Chemistry Newsletter, Spring 2018

Message from the Chair
Department Spotlights
Department Announcements
Alumni Updates/Class Notes
Donor Recognition
Support the Department
Stay Connected

Message from the Chair

Dr. Michael King, Chair and Professor of Chemistry


Since last I wrote, two endowment funds were added to the portfolio that supports our program. The William E. Schmidt Endowed Fund was established by a generous bequest from Professor Emeritus Schmidt upon his passing. You may have seen the note marking his passing a bit more than a year ago at the age of 96. Professor Schmidt’s relationship with George Washington University spanned over half a century. He entered GW in 1939 as a first year student in Chemistry. He joined the GW faculty as assistant professor of chemistry, ultimately earning the distinction of Professor Emeritus in 1991. The generous bequest he left for the department marked an excellent opportunity to perpetuate his legacy, through a fund to respond to the needs, opportunities and priorities of the department.

We were also able to consolidate two funds and rename the resulting new alumni fellowship fund in honor of Professor Emeritus Theodore P. Perros. A generous donation from the nieces and nephew of Professor Perros served as the impetus for the consolidation and renaming. As you may be aware, this department was part of Professor Perros’ DNA, having received his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from GW, before joining this faculty. The new fund will continue to provide financial support for graduate students, who are critical to the research program of our faculty and who provide the engagement with our undergraduates as mentors and as instructors in our laboratory courses.

We are grateful to both the Schmidt and Perros families for the support of our program. These legacies are an on-going commemoration of the contributions of these faculty to the lives of the hundreds of students who took their classes and the influence each had on the discipline of chemistry. The two funds are open to accepting contributions as a suitable way of remembering each of these incredible faculty.

Dr. Michael King

Chair and Professor of Chemistry

Back to top

Department Spotlights

Greeting from the Cahill Research Group

Cahill Lab (L-R): Yasemin Losee, Dr. Christopher Cahill, Professor of Chemistry and International Affairs, Germán Gomez, Nicole Byrne, August Ridenour.

Greetings from the Cahill Research Group. This year marks 18 years at GW. The past two years have been outstanding, to say the least. We said goodbye to two fantastic PhD students—Dr. Korey Carter, PhD ’17, is now a post-doc at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the BioActinide Chemistry group, and Dr. Gian Surbella, PhD '18, is now the Linus Pauling Distinguished Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Well done, gents! Mikaela Pyrch, BS ’16, MS ’17, is pursuing a PhD at the University of Iowa and Mark Kalaj, BS ’16, is doing the same at University of California-San Diego. Our current productivity is unmatched. Paper number 134 is in review and 2017-2018 saw 16 publications—including a JACS, several in Inorganic Chemistry and the cover of Chemistry-A European Journal. Chris Cahill was featured in Chemical and Engineering News for his sabbatical efforts in nuclear forensics at the U.S. State Department and for mentoring PhD students in “alternative” career paths. As a consequence, he has been in demand for speaking engagements in this arena and has visited multiple universities and gave two invited lectures at the fall 2017 ACS meeting.

Funding continues to be sound with Chris’ DOE-Basic Energy Sciences award being renewed for a fourth time! Chris and colleagues in the Elliott School of International Affairs, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences AND the Law School attracted support from the National Nuclear Security Administration through a collaboration with UC-Berkeley. Together with UCB, other university collaborators and partner National Labs Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge and Sandia, Chris and colleagues are supporting the nation’s nuclear security agenda by recruiting and training students in relevant nuclear disciplines, including policy and regulatory frameworks.

Current graduate students August Ridenour (third year) and Nicole Byrne (first year) are keeping the momentum. August has five papers under his belt and will spend summer 2018 at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Nicole joins us as the prestigious Presidential Merit Fellow, and she will spend time this summer at Pacific Northwest National Lab training for transuranic work.

Chris and his students were recently profiled in the CCAS Spotlight newsmagazine.

