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May 19, 2020

2020 UG Research Symposium will showcase the work of 18 Chemistry and Biochemistry Undergrads

UG_Symposium_BannerThe 10th annual Undergraduate Research Symposium will take place this Thursday, May 21, 2020. The virtual format will include research work conducted by 18 chermistry and biochemsitry majors.

The presentations will be a mix of live-stream, pre-recprded and Zoom events.  Zoom events require an RSVP by Wednesday, May 20 at noon. See the virtual Symposium navigation guide for details.

Chemistry and Biochemistry Research Presentations

Stacey Andreeva – Chemistry
Faculty Mentor(s): Carl Brozek
Session 5: The Bonds that Make Us
Title: Metal-Ligand Bond Dynamics in Metal-Organic Frameworks Confirmed by Variable
Temperature Vibrational Spectroscopy

Dylan Bardgett – Chemistry
Faculty Mentor(s): Dave Johnson | Danielle Hamann
Session 6: Interact & React
Title: The Reactions Between Iron and Selenium

Zack Basham – Biochemistry
Faculty Mentor(s): David Garcia
Session: Pre-recorded Poster Presentation
Title: Influence of a prion protein on the TOR pathway in Saccharomyces Cerevisiae

Lejla Biberic – Biochemistry
Faculty Mentor(s): Amber Rolland | James Prell
Session: Pre-recorded Poster Presentation
Title: Determining detergent dependence of Cytolysin A oligomeric state through native mass

Anabel Chang – Biochemistry
Co-Presenter(s): Maya Pande
Session: Pre-recorded Poster Presentation
Faculty Mentor(s): Andrew Marcus
Title: Characterizing the Conformational Fluctuations of DNA Under Physiological and SaltStabilized Conditions

Emmalyn Leonard – Biochemistry
Faculty Mentor(s): Cristopher Niell | Philip Parker
Session 5: The Wonders of the Brain
Title: Determining the role of the pulvinar in visual attentional control

Tristan McKibben – Biochemistry
Faculty Mentor(s): J. Josh Snodgrass
Session 5.5: McNair Scholars Presentations
Title: The Evolution of Coronaviruses: Cross-Species Transfers and Mechanisms of Infections

Parker Morris – Chemistry
Faculty Mentor(s): Amanda Cook | Kiana Kawamura
Session: Pre-recorded Poster Presentation
Title: Rational Design and Synthesis for Nickel Catalyzed Hydrosilylation

Matthew Nardoci – Biochemistry/Biology
Co-Presenter(s): Jewlyssa Pedregon
Faculty Mentor(s): Santiago Jaramillo
Session: Pre-recorded Poster Presentation
Title: Characterization of sound-evoked responses of photo-identified auditory striatal neurons

Jake Olsen – Chemistry and Mathematics
Faculty Mentor(s): Marina Guenza | Jake Searcy
Session 1: It’s a Science Thing
Title: The Atomistic Reconstruction of Coarse-Grained Polymeric Systems via Machine Learning

Maya Pande – Biochemistry, Political Science
Co-Presenter(s): Anabel Chang
Faculty Mentor(s): Andrew Marcus
Session: Pre-recorded Poster Presentation
Title: Characterizing the Conformational Fluctuations of DNA Under Physiological and SaltStabilized Conditions

Madelyn Scott – Chemistry, Physics
Faculty Mentor(s): Kelly Wilson | Cathy Wong
Session 2: Cells R Us
Title: Quantifying the spatial morphology of organic films through polarization-dependent

Nathan Stovall – Chemistry
Faculty Mentor(s): Shannon Boettcher | Raina Krivina
Session 5: The Bonds that Make Us
Title: Ultrathin Iridium Oxide Catalyst on a Conductive Support for the Oxygen Evolution
Reaction in Acid

Eric Strand – Biology/Biochemistry
Faculty Mentor(s): Joshua Barker
Session: Pre-recorded Poster Presentation
Title: Rational Design of s-Indacene-cored Small Molecule Organic Semiconductors as a
Paradigm to Tune Electronic Characteristics

