The Lab Report Spring 2012 - Chemistry - Emory University

The Lab Report Spring 2012 - Chemistry - Emory University

EMORY University

Department of Chemistry Newsletter

The Lab Report

Spring 2012

Letter from the


Dear Faculty, Staff, Students, Alumni

and Friends of the Department of


It has been far too long since we

connected with the entire Emory

Chemistry Community and much has

happened. Let me set the stage for

things to come.

When I arrived on the Emory campus just over 10 years ago, I saw

a new model emerging, one focused on collaboration and excited

about seizing opportunities created by scientific discovery. I was

impressed by the early successes of this model, such as the Emory-

Georgia Tech Biomedical Engineering program and a Science 2000

initiative that brought many of Emory’s natural science departments

together geographically. But most significantly, I was seduced by

the diverse community of scientists that worked collaboratively for

positive transformation and believed that anything was possible.

This community, it appeared to me, had captured a new and unique

strategy for a research university that I found truly remarkable.

And in this collaborative community, I believe, lies Emory’s great

strength and limitless potential. We are in a time where the

connections between traditional units become as important as the

units themselves and where our understanding of our world evolves

at an ever-increasing pace. A case could be made that at no time in

our intellectual history has academic research in chemistry been more

central to societal sustainability than today. From chemical ecology

and health sustainability to renewable energy, from emergent disease

detection to the origins of life, from genomics, proteomics, and

metabolomics to dynamic systems chemistry, from drug development

and terrorists threat detection to the design of new materials, and

from understanding Earth’s ocean floor to defining the composition of

planets around other stars, chemical research provides the foundation

from which technological development depends. Accordingly,

the Department has diverged from the traditional sub-sections of

chemistry to an agile and dynamic model for capturing emerging

intellectual opportunities and several areas of shared scientific interest

and distinction have been identified, including:

• Catalysis and Sustainable Energy

• Modeling and Computational Chemistry

• Molecular Building Blocks and Biomaterials

• Molecular Evolution, Synthetic Biology, and Origins of Life

• Synthesis and Drug Discovery

Furthermore, all but the newest of these scientific initiatives (Molecular

Building Blocks and Biomaterials) have attracted financial support for

collaborative research center and one of them (Synthesis and Drug

Discovery) is responsible for the discovery of a medicine that is taken

by more than 90 percent of HIV/AIDS patients in the U.S. and around

the world that are currently on medication.

Our commitment to scientific and pedagogical innovation has

contributed to the growth of a robust and dynamic Emory Science

Commons. The adaptation of student-centered “problem-based

learning” in the chemistry classroom has inspired new successes

for students in several 1st and 2nd year courses. Collaborations

between Departments continue to broaden the impact of the

molecular sciences. The development of peer-to-peer learning

opportunities, such as seen in ORDER (On Recent Discoveries by

Emory Researchers), invites graduate students to teach their research

using interdisciplinary methods. And opportunities to learn chemistry

in the context of other disciplines have brought students together

and extended Chemistry across our campus. “The Chemistry of Art

Restoration” and a unique study abroad program with the University of

Siena connects chemistry with art, architecture, food and wine.

I feel especially lucky to lead a Department so dedicated to advancing

Emory’s reputation as a great place to study, teach, and discover.

Last year alone, members of the Department received the highest

faculty honors awarded by the University, the Jefferson Award (Liotta),

the Emory University Scholar-Teacher Award (Lynn), and the Emory

Williams Award for Distinguished Teaching (Weinschenk). And most

importantly, the Department’s focused contribution of its IP settlement

from Emtriva to the unified growth of the Science Commons will

impact the entire University with its collaborative culture.

I am confident in the future of the Natural Sciences within the College

of Arts and Sciences, and Chemistry is beautifully positioned to blaze

the pathway forward. We invite you to join us. Search our web page,

follow us on Facebook and join our LinkedIn group. Keep in touch

and come visit. We will certainly look forward to welcoming you (back)

to our transformative Department that has grown so much from the

foundations you all worked so hard to build.

All the best,

David Lynn

The Lab Report Spring 2012


Jennifer Bon •

Carol Jurchenko•

Sarah Peterson •

Department of Chemistry • 1515 Dickey Drive • Atlanta, GA • 30322

The Lab Report

Spring 2012

Faculty Profile

Dr. Chris Scarborough joined the

Emory Chemistry faculty in Fall of

2011. He earned his Ph.D. from

University of Wisconsin-Madison

in the lab of Shannon Stahl

working on asymmetric catalysis of

N-heterocyclic carbenes. He then

worked as a post-doc at the Max

Planck Institute in Germany studying

chromium complexes with unusual

electronic structures and analyzing

them using various spectroscopies

for paramagnetic transition metal


Q: Why did you find chemistry


CS: What I liked about chemistry…

was that I could understand things at a very fundamental level, or at

least at the time what I thought was a very fundamental level. I could

draw organic reaction mechanisms that made sense. I could explain

why these compounds form and why reactions go this way and that

way and I really liked that. I love that in chemistry, you have the

opportunity to make unique compounds with unique properties.

Q: Why did you choose to focus on inorganic chemistry

CS: I looked around at some of the major homogenous industrial

processes, like the Wacker oxidation, the LP Oxo Process, and the

Monsanto and Cativa acetic acid processes, and thought that it was

a bit silly that these use some of the rarest elements in the earth’s

crust (and the most expensive, of course). Why do we have to use

rhodium, iridium, and palladium Why do they work and why do their

abundant congeners, Ni and Co especially, why do these fail in these

processes I knew that to understand why, I had to learn about the

electronic structure of these complexes.

