Distinguished Majors Alum
Hannah AsheBachelor of Science in Chemistry with Specialization in Biochemistry
Research with Professor Steven Zeichner
Hannah grew up in Potomac, MD and graduated from Winston Churchill High School. She will be graduating from UVA with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with a Specialization in Biochemistry, with ACS certification and minors in Psychology and History.
Hannah joined the lab of Dr. Dan Gioeli in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology in Fall 2019 after spending two years in Dr. Steven Zeichner's lab in the Department of Pediatrics. Hannah's projects with the Gioeli lab originally centered around prostate cancer. Her first project focused on the lncRNA, HULLK, and its impact on tyrosine phosphorylation in cell signaling pathways. She also first authored a review on the transcription factor, RUNX, and its role in castration resistant prostate cancer. For Hannah's DMP, she switched focuses to non-small cell lung cancer. She used immunohistochemical staining of lung cancer adenocarcinomas to elucidate the differences in immune modulatory protein expression in EGFR and KRAS mutant positive non-small cell lung cancer patients. Previous research has shown differential outcomes to immunotherapies based on mutation status in lung cancer, so she hopes her project will further our knowledge into why this is the case, and thereby improve treatment for patients.
Outside of the lab, Hannah is a huge fan of UVA basketball. She also enjoys shooting hoops with her roommate. Hannah has worked as a peer teacher for Intro Bio and as a TA for CHEM 1411. After graduating, Hannah will be working as a research technician in the Institute for Systems Genetics at NYU Langone Hospital in New York City. She eventually plans on applying to medical school.
Julia DresselBachelor of Science in Chemistry with ACS Certification
Research with Professor Charlie Machan
Julia is from Clifton, VA, graduating from Centreville High School. She is graduating from the University of Virginia with a B.S. in Chemistry with ACS Certification and a B.A. in Environmental Science.
Since January 2018, she’s worked with Dr. Charles Machan on transition metal catalysts for energy relevant transformations. In her first project, she worked with then graduate student Dr. Shelby Hooe to report the first highly efficient molecular chromium catalyst for the electroreduction of CO2 to CO, an important building block for many valuable synthetic chemicals and fuels. She then transitioned to an independent project by developing a similar nickel catalyst and evaluating it as a catalyst for the hydrogen evolution reaction, which can be used in carbon-neutral fuel cells. Her work has been recognized with the ACS Division of Inorganic Chemistry Award for Undergraduate Research.
Outside of the lab, Julia has been heavily involved in science education and outreach as a teaching assistant for CHEM 1820 and 2810 on the accelerated chemistry track, a board member of the ACS Student Chapter at UVA, and on the College Science Scholars Council Outreach Committee. She’s also continued her lifelong dance hobby with the University Dance Club.
After graduation, Julia will pursue a Ph.D. in Chemistry as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow at Stanford University where she plans to expand her understanding of clean energy relevant chemistry and continue her engagements in science education and outreach.
John ZimaBachelor of Science with ACS Certification/Master of Arts in Chemistry (3+1)
Research with Professor Ian Harrison
John Zima did research with Professor Ian Harrison where he used the Master Equation Solver for Multi-Energy Well Reactions (MESMER) in order to model the energetic relaxation of a photoexcited gas (e.g. methane) in a buffer gas (e.g. Argon) and then built a model for the energetic relaxation of the gas adsorbed on a metal surface using an analogy where the surface was effectively modelled as a bath gas.
John is an Echols Scholar and an international student from Austria. He has lived in Singapore, Switzerland and the UK before coming to UVA and is fluent in both English and German. During high school he played tennis and was interested in artificial intelligence, which led participating in Kaggle competitions. He is also interested in philosophy and attended the CTY summer program at Johns Hopkins University in the summer of 2016 for a course titled 'Logic: Principles of Reasoning'. John is doing the 3+1 Chemistry Program (and double majoring in economics) which means he will stay for another year, during which he will do research in the field of Astrochemistry with Professor Garrod, and graduate with a Masters degree in 2022. He then plans to pursue further graduate level education.
Tina ChaiBachelor of Science in Chemistry with Specialization in Biochemistry
Research with Research with Professor Robin Felder
Tina Chai is from Falls Church, Virginia and graduated from McLean High School. She is graduating from U.Va. with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with a specialization in Biochemistry and a Bachelor of Arts in English.
Tina has been a member of Dr. Robin Felder’s lab in the Department of Pathology since January 2018. Her independent project investigates the relationship between breast cancer and hypertension by determining an overlapping protein signaling pathway specifically related to three proteins: CAV1, D1R, and GRK4. She has also previously conducted breast cancer research at the MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Outside of lab, Tina enjoys writing poetry and busking at the Downtown Mall. She served as the editor for the Health and Science section of The Cavalier Daily and a teaching assistant for CHEM 4410, CHEM 1410/20, and CHEM 1411/21. She also enjoys furthering interdisciplinary thought and dialogue between science and literature through The Bird-Feeder Project, Whistle Words writing workshops, and a class she created and teaches, INST 1550 - Poetry and Healing: Understanding Illness. After graduation, Tina will be attending a writing program at Johns Hopkins University and plans to apply to medical school.
