2013 School News

Prashant Jain and his team found that atoms in a nanocrystal can cooperate with each other to facilitate binding or switching, a phenomenon widely found in biological molecules. Their discovery was published in Nature Communications. UIUC News Bureau article.

The Huimin Zhao group has developed a method forcing bacteria to express gene clusters that would not typically be expressed. The research may help to elucidate biochemical pathways and produce beneficial natural products. ChBE article.

For the third time in a row the ChBE AIChE student chapter has been named outstanding student chapter at the 2013 AIChE student conference. Members of the chapter also received various honors. ChBE article.

Sharon Hammes-Schiffer was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She was selected for "the development of innovative theories and computational methods for studying proton, hydride and proton-coupled electron transfer reactions in chemical and biological systems." UIUC News Bureau article.

The New Yorker profiled some of the research of John Rogers in an article titled, "The Body Electric" in the November 25, 2013 issue.

Chemistry alumnus Stephen Elledge (BS '78) was named a 2013 LAS Alumni Achievement Award winner. He is being honored for his research into the DNA repair process and other genetic research. LAS Alumni Profile.

M. Christina White and graduate student Paul Gormisky developed a new catalyst that will help streamline the drug-discovery process. Their work is published in the Journal of the American Chemistry Society. UIUC News Bureau article, and RSC Chemistry World Opinions article.

John Gerlt and Jonathan Sweedler are part of a multidisciplinary effort to identify the function of one bacterial protein and its biochemical pathway. This will have the cascading effect of learning the functions of hundreds of other proteins. A report of their new approach and findings appears in the journal Nature. UIUC News Bureau article.

Hyunjoon Kong is one of ten College of Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty honored by being named Centennial Scholars. ChBE News article.

Deborah Leckband has been elected a member of the Board of Director's of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), a great honor and responsibility.

Calculations on unusual bonding in the sulfur difluoride dimer FSSF3 have provided evidence to help explain why some compounds don't follow long-established chemical rules, according to Thom Dunning and fellow researchers. RSC Chemistry World article.

Martin Burke gave the 2013 Kavli Lecture at the ACS meeting. Burke's description of his "molecular prosthetics" research was picked up by US News & World Report.
US News & World Report article, Dept. of Chemistry article.

Brendan Harley and Sara Pedron have developed a hydrogel used to grow glioma (brain cancer) cells that will help researchers better study their growth and their response to therapies. UIUC News Bureau article.

Mary Kraft is the recipient of the the 2014 Walter A. Shaw Young Investigator Award in Lipid Research, presented by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB). She has developed methods to quantitatively image the lipid composition of small regions of membranes in living cells and in model systems.

PAC-1, a drug that Paul Hergenrother discovered has anti-cancer capabilities, will now be used in human clinical trials. Previously, Hergenrother and Tim Fan tested it on dogs with spontaneously occurring cancers. UIUC News Bureau article.

Researchers led by John Rogers are studying how to make devices, such as cellphones, disappear or dissolve so they don’t pose a threat to the environment. See USA Today video.

Molly Jhong, Paul Kenis, and collaborators are working on characterizing electrode optimization for use in fuel cells. They have a cover article in the journal Advanced Energy Materials. ChBE article.

Hyunjoon Kong and co-workers have found a way to strongly adhere hydrogels to hydrophobic silicone substrates, an innovation that provides a valuable new tool for microscale biotechnology. The Angewandte Chemie article was listed as a "Hot Paper" in Soft Material Chemistry. ChBE article.

The Department of Chemistry hosted the first Midwest Career Development Conference to better prepare graduate students for various career paths. The conference was organized by the Chemistry-Biology Interface Training Program and funded by NIH and the Department of Chemistry. See C&E News article.

The Royal Society of Chemistry announced Christina White as the 2013 Merck Award winner. She was cited for her "pioneering work in the development of novel catalysts and concepts for achieving C-H oxidation reactions". RSC Merck Award.

ACS Eminent Organic Chemists video- An interview with Christina White is included.

