Research News

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.

Melanie Veige Launches CHM2045L Bootcamp for UF Online

“The Director of General Chemistry, Melanie Veige, has launched the inaugural CHM2045L bootcamp lab for UF Online students over Summer A 2019. Students first participate in a short online course, developed by Mrs. Veige and instructional designers from the Center for Online Innovation and Production. Students then attend lab in-person for two weeks to perform every lab activity from the regular CHM2045L course. In the General Chemistry lab, run by Donna Turner and Candace Biggerstaff, graduate students Diana Choi and Anthony Pastore meet with the students each day to shepherd them through lab activities. The course is the culmination of over a year of collaboration between the Department of Chemistry and UF Online, with input from the Statewide University System. The course is a unique and exciting opportunity for our online students to experience hands-on learning while they interact with instructors, teaching assistants, and fellow students. See the UF Online corresponding blog post here: 

Ehsan Fereyduni Designated a 2019 CAS Future Leader

Grenning Lab rising 5th year graduate studentEhsan Fereyduni is designated a 2019 CAS Future Leader. CAS Future Leaders are “an elite group of Ph.D. students and postdoctoral researchers from around the world that will visit CAS headquarters in Columbus, Ohio and blaze a trail toward scientific leadership.? The Department of Chemistry congratulates Ehsan for his excellent Ph.D. work and imaginative thinking that has resulted in this honor!

New Faculty Hire: Alix Rexford – Biochemistry Lecturer

Dr. Rexford received her bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from the College of Charleston. She earned her PhD in Biochemistry at Florida State University studying protein-protein interactions involved with the activation of the glycolytic enzyme glucokinase under the guidance of Dr. Brian Miller. Since 2016 she has taught chemistry and biochemistry at Florida State University. Dr. Rexford’s goal is to facilitate critical thinking in her classroom through application-based problem solving. She is excited to bring her skills to the University of Florida Department of Chemistry.