Andrew ChungBachelor of Science in Chemistry with Specialization in Biochemistry
Research with Professor Dean Harman
As a student at the University of Virginia, Andrew Chung started his undergraduate journey attending Professor Walter D. Harman’s morning lecture, Principles of Chemical Structure. Learning from Professor Harman was an edifying experience that allowed for viewing chemistry from different perspectives. Furthermore, one of the biggest lessons taken away from Professor Harman was seeing things from a beginner’s point of view. From how this idea was simply put, Andrew was fascinated with a lifelong pursuit in not only uncovering new mysteries and curiosities but also with learning how to learn and finding ways to convey new ideas for others to better understand how to advance the well-being of those around us today and future generations. As an Echols Scholar, Andrew was invited by Professor Harman to explore organometallic dearomatization agents after finishing his class in first year and discussed potential directions for undergraduate research with Professor Harman, in which Andrew started in his second year at the UVa.
As an undergraduate researcher, Andrew collaborated with Professor Harman and three graduate students with the goal of optimizing features of synthetic pathways of important coordinatively saturated organometallic dearomatization agents using W(I) and Mo(I) transition metal centers. Through his work, Andrew had a full experience of an independent researcher by testing his hypotheses and redesigning experiments. From having a broad coverage of experimenting with different initiatives in the lab, Andrew used this well of experience to discover how to improve the reduction of W(I) and Mo(I) dearomatization agents using a magnesium reducing agent instead of a pyrophoric sodium reducing agent, which presented advantages of a more suitable chemical for both lab and industrial purposes. Working as an independent researcher, Andrew was able to publish his work on a collaborative journal article about the application of magnesium reductions on the second-row d6-transition Mo(I) metal center in ACS Catalysis.
Growing up in Yorktown, Virginia, Andrew developed his aspiration to practice medicine and pursue his interests in chemistry. Andrew was accepted into the University of Virginia’s Echols Scholar program in his senior year at Tabb High School. In addition to his research in the Chemistry Department, Andrew also serves as the head teaching assistant of the Accelerated Organic Chemistry Series at UVa and is a member of Alpha Chi Sigma, the professional co-ed chemistry fraternity at UVa. As part of his undergraduate experience, Andrew has worked as a Team Leader for the Youth Volunteer Corps Hampton Roads’ Summer of Service volunteer programs and as a Child Life Volunteer for patients at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, a regional children’s hospital in Norfolk, Virginia. In his spare time, Andrew loves to stay active and joined the Barbell Club to push himself with new workouts and a great community of fellow exercise enthusiasts. Andrew also has written a draft of a part-autobiographical musical, The Languages of Love, and has performed at open mics as a member of Flux Poetry & Spoken Word at UVa with other peers who share a passion for bringing people together through our greatest tool, communication. As a musician, Andrew also taught himself to play the guitar, learned to sing, and continues to play the piano and trumpet when he can to explore different genres and tastes in music. Andrew is also a member of the UVa Chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, the national academic collegiate honor society. Completing his curriculum in the Department of Chemistry at UVa with his Distinguished Majors Program Thesis, Andrew will graduate this spring with a Bachelor’s in Science degree in Chemistry, with a Specialization in Biochemistry and with American Chemical Society Certification.
Robert FisherBachelor of Science in Chemistry with Specialization in Biochemistry
Research with Professor Kevin Lehmann
Robert grew up in McLean, VA and graduated from Trinity Christian School in Fairfax. He will be graduating from UVA with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with Specialization in Biochemistry, with ACS certification and a minor in Psychology.
He joined the lab of Dr. Kevin Lehmann in the Department of Chemistry in the fall of 2017. He has researched the interaction of mercury vapor with light at 405 nm and 254 nm in an attempt to describe the formation of a metastable state. The goal of this project is to test the validity of a kinetic model that would allow mercury to be detected with high fidelity in trace amounts using 405 nm lasers.
Robert enjoys writing and playing tabletop games with his friends. He worked as a volunteer at the UVA Battle Building through Madison House Medical Services for his entire time at UVA. He also recently regained an interest in running.
After graduating, Robert will take a gap year in order to take the MCAT, apply to medical school, and work a job.
Lucas FryeBachelor of Science in Chemistry, with a specialization in Environmental Chemistry
Research with Research with Professor Brent Gunnoe
Lucas is from Severna Park, Maryland, and graduated from Severna Park High School. He is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, with a specialization in environmental chemistry.
