Art at the Mall

Art at the Mall

On December 18, 2018, The Chronicle featured Kumar Group's NanoArt display at the Windham Regional Art Gallery. The front-page article, "Art at the Mall," highlighted the Jumar Group's display, as well as the work of other local artists. The NanoArt collection showcases colored electron microscope images that capture proteins in a new light. "The art aspects of this is nature's art. We're trying to connect the signs, and the art bridges that," says Kumar.

Full Story Here

Doctoral students Anka Rao and Megan Puglia, Professor Challa Vijaya Kumar, and doctoral sutdents Mensi Malhotra and Jingwen Ding

International Space Station Research Aims to Treat Blindness

Internaltional Space Station Research Aims to Treat Blindness

On Tuesday, December 4th, a product of a UConn Chemistry start-up will be launching into space on the SpaceX CRS-16! With the support of a 2016 MassChallenge CASIS/Boeing Award, a retinal implant developed by LambdaVision will be the subject of research conducted by the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. As the ISS orbits the Earth, the retinal implant will be studied to examine the effects of microgravity in layer-by-layer manufacturing.

LambdaVision is the produce of the research group of Dr.Robert Birdge (Harold S. Schwnek Sr. Distinguished Chair Emeritus; Founder of LambdaVision), Dr. Nicole Wagner (Assistant Research Professor; CEO), and Dr.  Jordan Greco (Assistant Research Professor; CSO)

VIDEO: Assistant Research Professors Nicole Wagner & Jordan Greco dicscuss the ISS U.S. National Laboratory Retinal Implant Project

VIDEO: Water the launch live on NASA TV

Chem Club Hosts Pfizer Chemists


chem club hosts pfizer chemists picture

Thanks to everyone who came to the Chemistry Club's Pfizer event on Wednesday, Novermeber 7th! Pfizer chemists Dr. Desrosiers and Dr. Brown spoke about what it is like to work for Pfizer, projects they are involved in, and job opportunities for students with a chemistry degree. 38 students attended this event to learn more about opportunities at Pfizer and to meet with the Pfizer representatives.

PFIZER CAREER OPPORTUNITIES: Remember to check out for more information on opportunities. To apply to be a process chemist, use the requisition #4712823 (associate scientist) or #4712828 (senior scientist). Keep your eye on for summer opportunities that will be posted in the spring.

JOIN CHEMISTRY CLUB: To join the Chemistry Club email

Any suggestions or comments from both students and faculty about this or future events is greatly appreciated.

UConn CLAS Alumni Help Undergraduates Navigate the Career Landscape

2018 Alumni Panelists
Dennis Maroney ’89 (CLAS), Eileen Meehan ’12 (CLAS) & ’14 M.S., and Dr. Al Berzinis ’75 (CLAS) & ’79 Ph.D. (UCSD)

Alumni Panel Offers Insights in Industrial Career Paths

So as to build a bridge between students interested in industrial career paths and professionals in industry, the UConn Department of Chemistry—in partnership with the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (CLAS) and the UConn Foundation—offered students an opportunity to network with CLAS alumni during a panel event on November 8, 2018. Chemistry major Kailey Huot ‘20 (CLAS) reflected, “At a university, you only really get to see the research and academia side of chemistry. It was extremely beneficial and insightful to hear from the other side: people working in industry and how their career path has shaped them.” The panelists offered unique insights about their careers, answered questions regarding leadership and teamwork, and spoke of how UConn CLAS provided them with the skills needed to successfully navigate the career landscape. Continue reading

Energy Storage & Isotope Determinations: An Interdisciplinary Success Story

Dr. Angeles-Boza with Dr. Johannes Barth and Dr. Julien Bachmann
Left to rights: Dr. Johannes Barth (University of Erlangen), Dr. Julient Bachmann (University of Erlangen), and Dr. Alfredo Angeles-Boza (University of Connecticut)

Alfredo Angeles-Boza is featured in a Nature Research: Chemistry Community article for his recent work with energy storage and kinetic isotope effects that contributed to a publication in Nature Communications.

