Summer 2021
LSU Chemistry graduate student Simran Dhingra from the Vicente Research Group working with boron dipyrromethene (BODIPY), which is known for its high fluorescence quantum yields and remarkable stability under physiological conditions. Her aim is to synthesize better diagnostic and therapeutic agents against multiple cancer types.
LETTER FROM THE CHAIR
Dear Colleagues and Students,

We made it! We safely completed an entire academic year during a pandemic. In spite of the limitations on capacity, our research labs were productive. Online teaching was a challenge. Teaching completely by Zoom is like a dog walking on its hind legs. In the words of Samuel Johnson, “It is not that is done well that is impressive but rather that it is done at all.” However, our faculty worked extremely hard to ensure that our students had a quality educational experience. I am extremely proud of how well our faculty and students have done. 

John A. Pojman, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
ARTICLES
Professor Emeritus James Traynham: A "Crown Jewel of LSU Chemistry"
In a hometown with only dirt roads and no movie theater, then high school senior James Traynham traveled 10 miles from his hometown of Broxton, Georgia, to watch Louis Pasteur's biopic, "The Story of Louis Pasteur" (1936), starring Paul Muni. After watching the film, Traynham was drawn to organic chemistry because of the possibilities of "exploring new areas of discovery and potentially contributing something to improve people's lives," said Traynham. | More >
Dr. Linda Allen: Celebrating 35 Years of Teaching Excellence
On May 14, 2021, Dr. Linda Allen, Director of Undergraduate Laboratories and Senior Instructor, retired from LSU. The retirement countdown on her phone didn't serve as a somber reminder but rather a celebration for 35 years of teaching excellence. Her contributions to instructional content and course development will continue promoting the importance of chemistry education at LSU and across the country. | More >
Assistant Professor Noémie Elgrishi Receives NSF Career Award
The NSF CAREER program supports early-career faculty who demonstrate the role of teacher-scholar through outstanding research, excellent teaching, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organization. The $685,000 award, funded by the Chemical Structure, Dynamic & Mechanism B Program of the Chemistry Division, is for Dr. Elgrishi’s project titled “Confined Nano-Environments for the Stabilization of Molecular Electrocatalysts.” | More >
Dr. Víctor García-López Reveals How Chemistry Allowed Him to Become an Inventor
by Elizabeth Cui | June 2021
LSU Assistant Professor Víctor García-López's academic ambitions began where most people do, in high school, and like most young people, medical doctors were the profession to be. García-López had his mindset on medical school until one day when the school announced a chemistry competition. The announcement caught his attention and he sparingly decided to participate even though he did not know much about the subject. García-López received a call shortly after the exam and was surprised to find that he earned the best test score in his state and progressed to the national chemistry Olympiad. | More >
LSU Chemistry Receives Student Technology Fee Award for a VR Facility
The LSU Department of Chemistry is pleased to announce the funding of a 2020-2021 LSU Student Technology Fee (STF) Award. The award, titled “LSU CHEM VR: Virtual Reality for Chemistry Education” by Principal Implementer and Project Author Semin Lee, will utilize virtual reality (VR) technology to reinforce spatial learning in chemistry undergraduate and graduate courses. | More >
Ragains Receives NSF Grant to Study Novel Glycosidic Linkages
Associate Professor Justin Ragains recently received a three-year National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for his project titled, “Leveraging Protecting Groups, Lewis Bases, and Backside Attack for 1,2-cis-Selective Glycosylation.” The $459,999 grant will allow the Ragains research team to investigate novel approaches to the 1,2-cis-selective formation of glycosidic linkages (1,2-cis-selective glycosylation). | More >
FEATURED ALUMNI
LSU Alumna, Dr. Kristie Adams, Overcame Death to Pursue Her Passion for Chemistry
by Elizabeth Cui | June 2021

Imagine being 13 years old. Life is colorful and bold, and the possibilities are endless. You're just coming into your own and pondering who (and what) you want to be in the world. Now imagine being told that you should have been dead already, and it was a miracle to even make it to 13. Dr. Kristie Adams faced this trial.