Q: If witness protection required you to make a career change…

what would you pick as a second career

CS: I thought I might pick being an ambassador to a European

country and live a good life, but I realized that if I’m under witness

protection that’s probably a little too public! I always really loved

history and if I hadn’t been good in science, I would have really

enjoyed history, being a history major.

Q: That doesn’t seem like the good part! That’s the painful part.

Everything fails; you don’t know anything; you don’t know what

you’re doing!

CS: (laughing) Yes, that’s right, but the amount that you learn when

you’re on that steep part of the learning curve is just unbelievable.

You start to see the world differently; you see everything through

new eyes. Then once you level off and you start becoming highly

productive now that you’ve learned this stuff, your world-view or your

view of science isn’t changing so drastically but you’re generating

interesting data. That’s fun as well, but I really love a good challenge.

Q: What research is your lab focused on

CS: In some respects, I’m still intrigued by the same problem. Why

are rhodium and palladium special in homogenous catalysis I have

a few things that I’ve learned that I think I could point to. They’re all

fundamental electronic structure things and so what we’re doing is

we’re playing tricks, essentially, with the orbital shapes and sizes and

electron interactions.

Q: By playing with the ligands

CS: That’s right, by synthetic design. A lot of it is ground-state

engineering. One of the projects we do is a photochemistry project,

and I like to refer to that as excited-state engineering because we

have to know all about the excited states and be able to tune them,

which is not very easy. Tuning ground states is hard enough. The

major problem that we’re trying to solve is replacement of these

precious-metal catalysts with earth-abundant catalysts.

Q: Which chemist would you most like to see win the Nobel


CS: That’s a hard question. I think if I had to pick someone it would

be Harry Gray. He’s amazing, he’s a wonderful person, and his

research has spanned a lot of different areas. He’s absolutely one

of the founding members of inorganic chemistry in the last century.

A phenomenal guy, phenomenal research…starting as a classical

inorganic chemist and thinking about ligand field theory (he helped

develop that theory, molding MO theory and crystal field theory) to

develop our understanding of transition metal complexes. All the way

to long-distance electron transfer in proteins, how biology deals with

electron transfer. He’s pretty phenomenal and now he’s working on, of

course, the energy problem, water splitting.

Q: As a teacher, or in a political role

CS: I probably would’ve gone towards professorship and done

research in history.

Q: What was your favorite part of being a grad student or a postdoc

CS: My favorite part was the first two years of my Ph.D. and the first

year of my post-doc. This is where the learning curve is so steep. It’s

really…actually, it’s exhausting.

Department of Chemistry • 1515 Dickey Drive • Atlanta, GA • 30322

The Lab Report

Spring 2012

Faculty Profile

In August of 2011, Dr. Emily

Weinert joined the faculty of

the biomolecular division of the

Emory Chemistry Department. Dr.

Weinert earned her Ph.D. in 2006

from the University of Maryland,

College Park where she worked

on synthesis of quinone methides,

the basis of many anti-cancer

drugs, in the lab of Steven Rokita.

From there, she moved on to

UC Berkeley to do a post-doc in

the lab of Michael Marletta. Her

post-doc work focused on heme

proteins. She sat down to discuss

with us a little about herself and

her research here at Emory.

Q: What made you decide to major in chemistry

EW: My dad’s a physicist. I grew up spending time thinking about

‘here’s the natural world, what’s going on’ kind of questions…so I love

science. And I just really like the molecular level understanding, trying

to really understand. In college, I loved organic chemistry because

once you understand what’s happening, it can be predictive. I love

being able to do the experiments, have a prediction, go in test it and

ask “Does that make sense”.

Q: What made you transition to biomolecular chemistry

EW: I’ve always really been interested in living systems and trying to

sort out what’s happening in these complex systems. I had always

hoped to get to the part in my Ph.D. (working with quinone methides)

where we’d learned enough to go in vivo and test some of our

theories. But like so often happens in science, sometimes you find

that you really don’t understand things that well or you get drawn in

different paths…so I wanted to do something more biological after

focusing on small molecules.

Q: Did you ever want to be anything else

EW: Actually, when I was growing up I wanted to be a wildlife


Q: Really

EW: Yeah, live out in the wild and count the wolves and watch their

migration patterns… But then I realized I didn’t really like the cold that

much and living out in a tent with things that could eat me makes me

a little nervous so I ran for the lab instead. I think it worked out a lot


Q: And you have, like, you know…plumbing

EW: Yeah, (laughs) that was another thing.

Q: What research does your lab focus on

The two general interests in the lab are heme proteins and nucleotide

signaling. We have some proteins that are heme proteins and

some proteins that are involved in nucleotide signaling and at the

intersection are a group of proteins that have both heme domains and

do nucleotide chemistry. We’re looking at cyclic nucleotide signaling in

bacteria and some potentially new cyclic nucleotides that are involved

in pathways in mammals.

We’re also interested in heme proteins and how protein scaffolds

tune the electronics and the reactivity of the heme itself. A lot of

heme proteins use protoporphyrin IX, although there are some other

porphyrins, but you can take protoporphyrin IX and do chemistry with

oxygen, like peroxidases and P450 enzymes. And you can also use

the same porphyrin to do reversible ligand binding for oxygen delivery

or for sensing. So organisms can actually sense gases, binding very

low concentrations of ligand so that it causes a downstream change in

the organism.