Lucas has been a member of Brent Gunnoe's lab in the Department of Chemistry since May 2018. His project has focused on the development of new methods for the synthesis of stilbenes through Rh-catalyzed aerobic alkenylation of arenes. Stilbenes are used as dyes, pharmaceuticals, and precursors to electronic materials. Lucas hopes that his work will provide new tools for chemists to produce these useful compounds more efficiently and with less waste.
Outside of lab, Lucas has represented the American Chemical Society at the United Nations Climate Change Conference and helped lead the Students on Climate Change project, with the aim of improving climate literacy among students and the general public. He has also been a teaching assistant for CHEM 1411 and CHEM 1421. Lucas is a member of Alpha Chi Sigma, the professional chemistry fraternity, and Amuse Bouche, UVA's long-form improvisational comedy troupe. After graduating, he will attend graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry.
Sadeechya GurungBachelor of Science in Chemistry with Specialization in Biochemistry
Research with Professor Ken Hsu
Sadeechya Gurung is from Falls Church, Virginia, graduating from Justice High School in 2016. She is graduating from U.Va with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with Specialization in Biochemistry and a Minor in Religious Studies.
Since January 2019, Sadeechya has worked with Dr. Ken Hsu of the Hsu Lab in the Department of Chemistry. Her research has contributed to efforts in crystallizing the first full-length mammalian Diacylglycerol Kinase α (DGKα) by expression and purification from a bacterial system. This enzyme plays a crucial role in modulating diacylglycerol and phosphatidic acid levels in cells, two lipid second messengers implicated in the growth of many types of cancer cells. Thus, structural analysis of DGKα will greatly aid efforts in developing novel immunotherapies through drug discovery. She has also worked to express and purify Serine/Arginine Splicing Factor 1 RNA Recognition Motif 1 (SRSF1-RRM1) for Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) studies of its binding capacities. SRSF1 is a protein with oncogenic potential as it plays an important role in alternative splicing which could contribute to tumorigenesis.
Aside from research, Sadeechya worked as a teaching assistant for CHEM 2411/2421 (Organic Chemistry Lab for Chem Majors) for two years and CHEM 2311/2321. She volunteered as a mentor at Computers 4 Kids and in Madison House programs such as Pet Pals at the CASPCA and Adopt-a-Grandparent at The Heritage Inn. She also served as an officer for Nepali Student Association to help cultivate the Nepali community at U.Va. In her free time, Sadeechya enjoys drawing, painting, and avidly bullet journaling. After graduation, she plans to work for a few years before furthering her education in science.
Merly KonathapallyBachelor of Science in Chemistry with Specialization in Biochemistry
Research with Professor Robert Grainger
Merly Konathapally is from Virginia Beach, Virginia and graduated from Ocean Lakes High School. She is graduating from U.Va. with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with a Specialization in Biochemistry and a minor in Psychology.
Merly joined Dr. Robert Grainger’s lab in the Department of Biology during fall 2018. Her project was focused on developing an understanding of the six3 mutation in Xenopus and the role of transcription factors in signaling development at embryonic stages. Her research aimed to further understand the role of six3 in signaling eye development by using mRNA probes to indicate downstream targets. She researched lens development through a variety of methods, including in situ hybridization, microscopic imaging, and PCR. Her work also analyzed the use of mRNA injections to rescue lens phenotypes.
In addition to research, Merly worked as a medical scribe in the UVA Emergency Department and as a TA for the organic chemistry lab. She also served as the Senior Resident at Brown College and volunteered with the daycare program at Madison House. She also spent a summer conducting research on water quality in South Africa through a grant from UVA’s Center for Global Health. After graduating, Merly will be completing a one-year program for a Master of Public Health (MPH) at UVA.
Mehron KouhestaniBachelor of Science in Chemistry with Specialization in Biochemistry
Research with Professor Joel Hockensmith
Mehron is from Virginia Beach, Virginia and graduated from Ocean Lakes High School. He is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with a specialization in biochemistry.
Mehron has been a member of the Hockensmith lab in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics since June 2018. His project has been based around identifying the structure of an Active DNA-dependent ATPase A Domain inhibitor (ADAADi) as a model for SNF2 Chromatin Remodeling enzymes that play a role in cancer proliferation. ADAADi has the potential to be the next best cancer treatment as it can inhibit chromatin remodeling to prevent transcription. Mehron hopes that his project in the Hockensmith Lab will assist in the finding the structure of the unknown compound in future experiments.
Outside of lab, Mehron was the President of the Persian Cultural Society, Office of Health Promotion Intern, Peer Health Educator, Secretary of Neuroscience Enthusiasts Club, Outreach Chair of Charlottesville Alliance for Refugees, a volunteer for Computers 4 Kids, and has been a TA for CHEM 1411. After graduating, he will take two gap years to pursue his interests and prepare for medical school.
