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June 2019

Department Head Martin Gruebele sitting at his desk 
Martin Gruebele 

Greetings from the Department Head

The relative quiet of summer has once again descended upon much of campus, after the seasonal migration of thousands of students back to their homes or on to their next adventure. However quiet the Quad might be, Noyes Lab, RAL, CLSL, and Chem Annex are always humming with activity from our faculty, postdocs, grad students, and staff—for whom summer offers a chance to get more research and other work done!

I invite you to catch up on our busy spring and upcoming activities.

 Prashant Jain & Sungju Yu

Prashant Jain and Sungju Yu use artificial photosynthesis to transform carbon dioxide into liquefiable fuels

By converting carbon dioxide into more complex molecules like propane, green energy technology is now one step closer to using excess CO2 to store solar energy – in the form of chemical bonds – for use when the sun is not shining and in times of peak demand.

 Catherine Murphy headshot

Catherine J. Murphy inducted into American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Professor Catherine J. Murphy has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an honor that acknowledges the best of all scholarly fields and professions.

Murphy, who is also a double alumna of Illinois (BS, ’86, chemistry, biochemistry), is the Larry Faulkner Endowed Chair in Chemistry and associate director of the Materials Research Lab.

Read more>>

 Daniel Najera headshot

Daniel Najera receives the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans

Daniel Najera, a doctoral student in the Alison Fout group, has received The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans, a graduate school fellowship for immigrants and children of immigrants.

Najera is one of thirty 2019 Fellows, selected from a pool of 1,767 applicants for potential to make significant contributions to United States society, culture, or their academic fields.

Read more>>


 Jeffrey Moore headshot

Jeffrey Moore part of research into new noninvasive tissue therapy

Jeffrey Moore, King Li, postdoctoral researcher Gun Kim, and graduate student Abigail Halmes have developed an ultrasound-activated synthetic molecule that can emit light deep inside biologic tissue for a variety of medical uses and therapies.

Read more>>

 Dr. Mei Shen and Dr. Angad Mehta

Mei Shen & Angad Mehta to join chemistry faculty

We are excited to announce that Dr. Mei Shen will join our analytical chemistry faculty and Dr. Angad Mehta will join our chemical biology faculty this summer.

Learn more about our newest hires here.

 M. Christina White headshot

Christina White wins the 2019 ACS Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry

Professor M. Christina White is the 2019 winner of the ACS Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry, one of the American Chemical Society’s highest National Awards.

White is the first woman to receive this honor, and she joins an impressive list of past recipients, including Illinois faculty Nelson Leonard and Scott Denmark, and Nobelists such as R.B. Woodward and K. Barry Sharpless.

Read more>>

 Fire extinguisher training at the Joint Safety Team's 3rd Annual Safety Week.

Making safety a priority in research

During the week of May 13-17, the Department of Chemistry Joint Safety Team (JST) and Department of Chemistry Graduate Student Advisory Committee (DCGSAC) co-hosted the 3rd Annual Safety Week, which emphasizes the importance of safety in the lab, provides education on current safety practices and policies, and presents new and interesting perspectives on safety.

 Martin Burke headshot

Burke group collaboration discovers new use for existing drug in cystic fibrosis treatment

Collaborative research from the University of Illinois and University of Iowa finds that a fungal infection treatment drug could also fill in for a missing or defective protein channel in the lungs of people with cystic fibrosis, operating as a prosthesis on the molecular scale.

“Instead of trying do gene therapy – which is not yet effective in the lung – or to correct the protein, our approach is different. We use a small molecule surrogate that can perform the channel function of the missing protein, which we call a molecular prosthetic,” said Burke, who led the study.  

Read more>>

 Philip Kocheril headshot

Philip Kocheril honored with Goldwater scholarship 

Philip Kocheril, a third-year chemistry major in the Zimmerman group, was awarded a Barry M. Goldwater scholarship for 2019-20 and 2020-21 in recognition of demonstrated leadership and academic promise in the fields of science or engineering.


Alumni News & Updates

  • Christine Herman (PhD, '12, Bailey; MS, '14, journalism) was recently recognized with two first-place awards from the Illinois Associated Press Broadcasters Association. Her story “Out of Options, Parents Trade Custody for Treatment” won Best Hard News Feature, and “Continuing Mental Health Coverage” won Best Series or Documentary.
  • Dennis Livesay (PhD, '00, Subramaniam) was named dean of the College of Engineering at Wichita State University on January 1, 2019. Dr. Livesay is a tenured full professor in both the chemistry and biomedical engineering departments. Read more here.
  • Weixin Tang (PhD, '15, van der Donk) will be joining the University of Chicago’s chemistry department as an assistant professor in July. Read more here.

In Memoriam

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Upcoming Events

Illini Fest
July 18, 2019 (Chicago, IL)

ACS Alumni & Friends Reception
August 25, 2019 (San Diego, CA)


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