Prashant Jain is one of 14 internationally named as a 2013 Dupont Young Professor. Chemistry article.

He was also selected to attend this year's Frontiers of Engineering Symposium to participate in cross-disciplinary exchange of information. Chemistry article.

Zaida Luthey-Schulten and co-workers have produced Lattice Microbes, a simulation software program that provides accurate and fast modeling of biological systems using NVIDIA graphics units in high-performance computing. SCS article

Charles Schroeder and Melikhan Tanyeri have developed a new flow-based method for manipulating and confining single particles in free solution, previously not always possible in biological systems. ChBE News article.

Anna Jean Wirth, a Gruebele graduate student, was chosen to attend the 2013 Lindau, Germany week long meeting with Nobel laureates and other international graduate students in various disciplines. Wirth's research investigates protein folding. UIUC New Bureau article.

Klaus Schulten and Juan R. Perilla used Blue Waters to solve the structure of the HIV capsid. Collaborators from the University of Pittsburgh and Vanderbilt University provided experimental data for the molecular simulation. The report appears in the journal Nature. UIUC News Bureau article.


Charles Schroeder received a 2013 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award. The award program recognizes his excellent research and his mentoring of undergraduates in his laboratory. ChBE article.

Scott Denmark recently received a 2012 Keck Foundation Science and Engineering Program Grant to support his research program in the discovery and development of asymmetric catalysis. Chemistry article.

The Yang research group has developed a new way to produce highly uniform nanocrystals used for both fundamental and applied nanotechnology projects. Their work is featured in the journal Nano-Letters. ChBE article.

Martin Gruebele and Sharon Hammes-Schiffer were elected to the National Academy of Sciences for their outstanding contributions to the fields of science and technology. Being named a fellow in the NAS is a great honor. UIUC News Bureau article.

John Rogers developed a dime-sized camera modeled on an insect's compound eye. His camera has a very wide angle of view without distortion. This research was published in Nature. NPR article.

The Zimmerman research group has developed a small-molecule compound that could lead to therapeutic treatment for myotonic dystrophy, an as-yet untreatable disease. UIUC News Bureau article.

Nicholas Connolly, Michael Richards and Akash Moradia won the BP challenge nationally. The ChBE undergrads will join other winning teams for a two-week field trip of the BP operational hubs in the North Sea. ChBE article.

Two ChBE undergraduates received the Illinois Club's "Make a Difference' scholarships. Grant Blazina teaches young students about science and Sarah Huang is president of the Haiti Clean Stove project. ChBE article.

Hyunjoon Kong, Steven Zimmerman and coworkers are developing a polymer coating that could help an individual's stem cells target inflamed cells to regrow healthy tissue and calm inflammation. C&EN article.

Murphy students, Jie An Yang (2013 Dissertation Award in Materials Chemistry), Hoa Tri Phan (undergrad visitor from Vietnam) and Shruti Vaidya (high school student) and Murphy published an article in Nano Letters describing how cancer cells are slowed down by gold nanoparticles whereas normal cells are not. Nano Letters article.

The ChBE Undergraduate Research Symposium occurred on April 12. Emre Sevgen, Eftalda Becka and Patrick Corona were awarded first, second, and third place respectively. Greater than 30 ChBE undergraduate students were awarded over $64,000 total, in scholarships and awards for 2013. ChBE Research Symposium article, ChBE Scholarship article.

John Rogers and fellow researchers have developed a new class of tiny, injectable optoelectronic devices for use in optogenetic research in the brain. UIUC News article.

Chemistry graduate students, Stephen Ammann, Brandon Burkhart, Jacob Faucheaux, Jessica Pearson, Michelle Richter, and Aaron Routzahn, have been awarded 2013 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships. Chemistry article.

Prashant Jain was selected by the American Chemical Society to receive the 2013 Unilever Award in recognition of his molecular, nano-optic and imaging research. Chemistry article.