Sean LeeBachelor of Science in Chemistry with Specialization in Materials Science
Research with Professor Liheng Cai
Sean has been a member of Dr. Liheng Cai’s lab in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering since August 2018. His independent project investigates the potential use of the PS-bbPDMS-PS triblock copolymer in double emulsion fabrication. The double emulsion serves as a platform technology for which it could be used in various settings such as drug delivery, cellular research, etc.
Outside of lab, Sean enjoys listening to music and compiling playlists for different occasions. Sean served as a teaching assistant for CHEM 3410/3420 and MSE 3050 and worked as a bartender at a local restaurant on the weekends. Sean is fascinated with the structure-property relationship of a polymer and will be pursuing a PhD in chemistry to expand his understanding.
Chris PedeBachelor of Arts in Chemistry
Research with Professor Ilse Cleeves
Chris Pede is from Lynchburg, Virginia and was homeschooled, meaning he graduated high school as both valedictorian and bottom of his class. He's graduating from UVA with a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry.
Chris became interested in astronomy after taking a class on Black Holes his second year. Chris worked with Dr. Ilse Cleeves on tracing chemical asymmetries in rotational emission around a young stellar object to infer the presence of a planet. Detecting deviations from the expected rotational emission helps us understand the chemical and physical effects a planet would have in a protoplanetary disk.
Outside of lab, Chris is a teaching assistant for physical and organic chemistry, a personal trainer at the AFC, and a volunteer with the Sexual Assault Resource Agency, an organization dedicated to ending sexual violence. He is a dedicated tattoo aficionado whose enthusiasm for art is not shared by his mother. Chris spends what little free time he has left cooking, lifting weights, and playing basketball. Next year, Chris will be attending an inferior basketball school and getting his Masters Degree in Biomedical Sciences at Duke, while applying to medical school for the following year.
Pranav RavichandranBachelor of Science in Chemistry with Specialization in Biochemistry
Research with Professor Edward Perez-Reyes
Pranav Ravichandran is from Glen Allen, Virginia and graduated from Mills E. Godwin High School’s Specialty Center for Science, Math, and Technology. He is graduating with a Bachelor of Science with Specialization in Biochemistry degree.
Pranav has been a member of the Perez-Reyes lab in the Department of Pharmacology since spring semester of his first year. He has worked on a variety of different projects and has since focused his time on testing a novel model of epilepsy. His research has focused on stimulating mice and testing novel gene therapies to cure epilepsy symptoms.
Outside of his research, Pranav volunteered at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Rescue Squad as an EMT for a large portion of his time. He has worked as a TA for CHEM 2411 and as an assistant to set up the labs in both CHEM 2411 and CHEM 2421. He enjoys spending his free time playing video games or generally tinkering around and building things. After graduation, he will be matriculating to medical school.
Colton SheehanBachelor of Science in Chemistry with Specialization in Materials Science
Research with Professor Sen Zhang
Colton Sheehan is from Farmville, Virginia and graduated from Prince Edward County High School. He will be graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with a specialization in Materials Science, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Physics and a Minor in Math.
Colton has been a member of Dr. Sen Zhang's lab since his second year. His work focuses on the development of novel synthesis methods for various nanomaterials. The functionality of these nanomaterials as catalysts of energy conversion reactions using electrochemical analysis. Colton hopes his research will help propel society to a sustainable energy future.
Outside of lab, Colton is involved with volunteering through Madison House and a local nonprofit, called Code Ana. In his free time, he likes to jog, spend time with friends, and watch Netflix. After graduation, he will attend graduate school in pursuit of a PhD in Materials Science.
Eric WangBachelor of Science in Chemistry with Specialization in Biochemistry
Research with Research with Professor John Fu
Eric is from Boston Massachusetts but graduated from Oakton high school in Fairfax Virginia. He is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with a specialization in biochemistry and a Bachelor of Art in Computer Science with distinguished major.
Eric joined Prof. John Fu’s lab in the Department of Pharmacology since his second year. His projects oriented around studying the mechanism and variants of Ciliogenesis associated kinase 1 (CILK1), with several main themes including the function of CILK1 c-terminal domain (CTD), the cellular effects of juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JVM) variants of CILK1, and the
importance of Kif3a protein as a direct substrate of CILK1 in mouse models. Eric’s work with Dr. Fu has resulted in two co-first author publications and one more to be submitted.
For his CS DMP with Prof. Yanjun Qi and QData lab, Eric studied the application of deep learning on CRISPR off-target prediction, protein folding and interaction, and epigenetic. His thesis discussed a novel dual-NeuralNet model that uses DNA sequence with epigenetic annotations and Hi-C map to rank variants based on their likelihood of causing coronary artery disease.
Outside of lab, Eric volunteered for the Department of Cardiology at the UVa hospital. He was also a committee member for Uva FoodAssist, a club that bridges food waste and food insecurity by gathering and donating food. Eric was a member of Team Virginia at iGEM2017.
