Dr. Jessica Rouge Receives NSF CAREER Grant

The National Science Foundation recently announced UConn faculty member Jessica Rouge as the recipient of a CAREER grant. The funding, which comes from the NSF’s Macromolecular Supramolecular and Nanochemistry program, will enable the Rouge group to develop novel chemical crosslinking strategies that can be incorporated into DNA nanomaterials. Using a new DNA-surfactant assembly strategy that generates DNA nanoshells compatible with cells and enzymes, the major goal of the grant is to synthesize a combination of peptide and synthetic crosslinkages that can control the nanomaterials assembly and disassembly in complex biological environments. These materials will be specifically designed to have selectivity for certain chemical stimuli that can initiate chemical and/or biochemical reactions. Such strategies are important for developing more sensitive biological sensors and more accurate drug delivery systems.

To learn more about the grant, click here.

Dr. Jessica Rouge and Dr. Nicholas Leadbeater Receive Grants Toward Development of Novel Therapeutics 

Researcher in the School of Pharmacy on Nov. 8, 2018. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) recently announced recipients in the inaugural funding round for the Program in Accelerated Therapeutics for Healthcare (PATH). PATH is a partnership that includes the OVPR, the School of Pharmacy, and the School of Medicine to accelerate the translational pathway for researchers to convert their discoveries to new medical therapeutics.

Under PATH, funding is provided to academic research programs designed to quickly develop novel therapeutic approaches focusing on well validated molecular targets for specific disease areas with an unmet treatment need in the current commercial marketplace. Projects focusing on a wide range of therapeutic interventions (small molecule, biologic, antibody, peptide, gene therapy) are eligible for consideration.

Two UConn Chemistry Professors, Dr. Jessica Rouge and Dr. Nicholas Leadbeater were recipients of the PATH grants. Continue reading

New 3D-Printed Technology Lowers Cost of Common Medical Test

A desire for a simpler, cheaper way to do common laboratory tests for medical diagnoses and to avoid “washing the dishes” led University of Connecticut researchers to develop a new technology that reduces cost and time.

Their pipette-based technology could also help make certain medical testing available in rural or remote areas where traditional methods might otherwise be prohibitively expensive and complicated to conduct.

The 3D-printed pipette-tip test developed by the researchers leverages what “has long been the gold standard for measuring proteins, pathogens, antibodies and other biomolecules in complex matrices,” they say. The method still employs the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, also known as ELISA, but through a different route. They detailed their findings in a paper recently published online in Analytical Chemistry.

 

UConn graduate student Mohamed Sharafeldin, and his advisor, chemistry professor James Rusling, developed a way to 3D print a pipette tip. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

For 30 years or more, ELISA has been used to test blood, cells and other biological samples for everything from certain cancers to HIV, from Lyme disease to pernicious anemia.

Traditional ELISA tests are performed on plates featuring 96 micro-wells; each well works as a separate testing chamber where samples can be combined with various agents that will then react with the sample, typically by changing color. Technicians can then analyze whether a sample contains indicators of a particular disease or condition depending on the intensity of the color produced during the reaction. Continue reading

Science Activity Day at UConn

In the past few months, UConn Chemistry has held numerous events to expand its outreach within the Connecticut community. Some of the more recent events that were held involved the UConn Chemistry Department partnering with local schools in an effort to teach young students about what pursuing an interest in Chemistry can do for them post-graduation. On April 25th and May 17th, the Department opened its doors to various high schools for a day of lectures, demonstrations, and hands-on laboratory activities for students.

The April 25th trip was coordinated by the Early College Experience office and Dr. Fatma Selampinar, with activities hosted by Dr. Jessica Rouge, Dr. Gaël Ung, and their graduate students (Alyssa H., Saketh G., Mark T., Kaitlynn A., Erin B., Nishya M. and Rebecca F.).  To kick off the day’s events, students learned about fluorescent molecules and biomacromolecules that can build structures at the nanoscale. During Dr. Ung’s activities, students were taught the principles of fluorescence and how light interacts with molecules. They were exposed to scientific thinking and given the opportunity to construct glow sticks. The students were asked to determine why molecules glowed and made hypotheses that they then verified experimentally. Later, the students gathered and shared the results of their experiments to observe the relationship between chemical structure and a molecules ability to glow.

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UConn Chemistry Provides Workshop for Connecticut Teachers

Photo courtesy of Tomoyasu Mani

May 15th, UConn Chemistry offered a day-long workshop for high school chemistry teachers in Connecticut. The workshop was coordinated by the Early College Experience Office, Dr. Fatma Selampinar, and Dr. Tomoyasu Mani. Dr. Mani, with help from graduate assistants Jason Buck (Mani Lab), and Jingwen Ding and Megan Puglia (Kumar Lab), organized the lecture and experiments. In the morning, the 23 Connecticut teachers attended a lecture on molecular photophysics and electron transfer theory, followed by hands-on experience on charge-transfer complexes. In the afternoon, teachers learned about photon upconversion followed by a demonstration in the lab. They were also taken on a tour of the laser laboratory in the Mani lab, where they observed state-of-the-art laser spectroscopies.

 

Pinkhassik Lab SURF Undergraduate Awardees

Building Functional Nanomaterials Abstract Image
Vesicle-templated nanocapsules offer a unique combination of properties enabled by robust shells with single-nanometer thickness containing programmed uniform pores capable of fast and selective mass transfer. These capsules emerged as a versatile platform for creating functional devices, such as nanoreactors, nanosensors, and containers for the delivery of drugs and imaging agents (Pinkhassik Lab).


