Job Posting: Academic Assistant 3 – Mass Spec

The Department of Chemistry, in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, is accepting applications for a full-time manager (Academic Assistant 3) to run the Mass Spectrometry Laboratory. This is a hands-on position that involves training graduate students, performing service and custom analyses, and operating, maintaining and repairing instruments, as well as helping the upgrading of mass spectrometry instrumentation.


  1. Operate all mass spectrometers in the Chemistry Mass Spectrometry facility.
  2. Conduct all upgrades and performance maintenance of all mass spectrometers in the facility, perform small repairs, and coordinate outside engineering repair services.
  3. Maintain operation logs, data storage, and reservation systems.
  4. Train students to use mass spectrometry instruments.
  5. Provide service analyses and develop new MS services to meet the needs of faculty and customers.
  6. Provide assistance in the writing of internal and external grant proposals involving mass spectrometry.

The position reports directly to the Department Head. The Facility Manager is expected to work closely with a Committee/Faculty Director of the MS Facility to coordinate on operation, training, maintenance, and upgrading of mass spectrometry instrumentation.


Candidates must have a Ph.D. in chemistry with a concentration in mass spectrometry and at least one year of post-graduation experience. Must have strong knowledge and experience with MS instrumentation using all modern ionization methods and HPLC-MS hyphenation techniques. Excellent communication skills with a diverse clientele are required.


Should have strong knowledge and experience with MS instrumentation using all modern ionization methods and HPLC-MS hyphenation techniques. Experience with QqTOF-MS, QqQ-MS, GC-MS, MALDI-TOF MS and related methods. Experience with hardware performance maintenance, instrument troubleshooting, and repair. Experience with the analyses of small molecules, biomolecules, and polymers.


This is an eleven month, annually renewable position, with full benefits. Salary is commensurate with experience with starting salary in the range of $75-90k.


To apply, please visit UConn Jobs online application system at: For full consideration, upload a cover letter, detailed CV, service statement including service philosophy, service experience, lab management plans, commitment to effective service, concepts for new method development, etc. and names and contact information for three professional references. Review of applications will begin immediately and will remain open until the position is filled. Please include the search number 2018059 with all correspondence.

Employment of the successful candidate is contingent upon the successful completion of a pre-employment background check. (Search # 2018059).

All employees are subject to adherence to the State Code of Ethics which may be found at

The University of Connecticut is committed to building and supporting a multicultural and diverse community of students, faculty and staff. The diversity of students, faculty and staff continues to increase, as does the number of honor students, valedictorians and salutatorians who consistently make UConn their top choice. More than 100 research centers and instates serve the University’s teaching, research, diversity, and outreach missions, leading to UConn’s ranking as one of the nation’s top research universities. UConn’s faculty and staff are the critical link to fostering and expanding our vibrant, multicultural and diverse University community. As an Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity employer, UConn encourages applications from women, veterans, people with disabilities and members of traditionally underrepresented populations.

2016-2017 Graduate Student Awards

The following awards were presented at the Chemistry Department’s Annual Safety Training on August 24, 2017. 
Waring (Scholastic) Award: Highest GPA for the 2016-2017 class.
Tianqi (Kiki) Chen (Rusling)
Masterton (Teaching) Awards: To be recommended by the TA committee or by instructors who may nominate their TAs for excellence in teaching. 
Islam Mosa (Rusling)
Mohamed Sharafeldin (Rusling)
Murali Anuganti (Lin)
Megan Puglia (Kumar)
Shelli Miller (Leadbeater)
Connecticut Chemistry Research Award: List of publications of the graduate student with full citations, and a nomination letter from the major advisor describing research contributions of the student.
Kyle Lambert (Bailey)
Karteek Kadimisetty (Rusling)
Outstanding Service and Research AwardNomination letter from faculty and/or staff describing specific activities or service provided to the department by the student, and a list of publications of the graduate student with full citations, and a nomination letter from the major advisor describing research contributions of the student.
Shannon Poges  (Suib)
Excellence in Service Award; Nomination letter from faculty or staff describing outstanding service by a graduate student, over and beyond normal expectation.
Alyssa Hartmann (Rouge)
Bobbitt-Chou Graduate Summer Research Fellowship: This is a fellowship to recognize early accomplishment in a student’s graduate studies and the promise of continued success. One student entering their third summer of research will be awarded a $3,500 fellowship. The fellowship will be awarded based on course grades and a letter from the primary research advisor. The letter should specifically address the technical abilities of the student and his/her conceptual ownership and creative contributions to the research project. 
Matthew Guberman-Pfeffer (Gascon)

Synthesizing Pure Graphene, a ‘Miracle Material’

By Jessica McBride, Office of the Vice President for Research

Douglas Adamson, in the lab at the Institute of Materials Science on Aug. 23, 2017. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Formed deep within the earth, stronger than steel, and thinner than a human hair. These comparisons aren’t describing a new super hero. They’re describing graphene, a substance that some experts have called “the most amazing and versatile” known to mankind.

UConn chemistry professor Doug Adamson, a member of the Polymer Program in UConn’s Institute of Materials Science, has patented a one-of-a-kind process for exfoliating this wonder material in its pure (unoxidized) form, as well as manufacturing innovative graphene nanocomposites that have potential uses in a variety of applications.

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UConn Chemistry REU Symposium 2017

The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program, funded via the National Science Foundation, allows undergraduate students the opportunity to spend their summer conducting research at a REU host institution. Students spend approximately 10 weeks working closely on a research project with faculty members and graduate students. Students will also have the opportunity to utilize the research equipment and facilities specific to the host site.

