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February 2019


Department of Chemistry 

Newsletter, February 2019


Dear Alumni and Friends:

Greetings from the  Department of Chemistry at Stony Brook University! We are pleased to send you this brief New Year update on happenings in our Department.


Nancy S. Goroff
Professor and Chair, Department of Chemistry

Chemistry 60th Composite









Department of Chemistry 60th Anniversary!

We had an outstanding turnout for the Department of Chemistry’s 60th Anniversary celebration held October 19-20, 2018. Thank you to all the alumni who joined us, especially our speakers at the Friday Chemistry Research Day, including  Stephen Heller ‘63, BS; Stephanie Sen ‘89, PhD; and  Christopher Cahill ‘99, PhD; and those who participated on the Saturday career panel,  including  Deric Geng ‘02, PhDChristopher Am Ende ‘13, PhD; and  Amy Grant ‘90, BS.It was great for our faculty to see old friends, and for our students to learn the different ways our alumni have been successful. For more photos, see the event Flickr album. And, please mark your calendars for the next Chemistry Research Day and Alumni Reunion to be held October 4-5, 2019! 

Kerber Slides Kerber Tile

The Chemistry Department  lost a dear friend, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus Robert Kerber (1938-2019) on February 5, 2019. For decades, Dr. Kerber was the face of the undergraduate program in Chemistry, serving as Director of Undergraduate Studies for more than 25 years. He was well known for his challenging and lively classes that often focused on real-world problems. Dr. Kerber also served as President of the Arts & Sciences Senate, President of the University Senate, and President of the Faculty-Student Association. After his retirement in 2011, he served as Chair of the SBU Emeritus Faculty Association, and he was a key member of the team that put together the  Leaders in Chemistry wall, which of course, features a tile in his honor.


Alan Krantz Alan Krantz
Distinguished Professor of Chemistry Nicole Sampson; Dr. Krantz; Professor and Chair Nancy Goroff 

We sadly also report  the passing of Allen Krantz (1940 - 2018), a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry from 1968 to 1981. While in our department, Dr. Krantz used photochemical reactions in inert low-temperature matrices to make highly reactive species such as cyclobutadiene. After he left Stony Brook, Dr. Krantz held several high-level positions in the pharmaceutical industry, and founded Advanced Proteome Therapeutics, where he served as Chief Scientific Officer and COO. Dr. Krantz is honored with a tile on our Leaders in Chemistry Wall, and was able to join us in Spring 2017 for the official unveiling of the wall.

Student and Postdoc Updates

  • Yuning Chen PhD '18 has been chosen as a finalist for the  2019 Justin Jankunas Doctoral Dissertation Award from the American Physical Society's Division of Chemical Physics for her dissertation,“Cavity-Enhanced Ultrafast Spectroscopy.” Yuning worked with Professor Tom Allison. Each of the finalists will present a talk on their work at the March 2019 APS national meeting.
  • Priyanka Sharma, postdoc in the Hsiao group, was named a finalist for the  2018 Blavatnik Regional Award for Young Scientists. The Blavatnik Regional Awards acknowledge and celebrate the excellence of outstanding postdoctoral scientists from institutions in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The finalist award comes with a $10,000 prize! 
  • Chemistry graduate student and Turner Fellow  Hanna Morales Hernandez received the Outstanding Student Poster Award at the Fall 2018 ACS National Meeting in Boston. Her poster, “Isolation and Characterization of Gold Nanoparticle Surface Stabilizing Species,” describes her research with Professor Chris Johnson on new information-rich laser spectroscopy techniques to develop precise molecular design rules for engineering functional nanometer-scale devices. 

Faculty and Staff Updates

  • Iwao Ojima earned the  2019 Ernest Guenther Award in the Chemistry of Natural Products, his fourth national ACS award. Professor Ojima, the director of the Institute for Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery, was recognized for "exploration of the full potential of taxane-class diterpenes at the interface of natural product chemistry, synthetic methodology, medicinal chemistry, chemical biology and medicine."
  • Ken Dill won the American Physical Society's  2019 Max Delbrück Prize in Biological Physics. Professor Dill, director of the Laufer Center for Computational Biology, was recognized for independent contributions to a new view of protein folding, from the introduction and exploration of simple models, to detailed confrontations between theory and experiment.
  • Trevor Sears was named a  2018 Fellow of the American Physical Society.
  • Robert Grubbs and  Esther Takeuchi were each named a  Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
  • Surita Bhatia was among 10 women recognized for Outstanding Contributions to Chemical Engineering at the 2018 AIChE National Meeting, in celebration of the AIChE Women's Initiatives Committee 20th Anniversary.
  • Nicole Sampson was named SUNY Distinguished Professor.
  • We welcomed two new lecturers,  Maria Nagan and  Sajjad Hossain, to the Department of Chemistry this past fall. We also said goodbye to longtime Organic Lab Coordinator  Rong Chen, who moved to Washington University in St. Louis.
  • Last summer, we said goodbye to two longtime staff members,  Heidi Ciolfi and Charmine Yapchin. We wish them both well in their new positions at the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics and the Institute for Mathematical Study, respectively. We are thrilled to welcome our new business manager,  Alyssa Tuthill, who came to us from the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

SBU Chemistry in the  News

  • TargaGenix, a start-up company that has licensed  Iwao Ojima's taxoid anti-cancer drug SBT-1214 and derivatives,  received the first Long Island seed grant through the Accelerate New York Seed Fund, for the development of Professor Ojima's compounds. 
  • The roadway leading to the new Medical and Research Translation (MART) Building has officially been named Lauterbur Drive in honor of late chemistry professor and Nobel Laureate  Paul Lauterbur. In addition, at a September 5, 2018, ceremony, Professor Lauterbur's ground-breaking work to invent magnetic resonance imaging was recognized as an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Historical Milestone.

We Appreciate Your Support!

Resources for faculty and students help support and strengthen the educational experience.  The Department of Chemistry depends on our alumni and friends to build and improve our research infrastructure through support of instrumentation, graduate fellowships, and building new laboratories. Your generosity, whether it's the renewal of your support or the decision to give for the first time, allows us to do what we do best – innovative, creative research and teaching that’s the hallmark of a great public research university. I hope you'll consider investing in our students and faculty by making a  gift today or speaking with the College's advancement representative, Assistant Dean Rebecca Bair,, or 631.632.6178.

You may also make a gift online to Chemistry via the link below.

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