Undergraduate News

Pinkhassik Group on cover of Chemical Communications


Pinkhassik Group on Cover of Chem Comm

A paper from the Pinkhassik Group was featured on the cover of Chemical Communications. Drs. Sergey Dergunov and Eugene Pinkhassik -- working with collaborators from Saint Louis University -- uncovered evidence for freely diffusing ground-state atomic oxygen, an elusive species whose existence in solution was proposed by never proven. This study used hollow porous nanocapsules developed in the Pinkhassik Group to physically separate the donor and acceptor of an oxygen atom. Photochemical reactions in the presence of a nanometer-thin porous barrier ruled out direct oxygen atom transfer mechanisms and, for the first time, confirmed the formation of diffusing atomic oxygen. Previously produced in the gas phase, atomic oxygen is an extraordinary reactive oxygen species; it is highly reactive like hydroxyl radical, yet selective like singlet oxygen or ozone. Evidence for atomic oxygen in solution provides new insights into the mechanisms of many oxidation reactions, facilitates the search for synthetically viable sources of atomic oxygen, and lays the groundwork for studying the controlled release of small oxidants from photoactivatable precursors.

For further details, read the paper in ChemComm

Remembering Professor Ulrich T. Mueller-Westerhoff Ph.D.

Professor UlrichDear Colleagues and Students,

With sadness I must report news about one of our colleagues.

Emeritus Professor Ulrich T. Mueller-Westerhoff, Ph.D., passed away after a brief illness on January 30, 2019 in Storrs, CT. He was born in Wuppertal, Germany, and grew up in Austria and Germany. After studies in chemistry at the Universities in Marburg and Munich, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Darmstadt in 1967. A postdoctoral stay at the University of California at Berkeley where he firstly synthesized uranocene was followed by employment at the IBM Research Station in Almaden, California. He transitioned back to academia when he moved to the University of Connecticut as Head of the Department of Chemistry in 1982. He was a Guest Professor at the University of Bern, University of Würzburg, and the Max-Planck Institute for Polymer Research. He was awarded an Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation Senior US Scientist Award. He achieved emeritus status at UConn in 2002.

His research field in organometallic chemistry encompassed theoretical aspects of the bonding in sandwich complexes, the chemistry of metallocenophanes, and the utilization of metallodithiolenes. He prepared the last nickel metallodithiolene complex as a laser dye in the emeritus lab in 2017. In support of undergraduate research activities in chemistry, Ulli established the Mueller-Westerhoff Scholarship fund at the University of Connecticut, and many undergraduates have been, and continue to be, supported throughout the summers and the academic year. His sharp intellect, pointed opinions, and generous friendship will be missed.

Services are private.

Christian Brückner

Chem Club Hosts Pfizer Chemists


chem club hosts pfizer chemists picture

Thanks to everyone who came to the Chemistry Club's Pfizer event on Wednesday, Novermeber 7th! Pfizer chemists Dr. Desrosiers and Dr. Brown spoke about what it is like to work for Pfizer, projects they are involved in, and job opportunities for students with a chemistry degree. 38 students attended this event to learn more about opportunities at Pfizer and to meet with the Pfizer representatives.

PFIZER CAREER OPPORTUNITIES: Remember to check out pfizer.com/careers for more information on opportunities. To apply to be a process chemist, use the requisition #4712823 (associate scientist) or #4712828 (senior scientist). Keep your eye on http://www.pfizer.com/careers/en/us-summer-student-worker-program for summer opportunities that will be posted in the spring.

JOIN CHEMISTRY CLUB: To join the Chemistry Club email uconnchemclub@gmail.com

Any suggestions or comments from both students and faculty about this or future events is greatly appreciated.

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

Undergrad Advisor Gives Steps for Success

Jill GrakowskyMeet Jill Grakowsky, the Chemistry Department’s new Undergraduate Advisor. Learn more about Jill, her tips for success, and how to set up an advising appointment.

About Jill Grakowsky

Tell us about your journey — Where did you work before UConn?

I am joining the UConn community following three years of advising at Springfield College where I worked primarily advising exploratory, general studies, and non-matriculated students. As a graduate of Central Connecticut State University, I completed my most recent Master’s Degree in Counselor Education. Continue reading

Undergraduate Student Awards


Presented to the top graduating senior.

Vincent Pistritto



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

Lacie Dube



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

Vincent Pistritto

Continue reading

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.

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!