Ian Torrence – Biochemistry
Faculty Mentor(s): Sean Fontenot
Session 2: Cells R Us
Title: Sensors and Materials for In-field Aqueous Analysis of Nitrate and Other Ions

Dan Tudorica – Biochemistry
Faculty Mentor(s): Arden Perkins
Session 3: The Substance of Us
Title: The role of the Chemoreceptor Zinc-Binding Domain in bacterial signal transduction

Nicole Wales – Chemistry and Physics
Faculty Mentor(s): Mark Lonergan | Zack Crawford
Session 5: The Bonds that Make Us
Title: Quantification of Point Defects in Perovskite Solar Cells

Daria Wonderlick – Biochemistry
Faculty Mentor(s): Mike Harms
Session 5: The Bonds that Make Us
Title: Ensembles link RNA thermodynamics and molecular evolution

April 28, 2020

Eight UO students receive prestigious NSF graduate fellowship – Six from Chemistry Program

April 8, 2020

4 PhD Students and 3 Undergrads win NSF GRFP in Chemistry

Four PhD students and three undergraduates in the UO department of Chemistry and Biochemistry have been selected by the National Science Foundation for the Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP):

The [GRFP] program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions. Fellows benefit from a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees (paid to the institution), opportunities for international research and professional development, and the freedom to conduct their own research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education they choose. As the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind, the GRFP has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers.

Our 2020 recipients:


Alison Chang
Marc Foster
Khoa Le
James May


Madi Scott
Makenna Pennel
Casey Bisted – 2019 grad, now in PhD program at UW

Our Honorable Mentions:


Julia Fehr
Grace Kuhl
Gabrielle Warren



Dylan Bardgett

This is our department’s highest number of GRFP fellowship recipients and honorable mentions to date. Special thanks to faculty members Shannon Boetcher, Mike Pluth, Amanda Cook, Julia Widom, and Chris Hendon for the great job they’ve done teaching the CH 401/601 Fellowship Application Skills workshop.

December 3, 2019

Emma Mullen Receives ESPRIT Scholarship

Biochemistry major Emma Mullen is one of four undergraduate science majors awarded a 2019 University of Oregon ESPRIT Scholarship (Experiencing Science Practices through Research to Inspire Teaching).  The UO ESPRIT Scholarships Program is funded by the National Science Foundation through the NSF’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program. Recipients each receive $35,000 in support that includes a two-year scholarship for their senior undergraduate year and the UOTeach Program, a highly focused one-year master’s level teacher licensure program designed to produce highly qualified teachers with advanced instructional and classroom expertise. The ESPRIT Scholarships Program is a collaborative effort between the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education involving STEM CORE, the Center for STEM Careers through Outreach, Research, and Education, and the Department of Education Studies.

Photo: Emma LLNL Poster Session

Emma presenting her research from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Now in her senior year, Emma says she has always been interested in teaching. In high school, she found herself in the role of informal tutor for a group of classmates, and enjoyed being a part of the “ah-ha!” moment when one of her peers grasped a tricky concept that had eluded them. As a SuperChem Peer Learning Assistant at the UO, Emma continues to build her skills as an educator.

Emma took her first step on the ESPRIT pathway by participating in an ESPRIT-sponsored summer research experience at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California this past summer. During her eight weeks in the Biosciences & Biotechnology Division, she worked on optimizing the crystallization of nanolipoprotein particles (NLPs).This furthered the development of NLPs as a platform for vaccine delivery and for x-ray crystallographic characterization of membrane proteins.

Once she had completed her summer research experience, Emma became eligible to apply for the ESPRIT Scholarship to the UOTeach Program and was selected for the award. Her acceptance was celebrated during a signing ceremony for the ESPRIT recipients at the College of Education on Thursday, November 21st. Prof. Michael Pluth, in whose lab Emma is currently doing undergraduate research, presented her award.

