hUMNs of Chemistry #7

Tim Abraham headshot

Timothy Abraham 

Chemistry External Advisory Board

If you're an alum, tell us about your time at the University of Minnesota.

It was one of the most influential periods in my life. I had great teachers, and I developed my skills as an independent researcher which has served me well throughout my career.

If you're currently working: Tell us about your work at in your current position? What is your main role and responsibilities? What are the biggest lessons you have learned in this position?

I am currently a Corporate Fellow. My primary role is as an advisor working on different projects across various businesses, particularly investigating new technologies. 

What tips do you have for students and postdocs looking for/applying for post-UMN jobs?

Develop some knowledge in adjacent fields that are complementary to the primary area of your own research. Multidisciplinary approaches are often needed in working on industrial projects.

How has UMN helped your career and/or personal development?

The education I received at the U of MN was instrumental in achieving my career goals.

Tell us about an important mentor in your academic life?

My advisor

Headshot of Jessica Lamb

Jessica Lamb

Assistant Professor

Tell us about your journey to the University of Minnesota.

Coming to the University of Minnesota has really been a full-circle journey for me! I grew up in Fargo, ND and got my B.S. in chemistry from the University of North Dakota. My undergraduate research was split between organometallics and polymer coatings so I went to grad school wanting to work somewhere between catalysis and polymers. I ended up going to Cornell and *not* doing polymers in a polymer group (that's just how it goes sometimes). I learned a lot about small molecule catalysis, methodology, and physical organic chemistry, but I was still passionate about polymer chemistry, which is what I did during my postdoc at MIT. I started at UMN in July 2020, and I'm so thrilled that now I get to work on both catalysis and polymer chemistry back in the Midwest, close to family. 

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?

In general, we like to make cool-looking molecules and understand how and why things work. Oftentimes, this means using our synthetic skills to systematically change the structure of small molecules or polymers and then characterizing how that structural change affects its reactivity or properties. This fundamental understanding can help us and others design better catalysts and polymers to address evolving needs in the future.

What courses do you teach? What can students expect to get out of your course?

I teach Synthetic Polymer Chemistry in the fall, and I co-teach Organic Chemistry II in the spring. I try to emphasize pattern recognition and problem solving over memorization, and I strive to make connections between course content and real world objects, cutting edge research, and diverse scientists. 

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

I rotate through a long list of hobbies depending on time and my mood, including crafting (crochet, knitting, cross stitch), playing games (board, tabletop, video), swing dancing, and water sports at the lake during the summer.

Tell us about who makes up your household (including pets).

My household is me and my cat, Marvel, who just turned two. Marvel always wants attention, but quickly alternates between wanting to play and wanting to snuggle. He is also very food motivated, which means he's pretty good at learning tricks via clicker training.

Killian MacFeely

Killian MacFeely

Graduate Student, Frontiera Group 

Tell us about your journey to the University of Minnesota.

My educational journey was different than most. I did not succeed at my first attempt in university and found myself working in the service industry without an end in sight. After several years, I re-enrolled determined to overcome my previous challenges. Now a nontraditional student, I earned my degree in chemistry at Purdue University and now pursue my PhD at UMN. Although a different path, I'm glad I found myself here alongside my peers to pursue our scientific interests. 

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?

I've known that whatever type of research I dive into, I want it to be environmentally relevant. During my time at the UMN, I've discovered a fascination in spectroscopy and sought ways to incorporate both it and sustainability into my research. I'm currently pursuing spectroscopy-based plasma research, investigating its characteristics to understand how such a system changes during its lifetime. Current applications of plasma include environmental contaminant degradation (such as PFAS) and even chemical synthesis. I am excited to see where my research takes me and look forward to discovering more. 

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

Inside the laboratory, I hope to establish myself as a leader in my sub field, mentor younger students, and build a great foundation for further research when I move on. Outside the laboratory, I hope to contribute to the chemistry community in a lasting way. Whether that be through the organization of a new student-led group or coordinating something else entirely, I'm always thinking about how I can contribute more to the department.

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

I am an award winning actor with my own IMDb! For context, I played a lead role in a short film that has won an award and been screened at the Cannes Film Festival in France. This helped spark my love of communication and improvisational performance. These days I fulfill this interest through tabletop role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons.

Tell us about who makes up your household (including pets).

My home is shared with my lovely fiancee Jess, an attorney in the Twin Cities. My home is also overseen by two cats, Captain Hook and Doctor Facilier (Hook & Doc).