Undergraduate Student Awards

AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY (ACS) AWARD

Presented to the top graduating senior.

Vincent Pistritto

 

ACS DIVISION OF ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY AWARD

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

Lacie Dube

 

ACS DIVISION OF INORGANIC CHEMISTRY AWARD

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

Vincent Pistritto

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Art in Nanochemistry

Kumar Group Uses Electron Microscopes to Create Awe-Inspiring Images

Nature is a masterful artist, responsible for the sweeping vistas around us. Nature's hand is also evident on the microscopic level when microscopic objects are magnified a billion times over. Using high power electron or optical microscopes, Professor Challa V. Kumar and his Ph.D. students capture the natural world on the nano-level, creating awe-inspiring images of natural materials that are as majestic as the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls.

Over the past few years, Kumar and his students have designed an art exhibit entitled, "Art in Nanochemistry." The exhibit consists of individually framed, hand-colored electron micrograph images. Over twenty unique pieces exist in the collection. These pieces have been featured in locations such as the Homer Babbidge Library Gallery, the Bradley Airport Gallery, and the Windham Hospital Art Gallery.

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Chemistry Students Elected to Phi Beta Kappa

The following students in Chemistry have been elected to Phi Beta Kappa this year. Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest and most widely recognized honors society, celebrating achievement in the liberal arts and sciences. Congratulations to:

Halle Barber

Nicole Gomez

Mark Johnson

Aaron Cesar Lopes

Jessica Elena Ortegon

Ayushi Sanjay Pathak

Zachary Daniel Stempel

Taryn Briana Wisniewski

Joe Allen Zavorskas Jr.

New Compound Helps Activate Cancer-Fighting T Cells

By Colin Poitras, UConn Communications

An illustration showing interactions between components of the AH10-7 compound (yellow), an immune system antigen-presenting cell (gray), and an invariant natural killer T cell (green and blue) that spark activation of iNKT cells in ‘humanized’ mice. (Image courtesy of José Gascón/UConn)
Researchers Amy Howell and José Gascón of the chemistry department discuss a molecular simulation on a laptop monitor in the academic wing of the Chemistry Building. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

Invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells are powerful weapons our body’s immune systems count on to fight infection and combat diseases like cancer, multiple sclerosis, and lupus. Finding ways to spark these potent cells into action could lead to more effective cancer treatments and vaccines.

While several chemical compounds have shown promise stimulating iNKT cells in mice, their ability to activate human iNKT cells has been limited.

Now, an international team of top immunologists, molecular biologists, and chemists led by University of Connecticut chemistry professor Amy Howell reports in Cell Chemical Biology the creation of a new compound that appears to have the properties researchers have been looking for.

The compound – a modified version of an earlier synthesized ligand – is highly effective in activating human iNKT cells. It is also selective – encouraging iNKT cells to release a specific set of proteins known as Th1 cytokines, which stimulate anti-tumor immunity.

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