2019 ESPRIT Signing Ceremony at the UO College of Education

Emma plans to pursue the Secondary Education track in her master’s studies, in preparation to teach high school chemistry. She appreciates the opportunity teaching provides to share a subject that she is passionate about.  Learning how things work at a fundamental, nittty-gritty level has always fascinated her and, she explains, “Chemistry does that.  It changes the way you look at things when you begin to think about the world around you on a molecular level. I’m excited to share that.”

After graduating from UOTeach, ESPRIT Scholars go on to teach in a high-need school district for four years. This could take Emma anywhere in Oregon, but she hopes to eventually end up somewhere near her hometown of Portland.


– by Leah O’Brien


October 4, 2019

BIC majors Ian Torrence & Dan Tudorica among current cohort of Knight Campus UG Scholars

October 1, 2019

Meet our 2019 Chemistry and Biochemistry Scholarship Recipients!

clockwise: Makenna Pennell, Rachel Lutz, Jake Olsen & Madi ScottThe Chemistry and Biochemistry department is pleased to introduce the recipients of our 2019 undergraduate scholarships!

Makenna Pennel, Rachel Lutz, Jake Olsen and Madi Scott are all in their senior year in the Clark Honors College.

The Faith Van Nice Scholarship is dedicated to the legacy of alumna Faith Van Nice, and recognizes exceptional UO undergraduate students majoring in Chemistry or Biochemistry. Makenna says she feels incredibly grateful and humbled to have been selected for an award that honors such an inspirational alumna.

photo: Makenna Pennel

Makenna Pennel
Faith Van Nice Scholarship Recipient

Chemistry major Makenna Pennel grew up in Triangle Lake, Oregon, and says it was a high school internship at OSU that sparked her interest in nanotechnology and green chemistry. These interests, combined with a Stamps scholarship, brought her to the UO.

About her research: Makenna has been involved in undergraduate research since her freshman year, an opportunity which began when she met Jim Hutchison during a Run with a Researcher event. Makenna’s research in the Hutchison lab revolves around metal oxide nanocrystals—materials that have a wide array of applications, ranging from thin films in electronics to UV-protection in sunscreens. Her research specifically examines nanocrystal synthesis and the mechanisms behind their formation. This past summer she completed an internship at Northwestern University’s International Institute of Nanotechnology outside of Chicago, working with quantum dots— a class of semiconductor nanoparticles—in the field of quantum information science.

What’s next? Future plans include grad school for chemistry or materials science, but her career plans are wide-open. Makenna says academia and industry are both possibilities. She has also enjoyed presenting science to the public as a volunteer at the Eugene Science Center so science communication, and interdisciplinary opportunities that blend science with other fields such as literature, are very appealing.

The Kuntz-Swinehart Memorial Scholarship recognizes academic excellence in our majors, and was established by former UO Chemistry students in honor of two professors whose instruction, influence and inspiration had a significant impact on their career paths. Rachel says that she is grateful to be recognized in memory of these two influential professors, and thankful to the donors for their support of the scholarship.

photo: Rachel Lutz

Rachel Lutz Kuntz-Swinehart Scholarship Recipient

Rachel Lutz, a Biochemistry major, is from Portland, Oregon. She had the opportunity early on to become involved in research at OHSU through the Partnership for Scientific Inquiry (PSI), a mentorship program that pairs high school students with research scientists in the Portland metro area. It was her work under her mentor MD-PhDs, and a family friend’s experience participating in a clinical trial to fight her cancer, that inspired Rachel’s passion for medical-related research. The ability to continue to do research as an undergrad factored highly into her choice to attend the UO.

About her research: At the encouragement of her Organic Chemistry instructor, Rachel applied to the PURS undergraduate research program and joined the Pluth lab in her sophomore year. Her research involves synthesizing hydrogen sulfide (H2S) donors to analyze how their structure relates to their activity. H2S is a gasotransmitter – a gaseous molecule that sends signals to cells – which triggers cellular events. Through her work, Rachel seeks to increase our understanding of these molecular processes, which has implications for improving treatments for diseases like diabetes and Alzheimers.

