Matt Bush to receive the 2017 Arthur F. Findeis Award

Assistant Professor Matt Bush has been named as the recipient of the 2017 Arthur F. Findeis Award for Achievements by a Young Analytical Scientist. The Arthur F. Findeis Award is given annually by the American Chemistry Society’s Division of Analytical Chemistry to recognize and encourage outstanding contributions to the fields of analytical chemistry by a young analytical scientist. The award will be presented at the 254th ACS National Meeting to be held August 20-24, 2017, in Washington DC.

To learn more about Prof. Bush and his research, please visit his faculty page and research group site.

David Ginger receives 2017 Cottrell Scholars TREE Award

David Ginger, Alvin L. and Verla R. Kwiram Endowed Professor of Chemistry and Associate Director of the UW Clean Energy Institute, has received the 2017 Cottrell Scholars TREE Award from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement. “TREE awards recognize the outstanding research and educational accomplishments of the community of Cottrell Scholars,” said RCSA Senior Program Director Silvia Ronco. She added, “The awards serve to encourage the improvement of science education at American universities and colleges.”

The RCSA stated in their press release: “Ginger is known for his pioneering development of powerful tools for new scanning probe microscopy, allowing scientists to visualize the dynamic behavior of electrons in new materials with unprecedented precision. Ginger has also pioneered the application of scanning probe microscopy tools to challenging problems in chemistry, physics, and materials science. His primary research focuses on what is arguably the most important challenge facing civilization today: how to supply our society with low-cost, environmentally benign sources of energy, such as solar power. He has made major contributions to understanding organic photovoltaic devices and to developing the optoelectronic properties of colloidal nanocrystals, and he is widely recognized as an international leader in the development of frontier scanning probe microscopy techniques. In addition, Ginger is noted for his work to improve the educational experience for his undergraduate students, receiving the UW Chemistry’s departmental teaching award in 2007. His teaching emphasizes computational problem solving of context-rich, inquiry-based problems.”

The TREE Award consists of an unrestricted $20,000 award sent to the awardee institution on behalf of the recipient’s educational and scholarly work. The recipient is encouraged to use these funds to foster advancements in his or her research and educational accomplishments. An additional $5,000 award is provided to the recipient to support lectures and travel to other institutions to help broadly communicate innovative research and educational accomplishments. For more information about the TREE Award, read the press release.

Recipients of the TREE Award must have previously been selected by the RCSA as Cottrell Scholars, an honor which Professor Ginger received in 2006. In 2011, he was named as a Scialog Fellow by the RCSA, along with his colleague, Professor Daniel Gamelin.

For more information about Prof. Ginger and his research, visit his faculty page or research group website.

Alexandra Velian to join faculty

We are delighted to announce that Dr. Alexandra Velian will join us as Assistant Professor of Chemistry.

Dr. Velian completed her undergraduate studies in chemistry at Caltech, where she conducted research with Professor Jonas C. Peters prior to developing the synthesis of low-valent mono- and bimetallic complexes supported by a rigid terphenyl diphosphine framework with Professor Theodor Agapie. She received her Ph.D. under the direction of Professor Christopher C. Cummins at MIT, where she developed the synthesis of anthracene and niobium-supported precursors to reactive phosphorus fragments and studied their behavior using chemical, spectroscopic, and computational methods. Notably, this work gave rise to the synthesis of the 6π all-inorganic aromatic anion heterocycle P2N3, produced in the “click” reaction of P2 with the azide ion. She is currently a Materials Research Science & Engineering Center postdoctoral fellow with Professor Colin Nuckolls at Columbia University, where she is working to create well-defined functional nanostructures by linking atomically precise metal chalcogenide clusters.

Dr. Velian will launch her research program at the University of Washington in July 2017. Her independent program will focus on the development of synthetic strategies to access new generations of molecular and heterogeneous inorganic catalysts and electronic materials. In the long term, she seeks to contribute fundamental understanding of chemical processes happening at the surface of semiconductor materials. With a primary foothold in inorganic and organometallic chemistry, her research program will interface with chemical engineering and materials science.

For more information about Dr. Velian and her research, please visit her faculty page or contact her directly via avelian@uw.edu.

