Jordan Tocher and Kyle Murphy will start the new year with their doctoral degrees in hand and new jobs in the chemistry field.

Tocher, who studied organic chemistry at UVM, will be a senior chemist for Jordi Labs in Mansfield, Massachusetts. Jordi Labs is a full analytical service lab, offering various forms of liquid and gas chromatography, mass spectroscopy, thermal analyses, microscopy, elemental and physical testing. 

Meanwhile, Murphy, whose research interests include chirality-assisted synthesis of freeform molecular spirals, will begin a teaching fellowship in January at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, as a lecturer and working in the lab with UNC Associate Professor Amanda Wolfe.

The UVM Chemistry department offers M.S. and Ph.D. graduate programs in analytical, inorganic, organic or physical chemistry. About eight students per year receive a Ph.D. from UVM Chemistry, and the size of the student body makes for close faculty-student contacts and an informal, stimulating atmosphere.

Tocher’s advisor was Associate Professor Jose Madalengoitia, who discovered reactivity known as the 1,3-diaza-Claisen rearrangement. Tocher worked with Professor Madalengoitia on method development pertaining to the cationic version of this reactivity.

Murphy’s advisor was Assistant Professor Severin Schneebeli, who invented a new way to use chirality to precisely control nanoscale shapes. Murphy’s work with Schneebeli included making helical ladder polymers using chirality-assisted synthesis, which are now being explored for their spring-like behavior.

Both Tocher and Murphy defended their dissertations in December, and they credit the faculty’s guidance and accessibility with their success.

“The relationships I’ve built within this building speak to the strength of this department. All the professors across the board—not just the ones in my committee—contributed to my success in some way,” Tocher says. “It’s such an open door policy where I could talk to faculty about advice and career paths. That’s been the biggest benefit for me.”







Erica Houskeeper