The Kostal Research Lab

Dr. Jakub Kostal, Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Professor Jakub Kostal has been funded by the PhRMA Foundation to investigate the possibility of safer chemical redesign by mimicking successful approaches from computer-guided drug discovery. His group has developed a novel tiered computational protocol to accomplish this goal and has made good progress toward demonstrating their approach on prominent organophosphate flame retardants and pesticides. Their method relies on in-house developed, state-of-the-art statistical free energy perturbation calculations, and aims to bring safer and functional chemicals into commerce without reliance on animal tests. If successful, their research could revolutionize new chemical development by dramatically lowering costs while decreasing risk associated with untested commercial chemicals.

In a related project, the Kostal group has sought to validate a unique method for uncertainty scoring of toxicological data in collaboration with the US EPA, UL, Redshift Technologies and Verisk 3E. Their approach assigns confidence metrics to conflicting toxicological data to aid with regulatory decision making; the method is parametrical, and can thus be fitted to reproduce specific expert-based decision-making paradigms. To promote the field of computational toxicology, Professor Kostal has authored a chapter on “Quantum Mechanics Approaches in Computational Toxicology” in Computational Toxicology: Risk Assessment for Chemicals (John Wiley & Sons; Ekins, S., Ed.), and co-authored an article in Toxicological Sciences on the Molecular Design Research Network as part of his group's ongoing collaboration with Yale, University of Washington and Baylor.

On the teaching front, spring 2018 marks the first semester of capstone projects for the second year students in the MS Program in Environmental and Green Chemistry; Professor Kostal has been coordinating the students' research efforts conducted with the program’s newly established local partners: WHO PAHO, US EPA and Verisk 3E.

Spotlight on LaKeisha McClary

Dr. LaKeisha McClary, Assistant Professor of Chemistry

LaKeisha McClary joined the department in August 2012 as an assistant professor. She teaches several introductory chemistry courses, including general chemistry and quantitative analysis laboratory. Professor McClary uses her background in chemistry education research to incorporate evidence-based pedagogical strategies into each of her courses to facilitate learning and promote long-term retention of knowledge and skills. Currently, she is implementing a flipped learning approach in first-semester general chemistry. Besides teaching, Professor McClary is involved in scholarship and service. She is co-PI on a multi-disciplinary Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program proposal entitled “STEM teaching excellence in high-need schools: Teacher preparation in the nation’s capital.” She also organizes and facilitates the GW DBER (discipline-based education research) group that meets bimonthly to discuss education research and scholarly research among GW faculty, staff and graduate students actively engaged in research.

Professor McClary was part of the team that established the GW Learning Assistants (LA) Program, ensuring that chemistry was involved from the program’s inception. She served for five years as an LA Program department coordinator, where she coordinated funding from Columbian College, placed students in LA-supported classes and interfaced with faculty who host LAs in their classrooms. Professor McClary also serves as a departmental academic adviser. Her first class graduated in May 2017; she looks forward to advising the Class of 2021. Professional service includes the ACS Division of Chemical Education New Members’ Committee and the ACS Exams Institute Organic 2020 Exam Committee.

Perhaps her most rewarding experiences since joining the department have been mentoring. Professor McClary has mentored two chemistry majors and one biology major. She currently mentors the second cohort of 10 GW Posse Scholars from metropolitan Atlanta who have several intended majors including biology, criminal justice, journalism, business, political science and international affairs.

Back to top

Faculty Updates

The Besson Research Lab

In research news: finally, crystals! Dark greens and blues for Meg Dailey and her lanthanoid phthalocyanines, including some exciting super-dense new polymorph of a neodymium double decker. Chenyang Ma's crystals are usually white, but turn a deep shade of purple when heated due to the spin crossover properties of those iron pyrazolyl borate complexes. The cobalt analogues, the first of which were obtained last summer by Chenming Wang, a visitor from the Thomas Jefferson high school, are bright yellow. To complete this rainbow, we have the mysterious red-orange crystals recently obtained by undergraduate Natalie Falco. (We do not quite know what those are yet...)  Our next work will include a thorough investigation of the magnetic properties of those compounds, so as to pick the best quantum bit candidates.

