Skip to Content

Undergrad Spotlight

« Previous Page  Page 2 of 3  Next Page »
November 17, 2016

Meet our 2016 Chemistry and Biochemistry Scholarship Recipients – Ainsley Taylor & Brian Drury

Last June, the UO Chemistry and Biochemistry department selected the recipients of our undergraduate scholarships for the 2016-17 academic year.  Ainsley Taylor was awarded the Faith Van Nice Scholarship, and Brian Drury received the Kuntz-Swinehart Memorial Scholarship. (more…)

November 4, 2016

UO SAACS Annual Pumpkin Drop makes a Splash!

20161028_121615Check out these great videos of our Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society (SAACS) 2016 chem demo and pumpkin drop! (more…)

October 11, 2016

How I Spent My Summer Vacation – Catching Up with SAACS Summer Research Award Recipients Sam Prakel & Carson Adams

In June 2016, the UO chapter of the Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society (SAACS) presented Summer Research Awards to biochemistry majors Sam Prakel and Carson Adams.  The SAACS awards are designed to support chemistry and biochemistry majors’ ability to conduct summer research in a UO research lab, or elsewhere in an REU summer program. Two research awards have been awarded each year since the program began in 2015, using funds the organization raises through its T-shirt sales. We asked Sam and Carson to share a little about themselves and their science.


samprakelSam Prakel came to the UO in 2013 from Versailles, Ohio, attracted by the balance between the small, liberal arts feel of the Clark Honors College and the qualities of a large, research institution – as well as the desire to run for the Oregon track and cross country teams. Now in his senior year, Sam has made the most of his opportunities in the classroom, on the field, and in the laboratory.

The SAACS Summer Research Award motivated Sam to put continuous work into his research projects year-round. Working in both the Mike Pluth and Darren Johnson labs, his research seeks to find new ways to detect biological hydrogen sulfide, an important physiological mediator and signaling agent whose functions play a role in diabetes, hypertension, heart failure, inflammation, and neurodegeneration.

Sam finds inspiration in the complexity and open-ended nature of science. “The intricacies in the scientific field keep pushing me to learn,” he explains, “and the endless possibility of discovery keeps pushing me to think.”  He plans to continue that push through grad school, furthering his studies in chemistry and biochemistry.


carsonadamsCarson Adams grew up in Salem, Oregon, close enough to hear about some of the research coming out of the University of Oregon Chemistry department and to know that he wanted to be a part of it.  And he has certainly done just that – joining the Andy Marcus lab at the beginning of his sophomore year. He has continued his research work right up through his current and senior year, studying the ways in which DNA strands interact and how these interactions affect DNA replication.

“We use special molecules called fluorophores which release light when light is shined on them,” Carson explains.  “The released light is of a different color than the light projected onto these molecules, so we can use special machines and apparatuses to measure the emitted light. We can then use this information to conclude things about how the DNA molecules are interacting and how their bases are positioned.”

Carson says his inspiration to be a scientist stems from the inventiveness of the process – seeing the creativity and incredible discoveries of the past, and looking forward to similar discoveries in the future.  He also enjoys the challenge involved in finding a viable and unique way to solve a problem. His SAACS award has helped him to pursue his research goals, and affirmed the importance of his studies. He plans to earn his PhD in biochemistry and conduct biochemical research at a professional level, perhaps eventually teaching what he learns to the next generation of undergraduate students.

by Leah O’Brien

July 14, 2016

Incoming CH major & Jim Hutchison participate in “Run with a Researcher”

Chemistry professor Jim Hutchison and incoming freshman Mckenna Pennel

Overlapping interests in running and nanoscience ~ read about it in AroundtheO


June 3, 2016

BIC major Eric Burlingame featured in most recent edition of Modus Operandi

Erik Burlingame

The UO’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program caught up with biochemistry major and soon-to-be-graduate Erik Burlingame for its ongoing series, Modus Operandi.

Read about Erik’s research and more at

April 20, 2016

Stamps Scholar Makenna Pennel on her way to study Chemistry at the UO

Read AroundtheO article:

Triangle Lake student Stamps her ticket to the UO


February 3, 2016

BIC Major Caitlyn Fields to Present at McNair Symposium February 10th

UO Biochemistry major Caitlyn Fields will present her research at the 2016 McNair Scholars Symposium on Wednesday, February 10th, at  2pm in room 72 PLC. 

Every February, the University of Oregon celebrates the research achievements of its McNair Scholars during the McNair Symposium. These achievements are made possible by faculty mentors who guide Scholars through scholarship activities and help prepare them for the challenges and culture of graduate school.

McNair Scholars participate in paid summer research internships in their fields of study. During the internships, students are involved in original research culminating in a presentation of their findings. Held winter term, the McNair Symposium provides a public forum for students to share their work with peers, mentors, faculty and staff, family members, and the general public.

Caitlyn’s presentation is titled “Investigating Fundamental Cluster Chemistry: VT-NMR Studies of the Flat Ga13 Cluster at Multiple Concentrations.”  Her mentors are Darren W. Johnson, UO Chemistry and Biochemistry, Anna F. Oliveri, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Chemistry, UC Davis and William H. Casey, Chemistry, UC Davis.