To culminate their experience, the REU participants in chemistry presented their summer-long projects in a symposium on August 2, 2017. Click through the slideshow below to get a taste of what they accomplished!


Dr. Rebecca Quardokus Shares Her Passion For Microscopy

By Amanda Campanaro, IMS

There’s a special moment for most students when they discover what they really want to do with their major. For Rebecca Quardokus, Assistant Professor in Chemistry and associate faculty in IMS, that moment came as a junior at Grand Valley State University, Michigan, when her father sent her an article on Professor James Tour’s research at Rice University, Texas.

Dr. Quardokus, who had recently become a chemistry major, found the research fascinating. “His group had synthesized nano-sized cars with C60 fullerenes (buckyballs) for wheels, and they used scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) to image individual cars moving around on a gold surface,” Dr. Quardokus explains. “I was very excited to learn that STM, in addition to imaging, could manipulate individual atoms and molecules on the surface.” It was then she decided to attend graduate school to work with and master that “amazing technique.”

Now, Dr. Quardokus focuses her research on the engineering and reliability of molecular networks and two-dimensional materials for next-generation electronic devices. Her passion for learning STM has led her to begin a project working on developing new two-dimensional materials using surface-confined polymerization reactions.

“I use scanning tunneling microscopy, with its ability to measure individual atoms and molecules, to study the reactants and products,” she says.  “I will also study the charge and thermal transport properties of these materials.” Her group is hoping to tune specific properties for use in next-generation electronics.

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From Storrs to Shanghai, Chemistry Professor Aims to Bridge International Collaboration

By Amanda Campanaro, IMS

Yao Lin, Associate Professor of Chemistry in the Polymer Program of the Institute of Materials Science, has become very passionate about chemistry and polymer science—and about encouraging intercontinental collaboration on it. With a background in chemistry, polymer and molecular biology and a degree from Fudan University, China, Dr. Lin is interested in researching bio-inspired materials for the future and developing educational opportunities for students at home and abroad.

Dr. Lin and his lab are currently working on two projects which mimic certain natural protein polymers and complex enzymes to create synthetic, bio-inspired materials. One direction is trying to understand the cooperative folding and interactions between complex macromolecules containing synthetic polypeptides to mimic the dynamic process of protein polymerization. According to Dr. Lin, the protein polymerizations provide the filaments with excellent mechanical strengths for our muscles, our cells, and contribute to cell movement. The reason cells can move is partially because these protein fibers can grow on one end, and shrink on the other end.

The other direction involves mimicking an enzymatic structure that forms “teams” that can degrade cellulose into sugars. When bacteria develop complex structures like nano-machines that recruit six to ten different types of enzymes into a team, they can work much more effectively than individual enzymes. Dr. Lin and his group are researching whether they can replace that type of protein scaffold with synthetic polymers, and thus design the chemistry at interface between these polymers and proteins. This will allow them to recruit different engineered proteins in an organized manner.

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Professor Michael Smith Retires after 38 Years of Service

By Gabriella Reggiano

Michael Smith, professor emeritus of chemistry, on April 12, 2017. (Bri Diaz/UConn Photo)

Professor Emeritus of Chemistry Michael Smith, who recently retired after more than three-and-a-half decades of service, has made teaching organic chemistry to nearly 400 students seem easy. As Smith discusses his tips and tricks for managing a large class, it is difficult to picture him in any other profession. As Department Head Christian Brückner notes, “Few instructors are able to teach such large classes, and even fewer can command the stage of such large classrooms as effectively as Smith…His retirement from UConn leaves a large gap.”

But Smith did not originally imagine himself in academia. After graduating from Virginia Tech with a B.S. in Chemistry, he became an Analytical Chemist at Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., performing water analysis to keep the primary and secondary coolants of navy ships within specifications. When he realized that he wanted something different out of his career, he decided to go back to school to earn his Ph.D. Even then, he was not considering becoming a professor. “It just never entered my head that it was a possibility,” Smith recalled. “As a matter of fact, when I first went to graduate school, I had the idea to work in industry. That was really all I ever thought about. It wasn’t until I taught and I liked graduate school and I liked doing research.”

Instead, Smith entered into a long career in academia, leaving a lasting legacy as a teacher, author, and mentor at UConn. He joined the Department of Chemistry as an Assistant Professor in the fall of 1979, just two years after earning his Ph.D. Over the course of his tenure, Professor Smith has mentored 15 Ph.D. students, 13 M.S. students, and approximately 90 undergraduates. He has taught 75 semesters worth of courses, including both halves of undergraduate organic chemistry and graduate courses on organic synthesis and organic reactions. In addition to teaching at UConn, he has also taught courses at companies like Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb, as well as courses abroad in Spain and China. In the midst of all this, Dr. Smith found the time to author 25 books – which have sold in excess of over 100,000 copies.

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Islam Mosa wins AAAS Student Poster Award

Islam Mosa (Rusling Group) won the first place award in the 2017 Science AAAS student poster competition (Category: Physical Sciences). The award includes recognition of the poster title and the winner’s name in the March 24th issue of Science, a cash prize, certificate, and a one-year AAAS membership. A committee of 7 judges from Harvard, MIT, and industry evaluated all posters and selected the winner. The 2nd and 3rd places of the same category received honorable mentions in Science and were awarded to Hendrik Utzak and Anahita Zare from MIT and University of Missouri respectively.

See all poster competition winners and honorable mentions here >>>