Upon graduation, Eric will apply to MD-PhD programs and spend his bridge year in Charlottesville as a lab technician for Dr. Lawrence Lum.
Elizabeth LeeBachelor of Science in Chemistry with Specialization in Biochemistry
Research with Professor Ken Hsu
Elizabeth is from Burke, Virginia and graduated from Lake Braddock Secondary School. She is graduating a year early with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with a specialization in biochemistry.
Elizabeth has been a member of Ken Hsu’s lab in the Department of Chemistry since September 2017. Her project has been based around expressing and purifying the mammalian enzyme, diacylglycerol kinase alpha (DGKα), in a bacterial system. DGKα has been recently recognized as a cancer therapy target due its important roles in regulating cell proliferation pathways. Elizabeth hopes that her project in the Hsu Lab will assist in the characterization of the enzyme in future proteomic experiments.
Outside of lab, Elizabeth played piccolo for the Cavalier Marching Band, worked with a company to train and develop AI software for colon cancer detection, and has been a TA for CHEM 2410 and CHEM 2321. After graduating, she will take a gap year to continue her project with DGK α and plans on pursuing an Md-PhD the following year.
Barat VenkataramanyBachelor of Science in Chemistry with Specialization in Biochemistry
Research with Professor Wladek Minor
Barat grew up in Ashland, OH, and graduated as the valedictorian from Ashland High School. He will be graduating from UVA with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry (Specialization in Biochemistry) with ACS Certification and a minor in Psychology.
Upon beginning his studies at UVA, Barat joined the lab of Professor Wladek Minor in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics (School of Medicine). Barat investigated serum albumin, the most abundant protein in mammalian blood plasma, and its interactions with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The goal of his project was to determine structures of mammalian albumins in complex with NSAIDs and understand how the modes of binding compare across species. Barat has been a co-author of three structures in the Protein Data Bank and of two publications (one article as the second author and a book chapter). He has two more manuscripts in writing.
Outside of the lab, Barat enjoys reading, watching films, listening to music, attempting to learn new languages (he speaks four), and playing the violin for First Year Players (for which he has played in five musical productions). He has also served a a TA for CHEM 4410 (Biological Chemistry I) for two semesters and for GNUR 5390 (Introduction to the U.S. Healthcare System) for three semesters. He also worked with the Undergraduate Research Network (serving as the Vice-Chair for one year) and volunteered at the UVA Medical Center through Madison House for six semesters. He also loves supporting his Cleveland and Columbus sports teams and following tennis, cricket, and golf, among many other sports.
Following graduation, Barat will attend medical school at the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences.
Samuel WachamoBachelor of Science in Chemistry with Specialization in Biochemistry
Research with Professor Jill Venton
Samuel grew up in Hawassa, Ethiopia until he moved to the U.S. and resided in Alexandria, VA in 2013. He attended T.C. Williams High School. The fact that Samuel has only been in the U.S. a few short years makes his success at UVA, and in general, that much more remarkable. Despite the myriad changes and challenges Samuel faced as his family resettled in northern Virginia, he graduated at the top of his class at T.C. Williams High School and received a full scholarship to the University of Virginia. He will be graduating from UVA with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry (Specialization in Biochemistry) with ACS Certification and High Distinction.
Samuel got to know Professor Venton in her Analytical Chemistry Laboratory class, and he was attracted by her research program (Analytical Neurochemistry) which was in line with his aspirations. Venton lab is focused on the development of sensing and sampling techniques for the detection of new molecules in the brain. They aim to study the real-time release of many different neurotransmitters simultaneously to better understand healthy and diseased functioning of the brain. Samuel’s project in the Venton lab has a focus on electrochemical detection of Adenosine and ATP at carbon-fiber microelectrode (CFME) using Fast-Scan Cyclic Voltammetry (FSCV) and surfactant modification to promote selectivity. Adenosine and ATP are indispensable extracellular signaling molecules that are implicated in many disorders including neurodegenerative diseases. Given that the current techniques to measure the concentrations of Adenosine and ATP have slow time response, his project aims to develop a rapid analytical technique to discriminate and quantitate both Adenosine and ATP in real time. Samuel has successfully characterized the detection of Adenosine and ATP, and he is working on discriminating them.
An Echols scholar, Raven Scholar, and NSCS Scholar, Samuel is a member of the American Medical Student Association; Ethiopian-Eritrean Student Association (EESA at UVA); OneWay Intervarsity Christian Fellowship; Peer Advising Program in the Office of African American Affairs (OAAA) at UVA; and was a Madison House volunteer for Medical Services at UVA Hospital among many others. Outside of the lab, Samuel enjoys listening to Contemporary Christian songs, reading books (especially the Bible), running, playing soccer, playing piano, and learning new languages (he speaks English, Spanish, Amharic, Sidamic and a little French). He has been a small group leader at OneWay Intervarsity Christian Fellowship for the last three years where he plans and leads small group meetings and bonding activities. He has also been a peer advisor for the last two years; he serves as a mentor and advisor to six entering class of first-year and transfer students. Following graduation, Samuel will be doing a research internship (SRIP) at UVA School of Medicine, and eventually, he will be pursuing MD-PhD.
