Research News

We are pleased to announce Julia Rho is selected as a 2020 PMSE Future Faculty Scholar

This program aims to highlight up-and-coming postdocs and provide a platform for them to share their work at the ACS, which took place virtually this year. Julia is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Sumerlin group working in the area of polymer chemistry. Her research spans several projects, including the study of polymer self-assembly, complex coacervates, and cyclic polymers as vitrimers. Congratulations, Julia!”

Kari Basso: Selected as the female superstar in Mass Spec

This is a group within the American Society for Mass Spectrometry that brings together women in the field of mass spec. They hold virtual workshops with people around the world focused on supporting and mentoring women in science. They hold a virtual happy hour every two weeks that includes a speaker, often female CEO’s, or speakers on work life balance issues and then we have a break out session to network. Every month they spotlight one female super star in mass spec, this month the woman chosen is our own Dr. Kari Basso. When asked, Dr. Basso described being both shocked and honored to have been chosen.

Coray Colina Receives Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award to Mexico for a Research/Teaching Appointment

The U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board are pleased to announce that Coray Colina of University of Florida has received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award to Mexico. Colina will research/lecture at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico as part of a project to perform research on Molecular Chimeras for Opioid Receptor Modulators.

As a Fulbright Scholar, Colina will share knowledge and foster meaningful connections across communities in the United States and Mexico. Fulbrighters engage in cutting-edge research and expand their professional networks, often continuing research collaborations started abroad and laying the groundwork for forging future partnerships between institutions.

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Wei group published in Energy & Environmental Science

A research paper from the Wei group has been published in Energy & Environmental Science–the top leading journal in the energy field with a 2018 impact factor of 33.250 and five-year impact factor of 32.826. The article titled “Modulating Multi-Hole Reaction Pathways for Photoelectrochemical Water Oxidation on Gold Nanocatalysts” reports a discovery that catechol molecules on Au/TiO2 heterostructures are able to directly trap and stabilize visible-light-generated hot holes on Au under steady-state reaction conditions (t ~ms–s). Those long-lived hot holes are further found to create a new reaction pathway in which the catechol-trapped holes cooperate with the newly generated holes on Au. The new mechanism boosted photoelectrochemical water oxidation on Au by one order of magnitude. Our study provides a molecular level understanding of the role of photo-generated hot holes in facilitating water oxidation, illustrating a strategy to assemble metal nanoparticles, semiconductors, and molecules to effectively separate charge carriers and harvest hot holes for driving photochemical reactions.

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, UF Graduate School Fellowship, Department of Energy Science Graduate Student award, Ann Stasch Summer Fellowship, Vala Research Excellence Award, and College of Liberal Art and Science (CLAS) Dissertation Fellowship funded by the Charles Vincent and Heidi Cole McLaughlin Endowment.

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Wei group published in JACS

A research paper from the Wei group has been published in JACS. The article titled “Cooperation of Hot Holes and Surface Adsorbates in Plasmon-Driven Anisotropic Growth of Gold Nanostars” reports a discovery that plasmon-generated hot holes work with surface adsorbates collectively to control the anisotropic growth of gold (Au) nanostructures. Specifically, it is found that hot holes stabilized by surface-adsorbed iodide enable the site-selective oxidative etching of Au0, which leads to non-uniform growths along different lateral directions to form six-pointed Au nanostars. Our studies establish a molecular-level understanding of the mechanism behind the plasmon-driven synthesis of Au nanostars and illustrate the importance of cooperation between charge carriers and surface adsorbates in regulating the morphology evolution of plasmonic nanostructures.

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, UF Graduate School Fellowship, and Department of Energy Science Graduate Student award.

This work is selected as spotlights by JACS


Melanie Veige Honored as Florida CourseShare Pioneer

Florida CourseShare Honorees

The Florida CourseShare award recognizes faculty for their willingness to support innovative collaboration across the State University System. Florida CourseShare faculty allow course materials that they created to be shared to Canvas Commons so that other instructors can adapt them for course development. Visit the Florida CourseShare page to learn more about this initiative.

• Contributed CHM1020 Chemistry for the Liberal Arts

Melanie Veige is a Senior Lecturer and Director of General Chemistry in the department of chemistry. She enjoys creating highly structured, engaging materials for largely introductory level chemistry courses. She has lately turned her skills to revising and iteratively updating the general chemistry lab manuals, both for residential students and for UF Online (boot camp).