Q: And this variation in activity is dependent on the protein


EW: Yes, the scaffold itself. So you can change the redox potential

widely from around -400 mV to around 380 mV. That’s a huge change.

You can change the type of reaction; you can change if you can do

electron transfer with most of the biologically available oxidants and

reductants. And so it can changes just about everything. And right

now, our understanding of that is still pretty poor. There’s a huge

amount of work that’s been done on the globins. I think there are

probably at least 150 mutants of myoglobin that have been published,

but it’s still not very predictive and we can’t always apply it to other

heme proteins. So, like most protein engineering or protein chemistry,

we don’t have a lot of predictive power to suggest how mutations will

affect the heme.

Q: Which chemist do you wish you had an opportunity to meet

EW: Rosalind Franklin and Hans Fischer.

Q: Why them

Rosalind Franklin has a fascinating story. The work she was doing

was still in a time when it was not necessarily expected that many

women did their own science. She was clearly brilliant and she figured

out most of the structure of DNA before Watson and Crick. The

reason Watson and Crick got the structure was by looking at her data.

Unfortunately she died before the Nobel Prize was given and they

don’t give it posthumously. I think she would be fascinating to talk to

and to hear her story.

Hans Fischer was the first to discover chlorophyll and heme and

he was the first one to figure out what these pigments were and to

synthesize them. I think it’s really interesting to think of how do you go

about, at the time (the 1920’s), saying ‘I’m going to isolate this colored

compound’ and then how do you go about with the techniques then

available figuring out what all is in there I think it would be really

interesting to hear how the field got started from the guy that started

the field!

EW: My lab does protein chemistry. We’re interested in understanding

how proteins work, thinking about them as complex chemical systems

rather than as the normal circles and pac-men that we often see.

Department of Chemistry • 1515 Dickey Drive • Atlanta, GA • 30322

The Lab Report

Spring 2012

C-H Center Prepares for Evaluation

The NSF Center for Chemical Innovation on Selective C-H

Functionalization has been very active this past year as it gears

up for evaluation as a Phase II center. C-H functionalization, the

conversion of C-H bonds into C-X bonds where X is any of a variety

of heteroatoms or carbon, is widely recognized to have the potential

to be transformative across chemical disciplines. Traditionally C-H

bonds are very inert and therefore hard to activate; however, certain

catalysts make this possible and can render C-H bonds a functional

handle. Challenges remain in both regio- and stereoselectivity due

to the small differences in C-H bond strengths. As general methods

for the functionalization of specific C-H bonds are developed, these

methods are becoming powerful due to the ubiquity of C-H bonds

in organic, organometallic and biological molecules of interest.

The Center’s mission focuses on the impact that this new mode

of reactivity will have in material science, fine chemical synthesis

and drug discovery in addition to the potential paradigm shift C-H

functionalization could create in the way organic chemistry is taught.

The initial Phase I Center involved 6 PI’s: the center director Huw

Davies, Simon Blakey and Jamal Musaev at Emory, Justin DuBois at

Stanford, Jin-Quan Yu at Scripps, and Christina White at University

of Illinois U-C. During Phase I, the Center has not only fostered

numerous research collaborations but has facilitated a number of

student exchanges and outreach programs. A Communicating

Science course was offered in conjunction with the Center for

Chemical Education in which graduate students from across the

department practiced various methods of communicating with other

scientists, students and the public. A Graduate School Prep/Journal

Club was developed at Spelman College to help students prepare for

and be successful in graduate school. The Center has also started an

annual symposium on C-H Functionalization in order to engage the

entire scientific community not just center members.

• Total Synthesis: Erik Sorensen (Princeton), Mo Movassaghi

(MIT), Brian Stoltz (Cal Tech), Richmond Sarpong (UC Berkley)

• Methodology Development: John Montgomery (Michigan)

• Catalyst Design: Cora MacBeth (Emory), Matt Sigman (Utah),

Andy Borovik (UC Irvine)

• Computational Chemistry: Ken Houk (UCLA)

• Analysis of Reactive Intermediates: Donna Blackmond

(Scripps), John Berry (Wisconsin), Dick Zaire (Stanford)

• Flow Technologies: Chris Jones (Georgia Tech)

• Material Science: Seth Marder (Georgia Tech), Stefan France

(Georgia Tech), Christine Luscombe (Washington)

If the Phase II grant proposal gets funded, $20 M over the next

five years will be split between the 24 principal investigators and

their labs. It would allow for continued outreach in many forms,

including continuation of the Grad School Prep Club at Spelman

and expansion to additional local universities and to schools located

near other Center institutions as well. It would provide funding for

a post-doctoral position in outreach that would include training in

public communication in the form of blogging and animation. The

postdoc would also participate in the AAAS Mass Media Science and

Engineering Fellowship Program during which they would work with

a national media organization to communicate science to the public.

With Phase II funding the Center would also work toward expanding

undergraduate chemistry education to include covering more cutting

edge techniques and reactivity including C-H Functionalization.

The Center for Selective C-H Functionalization has already made an

impact at Emory and beyond, both to advance this exciting field of

research and to share it with both general and scientific communities.