Champak Chatterjee promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure

The Department of Chemistry congratulates Assistant Professor Champak Chatterjee on his promotion to associate professor with tenure, effective September 16, 2017.

Research in the Chatterjee group focuses on various aspects of protein regulation by reversible chemical modifications. By investigating how the biophysical and biochemical properties of key bacterial and human proteins change with their modification states, the Chatterjee group is uncovering the molecular mechanisms that drive critical events in cell growth and survival, such as gene transcription and protein degradation. This mechanistic knowledge enables the design of therapeutics that selectively target protein-mediated processes that are misregulated in a wide range of human diseases.

To learn more about Professor Chatterjee’s research, please visit his faculty page and research group website.

Recent work by Anne McCoy and coworkers published in Science

McCoy 2015 editWater conducts electricity, but the process by which this familiar fluid passes along positive charges has puzzled scientists for decades.

But in a paper published in the Dec. 2 issue of the journal Science, an international team of researchers has finally caught water in the act — showing how water molecules pass along excess charges and, in the process, conduct electricity.

“This fundamental process in chemistry and biology has eluded a firm explanation,” said co-author Anne McCoy, professor of chemistry. “And now we have the missing piece that gives us the bigger picture: how protons essentially ‘move’ through water.”

The team was led by Mark Johnson, senior author and a professor at Yale University. For over a decade, Johnson, McCoy and two co-authors — Professors Kenneth Jordan at the University of Pittsburgh and Knut Asmis at Leipzig University — have collaborated to understand how molecules in complex arrangements pass along charged particles.

Read the full UW News story here. To learn more about Professor McCoy and her research, visit her faculty page and research group website.

Recent work by David Masiello and coworkers published in Nature Photonics

masiello_nature-photonics_squareRecent work by Associate Professor David Masiello and colleagues was highlighted in a November 7 article in Nature Photonics. The research was also highlighted in Chemical & Engineering News and in a News & Views feature article in Nature Photonics.

Measurement of the two distinct components—scattering and absorption—of a single nanoscale object’s optical extinction provides fundamentally important and complementary information on how that object processes light: either scattering it back to the far-field or converting it into internal excitation. Today, various techniques exist to measure the scattering from individual nanoscale objects, all relying on the detection of scattered photons in regions of zero background. Measuring their absorption, however, is much more complicated due to the fundamental inability to detect extremely small reductions in transmission over statistical fluctuations in the number of photons. This means that the spectroscopic signature of the vast majority of molecules—specifically, those that are transformed into dark states through photoreactions—is difficult to access.

To overcome this challenge, researchers in the Masiello group and the Goldsmith group at the University of Wisconsin–Madison devised a new experimental route to measure the absorption spectra of individual, nonemissive nanoscale objects by photothermal contrast in an optical microresonator cavity.

Photothermal spectroscopies function by inferring an object’s absorption from the localized temperature increase and resulting refractive index inhomogeneity produced by the excited object’s nonradiative decay. In their work, the team coupled individual plasmonic nanorods to an ultrahigh-quality optical microresonator cavity and succeeded in determining the nanorod’s absorption spectrum by monitoring the temperature-dependent attometer shifts in the resonance frequency of microresonator’s whispering gallery modes. These exceedingly small but detectable resonance shifts correspond to temperature increases of ~100 nK (measured at room temperature!), making their absorption spectrometer simultaneously one of the world’s best thermometers. Suprisingly, the nanorod’s absorption spectrum revealed a dense array of sharp Fano interferences arising from its interaction with the whispering gallery modes of the microresonator, allowing the team to deeply explore the hybridization of plasmonic and photonic cavity modes.

This collaborative effort brought together the creativity and talents of several graduate students and postdocs in multiple departments between the two institutions. The results were achieved following years of hard work involving both theorists and experimentalists. Future directions will explore the feasibility of this system to serve as a platform for studying quantum physics at room temperature.

To learn more about Professor Masiello and his research, visit his faculty page and research group website.

Sotiris Xantheas to join faculty

xantheas-squareWe are delighted to announce that Sotiris S. Xantheas has joined the Department as Affiliate Professor of Chemistry. He also holds the title of UW-PNNL Distinguished Faculty Fellow.

