Faculty New Hire: Chenjie Zeng, Assistant Professor Energy/Catalysis, Inorganic Division

Dr. Zeng received her undergraduate degree at Nankai University (China), and her Ph.D. degree at Carnegie Mellon University with Prof. Rongchao Jin, a preeminent scientist in atomically precise metal nanoclusters. Dr. Zeng later joined the laboratories of Prof. Christopher B. Murray and Prof. Cherie R. Kagan at the University of Pennsylvania as a NatureNet Science Postdoctoral Fellow, where she focused on developing new semiconductor nanocrystals for printable solar cells. Research in Dr. Zeng’s group at UF will center around the synthesis and self-assembly of atomically precise semiconductor nanocrystals. Through “marrying” precise nanochemistry with solid-state physics and molecular biology, Zeng’s lab will embrace some significant challenges such as efficient optoelectronic devices for energy conversions, hierarchical solids for exotic physical properties, as well as the emergence of life. The ultimate goal of Zeng’s lab is to design and create synthetic nanomaterial systems that can eventually rival the precision, hierarchy, and complexity of the living systems.

Department New Hire: Nicole Lapeyrouse, Lecturer, UF Online

Dr. Nicole Lapeyrouse’s background as a researcher is in industrial environmental chemistry and chemistry education. The practical knowledge from these fields heavily influence her teaching style. As an educator, her primary goal is for each student to become an independent thinker, tackle atypical problems, and cultivate collaborative skills. To achieve these goals, she incorporates evidence-based teaching strategies into her course design. Her courses use a variety of contemporary multimedia sources as a medium for instruction; creating an environment that facilitates understanding and collaboration. Current societal issues are utilized as examples to help students understand how chemistry is related to a wide range of applications and every day occurrences.

Faculty New Hire: DR. Miranda Quintana, Assistant Professor Computational Chemistry, Physical Division

Dr. Miranda Quintana received his B.S. degree (Radiochemistry major, summa cum laude) from the Higher Institute of Technologies and Applied Sciences (Havana, Cuba). He earned his Ph.D. (Chemistry) in 2017 from the University of Havana, and conducted research between Cuba (supervised by Prof. Luis Montero, University of Havana) and Canada (supervised by Prof. Paul Ayers, McMaster University). He then went on to McMaster University for a year, before moving to York University (Toronto) for a postdoc in the group of Prof. Rene Fournier, thanks to a York Science Fellowship. Dr. Miranda Quintana’s work is devoted to developing, implementing, and applying new tools to study the electronic structure of atoms and molecules. In particular, he is interested in exploring wave function forms suitable for describing strongly correlated systems. He is also working on new ways to study charge transfer and chemical reactivity using quantum chemistry and statistical mechanics.

Dept. New Hire: Dr. Stefanie Habenicht, Lecturer, Organic Division

“Dr. Habenicht obtained her Dr. rer. nat. (Sc.D.) at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany, where she developed novel small-molecule fluorophores. As an Adjunct Lecturer here at UF, she discovered that teaching is her passion. She tries to facilitate students? mastery of Organic Chemistry while maintaining a high standard, experimenting with different strategies, tools and classroom props to help students visualize and rationalize difficult concepts.”

Dept. New Hire: Dr. Steven Harris, Lecturer, General Chemistry

Dr. Harris received his bachelor’s degree from Langston University. He then continued to the University of Oklahoma for his master’s and PhD in Biochemistry where he studied tertiary structures of small RNA constructs using nuclear magnetic resonance under the guidance of Dr. Susan Schroeder. Next, he was selected to be in the SPIRE Program which is an NIH funded dual research and teaching postdoctoral program at University of North at Chapel Hill. While performing research to further his knowledge of RNA tertiary structure in Dr. Kevin Weeks’ lab, Dr. Harris also received teacher training at North Carolina A&T State University. Dr. Harris spent the last 5 years honing his interactive teaching style at Christopher Newport University and is excited to bring his skills to the University of Florida Chemistry Department.

Carter Boelke Obtains Summer Student Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) through Department of Energy (DOE)

Congratulations to Carter Boelke from the Wei group for obtaining an undergraduate student internship at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The internship is a part of a competitive program called the Student Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) program, which aims to help educate undergraduate students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through a unique research experience. The program takes place over 10 weeks and is designed to help develop skills important for STEM careers. Carter will work with DOE scientists as well as graduate students at Iowa State University to conduct and present research relevant to carbon dioxide utilization. He will investigate how to catalytically convert carbon dioxide into value-added oxygenates using highly-selective catalysts including first-row transition metals. Carter was one of about 800 applicants who were admitted to various laboratories across the country.