Crystals are not everything however. Post-doctoral researcher Ganesh Ramar and undergraduate student Haley Meyers have been making great strides in the synthesis of polycyclopentadienyl lanthanoid complexes targeted for STM studies. Undergraduate Christian Ellis, our carbon nanotube specialist, demonstrated that the waste solution of the carbon nanotube purification process actually contains valuable carbon nanodots with amazing fluorescent properties. We are very eager to study the properties of those nanodots, in collaboration with the group of Professor Miller. Sadly Christian had to leave the university at the end of the Fall semester, and the project will have to be completed without him. We will miss him.

Professor Besson’s research lab: (L-R) Ganesamoorthi Ramar (post-doc), Haley Meyers (undergrad), Chenyang Ma (grad), Natalie Falco (undergrad), Professor Besson and Maegan Dailey (grad).

Professor Hanning Chen

Dr. Hanning Chen, Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Over the past year, we have expanded our network of collaborations in materials science. As an example, we published an article in the Journal of Physical Chemistry C jointly with Dr. Jiang’s group at the University of Illinois at Chicago about substrate-controlled self-assembly of dye molecules for tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy. In addition, we are collaborating with several experimental research groups at Temple University and Utah State University to investigate multiple exciton generations in molecular crystals for ultra-efficient dye-sensitized solar cells. The project has aroused great interest at the Honda Research Institute, which has agreed to offer us seed grants to pursue this exciting topic that may fuel the automobile industry in the long run. Within GW, we continue our productive collaboration with Dr. Shuai’s group at the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department that eventually will lead to a manuscript submitted to ACS Catalysis on the proton-coupled electron-transfer mechanism for photo-catalytic decomposition of aqueous contaminants. We are also working on another joint manuscript that is about sunlight-driven hydrogen peroxide production from water, the most cost-effective way for large-scale manufacturing. Most recently, we attended the 255th ACS National Meeting in New Orleans and met a lot of friends (old and new) there for future collaborations.

The Dowd Lab

It has been a successful year in the Dowd group! The fall and spring semesters have brought additional publications, NIH funding (!) and new patent opportunities to our group. In March, Cindy Dowd presented our work at the New Antibiotic Drug Discovery Gordon Conference in Ventura, Calif. May 2018 graduates will be Dr. Jack Wang (PhD) and Mr. Steve Wang (MS). They are beginning new adventures in science! Dowd research focusing on new antibiotics against tuberculosis and malaria is proceeding very fast and continues to be very exciting! This summer, the Dowd lab will host two grad students, one postdoc and four undergraduate researchers. In addition to research, Cindy continues to serve on the CCAS Dean’s Council as chair of graduate admissions for chemistry, and is planning a new medicinal chemistry course for the fall.

The Dowd Lab (back L-R): Jack Wang, Kenneth Heidel, Hailey Butman, Steve Wang; (front L-R) Dr. Dowd, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Matthew Lish, Devi Alaparthi, Richie Beck.

The Licht Group

Dr. Stuart Licht, Professor of Chemistry

Professor Stuart Licht is an electrochemist with ~400 papers and patents, on sustainability or fundamental chemistry including studies in the journals Science and Nature. The Licht group has had an exciting and productive fall. Doctoral student Xinye Liu joined our research group in the fall. Senior doctoral student Matthew Lefler continues to work towards his candidacy. Researcher Juan Vicini and undergrad Parth Contractor have been joined by graduate students Mohamed Eltahir, Zhikun Wang and Zijun Shao

