Alumni News

The Wolff New Venture Competition and UConn Entrepreneurs

The Wolff New Venture Competition—championed through the UConn School of Business—mentors start-up candidates and awards those who are most likely to advance society with their ideas. Research professor Nicole Wagner ’07 (CLAS), ’13 Ph.D. is regarded as one of the first winners of this competition with her start-up company, LambdaVision. LambdaVision commercializes technology developed by professor emeritus Robert Birge to restore the vision of patients affected by retinal degenerative diseases. Nicole Wagner currently serves as President and CEO and research professor Jordan Greco ’10 (CLAS), ’15 Ph.D. serves as the CSO.

Read more about the Wolff New Venture Competition and how it benefited start-up companies like LambdaVision here.

A Day in the Life of an Analytical Scientist

Curtis GuildIn a recent podcast with OnePointe Solutions, Curtis Guild ’17 Ph.D. describes his journey in inorganic and analytical chemistry.

Originally an undergraduate English major, Curtis became passionate about chemistry when he was offered a research opportunity during his sophomore year.

Choosing between industry and graduate school, Curtis credits an undergraduate mentor with recommending graduate school. Ultimately, Curtis chose UConn’s graduate program based on a tour that led to “some really great conversations with professors, with different program directions, and a lot of promise and growth.”

At UConn, Curtis became a member of the Suib Research Group. There, he developed a particular technical expertise with equipment, such as spectrometers and X-Ray equipment. Curtis believes that understanding how to utilize and leverage the proper research equipment has been one of the most valuable career development experiences he has had thus far.

During his years at UConn, Curtis also became involved in outreach efforts to get youth more involved in science. Curtis credits his experience as a volunteer for the Connecticut Middle School Science Bowl as “arguably the most fun that [he] has ever had in terms of [his] science journey so far.” Curtis believes in the value of making science fun for the next generation of scientists.

To promote personal and career development, Curtis encourages the use of professional social media—such as LinkedIn—to network and share expertise with others.

Curtis is currently a Contract Analytical Scientist at Cytiva (formerly GE Life Sciences) and Founder of Centaur Technologies.

Listen to the full podcast

LambdaVision Receives $5 Million from NASA

Nicole Wagner, CEO of UConn TIP company LambdaVision, works in the lab at the Cell and Genome Sciences Building in Farmington
Nicole Wagner pipettes in the lab at Lambavision at the Cell and Genome Sciences Building in Farmington on June 9, 2017. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

LambdaVision, an innovative biotech founded on UConn technology, along with implementation partner, Space Tango, has been selected by NASA for a $5 million award. This new funding will support LambdaVision’s development of the first protein-based artificial retina to restore meaningful vision for patients who are blind or have lost significant sight due to advanced retinitis pigmentosa (RP), with follow-on applications in age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness for adults over 55 years old. As part of this award, LambdaVision and Space Tango will explore the benefits of microgravity for producing the startup’s artificial retina on the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory located in low-Earth orbit (LEO). Continue reading

UConn Alumnus Gives TEDx Talk

Dr. Matthew Guberman-Pfeffer, a UConn alumnus and current postdoctoral researcher at Yale University, is an accomplished chemist with a unique perspective on the molecular makings of our world. He also happens to be blind. In his TEDx Talk, he shares his story of resilience and how he learned to comprehend a subject that is typically taught by visuals in the classroom.

Matthew Guberman-Pfeffer

 

Watch his TEDx talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFwJuGP2LPg

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

Read More

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

Engaging Future Scientists

  • Steve Barshay
    Keegan Bowdler and father Daniel, a Ph.D. student in water resources, listen as Steven Barshay, assistant professor of chemistry, gets ready to put a blowtorch to their coin, changing the color and getting it ready for the press. (Lucas Voghell/ 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.

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

Alumni & Friends Networking Reception

On August 19, 2018, a group of approximately 40 alumni, current faculty, and current graduate students gathered in Boston for our first Alumni & Friends Networking Reception.

Throughout the night, connections were made within and across various generations of research groups.

We look forward to the opportunity to host similar events in the future. Please stay tuned!

  • ASC Group Photo

Dr. Rusling Named Krenicki Professor

Rusling

On August 1st, 2018, the University of Connecticut Board of trustees approved Dr. James Rusling as the Paul Krenicki Professor of Chemistry.

The Paul Krenicki Professorship is possible with the support of John Krenicki Jr. '84 and Donna Samson Krenicki '84. The professorship is named after Krenicki's brother, Paul, who had a passion for chemistry but whose college career was cut short. Paul was bound for a career as a chemist, but died of cancer at age 22. The Paul Krenicki Professorship of Chemistry provides the Chemistry Department with a significant boost and will help bolster UConn's rising academic stature.

"To attract faculty, having these endowed professorships is a big deal. It's a big factor in terms of recruiting and retaining key faculty. It's a permanent commitment to the university. From where we sit, it's probably the best thing we can do to advance the university," said Krenicki, a longtime, generous donor to the University.

"This professorship will strengthen our Chemistry Department's already exceptional capacity to train undergraduates for science careers and to pursue research in fields like material science, biomedicine, and environmental sustainability. UConn undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty will all benefit from this gift for years to come, and for that we are truly grateful to them," said Jeremy Teitelbaum, former dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Professor Rusling was nominated for the inaugural Krenicki Chair by a search committee of his peers within the department. The nomination was based on his truly remarkable record of research and funding. Rusling came to UConn in 1979, and has authored more than 400 research publications and book chapters, in addition to mentoring 57 Ph.D. students and 36 postdoctoral fellows. He is currently the program director of two large multi-investigator NIH projects, one involving six Irish universities and another that targets new high throughput toxicity screening arrays. He has collaborated with numerous faculty over the years, both within UConn and externally. Professor Rusling is an example of a world-class researcher, dedicated educator, and engaged departmental member. We are proud to have such a truly deserving holder of this new chair within the ranks of our department.

Excerpts courtesy of Grace Merritt, UConn Foundation

UConn Chemistry in Motion at Science Salon Junior Event

UConn Chemistry lecturer Dr. Clyde Cady directed several dozen budding scientists through two interactive demonstrations of “Electrons in Motion” during last month’s Science Salon Junior event. Science Salon Junior, held during UConn’s 2017 Family Weekend, featured exciting experiments for children ages 5-12. Throughout the event, Cady and Greg Bernard, CLAS Director of Alumni Relations, led a team of chemists that included Professor Dr. Mark Peczuh, graduate students Svetlana Gelpi and Xudong Wang, and undergraduate student Shahan Kamal. In one demonstration, Salon Junior participants electroplated zinc onto copper pennies and then “brassed” them by heating them in a flame. In the other demonstration, students prepared solutions and observed the phosphorescence of a ruthenium (III) bipyridine complex. As the lights went out to observe the phosphorescence, one participant quipped, “Now I see the light!” Cady’s perspective on the event is equally profound, reflecting, “I hope we illuminated the power of chemistry for our young scientists and polished their interest in STEM so that it was just as bright and shiny as the brass pennies we made.”

These fun, kid-friendly demonstrations were part of the inaugural Science Salon Junior program, an off-shoot of UConn’s successful Science Salon events.

 

Photos courtesy of the UConn Foundation & Dr. Mark Peczuh