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    Seven students receive competitive dissertation fellowships

Seven Department of Chemistry graduate students have been awarded highly competitive Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships for the 2017-18 academic year, including Junwei Bao, Zachary Davis-Gilbert, Peter Dunn, Soumen Ghosh, Siyao He, Shaofei Ji, and Emily Keller.

Junwei Lucas Bao is a fourth-year graduate student working with Professor Donald Truhlar. His general research interest is theoretical chemistry. His specific research interest is theoretical chemical kinetics, statistical thermodynamics, density functional theory and multireference quantum chemistry methods. Lucas would like to stay in academia and continue his training as an independent researcher. His professional goal is to become an active scientist working in solving critical problems related to sustainable energy and environmental issues via theory development and computational modeling. 

Zachary Davis-Gilbert is a fourth-year graduate student working with Professor Ian Tonks. His current research interests encompass the development of new catalytic reactions. The specific research interest for his dissertation is the development and investigation of titanium redox catalysis for the synthesis of C-N bonds. After earning his doctorate, he hopes to get a job in a non-academic setting, hopefully, in the field of catalysis. 

Peter Dunn is a fourth-year graduate student studying under Professor Tonks. His current research focuses on the synthesis and catalytic application of early-late multimetallic complexes. More generally, he is an inorganic and organometallic chemist with special interest in small molecule activation, as it applies to green energy research. After earning his doctorate, he hopes to apply the skills he has learned, and to continue studying and making new catalysts relevant to small molecule chemistry. 

Soumen Ghosh is a fourth-year graduate student working with professors Laura Gagliardi and Christopher J. Cramer. His general research interest encompasses developing, implementing and using quantum chemical methods to understand charge and energy transport processes in chemical systems. He is especially interested in developing models that would help researchers "observe" the dynamic pictures of these processes. His dissertation research focuses on modeling ground- and excited-state properties of organic electronics. After earning his doctorate, Soumen would like to continue his research in the area of theoretical and computational chemistry to study properties of different materials relevant to renewable energy sources, catalysis, and biochemistry.

Siyao He is a fourth-year graduate student working with Professor Andreas Stein. His general area of research is graphene-based materials and polymer composites. The research topic for his dissertation is modified graphene oxide toughening of thermosetting polymer matrices. In the future, he hopes to work as a researcher in the polymer composite industry.

Shaofei Ji is a fourth-year graduate student working with Professor Natalia Tretyakova. His general research interests encompass chemical biology. The specific research for his dissertation is the synthesis, characterization, and biological consequences of DNA-protein cross-links. After earning his doctorate, he hopes to find a job in a bio-related company, hopefully, in the Minneapolis area.

Emily Keller is a fourth-year graduate student working with Professor Renee Frontiera. She is interested in understanding the underlying processes that occur when plasmonic nanomaterials convert light into chemical energy to more efficiently and selectively drive chemical reactions. In her dissertation work, Emily uses ultrafast surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy to monitor plasmon-molecule interactions that occur on the picosecond timescale to determine how these interactions affect a chemical reaction on a plasmonic nanomaterial. In these studies, she has found that localized heating and electron excitation play important roles in converting light into chemical energy. After earning her doctorate, Emily plans to obtain a job in industry.