We continue to work on our disruptive technology to comprehensively resolve the challenge of anthropogenic CO2 and mitigate climate change. The process efficiently removes CO2 from the atmosphere as useful carbon nanotubes with superior strength, conductivity, flexibility and durability and high market value. Our goal is to transform CO2 from a pollutant to a resource. Our molten carbonate electrosynthesis is significantly less expensive than contemporary CVD methods to produce carbon nanotubes. CNTs has a demand as a preferred, lightweight, stronger replacements to metals and plastics, and battery, nano-electronics and catalysis applications providing a large market to mitigate anthropogenic CO2. In spring 2018 Professor Licht is giving invited lectures at the National Academy of Sciences, the prestigious CEC workshop in Texas and a keynote lecture at the ACS national meeting in New Orleans. 

Recent selected publications:

  • “Co-Production of Cement and Carbon Nanotubes with a Carbon Negative Footprint,” J. CO2 Utilization, 18, 378 (2017).
  • “Data on SEM, TEM and Raman Spectra of doped & wool carbon nanotubes made directly from CO2 by molten electrolysis,” Data in Brief, 14, 593 (2017).
  • “Transformation of the greenhouse gas CO2 by molten electrolysis into a wide controlled selection of carbon nanotubes ,” J. COUtilization, 18, 335 (2017).
  • “Carbon Nanotube Wools Made Directly from CO2 By Molten Electrolysis,” Materials Today Energy, 5, 230 (2017).


The Massiah Group

The Massiah Group continues to be populated with brave undergraduate students tackling challenging projects associated with human health. The research has long focused on the understanding the structure and function of the MID1 protein, which when mutated can cause cleft lip/palate and defects with the craniofacial and genitalia areas. Recent discoveries have led us in multiple directions: MID1’s role in hormone-inducible breast and ovarian cancer, Huntington’s Diseases (HD), and protein engineering to understand how proteins are targeted for recycling. To understand the role of MID1 in HD, we are now synthesizing short sequences of RNA fragments, which has been a novel and exciting direction in the lab. We show that MID1 can interact with proteins and RNA molecules but not DNA molecules. How RNA binding affects MID1’s role in regulating the recycling of key proteins in the cell is actively being investigated. We collaborated with folks in the Anthropology Department, providing insights into how the FoxP2 protein may be important for vocalization in orangutans. This work was published in Nature’s Scientific Reports.

In the fall semester, hard-working Katharine Wright completed her well-earned PhD and is now a post-doc in the Department of Biophysics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Angela Belic is now the fearless ringmaster of the lab, working on multiple projects and coordinating the mentoring of the undergraduates. In the past year, three undergraduate students presented their work at the GW and Georgetown Research Days.

Massiah Lab (L-R): Dr. Massiah, Deputy Chair and Associate Professor of Chemistry, Molly Little, Tabinda Kahn, Quene Mahlet, Angela Belic, Yiorgos Argyros, Anood (Addie) Abdel Jawad, Pravin Fonseka.

The Miller Research Group

Dr. Houston Miller, Professor of Chemistry

The Miller Research Group (aka the Laser Analytics Group) welcomed a new member, Monica Flores, this fall. Monica was raised and completed her undergraduate degree in Florida—so she is still getting used to our weather! At the other end of the conveyor belt, Michelle Bailey is writing her dissertation as well as several manuscripts that describe her sensor development work. This work was presented at the American Geophysical Union meeting in New Orleans and at the European Geoscience Union Meeting in Vienna, Austria. Also presenting conference papers in spring 2018 were Jennifer Giaccai describing her work on the analysis of East Asian soot-based ink sticks through Raman spectroscopy and Katie Hinnant on her work in the development of novel surfactant firefighting foams for the Navy Research Laboratory.