Group 13 metal clusters have been of interest in both materials chemistry and geochemistry because they are naturally occurring and make excellent precursors to thin films for various devices, such as solar cells and laptops. Unfortunately, the solution dynamics of these clusters are not well known; therefore a solution study of these clusters may give insight to both the naturally occurring mechanism of synthesis as well as assist in finding more efficient ways to manufacture the clusters for use in devices. Oliveri et al. identified simple and unique 1H-NMR spectra for gallium species clusters, making it possible for this study to characterize them even further with kinetic and thermodynamic data. Variable Temperature Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (VT-NMR) spectroscopy experiments were carried out on the Ga13 and Ga7In6 clusters in an effort to extract the μ2 int proton peak expansion. The rate constant k was extrapolated from the FWHM of this peak. The change in entropy and enthalpy of the transition states were calculated using k and the Eyring equation.

November 2, 2015

SAACS Pumpkin drop makes the local news!

The Register Guard talks pumpkins and science with Ben Bachman, co-president of the UO Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society, and faculty member Randy Sullivan for their Halloween issue:

June 19, 2015

Undergrads Ian Rinehart and Simon Ewing receive SAACS Summer Research Awards

Biochemistry major Ian Rinehart and Simon Ewing, a Chemistry and Math major, were selected as the recipients of two summer research awards funded by the UO chapter of the Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society (SAACS).

Simon Ewing, a sophomore from Springfield, Oregon, will be working in the Prell lab.  The Prell lab’s research examines the structure of proteins at the nanoscale in order to understand the relationship between structure and function.  Simon describes his research as computational and theoretical, and works to develop computational tools for use with ion mobility experiments.  His interest in analytical chemistry began in high school, where his chemistry teacher was an analytical chemist.  He enjoys looking in depth at molecular interactions to see how they affect the system as a whole.  Simon’s post-graduate plans include earning his PhD and working in research, with the goal of someday having his own research lab.

Ian Rinehart is a junior from Portland, Oregon. He works in the Tyler lab on research that is seeking a solution for a problem confronting the natural gas industry – too much nitrogen in the wells. Purifying the gas by removing the unwanted nitrogen is difficult and expensive.  The project Ian is working on endeavors to design a small molecule that can purify the natural gas at a cost-effective rate.  Ian has known that he wanted to do science from an early age, and was particularly inspired by his organic chemistry studies.  He sees both science and art in the opportunity chemistry offers to explore the laws of the universe, and then to create something new and see what happens. Ian plans to continue on to grad school to pursue a PhD after completing his undergrad degree.  He has a strong interest in working in a national lab on small molecule synthesis.

This is the first time that UO SAACS has offered research awards for undergraduate researchers. The purpose of the awards is to support chemistry and biochemistry majors’ ability to engage in research during the summer term.

June 15, 2015

2015 Chemistry and Biochemistry Scholarships Awarded to Aidan Grealish and Mary Earp

Aidan Grealish

Aidan Grealish

Mary Earp

Mary Earp

Aidan Grealish and Mary Earp have been chosen as recipients of the 2015 UO Chemistry and Biochemistry department’s annual undergraduate scholarships. The Faith Van Nice Scholarship has been awarded to Aidan Grealish, and the Kuntz-Swinehart Memorial Scholarship to Mary Earp.

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. This year’s recipient, Aidan Grealish, is from Tualatin, Oregon, and is a sophomore in the Clark Honors College.  Majoring in Chemistry and Digital Arts, she chose UO for the flexibility in schedule that would allow her to explore her diverse interests.  Aidan finds inspiration by dipping her toes into lots of fields, and feels that her interdisciplinary scholarship is an advantage as she applies her creative abilities to her approach to science.

Aidan will begin doing research in the Page lab this summer, working on the synthesis of thin films and their applications for electronics. She is excited to explore the chemistry behind new and developing technology. Her long-term goals include an MD/PhD combined graduate program.  She would like to settle into a career that will engage both her creative and scientific sides, perhaps in healthcare, bioinformatics, or scientific visualization.  She is passionate about increasing access to knowledge, and the potential for new media and technology to promote the democratization of information.

The Kuntz-Swinehart Memorial Scholarship, meant to recognize and encourage 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. Our 2015 recipient, Mary Earp, is a sophomore from West Linn, Oregon, majoring in Biochemistry.  She was drawn to the UO for the resources it has to offer as a large university, and the opportunities for research.  She credits her organic chemistry courses with opening up a whole new world for her, offering an opportunity to discover how things work on a molecular level, and the reactions that occur when molecules are combined.

Mary is currently doing research in two UO laboratories, chemistry in the Pluth lab, and psychology in the Sereno lab. The Pluth lab research is focused on hydrogen sulfide detection in biological systems.  Hydrogen sulfide has shown importance in many different biological processes, and has a great deal of medical relevance.  Mary’s work involves examining fluorescent molecular probes to see if they behave as described in the literature, and comparing them to each other.  In the Sereno lab, her psychology research examines visual perception and how people perceive 3-D objects.  She finds that working in multiple labs rounds out her approach to research, and offers opportunities to pursue her varied interests. After earning her undergraduate degree, Mary plans to continue on to grad school in a MD/PhD combined program. She hopes to work in research, and eventually have a lab of her own.

Both Mary and Aidan would like to express their appreciation for being chosen for these awards, and for the department’s investment and belief in their potential as scholars and scientists.

« Previous Page  Page 2 of 3  Next Page »

Skip to toolbar