In early March of this year, seven people from the Emory Chemistry

department (founding Center members Davies, Blakey and Musaev,

students Felicia Fullilove, Slava Boyarskikh, and Jen Bon, and staff

member Meisa Salaita) plus 13 other professors and students traveled

to NSF headquarters in Arlington, VA for the Phase II evaluation. The

Phase II proposal expands the center to a total of 24 PIs from 16

different universities and includes additional experts in the following


Department of Chemistry • 1515 Dickey Drive • Atlanta, GA • 30322

The Lab Report

Spring 2012

The Undergraduate Bulletin

ChEmory Highlights

The 2011-2012 academic year was another busy and exciting year

for ChEmory, Emory’s undergraduate American Chemical Society

(ACS) affiliated chemistry club. This club strives to raise awareness

about chemistry in the broader university community and to promote


As part of their outreach efforts, ChEmory’s demo team worked

to kindle excitement about science and a passion for chemistry

in the community. They visit local elementary schools to perform

demos, such as fake snow and the methanol canon, and to assist in

interactive demos, like gloop and bubbles.

In the fall, ChEmory hosted a series of events bringing undergrads,

grad students, and faculty together to celebrate National Chemistry

Week in October. The weeklong series of events included preparing

a Periodic Table of Cupcakes, a demos show, and Mole Day party.

ChEmory members performed science demonstrations ranging from

cool demonstrations with liquid nitrogen, brightly colored chemical

rainbows, to the hot fiery thermite reaction. On Mole Day, revelers

were treated to Minute-To-Win-It games and science-inspired

music. The Mole Ball was dropped at precisely 6:02 pm, which

was then followed by the ignition of three hydrogen balloons and

the presentation of the Periodic Table of Cupcakes. In honor of the

International Year of Chemistry and to welcome arrival of two new

faculty members, a handmade mole-shaped piñata, dubbed “Dr. A.

Mole,” was cracked opened to reveal sucrose-saturated treats.

During the spring semester, ChEmory celebrated Valentine’s Day

by having a dress-up day, where members dressed as their favorite

chemical pair, such as a diene and dienophile pair from the Diels

Alder reaction, two components of an emulsion, and the dyes Cy3 and

Cy5 from a FRET pair. In addition, the club was able to sponsor five

members to attend the 243rd ACS National Meeting in San Diego,

CA. The members participated in a chemistry demos exchange and

presented a poster at the “Successful Chapter” event hosted by

the Division of Chemical Education. The meeting was a wonderful

opportunity for networking, getting exposure to new research and

picking up free periodic tables of elements.

As part of our green chemistry and sustainability mission, ChEmory

also hosted green events that emphasized the integration of

environmentally benign technology and materials into our daily

lives, academia, and industry. ChEmory, under the tutelage of Dr.

Doug Mulford, held a balloon twisting class that used biodegradable

latex balloons. Students left the event with armfuls of balloon

poodles and flowers, and new knowledge about degradable plastics

and recycling. ChEmory also held a green study break, where

students were introduced to the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry,

as stated by the ACS Green Chemistry Institute®, and played with

water-soluble starch-based toys, building unusual biodegradable

structures. Collaborating with the Georgia local section of ACS,

ChEmory organized and hosted Dr. Bob Peoples, the Director of

the ACS Green Chemistry Institute®, who gave a talk on the global

perspective of green chemistry and its impact on society. In particular,

he emphasized the effectiveness of green chemistry in industry

through the development of green products and in the synthesis of

pharmaceutical products.

Three Emory sophomores make peanut butter

playdough at Mole Day festivities

Emory College students put Mentos into a bottle

of Coke to create enough volume for it to spill

over in “Bubblin’ Over” (top). Dr. A. Mole”piñata


Department of Chemistry • 1515 Dickey Drive • Atlanta, GA • 30322

The Lab Report

Spring 2012

Spotlight on the Graduate Program

Student Profile: Michael Reddish

Michael Reddish, a second year student in the Dyer Group, was

awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate

Research Fellowship for 2011-2014. The oldest fellowship of its

kind, the Graduate Research Fellowship Program strives to select

recipients whose academic and research history anticipates significant

contributions to research, teaching, and innovations in science and

engineering. The priorities outlined by the NSF highlight Reddish’s

strengths and the value he brings to our department.

Reddish graduated from Furman University in 2009. It was during

a serendipitous summer research opportunity with his Physical

Chemistry professor Jeff Petty that he found a scientific field that

really resonated with his intellectual disposition. He had never been

one to take answers at face value. Rather, he had always sought

the how and why answers, recognizing the value of taking things

and ideas apart to really understand them. As Reddish explains it,

Physical Chemistry seeks to answer “How” in order to understand

“Why” As a result, it requires a broad knowledge base, and what

Reddish enjoys most about graduate school is being able to spend

his days learning in a variety of disciplines - chemistry, physics,

biology, math - and to approach

his research through different

means - programming, reviewing

relevant literature, working on an

instrument in the Physics machine

shop, or collecting data in the

Dyer lab.

Reddish participates in the

enzyme dynamics research

of the Dyer lab, which aims to

understand how enzymes function

as reaction centers. He focuses

on dihydrofolate reductase (or

DHFR), which serves as a model

enzyme because it is present in

all living organisms and a building

block for DNA. It is well studied, helping Reddish and his colleagues

focus on their specific point of interest – the enzyme’s dynamic

structure. Among other things, Reddish studies the hinge loop

structure present in DHFR, an enzyme difficult to investigate because

it operates on a very fast time scale. Once all the components are in

place the reaction happens in roughly one millisecond. (Of course, the

process of getting all the right players in place simultaneously has its

own time scale.)