There are many other ongoing projects in the lab including the development and deployment of compact and inexpensive, carbon dioxide sensors; a project that includes contributions by Esraa Ahmad and Logan Malik. (Visit the new web page describing this project and hosting its data.) Shellie Jacobson has begun a new project in collaboration with the Vertes Group that entails thermophoretic sampling of carbonaceous nano particles from flames followed by laser-desorption/ionization from NAPA substrates. (Stay tuned for some exciting results over the next several months!) The group will also be deploying two new systems for atmospheric monitoring. First is a Campbell Scientific Weather Station that has been modified with one of our LuftSinn sensors. The second is a laser heterodyne radiometer system that will make simultaneous, atmospheric column measurements of methane, carbon dioxide, and oxygen. Both of these systems have planned installations on the roof of the Science and Engineering Hall and their data stream will be publically available on-line.

Finally, the group has a new website. Please check there to keep up with our updates.

The Rodriguez Group

Erik Rodriguez joined the faculty in August 2017 and John-Hanson Machado joined as the first graduate student. The lab is nearly ready for full research, thanks to the help of five undergraduates from the Departments of Chemistry and Biology: Rebecca Rhodes, Nadine Lo, Samuel Norris, Justin Hachey and Jack Conlon.

Erik has presented his research at the NIH Future Research Leaders Conference, Chemistry Retreat, Biomedical Engineering Day, and the George Washington University Nanofabrication & Imaging Center Lunch and Learn. Erik’s fluorescent protein and Nadine’s fluorescent dye artwork were both featured in Chemistry & Engineering News. Erik’s new graduate course, Biophysical Chemistry: Imaging methods with emphasis on chemical biology tools, is full with eight extra students sitting in on the course.

Two of Erik’s movies were selected as United States National Winners of the 2017 Wiki Science Competition and are competing in the International 2017 Wiki Science Competition. Erik’s review, “The Growing and Glowing Toolbox of Fluorescent and Photoactive Proteins,” was selected as the best review from Trends in Biochemical Sciences (Cell Press) in 2017. Erik was made a member of The George Washington University Cancer Center. Erik has been invited to present at Fluorescent Biomolecules and their Building Blocks (FB3) in Glasgow, U.K., and International Meeting on Optical Biosensors, Ghent, Belgium.

Erik and his lab were recently profiled in the CCAS Spotlight newsmagazine. More information and news can be found on Erik's website.

Dr. Rodriguez, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, and John-Hanson Machado

The Sadtchenko Group

Dr. Vladislav Sadtchenko, associate professor of chemistry

Dr. Vladislav Sadtchenko, Associate Professor of Chemistry
The Sadtchenko Group is proud to announce that Dr. Ulyana Sorokopoud Cubeta has graduated this spring with her PhD dissertation titled “Fast Scanning Calorimetry Studies of Molecular Dynamics in Crystals, Liquids, and Glasses.” The research was disseminated in the Journal of Chemical Physics with two recent publications: “Melting of superheated molecular crystals” (2017147 (1), 014505) and “Communication: Surface-facilitated softening of ordinary and vapor-deposited glasses” (2017, 147 (7), 071101). There are two manuscripts in review for publication this coming year. The group is also gratified by the publication of their experimental technique as “Chapter 11: Fast Scanning Calorimetry–Fast Thermal Desorption Technique: The Thin Wire Approach” in Schick and Mathot’s Fast Scanning Calorimetry (Springer 2016).


Vertes Research Group

This was a banner year for graduations. Sylwia Stopka, now a PhD, defended her dissertation in November 2017, and started working in the group as a postdoctoral scientist. Sylwia continues to work on new tools and methods for understanding biological nitrogen fixation. We work on this project in very strong collaboration with scientists from the University of Missouri and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

The final exam of Linwen Zhang, now Dr. Linwen Zhang, punctuated her crowning achievements in developing novel approaches in single cell metabolomics and peptidomics. Linwen’s minireview of the field has recently appeared in Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., and her work on combining single-cell mass spectrometry with fluorescence microscopy to study selected cellular subpopulations has been accepted for publication in Anal. Chem. She also continues as a postdoctoral scientist in the Vertes Group.

