Undergraduate News

Student John Ovian Receives Portz Fellowship

john ovian2John Ovian was awarded the National Collegiate Honors Council Portz Fellowship. The Portz Fellowships support original and extended interdisciplinary projects for up to 18 months. Only four fellowships are awarded nationally each year. John will use his fellowship funds to support his work on photo-mediated organocatalysis in the Leadbeater Group.

UConn Undergraduates Conduct Research at Fudan University

Tania Mohamed & Stuart Mehrens, UConn Chemistry Undergraduate Students

Since 2Undergraduate student at Fudan012, the Chemistry Department at the University of Connecticut (UConn) has been actively developing international collaborations with other Universitas 21 institutions (the leading global network of research universities), such as Fudan University and Shanghai Jiaotong University (SJTU) in China. The partnership has provided great channels for the exchange of students, scholars, and educational resources.

Joint research workshops were held in Shanghai in 2012 and in Connecticut in 2013. Ten undergraduates from Fudan University and SJTU have since conducted summer research at UConn. This summer, six more students are on their way to our campus, and we will visit them in Shanghai as well! Professor Michael Smith, Thomas Seery, and Yao Lin will give short courses at Fudan University and SJTU in July, and we (undergraduate students Tania Mohamed and Stuart Mehrens) will carry out organic chemistry research at Fudan University. Here, we will detail our experiences inside and outside the lab!

To follow along on our adventures in Shanghai, visit the ion uconn chem blog!

Chain Reaction: NSF Programs Are Initiators of Chemist’s Success

Jennifer Bento

Author Jennifer Bento is a graduate student in the Polymer Program at UConn in the research group of Chemistry Professor Doug Adamson. In her reflection below, Jen describes the implications on her career path that resulted from her participation in the UConn chemistry REU program. She connects this experience to choosing UConn for graduate school, and her subsequent success in garnering a prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.

I received my undergraduate education at Simmons College in Boston where I earned a B.S. in Chemistry and Physics in 2011. During my undergraduate career, I was a teacher’s assistant, a study group leader and an ambassador through Beyond Benign in a Green Chemistry Fellowship program that performed outreach at local Boston public schools. As a Beyond Benign fellow, I was able to work with undergraduates at my institution and meet fellow scientists at local colleges and/or universities in the Boston area. Together we performed hands-on activities with students in grades K-12. I hope that our efforts motivated the students to continue their education in STEM fields. I also helped students at Simmons learn organic chemistry in my role as a TA/study group leader. These fulfilling experiences with students have inspired me to pursue a career as a college professor. My research advisor at Simmons, Dr. Richard Gurney, encouraged me to apply to a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program sponsored by the NSF to gain further research experience at a PhD-granting institution and to get a sense of what being a graduate student would feel like. I applied and was accepted to the UConn Chemistry REU the summer before my senior year of college. UConn was able to offer exciting research with a successful REU student track record. Continue reading

Renowned forensic scientist stresses importance of chemistry

The Daily Campus

TDr. Henry Leehe UConn chemistry club hosted Dr. Henry C. Lee, one of the world’s renowned forensic scientists, to give a special lecture on forensics to the UConn community.

Lee has worked on many famous cases, such as the O.J. Simpson trial, the Casey Anthony trial, the Elizabeth Smart Case, Laci Peterson cases, September 11 evidence and a lot more. He founded and teaches the forensic science program at the University of New Haven and has his own TV show, “True Evidence” on Tru TV.

Lee presented an extensive slide show filled with pictures explaining how he goes about working with evidence as well as gruesome pictures of crime scenes. Lee’s presentation, ‘Justice Through Sciences: Utilization of Chemical Evidence in Forensic Investigation,’ showcased his humor through the jokes and puns that accompanied retellings of his experiences at crime scenes. He poked fun at popular crime serial ‘CSI,’ and explained that their portrayal of forensics is over-the-top compared to real life, where it can take years to make a breakthrough with evidence. Continue reading

The Magic of Science

UConn Today

FoStudents playing with silly puddyr three weeks during May and June, a group of UConn graduate and undergraduate science and education majors have been engaged in something magical. They have been getting middle school students absorbed in chemistry.

Known as the UConn Science Wizards, the college students gave hands-on polymer chemistry demonstrations at inner-city and rural middle schools around Connecticut. They took a playful approach to teaching science, using a polymer the middle schoolers could relate to: Silly Putty.

“I love the program!” said Michelle Goodwin, science teacher at East Hartford Middle School. “It really gets the students excited about science.” Continue reading

Four UConn Students Selected as National Science Foundation Fellows

UConn Today

Four UConn studeFour UConn students selected for fellowshipnts have been awarded 2013 Graduate Research Fellowships by the National Science Foundation. The fellowships support graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions. About 2,000 awards were given nationwide in 2013.

Three of the students receiving fellowships are currently undergraduates: Emily Funk (CLAS ’13), Anna Green (CLAS ’13), and Tyler Reese (CLAS ’13). Second-year graduate student Jennifer Bento of the Institute of Materials Science was also honored. Continue reading

REU Program Renewed

Research Experience for Undergraduates

It has long been recognized that the best way to promote graduate careers in the natural sciences is to expose students to a stimulating research program. This is just as true at UConn as it is elsewhere. In fact, a number of programs are in place to lead our own chemistry majors along this path. But what about students attending colleges that do not have the PhD-level research program our students enjoy? The National Science Foundation (NSF) funds a program, the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), to address this very need. It is the flagship program for undergraduate research in the US, funding travel, room and board, and a stipend for the participants. It also provides research funds as well as travel funds for the students to present their research at national meetings, such as American Chemical Society national meetings. Our department has had the good fortune to serve as an NSF-funded REU site in chemistry since 1997. Over several three-year funding cycles, Professors Howell, McGrath (who left the department in 1999), Brückner, Bohn, and Peczuh have served as directors and/or codirectors of the program. The program was most recently renewed for the years 2011 through 2013 with Brückner as Director, Peczuh as co-Director, and with our undergraduate coordinator, Osker Dahabsu, to keep it all organized. Together, with a generous contribution by the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences along with supplements to NSF research grants held by members of the department, this program has hosted >150 students (mostly at the rising junior and senior level) over the past 13 summers. We especially target women, minorities, and non-traditional students for our program. Continue reading