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Jianing Li & Severin Schneebeli

New Assistant Professors: Jianing Li and Severin T. Schneebeli

Jianing Li, Ph.D., and Severin T. Schneebeli, Ph.D., have just accepted positions as Assistant Professors in Chemistry at UVM starting August 2014.

Jianing was hired to fill our open position in Physical Chemistry, completing successfully our search conducted this fall 2013 and winter 2014. Jianing is a theoretical and computational chemist. Her research focuses on the innovation of theoretical and computational methods to understand complex chemical and biological systems with biomedical and material applications.

Severin is the husband of Jianing and also an accomplished chemist. Jianing and Severin both obtained their Ph.D. degrees from Columbia University in 2011 with Jianing going the University of Chicago for her postdoctoral fellowship and Severing going to Northwestern University on the other side of Chicago for his postdoctoral fellowship.

Severin is an organic chemist with a focus on making new materials. His work is guided by his computational chemistry training while at Columbia University. He is working to design and create functional, synthetic materials with controlled molecular arrangements at the mesoscale, broadly defined as bridging the nano and microscales in the range of 1-10,000 nm.

We welcome Jianing and Severin to UVM.


Chris Kenseth

Christopher Kenseth was named a 2014 Goldwater Scholar

The Goldwater is a nationally competitive prestigious scholarship that recognizes sophomores and juniors who have done outstanding work in science, technology, math, or engineering (STEM) disciplines and who are on track to become leading researchers and innovators in their fields.

Named for former Senator Barry M. Goldwater, the award is the premier undergraduate award of its type in STEM fields, and UVM can nominate up to four students to participate in the competition each year. UVM's Goldwater faculty representative is Chemistry professor Rory Waterman who oversees the advising and nomination process for the scholarship.

Kenseth has participated in a breadth of research on campus. In 2013 Kenseth, under the guidance of Giuseppe Petrucci, did work on aerosol analysis. His work focused on the physical and chemical characterization of secondary organic aerosols, how they are formed in the atmosphere, and how they affect air quality, climate patterns and human health. That year Kenseth also did concurrent research in organic chemistry, under Matthias Brewer, developing novel synthetic methods for the preparation of complex nitrogen-containing compounds. Currently, Kenseth is working with Petrucci to investigate the heterogeneous aerosol chemistry of marine aerosols using a novel method of atmospheric aerosol analysis developed in the Petrucci Lab. This work will serve as the subject of his Honors College thesis.

Read more by Britten Elaine Chase


Angie Gatesy

Burlington's Seven Days Newspaper Writes a Story About Glassblower Angela Gatesy

March 12, 2014 Seven Days article by Ethan De Seife. Photograph by Matthew Thorsen.

The red neon sign in the window is more than just a beacon to those seeking Angela Gatesy's workshop. It's a testament to her skills.

Gatesy herself made that neon sign, as well as the many glass animals and flowers that dot the shop's surfaces, and they lend her workshop a homey warmth. It's pleasantly at odds with the Brutalist architecture of the Cook Physical Science Building.

Gatesy, 60, is the scientific glassblower for the University of Vermont's chemistry department, a post she has held for 30 years. When her predecessor, Roy Clark, asked her in 1981 if she might like to learn his trade, Gatesy was working in the chemistry department stockroom and taking a few graduate courses, but hadn't yet, as she puts it, "figured out life." She accepted Clark's invitation and, after working with him for three years, formally assumed her mentor's position in 1984 when he retired.

Scientific glassblowers do not puff air through long metal tubes into molten blobs of glass. Gatesy refers to those folks as "artistic glassblowers," but her own work requires a certain artistic sensibility. She uses specialized torches, paddles and lathes to create complex glass devices that, in another context, might well be called sculptures.

Gatesy mostly works in borosilicate glass (aka Pyrex), melting, bending and stretching it to the exacting specifications of professors and graduate students. Gatesy has made glassware for UVM's College of Medicine and geology and engineering departments, among others.

Assistant professor of chemistry Adam Whalley says of Gatesy, "I've given her pictures of things I'd wanted her to make, just pipe dreams in my mind. She can put them together in a day or two, which is amazing."

On a snowy day in late February, Gatesy gave Seven Days a tour of her workshop and several of the labs that use her handiwork.

Click on the link above to read the full article.


Rory Waterman

Prof. Rory Waterman appears in a special virtual issue of Synthetic Inorganic Chemistry by the ACS

Prof. Waterman contributed two articles to the virtual issue of Synthetic Inorganic Chemistry devoted to recent developments in synthetic inorganic chemistry by 17 young investigators (who have received their Ph.D. since 2004). The special issue highlights young scientists whose research is leading the field in new and exciting directions.