As graduate students finish and stay on as postdocs, the balance of seniority within the group is shifting. Currently, there are three undergraduates, two graduate students, four postdocs, a senior research associate, a research director and a sponsored projects administrator affiliated with the group. This presents new openings for graduate students, and even for another postdoc, to join us.

In addition to our funding from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and DARPA, we have just received word that the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity is going to support a new project we plan to undertake in collaboration with scientists at General Electric Global Research and the University of Akron. This collaboration aims to study genetically variable peptides for the identification of individuals from a few skin cells. We look forward to this exciting project with great anticipation.

The Vertes Lab (L-R back row): Ziad Sahab, Laith Samarah, Andrew Korte, Jacquelyn Dyer, Jarod Fincher, Tina Tran, Dr. Vertes, Professor of Chemistry; (L-R front row): Peter Avar, Rikkita Khattar, Nikkita Khattar, Lida Parvin, Sylwia Stopka, Linwen Zhang.

The Voutchkova Group

This year Dr. Nan An and Dr. Matt Finn graduated with their PhDs from our group. Diana Ainembabazi received the American Chemical Society Pharmaceutical Roundtable grant to present her work at the 22nd Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference in Portland, Oregon. Meanwhile, we continue our work on developing transfer hydrogenation reactions of CO2 with glycerol.

The Voutchkova Group (L-R): Helia Imany-Shakibai, Diana Ainembabazi, Jacob Heltzel, Matthew Finn, Evan Sandefur, Kai Wang, Sarah Chachula, Shane Pracar.

Dr. Martín Zysmilich

Dr. Martín Zysmilich, Associate Professor of Chemistry

Professor Zysmilich has been teaching the very popular Contemporary Science for Non-Science Majors courses (Chem1003 and Chem1004) for the past 18 years. Professor Zysmilich also teaches General Chemistry II (Chem1112) and Organic Chemistry I (Chem 2151).

In June 2017, Professor Zysmilich co-hosted a Diversity and Integration breakfast at the ACS Middle Atlantic Regional Meeting in Hershey, Penn.

In addition to advising undergraduate chemistry majors, Professor Zysmilich is the director of graduate studies for the Chemistry Department, duties of which include recruiting of new graduate students, keeping our research active graduate students on track and helping to define programs of studies. To further improve graduate student recruiting efforts, Professor Zysmilich participated in the Graduate School and Recruiting Fair at the 2017 Southeastern Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Professor Zysmilich is a member of the Columbian College Undergraduate Studies Committee. For the sixth year in a row, Professor Zysmilich has served as an expert judge in the countrywide National Science Teachers Association/Toshiba ExploraVision science competition.


Meet Our Incoming Chemistry PhD & MS Degree Students

Michael Womble joined the GW Chemistry Department. His current research interest is Lithium ion batteries. He grew up in Albuquerque, N.M. He attended the University of Tulsa where he graduated with his BS in chemistry in 2015. He then joined the materials science and engineering department at The University of Texas at Dallas, where he did his master’s thesis research on the dielectric properties of TiO2/Polypropylene nanocomposites and their potential use as waveguides for terahertz frequencies. He graduated in December 2017 with his MS in materials science.

Department Achievements

The department is intensely proud of all our student award winners:

ALPHA CHI SIGMA: Awarded to the graduating senior with the highest academic record in chemistry courses (with at least 16 hours at GW)


AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY: Awarded to a student completing his or her junior year and who has demonstrated excellence in Analytical Chemistry.


AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY: Division of Inorganic Chemistry Undergraduate Award: Awarded to a student who has demonstrated excellence in chemistry at the undergraduate level and whose future plans include a career in chemistry.


AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY:  Division of Organic Chemistry Undergraduate Award: Awarded to a student who has demonstrated excellence in organic chemistry at the undergraduate level and whose future plans include a career in chemistry.


AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF CHEMISTS: Awarded to a senior graduate student and graduating senior majoring in chemistry, who excel in scholarship, integrity and leadership.





