hUMNs of Chemistry #5

Portrait of Richard Ede

Richard Ede

Graduate Student, Pomerantz Group

Tell us about your journey to the University of Minnesota.

Applied during COVID which definitely made the application process less than ideal. It was a huge hassle getting all the application materials sent early enough, but fortunately I did. Got accepted in Dec2021. Had a very productive interview with my prospective PI which significantly informed my decision to accept the offer from UMN.

We would love to hear more about your research interests! What do you hope to accomplish with this work? What is the real-world impact for the average person?

My research is mainly focused on Covalent Drug Discovery. I’m developing a targeted covalent inhibitor for PCAF (a bromodomain protein) as a potential therapeutic for HIV and brain cancer. 

Are you involved in any student groups? What inspired you to get involved?

I like to volunteer with SciMentors every semester. We mainly do demonstrations of experiments to underserved adults, with the ultimate goal of fostering scientific literacy. I think this is a really important cause. 

What advice do you have for incoming chemistry students?

Don’t doubt your abilities! Also, while the future can be unpredictable, it’s really important to come in with a solid plan regardless. 

What are your plans after graduation?

I’d like to work in the pharmaceutical industry, preferably a role that primarily involves R&D. 

What do you do outside of the classroom/lab/office for fun?

I’m a huge sports guy so I love going to games. I also enjoy visiting museums, bouldering, and going to concerts.

Harrison Frisk, Ph.D.

Harrison Frisk

Lecture Demonstrations Coordinator

Please give a brief description of your role within the UMN Chemistry department.

I prepare the chemistry demos used in lectures, the Energy & U shows, and many of the department's outreach programs. Sometimes I perform the demos in front of classrooms or other audiences, but most of my work happens behind the scenes. I manage the two demos laboratories and get to do some bench chemistry while prepping demos. I also do a lot of tinkering to maintain old equipment and build new contraptions. It's an eclectic mix of responsibilities and I enjoy getting to do different things every day.

Tell us about your journey to the University of Minnesota.

I grew up here in Minneapolis, went to the University of Arizona for my undergrad, and then first joined the department as a chemical physics grad student in 2014. I graduated with my Ph.D. in January 2021 and then started in my current role a few weeks later.

What professional successes are most important to you?

There's a moment during the Energy & U shows, right after the first hydrogen-oxygen balloon explodes, where the audience screams so loud that I need to have earplugs in while I walk out from backstage. They can't believe how loud the explosions are! They're so excited to be on a field trip where things get set on fire! They understand the first law of thermodynamics! Getting to be a part of that moment has been the most rewarding professional experience I've ever had.

What do you hope to contribute to the chemistry community at the University?

I hope that I can help make lectures more engaging for students and help get non-chemists excited about chemistry. I'd like to develop new and safer demos and share existing ones more broadly by developing online resources with videos and procedures.

What do you do outside of the classroom/lab/office for fun?

I like to keep myself busy with a lot of different hobbies. I love fishing during the summer and winter, riding my bike, and growing things in my garden that I can cook fresh or preserve. My wife and I have two dogs, Finn and Pippin, who we spend a lot of time with. I love to read and am always trying to get ahead of my constantly growing "Want to Read" shelf on Goodreads. When the research I was working on in grad school wasn't working I found cooking to be a very therapeutic exercise and I enjoy baking bread, pizza dough, and brewing beer and cider.

portrait of Professor Courtney Roberts

Courtney Roberts 

Assistant Professor

We would love to hear more about your research! What do you hope to accomplish with this work? What is the real-world impact for the average person?

Our research group is an organometallics group. For those unfamiliar with the field, we use a lot of inorganic logic and techniques in order to solve challenges in organic synthesis. The real world impact is student training as well as more efficient methods for biologically active molecule synthesis.

When you visit other universities, what do you love to share about our UMN community?

I love to share with people about Campus Club and how it facilitates collegiality among faculty and excellent mentorship for junior faculty.

Tell us about an important mentor in your academic life?

My undergraduate advisor (a UMN alumni!) really shaped who I want to be as a mentor. He had endless patience, enthusiasm, and optimism while I was an undergraduate. I distinctly remember running my first column alone and panicking after breaking off a pipette tip which fell into my column and ruined the top layer of silica gel. He walked in and exclaimed "Breaking off a pipette tip into your column is good luck!" He always let us mess up and learn from it rather than shame us.

What was your very first job?

Starting in high school, in the summers or after school I was a nanny for a family with 4 kids.

Where is your favorite spot in the Twin Cities?

Wilde Cafe on St. Anthony Main 

What non-chemistry interest or activity might surprise department members?

I really enjoy story slams like The Moth and have even participated a few times!