Nikki AaronBachelors of Arts in Chemistry
Research with Dr. Thurl Harris
Nikki grew up in Fairfax, Virginia and attended Robinson Secondary School. She will be graduating from UVA with a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry and a Minor in Psychology. Since August 2015, Nikki has been working in Dr. Thurl Harris’ lab in the Pharmacology Department in the School of Medicine. Dr. Harris’ lab studies how the enzymes involved in lipid metabolic pathways are regulated and how their deregulation can lead to pathological conditions such as obesity and Type II Diabetes. Over the last two years, Nikki has been exploring the stability of lipin-1, a phosphatidic acid phosphatase enzyme in the Kennedy pathway of lipid synthesis and an essential component of triacylglycerol synthesis in adipose tissue. She is working to identify critical residues that regulate lipin-1 ubiquitination and degradation by the proteasome. In light of the obesity epidemic, understanding what regulates lipin-1 stability and its ability to synthesize triacylglycerol may help to illustrate the mechanisms at play in metabolic derangements that physicians see every day. Following graduation, Nikki will be pursuing a Ph.D. in Pharmacology at Columbia University in New York City.
Maggie DalyBachelors of Science in Chemistry with Specialization in Biochemistry.
Research with Professor Cassandra Fraser
Maggie grew up in Yorktown, VA, but went to high school at the International School of Provence-Alpes-Cote-D’azur in Manosque, France. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Science with Specialization in Biochemistry and a Minor in Religious Studies with a concentration in Islam.
Since May 2015, Maggie has been conducting research with Dr. Cassandra Fraser in the Department of Chemistry. The Fraser Lab studies the synthesis and applications of dual-emissive polymeric materials for oxygen sensing and imaging in biomedical contexts such as tumors, wounds and the brain. The dyes are luminescent difluoroboron b-diketonates that are covalently linked or blended with a biocompatible polymer, such as poly(lactic acid), and precipitated into nanoparticles. Maggie’s projects in the Fraser Lab have a focus on the molecular design of the luminescent boron dyes, with efforts to elucidate the trends for tuning their optical properties.
Outside of the lab, Maggie is an active member of Club Swim as well as Alternative Spring Break at UVA. She has also worked as an Organic Chemistry Lab TA for the past two years. Next year, she will begin pursuing a PhD in Materials Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Victoria HoltBachelor of Science in Chemistry
Research with Research with Professor James Landers
Victoria is from Herndon, Virginia and is studying chemistry with a minor in Russian language and literature. She began research with Dr. Landers in the fall of 2015, working with Shannon Krauss on an explosives detection project. The project is working to develop a portable device in which colorimetric reactions occur in the presence of various explosive materials. Reactions for nitrates, hydrogen peroxide, perchlorates, TNT, DNT, and tetryl have been implemented on the device. Victoria focused most of her work on the nitrates. By modifying the Griess reaction, which turns bright pink when reagents form an azo dye with nitrate, the reaction and limits of detection were optimized for use in the field.
When she isn’t working in the lab, Victoria loves to dance, read, and cook. She has been a member of University Dance Club throughout her college career, and joined University Salsa Club during her third year. She also volunteered as an elementary school tutor through Madison House and was a fundraiser for Dance Marathon for UVA Children’s Hospital.
Anna PerkinsBachelors of Science in Chemistry
Research with Professor Jim Demas
I am from Atlanta, GA, and I went to The Lovett School. I will graduate with a BSc in Chemistry and a BA in Studio Art, painting concentration. I stated research with the Demas lab Spring 2016, focusing on fluorescence anisotropy. I have worked with the oxygen sensor Ru(bpy)3, Fraser’s promising boron complex nanoparticles, and fluorescent dye-polymer equilibria that model biological binding systems. Measuring the anisotropy of these compounds gives valuable information about the excited state(s) and information about binding. Fluorescence anisotropy is the study of emission polarization and is commonly used to measure the binding of biological equilibria. When a polarized excitation source excites a fluorophore, that fluorophore can emit in the same orientation, or it can rotationally diffuse before it has the chance to emit, thus producing an unpolarized emission. Anisotropy is a ratiometric measurement of the extent of the emitted polarization.
In addition to painting, I sing in two different groups on Grounds, the Harmonious Hoos co-ed a cappella group and the Virginia Women’s Chorus.
