Graduate Students honored for 3rd-Year Research Symposium talks

Eight graduate students—Shahzad Alam, Gretchen Burke, Erin Plasek, Emily Prebihalo, Rachel Rapagnani, Jacob Schaffner, Elizabeth Smithwick, and Dorian Sneddon—were selected as winners of the 21st annual 3rd-year Graduate Student Research Symposium.

Shahzad Alam
Adviser: Professor Renee Frontiera
Mapping out excitonic polaritons potential energy surfaces using femtosecond stimulated Raman spectroscopy

Gretchen Burke
Adviser: Professor Michael Bowser
An Online Micro Free Flow Electrophoresis Platform for Continuous Monitoring of Neuropeptide Y

Erin Plasek
Adviser: Professor Courtney Roberts
Superseding Substrate Control in Aryne Difunctionalizations

Emily Prebihalo
Adviser: Professor Theresa Reineke
Radical Ring-Opening Polymerization of a Sustainably-Derived Thionolactone

Rachel Rapagnani
Adviser: Professor Ian Tonks
Tunable and Recyclable Polymers from CO2 and Butadiene

Jacob Schaffner
Adviser: Professor David Blank
Elucidating the Excited-State Dynamics of a New Class of Electron-Deficient Azadipyrromethenes

Elizabeth Smithwick
Adviser: Professor Ambika Bhagi-Damodaran
Cooperative binding controls C-H functionalization reactivity in non-heme iron halogenases

Dorian Sneddon
Adviser: Professor Thomas Hoye
Light-driven Synthesis of Dihydrophenazines via a Novel Benzyne Trapping Reaction with cis-Azobenzenes

Additionally, five graduate students—Punarbasu Roy, Alessandra Gavin, Joshua Gavin, Conner Reilly, Beza Tuga—were awarded honorable mentions.

Students presented their research in person and via Zoom on June 9, 2022. Celebrity judges were Dr. Tina Arrowood from DuPont, Dr. Frederick LaPlant from 3M, Dr. Donna Bossman from Trane Technologies, and Dr. Sarah Sobeck from the College of Wooster. Faculty judges were professors Michael Bowser, Michelle Driessen, Christopher Douglas, Jason Goodpaster, Kenneth Leopold, Angela Perkins, Ilja Siepmann, and Andreas Stein. Judges considered if the student effectively communicated their research; displayed strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills; highlighted the contribution of others if working on a team program; and highlighted important safety aspects of their work.

Support for the travel awards given to the award-winning presenters was provided by the Chemistry Student Travel Fund, established in 2007 by Alumna Karen Schult, Ph.D., who was advised by Professor Marc Hillmyer, and the Paul G. and Gerda Ann Gassman Chemistry Graduate Student Fund, established in 2011 by Gerda Gassman.

This symposium was organized by Professor Gwendolyn Bailey, chair, with support from Melanie Burns, Mollie Dunlap, Ben Geisbauer, Ta’Meika Jackson, Justin Kellen, Novy O’Connell, Jaylee Rosand, Eric Schulz and Stephanie Stathopoulos.