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    04/04/18

    Six students honored through NSF fellowship program

Three fellowships and three honorable mentions

Three Department of Chemistry students—Michael "Joey" Lynch, Thais Scott, and Merrick Pierson Smela—have received fellowships, and three students—Derek Batiste, Peter Clement, and Celina Harris—have received honorable mentions in the highly competitive National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). This program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions. For the 2018 competition, NSF received more than 12,000 applications, and made 2,000 award offers.

Fellowship Recipients

Michael "Joey" Lynch
Joey is a first-year graduate student in Professor Renee Frontiera's research group, working on imaging neurons with a super-resolution Raman nanoscope to determine the flux of neurotransmitters across the synapse as a function of action potential. With this knowledge, he hopes to make quantitative statements about the mechanism of neuroplasticity. His dream is find a way to monitor and control the flux of neurotransmitters to selectively promote neuron growth or death and, thereby control the pathways of the nervous system. His future plans are to obtain a doctorate in chemistry working with the Frontiera group and afterward then obtain a doctorate from the Neuroscience Department. Joey was a 2017-18 Diversity of Views and Experiences Fellowship recipient.

Thais Scott
Thais Scott is a first-year graduate student working with Professor Laura Gagliardi. Her research focuses on the development and application of the MC-PDFT method. MC-PDFT is a computational method developed by the Professor Gagliardi and Professor Donald Truhlar research groups, and she is deriving and implementing state-averaged analytical gradients for this method. She is also using MC-PDFT to optimize the geometry of the lowest lying singlet and triplet states of hetero aromatic diradicals. In the future, she would like to work in an industry position. Thais was also 2017-18 Diversity of Views and Experiences Fellowship recipient.

Merrick Pierson Smela
Merrick is a senior chemistry major, conducting undergraduate research with Professor Thomas Hoye. His research has mainly focused on the Hexadehydro-Diels-Alder reaction. He has used the reaction to make blue fluorophores for organic LEDs, and now is working to expand the scope of the reaction through the use of sulfur-based cleavable linkers. He will spend a year studying stem cell biology at Cambridge University through the Churchill Scholarship, after which he plans to enroll in the Harvard Chemical Biology graduate program. In addition to the Churchill Scholarship, Merrick also received a prestigious Astronaut Scholarship and was a Goldwater Scholar honorable mention.

Honorable Mentions

Derek Batiste
Derek is a second-year graduate student working with Professor Marc Hillmyer. His research focuses on the design, synthesis, and characterization of novel polymers that can be used to develop sustainable materials. Derek was a 2016-27 Diversity of Views and Experiences Fellowship recipient.

Peter Clement
Peter Clement is a second-year graduate student working with Professor Christy Haynes. He is interested in the interactions that occur between engineered nanomaterials that find their way into the environment and microorganisms that play key roles in ecosystems.

Celina Harris
Celina is a first-year graduate student working with Professor Frontiera. She is investigating nanoscale membrane dynamics of supported lipid bilayers using super-resolution Raman spectroscopy.