A central component of work in the Dyer lab is choosing and adjusting

instruments to allow for better observation of atomic motion at very

fast time scales. One approach Reddish and his colleagues use

to study the enzyme’s dynamic interactions is laser spectroscopy,

which facilitates their observation of different areas in the enzyme’s

structure. The specific properties of interest can be measured by

laser probes that interact with emitted light directly by absorbing its

energy and often re-emitting some of the energy as different light.

Therefore, Reddish must carefully design experiments by selecting a

probe that will report on the area of interest and then using the correct

instrument to observe its response throughout the reaction. If they

can understand the enzyme’s structure and how it changes during a

reaction, then they can better understand how it functions.

When describing how he goes about investigating the structure

of DHFR, Reddish modestly suggests it is akin to fixing a vacuum

using traditional problem solving techniques. By removing variables,

one can begin to isolate what is essential to a system’s function.

Reddish and his colleagues observe DHFR in its native state then

alter its structure or introduce new variables to observe whether

the reaction occurs identically. If something different or unexpected

happens, then they try to identify what structural change might have

contributed to the new result. As anyone who has tried to fix a broken

machine knows, this method requires a lot of patience, focus, and

determination, all qualities required of a Chemistry graduate student

and qualities Reddish possesses in plenty.

Looking ahead, Reddish aspires to a faculty position at a smaller

institution where he can have greater impact on the community

through science. He sees hope in the force of science education to

act as a vehicle to greater prosperity by inspiring innovation, and he

strives to contribute his passion and knowledge to that effort. We are

fortunate to have Michael Reddish working toward his goals at Emory,

and we are proud that the NSF Graduate Fellowship committee

recognized his high quality work.

Career Seminar

In 2010, the Chemistry Department implemented a Career

Development Seminar Committee aimed at growing the conversation

about next steps for chemistry PhDs. The Seminar emerged from a

Faculty retreat where two graduate student representatives articulated

their concern about a perceived stigma around non-academic career

paths. The feeling that choosing a career outside the academy may

disappoint one’s mentor(s) is pervasive, and it can leave graduate

students without knowledge of alternatives to the tenure-track and

feeling unsure of how to make career decisions. Professor Susanna

Widicus Weaver responded by leading a planning committee, made

up of four graduate students – Kevin O’Halloran, Chandra Potter,

Carol Schumacher, and James Simmons – who conducted an online

anonymous survey to poll the Chemistry graduate students about

their interests. Then they planned seminars and workshops geared

towards the topics that garnered the most interest with two main

goals: to present alternate career paths and to discuss common

challenges to and best practices for building a successful career and

work-life balance.

The first event in September 2010 was a panel discussion made up

of local individuals with backgrounds in Chemistry who have pursued

different career paths: teaching faculty member, Professor Jack

Eichler (formerly of Oxford College), a former government lab principal

investigator, Professor Brian Dyer (Emory), a patent attorney, Patrea

L. Pabst, J.D. (Pabst Patent Group); and an industrial chemist and

Emory alum, Dr. Vladimir Gigoriev (Kemira). With over 70 students in

attendance, the discussion was a huge success. After two and half

hours of lively discussion, we had to take our last question (primarily

because one of the panelists had a prior engagement!). The seminar

filled a great need among our graduate students and invited them to

pose questions they might otherwise have been hesitant to ask.

Since then, thirteen professionals have presented at the Career

Seminar Events, providing useful information about writing resumes,

telling stories about the (often winding) paths they took to their current

job, and offering valuable advice about job negotiations.

Department of Chemistry • 1515 Dickey Drive • Atlanta, GA • 30322

The Lab Report

Spring 2012

Spotlight on the Graduate Program

Career Seminar cont.

Widicus Weaver and the planning committee have been successful

in inviting people who have a wide range of stories and advice to

share, which helps students feel more confident imagining how

they might use their science degree. This year we heard from Prof.

Steven Shipman, a professor at a liberal arts college, Dr. Eva Heintz,

a technology manager at Solvay Specialty Plastics, Dr. Todd Polley,

our own department’s Director of Operations, Lt. Col Brian Tom, an

Air Force lieutenant, and Dr. Valerie Young, a well-known career

consultant. While each speaker identified concrete approaches to

the job market, they also offered personal stories and advice that

emphasized the personal and sometimes unpredictable nature of a

career path. Most students found comfort and inspiration in hearing

that the trajectory of many successful chemistry PhDs is rarely straight

or straightforward.

The Career Seminar Committee is always

looking for Friends of the Department who

have stories to share.

Even if you cannot come to campus,

please let us know what you are doing

and how you got there by sending a

message through Facebook or email.

Department of Chemistry • 1515 Dickey Drive • Atlanta, GA • 30322

The Lab Report

Spring 2012

Alumni Reflection

Malcolm Hendry MS48 PhD50

After I spent 2 1/2 years in the navy, my young bride and I finished our

bachelors degrees, mine as a chemistry major. But I didn’t feel I knew

enough to be a real chemist. My adviser suggested several graduate

schools for me to consider. I still had almost two years of GI bill

remaining. After writing to each I set off to select a school. Having no

money, I hitchhiked, not nearly so scary in 1947 because the public

had picked up hitchhiking service men all during the war.

just as my GI bill ran out. It was the 5th PhD given by Emory. There

was just enough money left in our piggy bank to take the Greyhound

to my new job in Ohio.

Our years at Emory were Wonderful and life changing. Our greatest


My plan was to hitch to three graduate schools including Emory. I

didn’t plan well, reaching Lookout Mountain in the middle of the

night...but then a got a lift on down to Atlanta. When I walked onto the

Emory campus and saw all those beautiful Georgia marble buildings I

thought it was heaven. They almost glowed in the sunlight.

