Graduate News

UConn Nanochemistry Lab Earns Proclamation for Art Exhibit

From Collin Sitz at the Daily Campus:

Caterina Riccardi, a member of the project’s team of eight chemistry graduate students, said the exhibit was created by using “a scanning or transmission electron microscope, which employs a beam of electrons to create an image rather than a light beam used in conventional optical microscopes.”

The University of Connecticut’s Kumar research group will accept a proclamation by Connecticut state senator and UConn alum Mae Flexer Monday for its exhibit “Art in Nanochemistry”.

Dr. Challa Kumar, who has led this lab art project since 2014, said he conceived the exhibit, a 22-photograph set of materials on a nanometer’s scale, in an effort to reach out to the public and promote science in a way that everyone can understand.

“We wanted to represent nanochemistry in a way that the general public without a science degree will be able to appreciate it,” Kumar said. “We thought, ‘Why don’t we do some artwork?’ so people can look at it and we can tell them a little bit more about how we made it and why it’s important.”

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Epitope Resolved Detection of Peanut Specific IgE Antibodies by SPR Imaging

Min Shen, Amit A. Joshi, Raghu Vannam, Chandra K. Dixit, Robert G. Hamilton, Challa V. Kumar, James F. Rusling, Mark W. Peczuh*

Accurate characterization of antibodies (IgEs) in individuals exposed to allergens such as peanuts can provide insight into the clinical manifestation of an allergic reaction and also reveal how its fundamental immunobiology works. Measurement of IgEs to specific allergen epitopes in serum has been a major challenge. UConn Chemistry grad student Min Shen was the lead author on a recent paper in ChemBioChem reporting a new method that first captures IgEs from serum by using anti-IgE decorated magnetic nanoparticles, then measures IgEs binding to specific epitopes from allergen proteins using arrayed SPR imaging. The new technique was used to catalog anti-peanut IgEs in a set of patient samples and showed excellent correlation with clinical diagnostics. The cover art was prepared by Ella Maru studios.

Graduate Student Awarded Fellowship

Svetlana Gelpi (Gascon Group) was awarded the GEM Fellowship sponsored by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. This fellowship awards students the following: $16,000 stipend in the first academic year of the GEM Fellowship; GEM Member University provides a living stipend up to the 5th year of PhD program; a minimum of one paid summer internship with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; full tuition and fees at a GEM University Member.

Gelpi will be working under the supervision of Dr. Felice Lightstone and Dr. Brian Bennion (from the Biochemical and Biophysical Systems Group at Lawrence Livermore) in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline on a project to further automate Computer Aided Drug Design and Discovery.

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)

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 >>>

2nd Annual Alumni Panel

By Gabriella Reggiano

Upon earning their Ph.D., graduate students of the UConn Chemistry Department can pursue careers in fields such as government, academia, or industry. The transition to life after graduate school, however, can be daunting. In order to help students navigate this next period in their lives, the Graduate Student Advisory Committee organized the 2nd Annual Alumni Panel, which included five UConn alumni: Drs. Faith Corbo, Jun Nable, Gavin Richards, Junichi Ogikubo, and Jason McCarthy. Careers ranged from a marketing manager at a specialty chemical company to an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. The group answered questions about interviewing, the merits of industry versus academia, graduating in four years, and the job application timeline.

The panelists, many of whom are now involved in the hiring process, discussed what they tend to look for in resumes and cover letters. Dr. Jason McCarthy, Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School, emphasized alma maters, first author publications, and evidence of productivity and independence. Dr. Junichi Ogikubo, Manager of Radiochemistry Operations at Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, offered his perspective from industry. Dr. Ogikubo stressed the importance of applicants grabbing his attention early: “I get 20 resumes in one email, so a lot of times I’m clicking through several resumes at the same time. Usually, I look at half of your first page, and if that doesn’t work, then I move onto the next one.” Each panelist also spoke about tailoring a resume and cover letter for the job. Dr. McCarthy pointed out how simple it is to identify a generic cover letter. He recommends writing specific cover letters that say, “Here’s what I do, here’s what you do, and here’s how we can work together.”

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Considering Graduate School

Gascon

Dr. José Gascón

Associate Professor & 

Chair, Graduate Admissions Committee

Because graduate application season is upon us, we interviewed Dr. José Gascón, Chair of the UConn Chemistry Graduate Admissions Committee, to gain insight into the application and decision process.

What advice do you have for freshman and sophomores who are considering graduate school?

If you had some research experience and you enjoyed trying to solve a scientific question, then you will enjoy graduate school. If that is the case, then I would advise spending some time looking up the research that is being conducted within your choice of schools.

What are the top three traits/experiences you look for in an applicant?

In no particular order: transcripts and GPA, research or internship experience, letters of reference.

How do GRE scores and publications factor into your decision making process?

In my personal opinion, GRE scores are not a deal breaker and they only compliment other more important credential aspects (i.e. GPA, research experience, and letters). Publications are highly regarded if students have them, but their absence is not considered negative.

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Islam Mosa Wins International 3MT People’s Choice Award

Islam Mosa wins 3MT competitionCongratulations to Graduate Student Islam Mosa for winning the People’s Choice Award in the International Universitas 21 (U21) Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition. This is the first international award for UConn in the U21 3MT competition. Islam received his award from Dr. Kent Holsinger, Dean of the Graduate School. Also, President Herbst has invited Islam to attend the Board of Trustees meeting to congratulate him for his achievement. Islam is now the winner of the Department’s and UConn’s 3MT competitions, as well as the International U21 3MT People’s Choice Award.

The 2016 competition experienced the highest number of participating students – over 1000 students presented in local heats across the network – and the People’s Choice Award saw its highest total number of online votes in the competition history; Islam received the highest number of votes among all participants.

Islam would like to thank his advisor, Dr. Jim Rusling, for the support and constructive feedback, Dr. Challa Kumar for instructing the technical communication course, and to the entire Chemistry Department for voting and supporting him!

Full U21 Story >>> | Video >>>