Jack CronkBachelors of Science in Chemistry with Specialization in Biochemistry
Research with Dr. Michael Brown
Jack Cronk grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia and graduated from Western Albemarle High School. He is currently pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Chemistry with a specialization in Biochemistry along with ACS certification. Jack conducts research in the School of Medicine in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Brown, Ph.D. Over the last 3 semesters, Jack has designed and utilized genetic approaches to systematically and specifically induce mutations in the genes of natural killer (NK) cell receptors. NK cells play an essential role in the innate immune response as cytotoxic lymphocytes that recognize cells infected with virus. Jack’s research investigates genetic mutations in NK cell receptors, the effects of which will ultimately be evaluated with respect to how these mutations impact receptor functionality. His thesis focuses on the validation of a meticulous experimental approach to study the immediate impact of these gene disruptions. Current and future work will involve testing his experimental design and evaluating the effects of the receptor mutations at the genomic level. Following graduation, Jack plans to continue his research at UVa, spend time with his two miniature dachshunds, Piper and Elly, and eventually pursue a Ph.D in Immunology.
Youlim HaBachelors of Science in Chemistry
Research with Professor Ken Hsu
Youlim was born in Seoul, South Korea and grew up in Nanjing, China. She is graduating with the Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with the ACS certification from the University.
Youlim is doing research with Professor Ku-Lung (Ken) Hsu in the Department of Chemistry. In order to understand protein function in human disease and physiology, the lab develops novel small molecules that enable molecular analysis of proteins with mechanistically-related reactivity and activity. Her research is focused on the synthesis of new chemical probes to identify novel small molecule binding pockets present in proteins that were previously undetected due to a lack of suitable chemical biology approaches.
She received the Undergraduate Poster Session Award from the American Chemical Society for her research. She also received the Department of Chemistry Award for Excellence in Chemistry. In the fall, she is moving to London for studying Advanced Chemical Engineering.
Ellen HowertonBachelors of Science in Chemistry with Specialization in Biochemistry
Research with Dr. John Bushweller
Ellen Howerton grew up in Fairfax, Virginia and graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. She will graduate from UVa with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with a biochemistry specialization.
Ellen joined the Bushweller lab group in the Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics department in January, 2015. For her distinguished major, she focused on the Ets-domain family of transcription factors, which are deregulated in multiple cancers. Many Ets-domain proteins exhibit autoinhibition, a phenomenon that occurs when a separate portion of a protein inhibits the function of another domain. As the autoinhibitory domain is likely unique between Ets family members, it provides a promising target for therapeutics.
Outside of her studies, Ellen is a violinist and an active member of Radio Music Society, a student-run group that writes and performs string quartet covers of popular songs. She is also a Soprano 1 with the Virginia Women’s Chorus and a member of the Washington Literary Society and Debating Union. After graduation, Ellen will be working at the National Human Genome Research Institute at the NIH and later hopes to pursue graduate study in Public Health.
Daniel MulrowBachelor of Science in Chemistry with Specialization in Chemical Physics
Research with Professor Jim Demas
Daniel grew up in Arlington, Virginia and attended Washington-Lee High School. He will be graduating UVA with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with a Specialization in Chemical Physics and a Bachelor of Arts in Physics.
Since August of 2013 Daniel has been working for the Demas research group. His primary focus has been using fluorescence anisotropy to determine binding constants between fluorescent dyes and polyelectrolytes. This method has been shown to allow for more types of binding constants to be measured than using other fluorescent techniques. It also has shown that more complex binding occurs when the polymer concentration is much greater than that of the fluorescent dye.
Outside of lab, Daniel is very involved with UVA’s honor fraternity Phi Sigma Pi as well as being a First Year Seminar Facilitator for the Orientation and New Student Programs office at UVA. He has also served as a physical chemistry teaching assistant for the past year. After graduation, Daniel will be pursuing a Ph.D in nuclear/physical chemistry.
Joshua CorbinBachelors of Science in Chemistry with Specialization in Biochemistry
Research with Professor Lin Pu
Joshua attended Franklin County High School in Rocky Mount, VA. He is pursuing a B.Sc. in Chemistry with a Specialization in Biochemistry with ACS certification.
His research is in the lab of Dr. Lin Pu where he worked on a project with graduate student Shifeng Nian synthesizing a bimetallic catalyst to control the tacticity in atomic transfer radical polymerizations (ATRP) of functional alpha-olefins (e.g. acrylamide) by synthesizing a salen-derived macrocyclic ligand to coordinate a Lewis acidic metal and copper. Previous research showed that addition of a Lewis acid to Cu-mediated ATRP was promising for producing steroregular polymers. We confined the Lewis acidic center and the copper center in close proximity on a macrocyclic ligand to couple their roles in the polymerization and enhance the catalytic efficiency. Our work has provided evidence that these bimetallic catalyst systems incorporate a cooperative effect utilizing the Lewis acidic monomer activation with the copper-chlorine radical generation and stabilization process in order to provide stereocontrol and catalysis to the ATRP processes. Following the introduction of chirality into the catalyst system, the reaction of the Lewis acid coordinated monomer with the adjacent transient free radical, generated from the copper-chlorine abstraction at the polymer end, proceeds with significant stereocontrol to give the desired isotactic polymers. We are still working to optimize the degree of monomer conversion and stereocontrol.
