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.

Undergraduate researcher in biological chemistry receives CLAS Scholars Award

Alexander Duong, an undergraduate researcher in the Eddy Research Group, was recently named a recipient of a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) Scholar Award. UF CLAS provides this award to high achieving undergraduate students who show great promise for making significant contributions to original scientific research, and the award provides undergraduate students an opportunity to work one-on-one with a CLAS faculty member on a research project. Alex is a rising sophomore and chemistry major, and he will be studying the structures and functions of human G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). GPCRs are sensory proteins on the surfaces of cells involved in numerous diseases including cancers, heart disease, and diabetes. GPCRs are the target of over 1/3 of FDA-approved drugs and are top targets for the development of new therapeutics. Alex?s research will focus on improving our understanding of the activity of GPCRs to improve drug design criteria.

2019 Tarrant Awards Announced

We are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2019 Tarrant Summer Graduate Research Scholarships. The endowment honors Prof. Paul Tarrant, a member of our department from 1946 to 1981, and this award promotes outstanding research for graduate students working in the division of Organic Chemistry.

This year’s recipients are Ehsan Fereyduni and Jacob Lessard. Ehsan, who received his M.S. degree in chemistry from Kharazmi University, is a member of Prof. Alex Grenning’s research group and is working on devising a simple and standardized synthetic route to access natural and bioactive cycloheptanes for drug discovery. Jacob received his B.S. degree in chemistry from University of New Hampshire and is a member of Prof. Brent Sumerlin’s research group. His research has mainly focused on the synthesis of reprocessable thermosets and the development of new polymerization methods.

The Roitberg group describes a method to calculate accurate molecular energies without the computational cost

The Roitberg group has recently published a method that uses Machine learning techniques, to compute highly accurate energies, but at a low computational cost.

Photographer: Bernard Brzezinski, UF Press Office