By Sarah Haynes
Each April the Chemistry Department celebrates the outstanding work undergraduate students contributed to research and coursework over the year. This year's lunch featured Dr. Costas Lyssiotis, a graduate of the department and currently an Assistant Professor of Physiology in the University of Michigan Medical School. He encouraged the awardees to be fearless and follow their passions. Chemistry Professor John Wolfe, who presented the awards, said the event is one of his favorites. “It gives us the opportunity to recognize and celebrate the impressive accomplishments of our outstanding undergraduates.”
Reflecting on their time in the Chemistry department, members of the class of 2018 said they benefited most from learning as part of a team. Opportunities to discuss course material face-to-face gave Jason Shiau a deeper understanding of the material than he could have reached alone. “I found that it was through others that I was able to struggle, question, and learn.” According to Charles Nino, “learning how to teach others as part of the organic chemistry SSG [Structured Study Group] program and learning how to function as part of a group in my research lab” gave him valuable skills. For Thomas Garton, “the Chemistry department always felt like home.”
2018 graduate Luke Higgins (Biomolecular Science), rising senior Suzie Kim (Biochemistry), and rising junior Jeremy Tervo (Biochemistry & German major) received the Alumni Outstanding Award for their academic excellence and leadership potential. Luke will be starting medical school at the University of Vermont next year. Jeremy and Suzie also plan to study medicine after graduating from UM.
Graduating Chemistry major Brenna Budaitis was presented with the Ash Stevens Undergraduate Research Award for her work in Chemistry Professor Pavel Nagorny’s lab on a chiral spiroketal-derived ligand for catalysis, as well as previous research at the University of Minnesota and in the lab of Professor Catherine Keegan (Human Genetics). Brenna will pursue a PhD in Chemistry at the University of Illinois.
Thomas Garton, who is graduating with a triple major in Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biopsychology, Cognition and Neuroscience (BCN), was given the Walter Yates Award for scholarly excellence. Next year he will begin an MD-PhD program at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania to combine his love of research with his passion for healthcare.
The Huron Valley Section Outstanding Student Leadership Award for achievement in professional citizenship was presented to graduate Anushka Gupta. In addition to working in Chemistry Professor Roseanne Sension’s lab, Anushka volunteered her time with KGrams, a mentoring program for elementary school students.
Chemistry majors Allie Batka, Trever Bostelaar, Jenny Luo and Elijah Taylor were each recognized by the American Chemical Society for their achievements in Analytical, Inorganic, Organic and Physical Chemistry respectively. Allie is a rising senior who works on a collaborative project between the Lehnert and Meyerhoff groups, where she is synthesizing and testing new copper catalysts to produce nitric oxide on demand. Trever, who graduated with an ACS certified degree in Chemistry, did research with Ruma Banerjee (Biological Chemistry) on sulfide-mediated inhibition of cytochrome c oxidase. He plans to pursue a PhD in Chemistry. Jenny was a longtime member of John Wolfe’s laboratory, where she worked to develop new methods for the synthesis of cyclic guanidines. Jenny will continue her studies at Northwestern this fall. Elijah is a rising senior Biochemistry major who studies energy transfer between fluorescent proteins in Chemistry Professor Theodore Goodson III’s lab.
The Seyhan N. Ege Award, named after emerita Chemistry faculty member and a founder of UM’s Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program, was given to Biochemistry graduate Minjun Jin. Minjun studied spindle dynamics in a cell-free system with Biophysics Professor Qiong Yang and will continue as a PhD student in the UM Program in Biomedical Sciences this fall.
Lily Upp, class of 2018, received the Merck Index Award for her exemplary scholarship in the Chemical sciences. She will take two years to continue developing her experience as a doula and work with the Patient and Family Centered Care department at the Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak before starting medical school.
Seniors Jason Shiau and Kim Chan were presented with the American Institute of Chemists Award, which recognizes excellence in ability, character and academic achievement. Jason did research in cardiology with Professor Marschall Runge (Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, Michigan Medicine) and will begin studies next year at Baylor College of Medicine. Kim worked with Chemistry Professor Corey Stephenson, and has plans for a job at a pharmaceutical company prior to attending medical school.
Seniors Sophie Hill and Charles Nino received the Honors College Vanko Award, which was established in memory of Honors College student Roger B. Vanko. Sophie worked with Genetics Professor Donna Martin and will continue her studies in the UM Chemical Biology PhD program. After doing research with Biological Chemistry Professor Brian Ross and Radiology Assistant Professor Stefanie Galban, Charles will continue at UM in the MD-PhD program.
Summer Undergraduate Research Program
The Department of Chemistry was also pleased to award 24 students with support for summer research.
James E. Harris Scholarship: Kurt Baughman, Robert Canfield, John Hartert, Joshua Qu, Elijah Taylor
Albert Hinsdale Memorial Endowment: Olivia Bachteal, Amos Nissley, Natalie Potter
William Smeaton memorial Award: Ryan McNassor
Margaret & Heerman Sokol Award: Allison Batka, Andrew Chen, Nicholas Schmidt, Neil Shah
May-Walt Summer Research Scholarship: Jeffery Ashe, Jenny Choi, Emily Fish, Ammar Ibrahim, Brian Lam, Michael Riehs, Matthew See, Ina Zaimi
Walter Yates Award: Anna Li Aguirre, Jenna Manske, Ethan Strobel
Recognition for First Year Students
CRC Outstanding Achievement: Henry Dickinson
Alpha Chi Sigma First Year: Madeline Yaw
Alumni 1st Year: Megan Busch, Puneet Dhatt, Mason Faculak, Alexandra Falkenberg, Karan Joseph, James Lauer, Jim Shepich
Each received a copy of Sam Kean's Caesar's Last Breath
Details of the awards and funding sources are available on the main awards page.