In addition to research, Joshua has been a teaching assistant for CHEM 3410 and CHEM 3420 (physical chemistry, thermodynamics and quantum chemistry) under Dr. Dave Metcalf. Though still undecided on his particular focus, he will study organic, organometallics, or polymer chemistry in graduate school.
Andrew LankenauBachelors of Science in Chemistry
Research with Professor Dean Harman
Andrew was born in Silver Spring, MD but attended Oakton High School in Vienna, VA. He will be graduating from UVA with a Bachelors of Science in Chemistry. Since January 2012, Andrew has worked in the research group of Dr. W. Dean Harman.
For the majority of his time in the Harman group, Andrew’s project has been to separate the two enantiomers of a chiral tungsten dearomatization core. To do so, a tartaric acid derivative was first used to create two diastereomeric salts. From there, the salts were separated via a finely tuned precipitation reaction and then returned to their original state by removing the asymmetric anion with a base. This research presents a novel approach for the enantio enrichment of chiral organometallic complexes. Andrew is in the process of submitting a first author publication of this research and hopes to have it published before he graduates.
Outside of academics, Andrew is a dedicated fan of UVA basketball and religiously attends all home games. After graduation, Andrew will be pursuing a Ph.D in inorganic chemistry.
Nick LeeBachelors of Science in Chemistry with Specialization in Biochemistry
Research with Dr. Anindya Dutta
Nick Lee is a fourth-year Distinguished Major in Biochemistry from Winchester, Virginia. He conducts research in the School of Medicine in the laboratory of Anindya Dutta, M.D., Ph.D., where he investigates the function of the CRL4(Cdt2), an E3 ubiquitin ligase, in the cell cycle. The complex is responsible for marking cell cycle regulators for degradation by the proteasome. Previously, he worked to elucidate the stabilizing role that 14-3-3 exerted over Cdt2. His thesis is focused on characterizing the interaction between BRAF35 and Cdt2. BRAF35 is relatively uncharacterized in the literature, but it interacts with BRCA2, the breast cancer susceptibility protein. For his research endeavors, he has received a U.Va. Summer Scholars Award, a Harrison Undergraduate Research Award, a College Council Fall Research Grant, and a Small Research and Travel Grant, along with being a published co-author in Molecular and Cellular Biology.
Currently, he serves as the Vice Chair for Trials for the Honor Committee, the Chair of the Undergraduate Research Network, and the President of the College Science Scholars Council. Outside of those commitments, Nick has taught his own CavEd class, Current Topics in Neuroethics, served as a TA for Organic Chemistry, and is an Echols Scholar, College Science Scholar, a member of the Raven Society, and a Lawn Resident. After graduation, he will be pursuing his M.D. with the desire to become a professor of medicine.
Emily SchutzenhoferBachelor’s of Science in Chemistry with Specialization in Biochemistry
Research with Dr. Gary Owens
Emily M. Schutzenhofer is from Stafford, Virginia and is a graduate of Colonial Forge High School. She is an Echols Scholar double majoring in Chemistry with a Specialization in Biochemistry (including the ACS certificate) and Global Development Studies with a concentration in Global Public Health.
Emily conducts research in the lab of Dr. Gary K. Owens in the Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center. She studies the molecular mechanisms controlling the expression of an embryonic stem cell pluripotency gene, Oct4, in adult smooth muscle cells. Of particular interest to her are those mechanisms involving the vessel environmental cues typically associated with the development and progression of atherosclerotic lesions. The implications of her research include increasing understanding of the development of atherosclerosis, a condition characterized by the hardening of arteries due to the buildup of plaque. End-stage, catastrophic clinical events associated with atherosclerosis include myocardial infarction and stroke, provoked by plaque rupture and major thrombotic events. In addition, her research contributes to the field of knowledge surrounding smooth muscle cell phenotypic switching— control of which could constitute even more widely applicable clinical interventions related to cardiovascular diseases.
Outside of her academic pursuits, Emily proudly serves as the President of the National Leadership Council of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, one of the nation’s largest and most prestigious college honor societies. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Society. Emily is an aspiring physician and, as such, is passionate about health, wellness, and service— in addition to her research at the CVRC, she volunteers at the Charlottesville Free Clinic and Remote Area Medical Clinics in underserved regions of the state, has led the Women in Medicine Initiatives interest and advocacy group at UVA, has studied and participated in research on public health interventions in developing nations to improve chronic asthma management, and has founded and leads a service organization, the Virginia Cyber Leo Club at UVA, to help people with disabilities in the local community.