Pinkhassik Lab Research

The research focus of the Pinkhassik Lab in the Department of Chemistry is making nanomaterials and nanodevices with new and superior properties to address current problems in energy-related technologies, medical imaging and treatment, and environmental sensing.

An article recently published in the Accounts of Chemical Research exemplifies the research conducted by the Pinkhassik Group: “Building Functional Nanodevices with Vesicle-Templated Porous Polymer Nanocapsules” (Acc. Chem. Res. 2019 52, 1, 189-198). In this account, Assistant Research Professor Sergey Dergunov et al. discuss how unique properties of vesicle-templated nanocapsules translate into the creation of functional nanodevices. See the full article here: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.accounts.8b00442.

Victoria Bozhulich ’21, Allison Zupan ’21, and Victoria Livingston ’21

SURF Award Recipients

The Pinkhassik Lab is looking forward to a busy summer! Three undergraduate student group members have won Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) awards to conduct work on nanocapsules during this period. Continue reading

Chemistry Building Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Chemistry Building

(Peter Morenus/UConn)

Transformative. Iconic. Chemistry.

Opening in 1999, the Chemistry Building was the first UConn building to be built as part of the 10-year UConn 2000 initiative, a series of 85 capital projects across UConn's campuses. This iconic campus landmark marked the beginning of an amazing transformation of the Storrs campus. In these years, the Department has experienced tremendous growth thanks to the hard work, innovation, and success of all those that call the Chemistry Building “home.” 

UConn 2000, the Beginning of a Transformation

Signed into law in 1995, UConn 2000 was a 10-year plan to transform the University of Connecticut. As the Connecticut Legislature approved a $1 billion package to rebuild and expand the University of Connecticut, the state's investment in its flagship public university marked the largest such initiative in the nation at the time. The success of the bill is credited—in part—to a wave of "Huskymania" that overtook Connecticut as the women's and men's basketball teams vied for national championships.1

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2019 Undergraduate Awards

2019 Undergrad Award Ceremony

 

AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY (ACS) GRADUATING SENIOR AWARD

Presented to the top graduating senior.

Joshua Paolillo

 

ACS DIVISION OF ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY AWARD

Presented to a student who displays an aptitude for a career in Analytical Chemistry.

Caroline Anastasia

 

ACS DIVISION OF INORGANIC CHEMISTRY AWARD

Recognizing achievements by an undergraduate in inorganic chemistry pursuing a career in chemistry.

Ahmed Ahmed

 

ACS DIVISION OF ORGANIC CHEMISTRY AWARD

Presented to a student who has demonstrated excellence in organic chemistry and related fields based on research, coursework, and is committed to a career in chemistry.

Joshua Paolillo

 

ACS DIVISION OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY AWARD

Presented to a student who has demonstrated excellence in physical chemistry and related fields based on research, coursework, and is committed to a career in chemistry.

Mark Johnson

 

AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF CHEMISTS GRADUATING SENIOR AWARD

Presented to an outstanding senior.

Elyse Estra

 

EXCELLENCE IN GENERAL CHEMISTRY AWARD

Presented to undergraduate chemistry majors for achievements in General Chemistry.

Ana Magano

Ronghui You

 

GARY A. EPLING SCHOLARSHIP

This scholarship is presented annually to an outstanding undergraduate chemistry major. The award is made possible by family of Gary A. Epling, a former faculty member of the University.

Andrew Spielman

 

MÜLLER-WESTERHOFF UNDERGRADUATE SCHOLARSHIP

This is a scholarship created by the late Ulrich Müller-Westerhoff, an emeritus faculty member from the UConn Chemistry Department, to provide financial assistance to full-time undergraduate chemistry majors who have proven their commitment to the program and is participating in undergraduate research.

Cole Stearns

 

WILLIAM R. GRANQUIST, JR. MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP

William R. Granquist, Jr., a chemistry major and UConn graduate (1983), died in an explosion at the Ensign-Bickford Co. on August 16, 1984. His parents, a number of friends, and Ensign-Bickford Co. have established a scholarship fund in his memory.

Hira Ilyas

Utsav Sheth

Hao Xu

 

ROLAND WARD THESIS AWARD

This award is given to the best thesis. It was established through the generosity of the Roland Ward Family to encourage greater undergraduate participation in research and to foster better writing skills as part of t he educational process.

Caroline Anastasia

Lightweight of Periodic Table Plays Big Role in Life on Earth

 


Although hydrogen is the lightweight of the chemical elements, it packs a real punch when it comes to its role in life and its potential as a solution to some of the world’s challenges. As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the periodic table, it seems reasonable to tip our hat to this, the first element on the table.

One oxygen atom is connected to two hydrogen atoms to make water. Liaskovskaia Ekaterina/SHutterstock.com

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, but not on Earth due to its light weight, which allows the gas to just float off into space. Hydrogen is essential to our life – it fuels the sun, which converts hundreds of million tons of hydrogen into helium every second. And two hydrogen atoms are attached to one oxygen atom to make water. Both these things make our planet habitable.

Not only does hydrogen enable the sun to warm the Earth and help create the water that sustains life, but this simplest of all the elements may also provide the key to finding a clean fuel source to power the planet.

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