Dr. Xantheas is a Laboratory Fellow in Chemical Physics & Analysis, part of the Physical Sciences Division at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Dr. Xantheas is widely recognized for his expertise related to the molecular science of aqueous systems. His innovative studies of intermolecular interactions in aqueous ionic clusters and use of ab initio electronic structure calculations to elucidate their structural and spectral features are at the forefront of molecular theory and computation.

As Affiliate Professor of Chemistry with graduate faculty status, Dr. Xantheas is able to serve as a graduate advisor. Dr. Xantheas’ research facilities are located on the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory campus in Richland, WA.

For more information, please visit his faculty page, his PNNL staff page, or contact him directly via email at xantheas@uw.edu.

Sarah Keller wins 2017 Avanti Award in Lipids

kellerThe Biophysical Society has announced Professor Sarah Keller as the recipient of the 2017 Avanti Award in Lipids. Avanti Polar Lipids, Inc. established this annual award to be given by the Biophysical Society in recognition of an investigator’s outstanding contributions to understanding of lipid biophysics. Professor Keller will be honored at the Awards Symposium on February 14, 2017, during the Society’s 61st Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

In their announcement, the Biophysical Society stated that Professor Keller “is being recognized for her seminal work that has contributed to the understanding of phase behavior of multicomponent lipid membranes.” She is among the youngest recipients for this honor, in terms of years since Ph.D. at the time of award. Her numerous professional accolades include two previous BPS awards: the 2014 Thomas Thompson Award, which recognizes an outstanding contribution in the field of membrane structure and assembly, and the 2005 Margaret Oakley Dayhoff Award, which is given to a woman who holds very high promise or has achieved prominence while developing the early (pre-tenure) stages of a career in biophysical research.

Professor Keller is a biophysicist who investigates self-assembling soft condensed matter systems, primarily centered around how simple lipid mixtures within bilayer membranes give rise to complex phase behavior. In addition to her primary work in Chemistry, she is also Adjunct Professor of Physics, and previously served as Associate Dean for Research Activities in the College of Arts and Sciences.

For more information about Professor Keller and her research, please visit her faculty page and her research group website.

Nature Methods cover article details refined, accessible technique for expansion microscopy

dividing_finalCongratulations to Assistant Professor Joshua Vaughan and his UW co-workers, whose recent work was featured on the cover of Nature Methods. Their report details the development of a simplified method to “inflate” cellular structures for use in an imaging technique known as expansion microscopy.

Efforts to improve the resolution of cellular structures typically focus on addressing the limitations of microscope hardware. With expansion microscopy, higher resolution is achieved through physical alteration of the specimen. By linking swellable polymers to customized fluorophores, researchers can physically expand the specimen to enable super-resolution microscopy with a conventional laboratory microscope.

As noted in the journal, Vaughan and co-workers have “developed and characterized new methods for linking fluorophores to the polymer that now enable expansion microscopy with conventional fluorescently labeled antibodies and fluorescent proteins.” By simplifying the procedure and expanding fluorophore options, they came up with separate approaches to provide high resolution imaging of individual cells and of tissue slices. In addition to facilitating a range of biological studies, these refinements broadly expand access to the technique, enabling researchers to use a variety of conventional fluorophores and ordinary laboratory microscopes to achieve high resolution cellular imaging.

More information about this work can be found in Nature Methods and in the UW News press release.

For more information about Professor Vaughan and his research, please visit his faculty page and research group website.

AJ Boydston named a 2016 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar

Boydston 2015 DTA photoAssistant Professor AJ Boydston has been named a 2016 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar by The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. The Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards Program supports the research and teaching careers of talented young faculty in the chemical sciences. Based on institutional nominations, the program provides discretionary funding to faculty at an early stage in their careers. Criteria for selection include an independent body of scholarship attained within the first five years of their appointment as independent researchers, and a demonstrated commitment to education, signaling the promise of continuing outstanding contributions to both research and teaching. The Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards Program provides an unrestricted research grant of $75,000.

To learn more about the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards Program, please visit the Dreyfus Foundation website. To learn more about Prof. Boydston, please visit his website and research group page.