What’s next? Rachel plans to pursue a career in medicine as a doctor and possibly a researcher.  She’s passionate about women’s health and empowering people to make informed and healthy choices to improve their quality of life.

The P-Chem Undergraduate Fellowship provides funding for students to conduct research during the summer in a physical chemistry lab at the University of Oregon, under the mentorship of a physical chemistry faculty member. This year, the fellowship was awarded to two majors.

Jake Olsen
P-Chem Summer Research
Fellowship Recipient

Jake Olsen is a double major in Chemistry and Math from Portland, Oregon. Jake says he chose the UO for its wide-range of science offerings and the chance to do research as an undergrad.

About his research: Jake says he finds research work inspiring because it offers opportunities to make a positive impact while doing something that you love. His interest in physical and theoretical chemistry led him to the Guenza lab, which he joined in the spring of his sophomore year. The lab uses computer simulations and analytical theory to investigate the dynamic and structural properties of polymer systems. Jake’s research builds upon the lab’s coarse-graining model by using a procedure known as backmapping – a timesaving method for reconstructing atomistic information from coarse-grained data. The resulting polymer models have applications in fields such as material design, speeding up the experimental process by identifying specific properties and predicting the behavior of polymer systems prior to synthesizing them in the lab. He sees his research work as creating a resource that allows chemists to more efficiently and economically design materials.

What’s next? Jake is applying to graduate school and is looking forward to continuing to work in a research environment.

photo: Madi Scott

Madi Scott
P-Chem Summer Research
Fellowship Recipient

Chemistry and Physics major Madi Scott grew up in Medford, Oregon, with a strong interest in math, science and medicine. The Honors College and the opportunity to combine a liberal arts education with research drew her to the UO.

About her research: Madi entered the UO thinking that she wanted to be a cardiologist, but her fall term General Chemistry course introduced her to what she describes as the ‘beauty of the mathematics’ involved in electron transfer, inspiring her to dig deeper by joining the Wong lab the following term. The lab uses laser spectroscopy to look at how light interacts with matter – specifically how molecules come together to form larger structures, and how they conduct electricity. Madi’s work involves building microscopes using lenses, irises, shutters and cameras to take molecular-level images of the semiconductor materials that they create in the lab. Measurements are then taken with a laser and used to analyze the molecular structures in the images.  Madi’s goal is to make her measurement techniques more robust so that they can learn more about the behaviors of the molecular structures. Her research has applications for solar cells, LEDs and other materials.

What’s next? Madi plans to go to graduate school for physical chemistry, and then pursue a research career in academia, industry or a national lab.

By Leah O’Brien

June 4, 2019

Chemistry Major Madi Scott selected for Goldwater Scholarship

May 17, 2019

Biochemistry Majors Ian Torrence & Dan Tudorica selected as 2019-20 Knight Campus UG Scholars

May 9, 2019

Ten CH and BIC Undergrads to Participate in 2019 UG Research Symposium on May 16th

The annual undergraduate research symposium will be held on Thursday, May 16, 2019.The symposium is part of the UO’s Week of Research events, which will run Monday through Friday.

This year’s symposium will host 513 presenters and 290 faculty mentors, including 10 student presenters from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Poster presentations will run from 5:30-7:30 in the EMU Ballroom on Thursday. May 16th.The finalized schedule for oral and creative work presentations will be available on the symposium website.

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October 5, 2018

Meet our 2018 Chemistry and Biochemistry Scholarship Recipients!

Photo Collage: CHEM Badge, Alexi Overland, Dylan Bardgett, Rima Pandit
Last June, Alexi Overland, Dylan Bardgett and Rima Pandit were selected as the recipients of the 2018 UO Chemistry and Biochemistry department undergraduate scholarships.