"Interdisciplinary work can be frustrating - scientists in related, yet distinct, fields often have distinct educational backgrounds and may consider different aspects of a given research problem as important. Moreover, they often use different languages, which impedes efficient communication. Despite these caveats, I have long enjoyed the exchange of ideas and methods with specialists of sciences related to chemistry and worked with physicists, biologists, material scientists, and engineers. Discovering novel and unexpected opportunities offered by the combination of various methods is a satisfaction reserved to someone willing to work in interdisciplinary collaborations..." -Julien Bachmann, Professor, University of Erlangen

To read the full Chemistry Community article, click here

To read the Nature Communications publication, click here

2017-2018 Graduate Student Awards

IC Duay Award
Department Head Christian Brückner presents Graduate Student Searle “IC” Duay with the Masterton-Hurley Teaching Award

Bobbitt-Chou Graduate Summer Research Fellowship

Lei Jin, He Group


Outstanding Research and Service Award

for outstanding performance in service and research

Sam Juliano, Angeles Group


Connecticut Chemistry Research Award

for outstanding performance in research

Hailin Fu, Lin Group


Waring Award

for outstanding academic performance

Anne Mirich, Suib Group


Masterton-Hurley Teaching Award

for outstanding performance as a teaching assistant

Julia DiSapio, Gorka Group

Searle “IC” Duay, Angeles Group

Alyssa Hartmann, Rouge Group

Veronica Hayes, Quardokus Group

Jyoti Nandi, Leadbeater Group

Engaging Future Scientists

  • Science Salon Jr. Event
    2018 Science Salon Jr. participant (UConn Alumni/ UConn Photo)

As part of Homecoming Weekend, children ages 5 to 12 joined UConn faculty, staff, and students for an afternoon of STEM experiments.

The UConn Science Salon Jr. featured manipulations in chemistry, engineering creations, and environmental adventures. The event is an offshoot of the popular UConn Science Salon series, café events designed to encourage public discourse at the intersection of science and culture.

It was held Sunday at the Peter J. Werth Residence Tower on campus.


Story by Lucas Voghell (CLAS ’20) | UConn Today
Photos courtesy of UConn Today and UConn Alumni

A Copper Bullet for Tuberculosis

Bacteria Mycobacterium TuberculosisTuberculosis is a sneaky disease. The bacteria hide from antibiotics inside the very immune cells that are supposed to kill them, making treatment long and difficult. But in the November issue of ACS Infectious Diseases, UConn chemists report a new antibiotic that can find and kill tuberculosis bacteria where they hide.

Tuberculosis is the number one cause of death from infectious disease worldwide. About 25 percent of people on the planet are currently infected. Most of those infections will stay dormant, but one in 10 will become active, infectious, and often fatal if untreated.

Tuberculosis is caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Because of Mycobacterium’s unique lifestyle, in which they allow themselves to be eaten by macrophage immune cells and then grow inside of them, they are very hard to treat. People infected with tuberculosis must typically take a cocktail of antibiotics diligently over many months, because the bacteria are only susceptible to the drugs when they break out of the macrophage in which they were born and search out a new one to invade.

UConn chemist Alfredo Angeles-Boza and his then-graduate student, Daben Libardo, and colleagues from the Indian Institute of Science, the Max Planck Institute, and MIT, decided to make an antibiotic that could make its way into the macrophages and hit the Mycobacteria where they hide. Angeles-Boza and Libardo had previously worked with antibiotics produced by fish, sea squirts, and other sea creatures. Many of these sea creatures make antibiotic peptides – small pieces of protein-like material – with a special chemical talent: when they bind to copper atoms, they enable the copper to shift its electrical charge from +2 to +3 and back. Copper with this ability becomes aggressive, ripping electrons away from some molecules and adding them to others, particularly oxygen-containing molecules. The oxygen-containing molecules become free radicals, dangerous chemicals that attack anything they encounter, including Mycobacteria.

Human macrophages infected with Mycobacteria also use copper to attack the bacteria, but they do so in a less sophisticated way. They trap the bacteria in a bubble and then inject copper +1 ions – that is, plain copper atoms with a plus one charge (Cu+) – into the bubble. But the Mycobacteria can handle that. To them, the bubble is a safe haven, and the Cu+ ions are mere annoyances. The bacteria can steal an extra electron from the Cu+ to make it Cu2+. The copper becomes unreactive and safe that way. And when enough Cu2+ surrounds the Mycobacteria, other, more dangerous kinds of copper can’t get close.