The collaboration of Wei group and Angerhofer group published in JACS

A collaboration paper from the Wei group and Angerhofer group has been published in JACS. The article titled “Manipulating Atomic Structures at the Au/TiO2 Interface for O2 Activation” reports a discovery of new science in an old catalytic system (Au/TiO2)   by demonstrating how the manipulation of atomic structures at the Au/TiO2 interface significantly altered the interfacial electron distribution and prompted O2 activation. Using a novel materials fabrication strategy, we constructed two distinct Au/TiO2 heterostructures, with defect-free interface and Vo-rich interface. It was found that at the defect-free Au/TiO2 interface, electrons were transferred from Ti3+ species into Au nanoparticles (NPs) and further migrated into adsorbed perimeter O2 molecules, facilitating O2 activation and leading to a 34 times higher CO oxidation activity than that on the oxygen vacancy (Vo)-rich interface, at which electrons from Ti3+ species were trapped by interfacial Vo on TiO2 and hardly interacted with perimeter O2 molecules. We further revealed that the calcination released those trapped electrons from interfacial Vo to facilitate O2 activation.  Taken together, our results not only established an atomic-level understanding of the interfacial-structure-dependent catalytic activity on Au/TiO2 heterostructures, but also provided strategies to engineer metal/oxide interfaces for the optimization of heterogeneous catalysis.

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, UF Graduate School Fellowship, and Department of Energy Science Graduate Student award.


Jordan Levi and Guancen Liu are co-recipients of the 2019 Keaffaber Scholar Award

Congratulations to Jordan Levi and Guancen Liu who have been named co-recipients of the 2019 Keaffaber Scholar Award. The award has been made possible through the generosity of Dr. Jeffrey Keaffaber, a longtime friend and supporter of the Department of Chemistry. Dr. Keaffaber received his Ph.D. from the Department in 1989 (with Prof. William Dolbier, Jr.) and has enjoyed a career in industry, entrepreneurship, consulting, and teaching. Within the Department of Chemistry he has served as a senior lecturer, undergraduate advisor, and pioneer of new teaching initiatives.

The Keaffaber Scholar Award recognizes the overall excellence in research and academic scholarship of our senior chemistry majors. To be eligible for the award, the undergraduate must be research active within the Department of Chemistry and committed to pursuing a Ph.D. in chemistry.

One of this year’s co-recipients, Jordan Levi, is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry with a minor in Materials Science and Engineering. Since the fall of his junior year, he has been an undergraduate researcher under the advisement of Professor Brent S. Sumerlin, conducting research in synthetic, polymer chemistry. The specific aims of his research have been to investigate the synthesis of polymer-protein conjugates via improved PET-RAFT photocatalysts. In the summer of 2018, Jordan had the chance to intern with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to better understand intellectual property in the chemical arts. The following summer, Jordan had the opportunity to intern with Thermo Fisher Scientific where he utilized Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy to investigate and mitigate the emergence of particulates within the assembly-line process for biomaterials. Outside of academics, Jordan enjoys traveling and playing the tuba for the university’s basketball pep band. After he graduates, Jordan plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Chemistry with a focus on materials chemistry or a related discipline.

The other recipient is Guancen Liu who is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry. He has been an undergraduate researcher in the lab of Professor Ronald K. Castellano for two years, conducting research in organic chemistry. His research involves the study of self-assembling [2.2]paracyclophanes driven by hydrogen bonds. The specific aim of his research is to synthesize and characterize chromophore conjugated [2.2]paracyclophane tetracarboxamides. Of particular interest is to explore how the self-assembly of [2.2]paracyclophane can organize the chromophores and ultimately improve the performance of organic electronics. In the spring of 2019, Guancen was selected for the prestigious University Scholars Program. Outside of academics, he enjoys watching documentaries. In the future, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry with a focus in synthetic organic chemistry. His goal after earning his Ph.D. is to become a research scientist in industry.

Carter Boelke Wins Research Poster Award

Congratulations to Carter Boelke for his excellent research achievements! Carter won 1st place at UF’s annual GRACE symposium and 2nd place in his division of Catalysis & Reaction Engineering at the 2019 Annual AIChE Student Conference. Carter is currently a third year chemical engineering major who has been working in Dr. Wei’s research group for over two years. His current work seeks to elucidate the stability, among other properties, of titanium dioxide nanoparticles to enhance HER. Carter has also successfully worked at Ames Laboratory where he researched the conversion of lignin to usable compounds using various heterogeneous catalysts under relatively mild conditions.