Adams is now the President and CEO of Steelyard Analytics, the US daughter company of Spectral Service AG, based in Köln, Germany. Adams’ story demonstrates resilience, passion, and determination. Adams never gave up on her dream and continues to change the world, one NMR sample at a time. More >

LSU Department of Chemistry PhD alumna, Dr. Alecia Gabriel, has taken her childhood passion for science and co-founded the Motor City STEAM Foundation and The Lab Drawer to inspire and encourage that same passion in the youth of her hometown of Detroit, MI and beyond. Learn more on how Dr. Gabriel is inspiring the next generation of scientists. | LSU CoS Blog Series >
UNDERGRADUATE SPOTLIGHT
by Elaine Tagge | June 2021

Julia Nauman, Chemistry Graduate (Spring 2021)

Julia Nauman has been analyzing the bigger picture since the very beginning. As a high school student, she was interested in mathematics but decided that observing the conceptual mechanics of the world wouldn’t be enough to change it. So, she turned to the sciences.

“I wanted to contribute to further discoveries of scientific knowledge,” Julia asserts. “I found chemistry to be the best fit for my interests.”

She was drawn to LSU as a legacy holder and Baton Rouge native, with both of her parents having attended and worked at the university. “I was very familiar with LSU,” Julia noted, “I participated in the LSU Math Circle summer program in 2016 and enjoyed my experience.”

True to the duality of her skills, Julia chose to pursue degrees in mathematics and chemistry. One of the biggest steps in her collegiate career was becoming an undergraduate researcher for Dr. Revati Kumar of the LSU Chemistry Department.

Her research project with Dr. Kumar compared the effects of various salts on the ability of aniline to extract graphene oxide from water solvents. Julia explains, “Graphene oxide has possible applications in water purification and the removal of contaminants, such as aniline, from water.”

Julia graduated this past May and will be entering the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Chemistry PhD program. In the future, she sees herself continuing to work with computational chemistry, studying and changing the world at the molecular level.
Chemistry Professor Highlights Importance of Diversity in STEM

Elon University Assistant Professor and LSU Chemistry alumna, Dr. Nyote Calixte, shares her personal experience mentoring students and the importance of diversity in STEM. Learn more about Dr. Calixte’s academic journey and her insight on increasing minority visibility in STEM fields. | Article >
Groundviews | March 2021

For International Women’s Day 2021, Groundviews interviewed LSU Chemistry alumna Dr. Theshini Perera (PhD, 2010). Learn more about Dr. Perera’s career journey and how she inspires young minds to engage in science. | Blog Feature >
LSU Art and Science Professors Discuss the Role of Uncertainty in Their Fields in Webinar Series
Reveille | March 2021

A Reveille article highlighting Professor John Pojman’s lecture on the epistemological implications of Chaos Theory during the LSU Research seminar series discussing the role of uncertainty in their fields. | Article >
“Famous Lunches” Continue with LSU Chemistry Alumni, Faculty, and Staff

Although COVID-19 put a pause on their gatherings, the “famous lunches,” a term coined by LSU Chemistry alumnus Dr. Ken Kneipp, reconvened with fellow LSU Chemistry alumni, faculty, and staff. On June 15, 2021, the lunch group, joined by Professor and Chair John Pojman and Dean Cynthia Peterson, also toured the LSU Chemistry research facilities. [In photo: Retired Instrument Room Manager Mr. George Sexton, Chair and Professor John Pojman, Alumnus Dr. Phil Mollere, Emeritus Professor Frank Cartledge, Dean Cynthia Peterson, Emeritus Professor Bill Daly, Alumnus Dr. Ken Kneipp, Emeritus Professor Jim Traynham]
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
Assistant Professor Matthew Chambers Received the College of Science Undergraduate Teaching Award
LSU College of Science hosted its 2021 Choppin Honors Celebration Day, where the students, faculty, and staff received their awards in person and were recognized for their outstanding efforts. Assistant Professor Matthew Chambers received the College of Science Undergraduate Teaching Award. | More >
Assistant Professor Tuo Wang received the 2021 ISMAR Anatole Abragam Prize
LSU Chemistry Assistant Professor Tuo Wang received the 2021 Anatole Abragam Prize from the International Society of Magnetic Resonance (ISMAR). The award recognizes early-career scientists that show evidence of novel and significant contributions to magnetic resonance. The prize includes a 5,000 USD award and a lecture at the opening session of the 22nd ISMAR conference (August 22 – 27, 2021, Osaka, Japan). | More >
NEW FUNDING
Dr. Matt Chambers- LA Board of Regents (BOR) ITRS- Cationic Carbonylation Catalyst Development for Safer and More Efficient Chemical Processes at Lower Pressures