Chris Kenseth

Christopher Kenseth inducted into the the UVM Phi Beta Kappa chapter AND received the prestigious Bogorad Award

UVM’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa held its fall induction ceremony December 5 at 7:30 pm. Among those inducted was Chris Kenseth.

The Phi Beta Kappa chapter also awarded its prestigious Bogorard award to Chris.

Chris is working to complete his B.S. degree in Chemistry in May 2015.

The chapter selects a single student each year to receive the Bogorad Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in the liberal arts based on the academic record through the end of the sophomore year. The award is presented at the chapter’s December ceremony.



A Paul Krapcho

A. Paul Krapcho, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Chemistry, was inducted as a Fellow into the Vermont Academy of the Arts and Sciences

Also inducted with Prof. Krapcho were writer Chris Bohjalian, artist Sabra Field, and scientist Lauren Howard . See news story.


Organic Reactions Vol 81

Volume 81 of Organic Reactions by Wiley is dedicated to the Krapcho Reaction, honoring Emeritus Prof. A. Paul Krapcho

From the Wiley website:

Volume 81 represents the confluence of two rare and important phenomena for chapters in the Organic Reactions series, namely, it is a single-chapter volume, and it contains a name reaction coauthored by the inventor. Of the 261 chapters published thus far, only seven have been of sufficient impact to appear as single-chapter volumes. The single chapter in this volume entitled "The Krapcho Dealkoxycarbonylation Reaction of Esters with a-Electron-Withdrawing Substituents" has been coauthored by A. Paul Krapcho together with Organic Reactions' long-time contributor Engelbert Ciganek. The "Krapcho Decarboxylation," as it is known in common parlance, is an extraordinarily useful alternative to the classical hydrolysis-decarboxylation of esters bearing a-electron-withdrawing substituents. This process replaces the strongly basic or acidic conditions normally required for ester saponification with the neutral cleavage of the ester group by a BAC2 mechanism through the combination of water and a dipolar aprotic solvent at high temperature. However, another popular variant involves the use of inorganic salts such as lithium chloride, sodium iodide, or sodium cyanide in a dipolar aprotic solvent which can open a second mechanistic pathway (dependent upon the ester) through BAL2 cleavage. Drs. Krapcho and Ciganek expertly outline the broad substrate scope of this reaction and identify the preferred conditions for various substrate classes. The 371 pages of tables containing all known examples of this simple but important transformation, together with the 1,908 references cited in this Chapter, are testimony to the synthetic usefulness of the Krapcho reaction.


CAS Honors Day 2013
(Photo by Sally McCay)

Evan M. Sherbrook and Erik H. Horak receive the Department of Chemistry Senior Awards for 2013

Shown in the photo are Prof. Christopher Landry, Evan Sherbrook, Erik Horak and Prof. & Chair Dwight Matthews at the UVM College of Arts & Sciences Honors Day on May 17, 2013 where Evan & Erik received their awards.

Evan M. Sherbrook was awarded the American Chemical Society Green Mountain Section Award, and Erik Horak received the Charles E. Braun Award.

The American Chemical Society Green Mountain Section Award is given to an outstanding senior chemistry major for academic performance in chemistry. The Braun Award is given to an outstanding senior chemistry major for performance of research in chemistry in memory of Charles Braun, former Department Chair and the first Dean of the Graduate College.

Link to past awardees

Evan will be in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin (Madison) this fall beginning work on his Ph.D. in chemistry. Erik will remain at UVM this year working in the Department of Chemistry as a teaching assistant to undergraduate student laboratories and doing research with Prof. Liptak while his fiancé finishes an MS in statistics at UVM.


Evan Sherbrook

Evan M. Sherbrook was awarded the Hannah Howard Prize at the 2013 College of Arts & Sciences Honors Day

The Hannah Howard Prize is annually awarded to the College of Arts & Sciences undergraduate student with the highest cumulative grade point in the College. Often the award goes to a student with a perfect 4.0 grade point (note: grades of "A+" are recorded as 4 grade points – the same as for an "A"). This year there was a second awardee whose grade point tied Evan's: Georgia Jewett, a political science major. See the news story.