Emory’s chemistry graduate program was new with only about a

dozen students. After meeting the chemistry faculty and determining

our mutual interest it seemed that Emory was the place for me.

But where would we live Before the war it was unheard of for

married couples to attend school so our next problem was living

accommodations. Emory had provided for the deluge of married

couples with trailers on campus and the tar paper covered army

barracks on Clifton Rd soon to be known as “mudville”. We were

assured of a one-bedroom apartment (at a cost of $17 per month,

with army bunks and an ample supply of cockroaches).

The chemistry department’s budget was very sparse in 1947. Vessels

fitted with ground glass connectors were scarce. So we used rubber

connectors. Potentiometers and heating mantles were given, one to

each organic researcher. We made our own distillation columns from

glass tubes filled with glass beads. Ground glass equipment gradually

became available. Each of us had to build our own carbon/hydrogen

analysis train to substantiate the new chemical compositions we were


I began my masters research, on an organic chemical reaction

involving bromine. The problem was the chemical hoods had no draft

to draw off the I ran a rubber tube out the window. The

clearest indicator of my research was the growing orange bromine

stain on the outside marble window ledge.

Our organic research labs were on the first floor, you know, one flight

up the grooved marble steps, just below the analytical labs identified

by the perpetual rotten egg odor.

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Our manometers were filled with mercury. And our stirrers were also

sealed from air with mercury. As a consequence of these homemade

devices there was always a puddle of mercury in the water troughs

used to channel the cooling water from the distillation columns. No


The hood problem became more difficult during my doctorate

research. The work involved butyric,

valeric, and isovaleric acids (which smell like dirty socks, rancid

meat and dog poop.) My wife always made me take off my clothes

before entering the apartment and when I stood in a line at the store

everyone began sniffing their arm pits and looking in every corner for

a “deposit”

My wife worked as a secretary to the Emory admissions director in the

building next to the chemistry building. We walked back and forth to

Mudville every day... until June 1950 when I finished my PhD

Department of Chemistry • 1515 Dickey Drive • Atlanta, GA • 30322

The Lab Report

Spring 2012

2012 Commencement

The May 14th ceremony celebrated over 80

Chemistry Majors. Congratulations and best

wishes to our newest Chemistry Alums!


Hee Joo Choe

Dua Ahmed Hassan

Justiss Ailene Kallos

Jalisha Denae Richmond

FALL ‘11

Xiaoying Gu

Dylan Glenn Jones

Yong Kim

Sang-Jin Lee

Yiwei Li

Eric Robert Panicco

Viet Xuan Tran


Nirja Jignesh Acharya

Ayoka Masheila Adams

Aneal A. Ahmed

Ehiole Ogboma Akhirome

Alexander Maximillian Baumgartner

Anis Abdul Bhimani

Andrew James Bowman

Candace Kelly Bruney

Kelly Suzanne Burke

Alexander David Carstairs

Su Jee Cha

Charlene Jun-Zhi Chan

Deep Dinesh Chandegara

Edward Chen

Wan-Hsuan Chen

Yiwen Chen

Marta M. Chlistunoff

Myoung Jin Samuel Chun

Amy Michelle Clark

Katherine Elizabeth Conen

Geraint Hywel-Madoc Davies

Jeanne Rochelle Delgado

Ian Samuel Diner

Brent Garrison Earley Jones

Benjamin Westley Euwer

Kelly Christine Falls

Yetunde Adekemi Fatade

Emily Frances Fleischman

Raphaela S Fontana

Hamad Rafiq Ismail Hamad

Jaeha Han

Kevin Nicholas Harrell

John Paul Haydek

Ashley Sloan Hodges

Jeremiah W. Huang

Choon Sung Elizabeth Kambara

Dipan Nishikant Karmali

Hye Kyung Kim

Hyun Woo Kim

Clinton James Kimzey

Jay Arthur Kroll

Lee,Suk Young

Amy Yan Li

Hui Li

Jacob George Light

Christina Ann Liu

Yuhong Liu

Jared Curtis Malcom

Victor-Alexandre Claude Mane

Jordan Bennet Marks

Stephen Sandell Marshall

Richard William McLean

Lauren Alyssa Newman

Viva Bao Hoang Linh Nguyen

Nawazish Ali Palejwala

Akash Ashwinkumar Patel

Parin Patel

Rishi Ramesh Patel

David Neal Primer

Mary Lynn Radhuber

Benjamin Joseph Redpath

Alex Steven Rosner

Mitchell Peter Rostad

Andrew Charles Seidner

Adam Thomas Stockhausen

Petria-George Salewa Thompson

Ying Kim Tsoi,

Rahul Mahendra Varman

Katherine Elizabeth Wagner

Wei Wang

Xinye Monica Wang

LaCrystal Givens Ware

Colin Vincent Washington

Duncan Somerset Wood

Suk Whan Yoon

Phoebe Hope Young

Guikai Zhang

Tianyu Zhu

Department of Chemistry • 1515 Dickey Drive • Atlanta, GA • 30322

The Lab Report

Spring 2012

Faculty News

Joel Bowman won the 2013 Dudley Herschbach award for “Bold

Architectural Works Inspiring and Empowering in the field of the

Dynamics of Molecular Collisions” and is currently serving as Vice-

Chair of the PHYS division of the ACS. The Bowman group published

several notable papers this year: “Dynamics of the O(3P)+CHD3(vCH

= 0,1) Reactions on an accurate ab initio potential energy surface,” G.