Dr. Noémie Elgrishi- NSF CAREER- Confined Nano-Environments for the Stabilization of Molecular Electrocatalysts

Dr. Semin Lee- LSU Student Technology Fee – Discipline Specific Proposal – LSU CHEM VR: Virtual Reality for Chemistry Education

Drs. John Pojman, Semin Lee, and David Spivak- LA Board of Regents (BOR) ITRS- Fighting Fire With Innovation: Applying Advanced Manufacturing Techniques to Transform Louisiana-Based Commodity Chemicals Into High-Value Flame Retardant Products

Dr. Justin Ragains- NSF- Leveraging Protecting Groups, Lewis Bases, and Backside Attack for 1,2-cis-Selective Glycosylation

Dr. Fatima Rivas- LA Board of Regents (BOR) RCS- Synthesis of Acorane Natural Products Against Metabolic Disorders; LA Board of Regents (BOR) LAMDA Seed-Trac – Synthesis of functional molecular hybrids; Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award – Targeting VCP-ANKZF1 interactions in cancer

Dr. Amy Xu- LA Board of Regents (BOR) LAMDA Seed-Trac – Structural characterization of shape memory polymer

STUDENT AWARDS
LSU Chemistry Graduate Students Receive Prestigious NSF Fellowships
Rasidah Olubukola Ali
Tiffany Duong
Marvin Stewart
Eleven current Louisiana State University students were awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (GRFP). The NSF GRFP recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students from STEM disciplines pursuing research-based graduate degrees at US institutions. The five-year fellowship provides our nation’s future research leaders with three years of financial support ($34,000 annual stipend) and a cost of education allowance to the graduate institution. Three of these award recipients are LSU Chemistry graduate students: Rasidah Olubukola Ali, Tiffany Duong, and Marvin Stewart. | More >
Graduate Research Awards
Mary Jo Pribble Inorganic Chemistry Award: Saeed Fosshat
Timothy S. Evenson Macromolecular Chemistry Award: Rasangi Perera
H. Dupont Durst Organic Chemistry Award: Guanyu Zhang
Neil Kestner Physical Chemistry Award: Xiaobing Chen
Dow Chemical Macromolecular Award: Anthony Mai
Kiran Allam International Award: Xiaobing Chen
James G. Traynham Teaching and Research Award: Nichole Kaufman
Coates Outstanding Dissertation Award in Chemistry: Tianyi Yu

Teaching Assistant Awards
CHEM 4553 TA Award: Victoria Valley  
CHEM 3493 TA Award: Asela Dikkumbura
CHEM 2364 TA Award: Dinushini Siddhiaratchi
CHEM 1212 TA Award: Ovini Weeratunge
CHEM 1212 TA Award: Nathan Mitchell

Honorable Mentions:
CHEM 2364 TA Award: Brandon Conrad
CHEM 1212 TA Award: Vanessa Hulse
UNDERGRADUATE AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Adrianna Hawkins was selected as a nominee for LSU’s Student Employee of the Year. Adrianna is recognized for the outstanding contributions she has provided LSU Chemistry and to the University as a student employee for the year 2020-2021. The graphic design sophomore has been working in the Williams stockroom since August 2020.

