Professors He and Rusling Receive NSF Grant

Chemistry professors Jie He and Jim Rusling have been awarded a 3-year $464,000 NSF grant from the CBET division entitled “SusChEM: C-H Bond Electroactivation of Nonpolar Organic Substrates in Water: Enzyme-Mediated Reaction Pathways in Microemulsions.”

This project will explore new electrocatalyst materials for activating enzymes in films to synthesize high value chemicals using fluids called microemulsions that are structured fluid solvents consisting of water, oil, and surfactants and are able to dissolve a wide variety of polar and non polar reactants while still maintaining a water rich environment for the enzymes.

High School Students Exposed to UConn Chemistry Through Virtual Event

Students from Berlin High School didn’t let COVID-19 get in the way of learning directly from UConn faculty

The UConn Department of Chemistry, working alongside the Office of Early College Programs & UConn Early College Experience (ECE), annually brings high school students from around Connecticut to the Storrs campus to see exactly what happens in their research laboratories – a tradition that continued this year, despite the challenges of a global pandemic.

The yearly event is a great chance for high schoolers to be exposed to chemistry and related STEM fields as they consider their future studies and careers.

While the COVID-19 pandemic prevented those types of in-person visits this year, a Berlin High School chemistry teacher worked with UConn to make sure his students had that type of experience virtually.

“The visits to UConn are really important to the students taking UConn classes for credit in high school,” says Brendan Wilkosz ’03 (ED), ’04 M.Ed., who has been at Berlin HS since 2004, and teaches a chemistry class that grants UConn credit through the ECE program. “There can be a disconnect for the students if they are physically separated from UConn. This year, that was not possible, but it was important for me to do something, so we worked on a virtual day. There was a real willingness at UConn to get that done to have students experience the challenges and complexities of the work, but also see that the research is cutting edge.” Continue reading

Graduate Student Receives CHAS Graduate Student Safety Leadership Award

Graduate student Cristian Aviles-Martin (Pinkhassik Group) is the recent co-recipient of the ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety (DCHAS) Graduate Student Leadership Award.

Cristian was part of the team of graduate students that were awarded this honor for the contributions towards laboratory safety at their respective institutions and for their work done in developing and facilitating the DCHAS workshop “Empowering Academic Researchers to Strengthen Safety Culture.”

Team members and co-recipients also include: Continue reading

Fulbright Distinguished Chair Award 2021-22

Professor Challa Vijaya Kumar of the Chemistry Department has won the Fulbright Distinguished Chair Award 2021-22 from the US State Department for his proposal on desalination by forward osmosis. He will conduct research in developing protein-based membranes for desalination by a revolutionary concept using state of the art methods. This is his fourth Fulbright award from the US State Department.

Tejas Bhosale Receives GSS Community Service Award

Congratulations to Ph.D. student Tejas Bhosale (Suib Group) for being recognized as the second runner-up for the Graduate Student Senate (GSS) Community Service Award for the 2020-2021 academic year. This award honors a graduate student, who, through his or her exemplary service, has made significant contributions to the intellectual, cultural, and professional capital of the entire graduate student community at the University of Connecticut. In recognition, the GSS is also granting Bhosale a $250 scholarship.

UConn Researchers Search for Scalable Carbon Capture Technology

Studying the promise of a technology that could help in the fight against climate change.

Within the last month, everyone on Earth experienced something no human has experienced before – the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide exceeded 421 parts per million (ppm). To put this into perspective, pre-industrial revolution levels of CO2 were at about 280 ppm, and now we are at the highest levels seen in more than 3 million years.

Yet as awareness of the problem with greenhouse gas emissions rise, emissions themselves also continue to rise, setting off a cascade of feedback loops that exacerbate the problem. As a result, we – especially those of us residing in countries responsible for the bulk of emissions – are going to have to use every tool possible to tackle the problem of emissions. This includes planting forests, drastically reducing emissions, and exploring technology to help capture excess carbon from the atmosphere.

UConn Associate Professor of Chemistry Alfredo Angeles-Boza and his team of researchers, including UConn Professor of Chemistry Christian Brückner and graduate student and post-doctoral researcher John Nganga, are working on improving direct capture technology that could be useful in reducing atmospheric carbon levels. They have two recent publications, in Inorganic Chemistry and Chemical Communications, detailing the process of testing different compounds and their efficiency at catalyzing the reaction to convert CO2 to methane (CH4). Continue reading

2021 Women in Business Honorees

Assistant research professor Nicole Wagner ’07 (CLAS), ’13 Ph.D. was recently named among the Hartford Business Journal’s 2021 Women in Business Honorees. 25 total honorees were recognized for their inspiring leadership at the forefront of Connecticut’s industries. 

Wagner is the President and CEO of LambdaVision, a start-up company commercializing technology developed in the lab of professor emeritus Robert Birge. LambdaVision works to develop artificial retinas that could help patients regain their sight.

When asked about her key to maintaining business success, Wagner tells the Hartford Business Journal: “I think it is important to work hard, be authentic and to create an environment that is centered around trust and open communication. It is critical to lead by example; if you aren’t excited and passionate about what you do, it will be hard to get others to follow.”

Read more about Dr. Nicole Wagner and all 2021 Women in Business Honorees.

UConn Nation Raises $1,000 for the Bobbitt-Chou Fund

During this year’s UConn Gives, a 36-hour giving initiative March 23-24, members of UConn Nation raised $1,000 for the Bobbitt-Chou Fund for Graduate Chemistry Students! Whether you contributed a gift or helped to spread the word, we want to THANK YOU for supporting impactful graduate research opportunities within UConn Chemistry! 

More information about the UConn Gives Bobbitt-Chou Fundraising effort and the past fellowship recipients can be found here.