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Posts under tag: Awards & Honors

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August 14, 2020

Mike Haley receives George A. Olah Award in Hydrocarbon or Petroleum Chemistry

"Photo of Professor Michael Haley"

American Chemical Society has selected UO Chemistry and Biochemistry faculty Michael Haley for the the George A. Olah Award in Hydrocarbon or Petroleum Chemistry. The ACS national award recipients were announced in the August 13th issue of C&EN.

The George A. Olah Award in Hydrocarbon or Petroleum Chemistry is awarded to one individual each year in recognition of outstanding, highly original research achievements in hydrocarbon or petroleum chemistry. Professor Haley will be honored at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, March 23, 2021, in conjunction with the ACS 2021 Spring National Meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

August 5, 2020

Biochemist Brad Nolen awarded $2.88 million to study the cytoskeleton

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.

January 14, 2020

Alumna Hanna Thomsen, Class of 2013, Receives Doctoral Thesis Award

December 11, 2019

Jim Prell among recipients of OHSU-UO Collaborative Seed Grant

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

Eric Beyerle named John Keana Fellow for 2019-20

Photo: Eric Beyerle

Eric Beyerle

Eric Beyerle, a graduate student in Guenza Lab, has been selected as the next John Keana Graduate Student Fellow.

The fellowship was established in 2017 in honor of Professor Emeritus John Keana, and provides annual fellowship awards to graduate students studying in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Oregon. The award may be used to assist with defraying the academic costs associated with attending the university such as tuition, fees, books, miscellaneous supplies, research and living expenses.

The first John Keana Graduate Student Fellowship was awarded in 2018-19 to Matthew Cerda in the Pluth Lab.

October 3, 2019

Tawney Knecht Receives DOE Graduate Student Research Award

photo - Tawney Knecht
Tawney Knecht,
a 4th-year chemistry graduate student in the Hutchison Lab, has been selected to receive the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) award. Her proposed  research project, “Precisely Nanostructured Indium Oxide Electrocatalysts Toward Efficient CO2 Conversion”, will be conducted at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado.

The SCGSR program provides funding to outstanding U.S. graduate students to pursue part of their graduate thesis research at a DOE laboratory. Tawney is one of 49 new SCGSR awardees from 39 universities across the nation. This research opportunity is expected to advance the graduate students’ overall doctoral thesis and address scientific challenges central to the Office of Science mission by providing access to the expertise, resources, and capabilities available at DOE facilities.

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

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