College of Science 2021 SCI Lead Students: Ethan Burnett, Imogen Hoffman, and Joshua Nguyen. SCI Lead is a student council within the College of Science, which assists students in developing professional, leadership, and communication skills while advancing diversity and inclusion. 

Each spring, LSU recognizes 12 outstanding seniors who contribute positively to the life of the campus, the surrounding community, and/or society. LSU Chemistry student Alexander Landry was named to the Tiger Twelve Senior Recognition Class of 2021.
LSU Chemistry students Lebogang Kgoadi and Alexander Landry received 2021 Distinguished Undergraduate Researcher Awards:

Lebogang Kgoadi conducted undergraduate research under the mentorship of Assistant Professor Noémie Elgrishi (2018-2020) and Associate Professor Justin Ragains (2020-2021). He received his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry this May and will be attending graduate school at the University of Delaware.

Alexander Landry conducted research under the mentorship of Professor Steven Hand (Biological Sciences). The Honors College graduate received a dual degree in Biochemistry and Chemistry this May and will be attending medical school in the Fall.
LSU Chemistry majors Gabriela Hernandez and Cale Locicero received Summer 2021 Undergraduate Student Research Grants from LSU Discover. Chris Gupta, a mathematics major, will also be conducting research with LSU Chemistry this summer.

Gabriela Coronel Hernandez (Mentor: Dr. Victor Garcia-Lopez)
Research: Molecular Machines Modulate Plasma Membrane Structure and Dynamics

Chris Gupta (Mentor: Dr. Revati Kumar)
Research: Molecular Dynamics Simulations of Sodium Triflate and TFSI with Mixed Glyme Solvents

Cale Locicero (Mentor: Dr. Rendy Kartika)
Research: Synthesis of α, α’-Bis-Quarternary Hydroxy Ketones
FEATURED VIDEOS
Assistant Professor Amy Xu
LSU Chemistry | March 2021

Assistant Professor Amy Xu is using physical measurement techniques to study the behavior of macromolecules.
Assistant Professor Víctor García-López
LSU Chemistry | May 2021

The García-López research team is designing artificial molecular machines that modulate biological function with light. Learn how these tiny machines may drive the future of therapeutics and drug delivery.
Lumpy Liquids or Soft Solids?
LSU Chemistry | March 2021

Professor John Pojman and graduate students Maria Martinez and Philip Haydel demonstrating the properties of a non-Newtonian fluid during the CHEM 4011 polymer class.
Feral Pig Bait
LSU AgCenter | March 2021

The Pojman Research Team is partnering up with the LSU AgCenter in designing a bait and delivery system to help reduce a feral hog problem.
IN MEMORIAM
Chancellor Emeritus James Wharton (1937-2021)
Louisiana State University Chancellor Emeritus James H. Wharton passed away on Saturday, May 22, 2021 at the age of 83. Wharton was a valued community member and leader of LSU, contributing to the improvements of faculty, academic standards, and fundraising programs.

“Dr. James Wharton was the consummate leader. As Chancellor, he skillfully led the university during a critical period of time. He was instrumental in establishing the West and Taylor Chairs, both of which now reside in the Department of Chemistry," said Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Boyd Professor Isiah Warner. "As Chancellor Emeritus, he contributed greatly to our department through advice to faculty and setting high standards for great teaching. He was a great mentor to me after I joined the department, particularly during my time as Chair.” | Tribute >
Daniel Watkins (1974-2021)
Dan Watkins, born in Baton Rouge, graduated from Scotlandville Magnet High School. He attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, MA) for his undergraduate studies and then graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Master's degree in Chemistry. As a student, Dan worked a summer in the LSU Chemistry X-Ray facility under Dr. Frank Fronczek. | Obituary >
UPCOMING EVENTS
To submit news for the LSU Chemistry Newsletter, email Gretchen Schneider (editor) at gschne2@lsu.edu.