Surrounded by defanged copper, “the bacteria can grow in peace. It’s elegant!” says Angeles-Boza. But if Angeles-Boza and Libardo have their way, the copper camouflage will become Mycobacteria’s downfall. If the antibiotic peptides can get close to the bacteria, they can grab onto one of the copper ions and weaponize it. The trick is getting the peptide close to the bacteria.

To do that, the chemists put the peptides into little bubbles similar to the kind cells use to move around packets of protein ingredients and other tasty stuff. When the bacteria snags one for a snack, the peptide works its chemistry and kills it.

The antibiotic peptide developed by Libardo and Angeles Boza effectively kills Mycobacteria living in macrophages in the lab, but they haven’t been able to cure tuberculosis in mice yet – peptide drugs have various problems that make them tricky to use in mammals. The next step in the research is to use the same chemistry in smaller molecules that can be taken as pills like more typical antibiotics.

This research was funded by grants from NSF.

Article by Kim Krieger, Courtesy of UConn Today

Polymorphism in Benzene-1,3,5- Tricarboxamide Supramolecular Assemblies in Water

Dr. Yao Lin, Associate Professor of Chemistry/Polymer Program, and fellow collaborators were recently published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Below is a description of the research:

The control of reaching a specifically designed morphology in supramolecular assembly is one of the key aspects for future success in the area of supramolecular materials, As different structures can be formed by different pathways or by a temperature dependent polymorphism, novel strategies have to be established to obtain a desired structure in the resulting materials. Supported by an NSF CAREER grant and the “Research Opportunities in Europe for NSF CAREER Awardees,” Prof. Yao Lin got an opportunity to attack this challenge by working with Prof. Bert Meijer at the Eindhoven University of Technology. Together, they discovered that increased dynamics is required to provide enough flexibility of the system to form defect-free structures in water. Without this flexibility, the assemblies are frozen into a variety of structures that are very similar at the supramolecular level, but less defined at the mesoscopic level.

To read the full article, click here:


Smart Phone Soup

In the bottom drawer of your desk at home lie all the “must-haves” of yesteryear — a bundle of knotted earphones, a broken computer mouse, some overplayed CDs, a flip phone, an iPod. A study in The Global E-waste Monitor 2017 reported that in 2016 humans generated 44.7 million metric tons of electronic waste (e-waste). And in that graveyard of a desk drawer, the basement, or a landfill, all these devices will rot for hundreds, even thousands, of years before degrading. The glass used in just one cell phone takes some 500 years to decompose.

But what if the future smartphones and tablets were made of edible materials? To chemistry professor Challa Kumar, a future where you can pop your cell phone in a pot of water, swirl it around, bring it to a boil, and have yourself a yummy iPhone stew is not science fiction but a future reality of his research in bionanotechnology, or what he calls “edible chemistry.”

Kumar and his team of graduate students created a white LED light from bovine serum albumin (BSA), a waste product of the meat industry. White LEDs are used in electronics like phones and TVs that emit white light from their screens. Kumar’s “hamburger protein” LEDs emit white light at a higher resolution than current LEDs and, says Kumar, “When you are done with the device, you could eat it.”

“We are the only group in the world doing this where both products and reactants are edible ­— to humans, plants, or bacteria,” he adds.

The team’s research has clinical significance, too. The edible LED also has inexpensive pH and glucose sensing capabilities. Combined with the team’s food-based batteries, these LEDs could replace current electronic glucose meters for diabetics.

Kumar also is exploring the possibility of using lipids from coconut oil to replace the toxic elements in current cancer cell–targeting treatments. He and his students believe the uses for edible chemistry are limitless, that it is the future of tech­nology as well as environmental awareness.

In the not-too-distant future, they say, we could be watching our favorite Netflix series on screens made from the same materials as last night’s burgers.

-Cara Williams ’18 (CLAS) courtesy of UConn Magazine