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Selected Faculty Updates and Publications for Fall 2023

Bhavya Sharma, associate professor, was recently awarded a grant by the Wellcome Leap Foundation as part of a $50 million initiative to investigate improved treatment of depression through biologically-matched strategies. 

Grier Jones, fifth year chemistry PhD student, and Associate Professor Konstantinos Vogiatzis recently published a new data-driven quantum chemistry method, based on the reduced-density matrix (RDM) formulation of quantum mechanics, in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters. This publication was developed in collaboration with University of Tennessee, Knoxville alumnus Professor A. Eugene DePrince (’05) and his research group at Florida State University.

The Jenkins Lab published their research “Giving Gold Wings: Ultrabright and Fragmentation Free Mass Spectrometry Reporters for Barcoding, Bioconjugation Monitoring, and Data Storage” in the international journal Angewandte Chemie. Graduate students Isabel Jensen and Gurkiran Kaur were co-authors on the piece. The Jenkins Lab also published their research “Statistical copolymer metal organic nanotubes” in the journal Chemical Science. Graduate student Jacob Barrett co-authored the publication.

Tessa Calhoun recently published “Facilitating flip-flop: Structural tuning of molecule-membrane interactions in living bacteria” in Biophysical Journal. The article investigates how the structure of small molecules impacts their initial adsorption and eventual desinations within membranes in the context of living cells.

Professor Janice Musfeldt and graduate student Kevin Smith were recently featured by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for their work with the Advanced Light Source (ALS). The highlight described the work in their paper entitled “Real-Space Infrared Spectroscopy of Ferroelectric Domain Walls in Multiferroic h-(Lu,Sc)FeO3” published in ACS Applied Matter Interfaces.

Associate Professor of Chemistry Konstantinos Vogiatzis, in collaboration with Professor of Mathematics Vasileios Maroulas and Eastman Chemical Company, has published a new machine learning model for predicting the properties of new polymeric materials. Their publication “Polymer graph neural networks for multitask property learning” in npj Computational Materials details the development of the open access machine learning architecture.

Assistant Professor Joshua Baccile recently published “Membrane Permeant Analogs for Independent Cellular Introduction of the Terpene Precursors Isopentenly- and Dimethylallyl-Pyrosphate” in the journal ChemBioChem. This publication was co-authored by visiting scientist Frank M. Rossi, graduate students Dillon McBee, Thomas Trybala, and Zackary Hulsey. REU student Camilla Gonzalez Curbelo and undergraduate student William Mazur were also contributing authors.

This spring Johnathan Brantley, assistant professor, published his article “Exploring the influence of rigid carbocycles on terpenoid copolymer properties” in the Journal of Polymer Science. His article investigates the use of terpenoid materials in addressing the grand challenge of enhancing understanding of the relationship between structure and properties in macromolecules. 

Assistant Professor Ampofo Darko’s publication “Effects of Tethered, Axially Coordinated Ligands (TACLs) on Dirhodium (II,II) Catalyzed Cyclopropanation: A Linear Free Energy Relationship Study” was recently featured in a Virtual Issue. This issue was presented by The Journal of Organic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry Letters, Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Process Research & Development, and Organometallics to highlight the work of early-career researchers. Those included in the issue were nominated by the Editors and Editorial Advisory Board members of the participating journals, and leaders of the ACS Division of Organic Chemistry and Division of Inorganic Chemistry. Researchers were selected based on the quality and novelty of their research, the contributions made during their careers thus far, and their potential to influence the future of chemistry. 

Thanh Do and graduate students Damilola Oluwatoba and Miranda Limbach recently published “Self-Assembly of Cysteine into Nanofibrils Precedes Cystine Crystal Formation: Implications for Aggregation Inhibition” in ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces. The article explores the relationship between CYS-forming amyloid fibrils and hexagonal CTE crystals. 

Fred Heberle and graduate student Emily Chaisson recently published “Building Assymmetric Lipid Bilayers from Molecular Dynamics Simulations: What Methods Exist and How to Choose One” in the journal Membranes. The article discusses the underlying source of discrepancies in protocols used for creating asymmetric bilayer models. 

Michael Best recently accepted the position of Associate Head of Undergraduate Education in the Department of Chemistry. He replaces David Jenkins, who has stepped down in order to focus on his well-funded research program. Best previously managed the department’s REU program. This year he returned to his alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin, to deliver a Distinguished Alumni Lecture. 

Brian Long published “Atomic Level Interactions and Suprastructural Configuration of Plant Cell Wall Polymers in Dialkylimidazolium Ionic Liquids” in the journal Biomacromolecules. The publication featured the work of a team of UT researchers from Chemistry, the UT Center for Renewable Carbon, and the School of Natural Resources, as well as Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the USDA-Forest Service.

Professor Bin Zhao published “Crystallization-driven Nanoparticle Crytsalsomes” in Angewandte Chemie. The article describes a bottom-up approach for fabricating spherical gold nanoparticle assemblies that mimic colloidosomes.