Photo: Alexi OverlandAlexi Overland was awarded the Faith Van Nice Scholarship, which is dedicated to the memory of alumna Faith Van Nice and recognizes exceptional UO undergraduate students majoring in Chemistry or Biochemistry. Alexi is a sophomore majoring in Chemistry and Environmental Science. Growing up in Bend, Oregon, Alexi recalls becoming hooked on science and math at a very young age. Together with a passion for the outdoors, this led to an interest in climate change, sustainability, and protecting environment. While in high school, Alexi came to the UO campus during the summer to participate in enrichment programs, including one that incorporated chemistry. Green chemistry in particular sparked her interest, and influenced her choice of the UO for her undergraduate studies. In her freshman year, Alexi joined the David Tyler lab, researching the mechanisms that influence chemical reaction rates.  Their work seeks to create more efficient reactions in order to increase the effectiveness and sustainability of materials.  Alexi is very grateful to the Van Nice’s for supporting the educational achievements and career aspirations of undergraduate students.  For now, she is keeping her career options open.  After earning her bachelor’s degree, she is considering the polymer track offered through the UO Masters Industrial Internship Program, and perhaps pursuing a PhD after a few years of working in industry.

Photo: Dylan BargettThe Kuntz-Swinehart Memorial Scholarship was given to Dylan Bardgett.  This award, which recognizes academic excellence in our majors, was established by former UO Chemistry students in honor of two professors whose instruction, influence and inspiration had a significant impact on their career paths. Dylan grew up in Eugene, Oregon, but didn’t particularly plan on attending the University of Oregon.  He looked at several institutions, both public and private, including Oregon State. But it was his UO visit as a prospective student – where he first heard about green chemistry – that changed his trajectory from a Beaver to a Duck.  Now a junior at the UO, Dylan is majoring in Chemistry with minors in Physics and Math.  Dylan is interested in developing more cost effective and energy efficient forms of alternative energy.  As an undergrad researcher in the Dave Johnson lab, his research looks at ways to quantify the composition of thin films by measuring the atomic density of thin film layers in semi-conducting materials, and investigating how density relates to efficiency in applications such as solar panels and optics. He is second author on a paper published in Chemistry of Materials. This was the second year that Dylan applied for Kuntz-Swinehart Scholarship, and says he felt surprised, honored and humbled to be selected for the award. After graduation, he plans to pursue his PhD and do post-doctoral research at university or in the private sector. Dylan has also enjoyed teaching as one of the department’s SuperChem Peer Learning Assistants, and the idea of eventually begin able to combine teaching and research in academia is very appealing.

Photo: Rima PanditRima Pandit, a sophomore Human Physiology major from Portland, Oregon, was selected as the recipient of the department’s inaugural P-Chem Undergraduate Fellowship.  The fellowship provides funding for students to conduct research during the summer in a physical chemistry lab at the University of Oregon, under the mentorship of a physical chemistry faculty member. Rima’s summer research in the Cathy Wong lab involved characterizing the photo-physical properties of semiconducting organic molecules using laser techniques, in order to design and develop energy-efficient LEDs and photovoltaics. Rima finds that the study of chemical processes and instrumental technologies dovetail nicely with her pharmaceutical and pre-medicine objectives, because scientific discoveries are so often integral to medical advances that aid people in their recovery and well-being. She culminated her summer research experience by presenting their findings to fellow research physicists and chemists at the Optical, Molecular & Quantum Science (OMQ) Fall 2018 Symposium, where she was recognized with the ‘Best Poster Award’.  Rima is grateful for the recognition afforded her by the fellowship, and the opportunity to acquire new skills and work with a talented group of team members. After graduating, she plans to go to medical school with the goal of providing healthcare for underprivileged women, seniors, and veterans using a holistic well-being approach. Rima hopes to work with Doctors Without Borders, and serve in the US Army.

– By Leah O’Brien

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