and Prof. Rusling reported a new LC-MS method to investigate the kinetics of gene damage. The paper describes the use of the method to investigate metabolite-related damage to p53 tumor suppressor gene, which is damaged in 50% of all cancers. Results show that a specific cytosine-guanine site (codon 248) on the p53 gene reacts 3-fold faster when the cytosine is methylated. 

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2nd Annual Alumni Panel

By Gabriella Reggiano

Upon earning their Ph.D., graduate students of the UConn Chemistry Department can pursue careers in fields such as government, academia, or industry. The transition to life after graduate school, however, can be daunting. In order to help students navigate this next period in their lives, the Graduate Student Advisory Committee organized the 2nd Annual Alumni Panel, which included five UConn alumni: Drs. Faith Corbo, Jun Nable, Gavin Richards, Junichi Ogikubo, and Jason McCarthy. Careers ranged from a marketing manager at a specialty chemical company to an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. The group answered questions about interviewing, the merits of industry versus academia, graduating in four years, and the job application timeline.

The panelists, many of whom are now involved in the hiring process, discussed what they tend to look for in resumes and cover letters. Dr. Jason McCarthy, Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School, emphasized alma maters, first author publications, and evidence of productivity and independence. Dr. Junichi Ogikubo, Manager of Radiochemistry Operations at Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, offered his perspective from industry. Dr. Ogikubo stressed the importance of applicants grabbing his attention early: “I get 20 resumes in one email, so a lot of times I’m clicking through several resumes at the same time. Usually, I look at half of your first page, and if that doesn’t work, then I move onto the next one.” Each panelist also spoke about tailoring a resume and cover letter for the job. Dr. McCarthy pointed out how simple it is to identify a generic cover letter. He recommends writing specific cover letters that say, “Here’s what I do, here’s what you do, and here’s how we can work together.”

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Considering Graduate School

Gascon

Dr. José Gascón

Associate Professor & 

Chair, Graduate Admissions Committee

Because graduate application season is upon us, we interviewed Dr. José Gascón, Chair of the UConn Chemistry Graduate Admissions Committee, to gain insight into the application and decision process.

What advice do you have for freshman and sophomores who are considering graduate school?

If you had some research experience and you enjoyed trying to solve a scientific question, then you will enjoy graduate school. If that is the case, then I would advise spending some time looking up the research that is being conducted within your choice of schools.

What are the top three traits/experiences you look for in an applicant?

In no particular order: transcripts and GPA, research or internship experience, letters of reference.

How do GRE scores and publications factor into your decision making process?

In my personal opinion, GRE scores are not a deal breaker and they only compliment other more important credential aspects (i.e. GPA, research experience, and letters). Publications are highly regarded if students have them, but their absence is not considered negative.

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Islam Mosa Wins International 3MT People’s Choice Award

Islam Mosa wins 3MT competitionCongratulations to Graduate Student Islam Mosa for winning the People’s Choice Award in the International Universitas 21 (U21) Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition. This is the first international award for UConn in the U21 3MT competition. Islam received his award from Dr. Kent Holsinger, Dean of the Graduate School. Also, President Herbst has invited Islam to attend the Board of Trustees meeting to congratulate him for his achievement. Islam is now the winner of the Department’s and UConn’s 3MT competitions, as well as the International U21 3MT People’s Choice Award.

The 2016 competition experienced the highest number of participating students – over 1000 students presented in local heats across the network – and the People’s Choice Award saw its highest total number of online votes in the competition history; Islam received the highest number of votes among all participants.

Islam would like to thank his advisor, Dr. Jim Rusling, for the support and constructive feedback, Dr. Challa Kumar for instructing the technical communication course, and to the entire Chemistry Department for voting and supporting him!

Full U21 Story >>> | Video >>>

Searching for Assistant Professor

Position Summary

The University of Connecticut (UConn) is entering 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 Vision (http://academicvision.uconn.edu). We are pleased to continue these investments by inviting applications are invited for a tenure-track position in the Chemistry Department.

The Chemistry Department at the University of Connecticut (UConn) seeks applications for a full time tenure-track position to begin in August 2017. All areas of organic, bioorganic, or biological chemistry will be considered, with preference given to candidates whose research contributes to the above initiatives and complements that of current faculty. Continue reading

Accelerate UConn

Accelerate UConn logoDr. Challa Kumar and Graduate Student Melissa Limbacher are the recipients of an Accelerate UConn Fall 2016 Grant for their project entitled, “GlowDots.”

Kumar and Limbacher will participate in the Fall cohort of Accelerate UConn, the University’s National Science Foundation I-Corps site. All winning teams receive special training and a $3,000 seed grant to help understand whether and how their technology might create customer value.

See all Accelerate winners here >>>

Meet the UConn Chemistry Club

By Gabriella Reggiano

Chem Club paints the rock

The UConn Chemistry Club creates a space for undergraduates to discuss and learn about chemistry in a relaxed setting. The executive board consists of seven students: Christopher Chapman as President, Joshua Paolilo as Vice President, Farrell Brown as Secretary, Kevin Stein as Treasurer, Quinn Lacasse as Experiment Specialist, Julia Swanson as Event Coordinator, and Taylor Simao as Minister of Information. The officers decide upon a theme for each meeting that draws connections between chemistry, current events, an experiment, and a member activity. Recently, the Chem Club discussed the role of oxidation in violent reactions. Their experiment, adding a gummy bear to liquid potassium chlorate, involves the oxidation of sugar, which produces noise as well as a flame.

The Chemistry Club earned an Honorable Mention from the American Chemical Society (ACS) for their work last year. The executive board submits an annual report that includes a description of each meeting held as well as additional details about community service, green chemistry, professional development, and outreach activities. The ACS then evaluates the club on whether they met their goals, in addition to the quality and quantity of all the services they provide to the UConn community. In this year’s report, ACS specifically highlighted the Chemistry Club’s ability to create engaging and informative meetings. “The best way to retain members is to make the meetings both interesting and relevant – and it seems that you did just that. It is impressive that you combined fun and learning at your meetings.” Continue reading