Czakó and J. M. Bowman, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci, USA, in press (2012).

“Intersystem crossing and dynamics in O(3P)+C2H4 multichannel

reaction: Experiment validates theory,” B. Fu, Y.-C. Han, J. M.

Bowman, L.Angelucci, N. Balucani, F. Leonori, and P. Casavecchia,

Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci, USA, in press (2012). “Roaming reactions: The

third way,” J. M. Bowman and A. G. Suits, Phys. Today 64, 33-37

(2011). And “Dynamics of the Reaction of Methane with Chlorine

Atom on an Accurate Potential Energy Surface,” G. Czakó and J.

M. Bowman, Science 334, 343-346 (2011) (Learn more about this


Dennis Liotta received several awards in the last year, including the

Uncommon Courage Award from Queens College and the Intellectual

Property Legends Award from King and Spalding, Georgia State

University College of Law and the J. Mack Robinson College of

Business. He was named one of Emory’s 175 History Makers and

received the “Significant Event of 2011” Award from the Office of

Technology Transfer at their annual Celebration of Technology and

Innovation. Liotta is now part of the ACS Medicinal Chemistry Hall of

Fame, an ACS Fellow, and a member of the Cerecor Inc. Scientific

Advisor Board.

David Lynn and post-doc Jay Goodwin, at the request of NASA and

the NSF, led an international group of scientists in workshop called

“Alternative Chemistries of Life: Empirical Approaches” in Washington

in April. More information.

The Emerson Center director, Jamal Museav, Emeritus Professor

Keiji Morokuma, and coworkers’ April publication in JACS on

removal of aromatic and aliphatic thiols, sulfides, disulfides,

thiophenes, etc. from mixture in crude oil by nano-scale Pd-catalyst

for subsequent use in organic synthesis was highlighted by C&E


Al Padwa has been awarded a Heilbrun Distinguished Fellowship by

the Emory University Emeritus College for 2012-2013 in support of his

work on finding “New Synthetic Routes toward Nigrogen Alkaloids.”

His mobiles, which can be found throughout Atwood and Emerson,

were featured in C&E Magazine in July.

Khalid Salaita, graduate students Daniel Stabley, Carol

Schumacker Jurchenko, and undergraduate Stephen Marshall

(12C), published an article in Nature Methods on their discovery of a

new method to measure the molecular tugs applied by cell surface

receptors. The work was highlighted with a video depiction by C&E

News, a Nature Methods author profile, and it was listed as one of

the Top Ten Discoveries at Emory for 2011. This new technique is

broadly useful for understanding how mechanical tugs can be used

in cell to cell communication, which is generating excitement around

its potential to facilitate investigation of how proteins function in

cells. (Read more about it). Consequently, the lab received a 5 year

R01 grant ($1.5 million) from the NIH National Institute of General

Medical Sciences (NIGMS) to study the role of these tugs in the

functions of the Notch pathway. The Notch pathway is very important

in development and their dysfunction contributes to T-cell Acute

Lymphoblastic Leukemia (T-ALL). The Salaita group bids farewell and

good luck to Stephen Marshall (12C) who is heading to Caltech to

work on a PhD in Chemistry.

Susanna Widicus Weaver received the Faculty Early Career

Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science

Foundation. Members of her group also received several awards,

including Jay Kroll (12C) who received the distinction of highest

honors fro his undergraduate research; James Sanders (14C) was

awarded the Emory Chemistry Early Career Research Achievement

Award; and doctoral candidate Jake Laas was awarded an Emory

University Chemistry Quayle Research Fellowship.

Jeremy Weaver was one of two faculty in Emory College to be

named “Honor Council Faculty Advisor of the Year. ”

Student News

Congratulations to graduate student Ana West (Kindt group)

for winning the poster prize sponsored by the journal Soft Matter

for “Effects of Defects on Stress Relaxation in Self-Assembled

Protein Networks” at the 2011 International Symposium on Stimuli-

Responsive Materials.

Clay Owens (Blakey group) was awarded an Amgen graduate


Tony Prosser (Liotta group) received an NSF Graduate Fellowship

for 2012-2015.

Jordan Sumliner (Hill group) was selected for a Curriculum

Development Fellowship through the Center for Science Education

and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

Felicia Fullilove and Katie Chepiga (Davies Group) were selected

to participate in the Center for Science Education Problems and

Research to Integrate Science & Mathematics (PRISM) Program

beginning this summer. They will be working with Atlanta middle/high

school teachers to develop and implement innovative K-12 lessons

into their curricula.

Phoebe Young (12C) was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to support

her first year of study at the Friedrich-Schiller Universität in Jena,

Germany. She will be working on a Masters in Chemical Biology with

a focus on optimizing mass spectrometry imaging to answer questions

about metabolite function on plant surfaces in the context of chemical

ecology. She also received the “Excellence in Undergraduate

Research” Award

10 of our 2012 Chemistry Majors will be attending top research

programs this Fall:

University of Pennsylvania

Geraint Davis (12C)

David Primer (12C)

University of Colorado-Boulder

Jay Kroll (12C)

California Institute of Technology

Kelly Burke(12C)

Stephen Marshall (12C)

Harvard University

Charlene Chan (12C)

Georgia Institute of Technology

Duncan Wood (12C)

Hye Kyung Kim (12C)

Department of Chemistry • 1515 Dickey Drive • Atlanta, GA • 30322

The Lab Report

Spring 2012

Student News cont.