Evan Sherbrook is a native Vermonter who graduated from Lyndon Institute, an independent high school and boarding school located in the village of Lyndon Center, in the town of Lyndon, Vermont. In Evan's sophomore year at UVM, he took organic chemistry. Although he was excited about chemistry before, Evan could not stop talking about organic chemistry. Evan received the Chemistry Department's sophomore award for excellence in the study of organic chemistry. He also received the department's third-year Merck Index award and the fourth-year award, the American Chemical Society Green Mountain Section Award, for outstanding performance both in academic study and in research.

Evan has taken a range of courses at UVM, and as evidenced by the Hannah Howard Prize, he has excelled in all. However, his love and enthusiasm for chemistry rises above all. Not only has he completed the undergraduate curriculum coursework, but he has also finished most of the coursework that graduate students take in chemistry. Evan also did research in organic chemistry during the academic year as well as during the summer. His research advisor, Professor Stephen Waters, commented that, compared to other students, Evan displayed an uncommonly strong discipline, personal motivation, and drive for both research and academic studies.

Evan will pursue a Ph.D. degree in Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin for his graduate studies in organic chemistry this fall.


Graduate Students in Chemistry Organize a One-Day Chemistry Camp for Kids

Karla Erickson
Karla Erickson
Natalie Machamer
Natalie Machamer

On Saturday April 13, 2013 sixty elementary-age school children came to the Cook Physical Sciences Building for a one day experience in chemistry, themed "the Chemistry of Foods." Students, ranging from kindergarten to 5th grade, were divided into 4 age-related groups of 15 kids each for a day of fun and experimentation beginning at 9 am that morning. They participated in 3 laboratory experiments in the morning, then ate a bag lunch that was generously provided by the Bluebird Tavern, and participated in 2 more laboratory experiments in the afternoon. The experiments ranged from making and working with oobleck, a type of non-Newtonian fluid (everyone's hand's on favorite when colored dyes are involved), to making a battery out of a potato. Each laboratory experiment was taught by two Chemistry graduate students, and each group of students was lead by one graduate student team leader. At the end of the day the participants went to our main auditorium for a chemistry demonstration including explosions, fire and working with liquid nitrogen to round out the spectrum of hot to cold. Most of the student's parents also came for the demonstration. Although a number of Chemistry graduate students participated in the event, special recognition goes to Ms. Karla Erickson and Natalie Machamer who developed, organized and directed the event. Acknowledgements are also made to the generous funding provided by UVM's Department of Chemistry and the Food Systems program. Funds raised from this event will go to defraying costs of Chemistry graduate students to attend national conferences in chemistry. The event was so successful that our graduate students are already planning the 2014 event.

Photographs by Xiaoxi Liu

See all the photos on UVM Chem Facebook

Chem Camp 2013
Professor Christopher Landry

Professor Christopher Landry named University Scholar for 2013-14

Each year, up to four distinguished faculty members (two from the basic and applied sciences, and two from the social sciences and humanities) are named University Scholars by the Graduate College in recognition of their sustained excellence in research and scholarly activities. University Scholars are selected by a panel of faculty scholars, based upon nominations submitted by UVM faculty.

Prof. Landry arrived at UVM as an Assistant Professor in 1996 and was appointed full Professor in 2007. He has held a visiting faculty appointment in chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard, and has been the recipient of a Fulbright Senior Research Fellow Award.

Professor Landry’s initial research was in the discovery and development of porous materials. For many years, he has been creating new methods for the catalytic decontamination of chemical weapons, pesticides, and other environmental contaminants using porous materials. More recently, he has extended these studies into biomedical research, working with colleagues at UVM to develop new nanomaterials for in vivo drug delivery. His research funding has included a prestigious CAREER award from the National Science Foundation, as well as funding from the Department of Defense and Army Research Office, the National Institutes of Health, and companies. Landry’s work has resulted in numerous publications in leading professional journals and three US patents. He is frequently invited to speak at universities, laboratories, and professional meetings.

Strongly interested in interdisciplinary programs and research, he was central to the development of the cross-college undergraduate major in biochemistry, and also holds membership in the interdisciplinary graduate programs in Materials Science and Cellular, Molecular & Biomedical Sciences. Landry has been the research mentor to eight post-doctoral employees, thirteen doctoral students, and numerous undergraduates.

Landry’s many service contributions include, at UVM, co-chairing the University’s re-accreditation, President of the Phi Beta Kappa chapter, and Graduate College Executive Committee member; and externally, grant review panels for the National Institutes of Health, NSF, and the Department of Defense, as well as manuscript review for a variety of journals.



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Last modified March 30 2014 02:11 PM

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