UW Chemistry to establish a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship thanks to $12 million commitment from professor emeritus Larry Dalton and Nicole Boand

Building upon a long legacy of supporting scientific innovation and education, professor emeritus Larry Dalton and his wife, Nicole Boand, have committed $12 million to the UW Department of Chemistry. The majority of the gift will go to establish the Dalton Postdoctoral Fellowship in Chemistry — a postdoctoral fellowship similar to those at the nation’s most prestigious research institutions like Berkeley and Harvard.

One of only a handful of similarly funded fellowships at public universities across the United States, this fellowship will support researchers in the postdoctoral phase of their training. This is a formative and productive time for early-career scientists as they work to obtain research experience and publications to qualify them for full-time, tenure-track faculty positions. These promising scientists often play a critical role in accelerating fundamental research into real-world applications, as they are able to focus 100 percent on the research challenges before them.

“This postdoctoral fellowship will enable the Department of Chemistry to attract and support the brightest early-career scientists from across the nation, ensuring that the UW is a leader in next-generation research in the chemical sciences,” said Michael Heinekey, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry. “This gift will help to elevate our department to the level of top chemistry departments around the world.”

Building on past gifts to the department, this gift will also fund two endowed chairs to help the department recruit and retain top researchers. One chair will be named for Boand’s parents and the other named for Alvin Kwiram, UW professor emeritus of chemistry and vice provost emeritus for research. Additionally, the gift will create an endowed departmental support fund to ensure the department has flexible and reliable resources to respond to opportunities as they arise.

Dalton and Boand’s most recent investment in the Department of Chemistry serves to underscore and amplify their legacy of impact at the UW. Over the years, they have established two endowed professorships in chemistry and two endowed chairs. These endowments have provided meaningful research support to the six faculty members who have held them, and to the numerous undergraduate and graduate students working alongside those faculty.

“Larry Dalton has already made a phenomenal impact at the University of Washington, and to have a faculty member add to such a legacy by demonstrating this level of dedication to his field and to future generations of students and professors in the UW’s chemistry department is truly remarkable,” UW President Ana Mari Cauce said. “I am profoundly thankful for this commitment from Larry and Nicole, which will honor his work and support innovation at the UW for years to come.”

This gift follows Dalton’s decades of research in photonics and nonlinear optics. He joined the UW Department of Chemistry in 1998. In 2000, Dalton and his collaborators published a foundational paper in Science, which laid the groundwork for innovations in opto-electronics, with major implications for telecommunications, sensor technology and information technology. Dalton went on to found Lumera Corp. — now part of GigPeak — to develop and manufacture opto-electronic devices. His research was instrumental in securing a major grant from the National Science Foundation to launch the Center for Materials and Devices for Information Technology Research at the UW, which was foundational for what would become the UW Clean Energy Institute.

During his nearly 20 years in the Department of Chemistry, Dalton invested his time, energy and resources to support students and burgeoning researchers. Both he and Boand have shown through their philanthropy a deep commitment to the next generation of science and scientists. The Dalton Postdoctoral Fellowship in Chemistry, along with the newly endowed chairs and other departmental support, is a culminating expression of that commitment.

“We make this current contribution in the hope and belief that it will promote recruitment and retention of the best and brightest researchers and educators in STEM fields to the University of Washington,” said Dalton. “Nicole and I appreciate the critical impact that STEM research has made and is making to the economy and well-being of Washington and the nation, and to the importance of quality education which assures continuation of this broader impact of STEM research.”

Karen Goldberg named to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Karen Goldberg, Professor and Nicole A. Boand Endowed Chair in Chemistry, joins 228 new members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences this year. “It is an honor to welcome this new class of exceptional women and men as part of our distinguished membership,” said Don Randel, chair of the Academy’s Board of Directors. “Their talents and expertise will enrich the life of the Academy and strengthen our capacity to spread knowledge and understanding in service to the nation.”

Goldberg’s research focuses on designing more efficient catalysts. Better catalysts can transform industrial production methods for everything from pharmaceuticals to construction materials. Goldberg’s approach is to gather detailed data on the mechanisms by which certain chemical reactions occur and synthesize the desired products. This information is crucial to help develop catalysts that are more precise in the types of chemical products they yield, and more efficient and sustainable in terms of the amount of materials and energy used.

Goldberg also serves as director of the National Science Foundation-funded Center for Enabling New Technologies through Catalysis, a consortium of 20 faculty members and research labs at more than a dozen universities and research institutions that are pursuing innovative approaches to catalysis. Goldberg is a member of the Washington State Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in 2016 received the American Chemical Society Award in Organometallic Chemistry.

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and  Sciences is one of the country’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers, convening leaders from the academic, business and government sectors to respond to the challenges facing the nation and the world. Current research focuses on higher education, the humanities, and the arts; science and technology policy; global security and energy; and American institutions and the public good.

Members of the 2017 class include winners of the Pulitzer Prize and the Wolf Prize; MacArthur fellows; Fields medalists; Presidential Medal of Freedom and National Medal of Arts recipients; and Academy Award, Grammy Award, Emmy Award, and Tony Award winners. A full list can be found here.

Bo Zhang promoted to Professor

The Department of Chemistry congratulates Associate Professor Bo Zhang on his promotion to Professor, effective September 16, 2017.

Professor Zhang’s research focuses on the development and application of electroanalytical measurement tools to study single electrochemical events and processes. The Zhang group uses nanometer-scale electrodes to study electron transfer reactions of single molecules and single metal nanoparticles, electrocatalysis, and mass transport at the electrode/solution interface. This work is being conducted in pursuit of fundamental understanding of heterogeneous electron-transfer reactions and electrode/solution interfaces as well as single-cell chemistry and biological function such as neuronal secretion and brain activity.

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

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.

Open tenure-line faculty position in inorganic chemistry

UW_W-Logo_RGBApplications are invited for a full-time, tenure-track appointment in the Department of Chemistry. Outstanding candidates in all areas of inorganic chemistry and interdisciplinary areas involving inorganic chemistry will be considered for appointment at the Assistant or Associate Professor level; a hire at the Professor level may be considered in exceptional circumstances.

University of Washington faculty members engage in teaching, research, and service. Successful candidates will be expected to participate in undergraduate and graduate teaching and to develop innovative, vigorous, externally-funded research programs. Applicants must have a Ph.D. or foreign equivalent degree by date of appointment.

For information about the Department and to apply, visit http://apply.interfolio.com/38686; applications should include a cover letter, curriculum vitae, statement of future research interests, and (at the Assistant Professor rank) three letters of reference. Priority will be given to complete applications received by November 14, 2016. The search will be led by Professor Julia Kovacs; please direct all inquiries or disability accommodation requests to search@chem.washington.edu.

University of Washington is an affirmative action and equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, age, protected veteran or disabled status, or genetic information.