Martin Burke was chosen as the second Kavli Foundation Emerging Leaders in Chemistry Lecturer. He will deliver his talk at the Fall 2013 National ACS Meeting. Chemistry article.

Brendan Harley recently received a NSF Career Award. The award will further his group's development of a synthetic bone marrow biomaterial to aid the study of hematopoiesis and hematopoietic diseases. ChBE article.

The Schroeder and Katzenellenbogen research groups collaborated to develop a new class of fluorescent probes for studying biological processes at the single molecule level. ChBE article.

Paul Hergenrother and collaborators have designed an innovative type of biosensing laser that achieves super-high detection resolution – a "first-of-its-kind" technology. Their research was featured on the April 7, 2013 cover of Lab on a Chip. Engineering News article.

Danielle Mai (Schroeder group graduate student) is a 2013 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship recipient. She does research in fundamental polymer engineering, specifically with branched polymers. ChBE article.

Chemical Engineering doctoral student Kathryn Trenshaw is one of five students to receive a 2013 Apprentice Faculty Grant from the Education Research and Methods (ERM) Division of the American Society for Engineering (ASEE). ChBE article.

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering alumnus Ashlee Ford Versypt has been named the 2013 Frederick A. Howes Scholar in Computational Science. ChBE article.

The Silverman group has developed DNA catalysts that perform a protein-like function, by changing the phosphorylation state of peptides and proteins. Their research paper can be found in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. UIUC News Bureau article.


The Lu research group has devised a dynamic and reversible method to assemble nanoscale structures using the protein streptavidin, desthiobiotin, and biotin. UIUC News Bureau article, video.

ChBE graduate student Brian Rosen was awarded a Fulbright research fellowhip to do postdoctoral work with the U.S. and Israeli Air Forces at Tel Aviv University. ChBE article.

The Protein Society announced Wilfred van der Donk as the 2013 Emil Thomas Kaiser Award recipient. He was cited for his "groundbreaking research utilizing chemistry to investigate enzymatic reactions". Chemistry article.

Flexible, stretchy batteries are being developed by John Rogers and colleagues. They reported their work in Nature Communications. BBC News article.


Charles Schroeder received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, which will allow Schroeder and his research team to push into uncharted territory with molecular-level studies of branched polymer chains using new single molecule tools. ChBE article.

Predictive Computing for Condensed Matter, headed by So Hirata, was one of 7 teams chosen by the U.S. Dept. of Energy to lead collaborative research for computational chemistry & physics for materials. See SciDAC web site.

Matt Hermes, a graduate student in the Hirata group, is one of two recipients of the prestigious ACS Graduate Student Award in Computational Physical Chemistry in 2012. Through this award, Matt will receive cpu time on the NCSA Blue Waters.

Kandis Gilliard, a graduate student in the Hirata group, is a winner of the 2013 Spring ACS Women Chemists Committee (WCC)/Eli Lilly Travel Grant Award.

Mary Kraft and co-workers have developed new techniques to visualize cell membrane organization, with surprising results. UIUC News Bureau article, C&EN article (4-29-13).

The Hergenrother lab has devised a method to synthesize complex and diverse small molecules from natural products. See C&E News highlight of Nature Chemistry paper, Science Daily article (2-27-2013).

Wilfred van der Donk and graduate student Weixin Tang determined the structure of the enterococcal cytolysin, a virulence factor associated with infection. The work was published in Nat. Chem. Biol. UIUC News Bureau Article.

Dana Dlott will receive the 2013 Award in Experimental Physical Chemistry from the American Chemical Society in November. He is being honored "for experimental techniques and measurements that advance our understanding of vibrational energy in molecules and materials".


Paul Hergenrother and colleague David Boothman have entered into a license agreement with StemPar Sciences. The company plans to utilize their compounds to develop cancer therapeutics. Business Wire article.

Eric Oldfield and collaborators have discovered a compound that is effective against drug-resistant Staph infections in mice. Their findings may allow scientists to produce antibiotics that the bacteria are less likely to become resistant to. UIUC News Bureau article.