Undergraduate Awards

Excellence in Chemistry

Charlene Chan (12C)

Excellence in Undergraduate Research

Phoebe Young (12C)

Excellence in Undergraduate Educational Support

Boru Wang

Bhavesh Patel

Samantha Green

Outstanding 1st year Chemistry Student

Zonair Khan

Early Career Achievement Research Grant

James Sanders

Hypercube Outstanding Physical Chemistry Student

Kelly Burke (12C)

Undergraduate Research Symposium Poster Awards

1st prize: Kelly Burke (12C)

Alumni News

Lingfeng Liu (09G) who is currently a postdoctoral fellow in Wendell

Lim’s lab at UCSF, received research fellowship from the Cancer

Research Institute.

Erika Milczek (10G) will be completing her postdoctoral training in

John Groves’ laboratory in the Department of Chemistry at Princeton

in May and has accepted a position in the Biocatalysis Division at

Merck in Rahway, NJ. She will begin her new position in June.

Scott Davis (90G) is currently serving as Sr Vice Provost and Dean of

Graduate Studies at Mercer University in Macon, GA.


We send condolences to Hilda Razzaghi (03OX, 04C, 07G) for the

tragic death of her husband Dr. Payman Houshmandpour in April and

to the family of Mickea Rose (07G) who died in February.

We are also saddened by the recent death of former Chemistry

Professor Larry Clever who died May 15th at his home in Atlanta.

Prof. Clever joined the department in 1954 and retired in 1992.

Excellent: Matthew Birnbaum

Kevin Harrell (12C)

Duncan Wood (12C)

Graduate Awards (Read more about these awards)

ARCS (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists)

Danny Mancheno (Blakey group)

Johnston Award

Teddy Huang (12G)

Lester Awards

Yajing Lian (12G)

Quayle Fellowships

Haiming Zhu (Lian group)

Jake Laas (Widicus Weaver group)

Yoshie Narui (Salaita group)

Aidi Kong (Blakey group)

Changming Qin (Davies group)

Outstanding TA Awards

Neha Ahuja (MacBeth group) - Gen Chem Lab

Jake Laas (Widicus Weaver group) – Pchem Lab

Jason Bothwell (Scarborough group) – Organic Lab

Stay in touch.

Keep us updated

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Department of Chemistry • 1515 Dickey Drive • Atlanta, GA • 30322

The Lab Report

Spring 2012

2011-2012 Graduates

*August 2011 **December 2011

Mark Baillie** (Liotta Group)

Dissertation: Towards the Development of Non-Toxic Therapeutics in

the Fight against Cancer

Spandan Chennamadhavuni (Davies Group)

Dissertation: Synthesis of Small Molecule Therapeutics Utilizing

Rhodium Carbenoid Chemistry

Teddy Huang** (Lian Group)

Dissertation: Charge Transfer Dynamics in Homogeneous and

Heterogeneous Artificial Photosynthetic Systems

Haipeng Hu* (Liotta Group)

Dissertation: Validation of ReceptorBased Drug Design and

Applications in the Study of IKKs, Truncated Taxane, and LRH-1

James Austin Simmons** (Lynn Group)

Dissertation: Conformational Exchange: A Common Mechanism for

Amyloid Assembly

Jie Song* (Hill Group)

Dissertation: Exploring Catalytic Properties of Polyoxometalates in

Aerobic Oxidation and Water Oxidation

Colleen Knight Reynoso (Gallivan Group)

Dissertation: Development and Application of Synthetic Riboswitches

as Tools to Study Bacterial Pathogenesis

Fuchang Yin*(Kindt Group)

Dissertation: Simulations of Lipid Sorting Effects near Transmembrane


Yajing Lian** (Davies Group)

Dissertation: Rhodium Catalyzed Asymmetric Transformations of


Yi-Han Lin* (Lynn Group)

Dissertation: The Broad-Host Range Pathogenesis of Agrobacterium

tumefaciens: Successful Coupling the Motions and Domain

Interactions within Vira to Integrate Signal Sensing

Yichen Liu* (Lutz Group)

Dissertation: Engineering Kinases for Dual Thymidine and

Thymidylate Kinase Activity

Yue Liu (Lynn Group)

Dissertation: Comparing and Contrasting Two Plant Pathogens

Provides a Unique Window into the Differences in the Innate Immune

Responses between Dicots and Monocots

Mi-Sun Kim (Liotta Group)

Dissertation: I. Design of a Novel Class of Reversible Non-Covalent

Small Molecule Inhibitors for Human Granzyme B (hGrB); II. Curcumin

and Mimics as Proteasome Inhibitors; III. Design of Novel Coactivator

Binding Inhibitors (CBIs) for the Estrogen Receptor α: Break the 1μM


Samantha Adkins Radford (Ryan Group)

Dissertation: Degradation of Insecticides in Food and Beverages:

Implications for Risk Assessment

Melissa Ann Patterson** (Conticello Group)

Dissertation: Synthesis of Protein-Based Polymers with the Potential

to Form Physically and Covalently Cross-Linked Networks

Weilin Peng (Conticello Group)

Dissertation: I. Expanding Genetic Code in S. cevevisiae with an

Orthogonal tRNA Trp/UCA/Tryptophanyl tRNA Synthetase Pair; II.

Synthetic Yeast Prions Based on a Non-NQ-Rich Amyloidogenic

Sequence Derived from the NAC Protein Sequence of α-Synuclein

Department of Chemistry • 1515 Dickey Drive • Atlanta, GA • 30322

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