A. D. BRITT MEMORIAL, MADELEINE REINES JACOBS, AND CHARLES AND ELMA NAESER FUND: Awarded to one or more outstanding junior or senior undergraduate majors to carry out research in the summer.







CHEMICAL SOCIETY OF WASHINGTON PRIZE: Awarded to the outstanding junior majoring in chemistry.


BYRNE THURTELL BURNS MEMORIAL PRIZE: Awarded to the graduating chemistry major who has shown the greatest proficiency in organic chemistry as demonstrated by a written examination.


WILLIAM E. FITCH PRIZE: Awarded to the graduating chemistry major with the best written comprehensive examination in chemistry.


CHEMICAL RUBBER COMPANY FRESHMAN CHEMISTRY ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Awarded to one or more freshmen who have achieved the highest records in their respective sections of Introductory Chemistry.


BENJAMIN D. VAN EVERA MEMORIAL PRIZE: Awarded to the most effective Graduate Teaching Assistants in Chemistry.


GW BAER AWARD for Individual Excellence







We're pleased to announce that Professor Stuart Licht and his research group are finalists in the prestigious Carbon XPRIZE competition. The goal is to turn CO2 emissions into a valuable product. Visit the NGA COSIA Carbon XPRIZE website to watch the official introduction to the finalists. For more information on the team and their C2CNT process, visit their team page. The Licht group’s achievement was also featured in GW Today.

Microscopic view of carbon nanotubes created from carbon dioxide using the C2CNT process.

Department Events

GW Research Days

Our chemistry students participated in GW Research Days and finished well. Below is a list of 2018 student poster winners.

In the Undergraduate Chemistry section:

  • 1stKara Zielinski (CCAS) “Amylin Aggregation Kinetic.”
  • 2ndNikkita Khattar (SEAS):  “Subcellular Analysis of Peptides in Single Identified Neurons by Mass Spectrometry.” Nikki is a biomedical engineering major in the Vertes lab.

In the Graduate Biology and Chemistry section:

  • 1stJennifer Giaccai (CCAS): “Examination of the Electronic Structure of Oxygen-Containing PAH Dimers and Trimers”

Jennifer Giaccai

Nikkita Khattar

Open House Poster Session

Current graduate students presented research posters at the annual open house for prospective graduate students.

(L-R) Diana Ainembabazi and Kai Wang

(L-R) Steve Wang, Chenyang Ma, Kevin McKenzie

(L-R) Kenneth Heidel, Hailey Butman, Maegan Dailey, August Ridenour
(L-R) Traci Clymer, Matthew Winfough

Undergraduate Research Poster Symposium

In May 2018, we held the 7th annual Chemistry Undergraduate Research Poster Symposium. Poster presenters included: Kusuma Devi Alaparthi, Yiorgos Argyros, Sarah Chachula, Jacqueline Dyer, Natalie Falco, Margaret Furey and Molly Little, Helia Imany-Shakibai, Addie (Anood) Abdel Jawad, Tabinda Khan, Yasemin Losee, Logan Malik, Hayley Meyers, Kavya Samudrala, Fahim Syed and Tina Tran.

These students have made significant contributions in a wide variety of fields under the direction of their faculty mentors, and many have won awards and fellowships to fund these projects.

2018 Undergraduate Research Poster Symposium

Alumni Happy Hour

We are excited to announce that we will be having an alumni and friends happy hour in conjunction with the August 2018 ACS Meeting in Boston. The location is still TBD, but it will be on Monday, August 20, from 5:30-7:00 p.m. Please mark your calendars and we’ll send more details when things are finalized. In the meantime, please save the date!

Back to top

Alumni Updates/Class Notes

Adebola Adeniyi, BS ’16, has recently finished a master’s and biology instructor lab position at Loyola University of Chicago (MAMS). Adebola also was a chemistry lab instructor for Loyola's nursing school and will be starting medical school in the fall.

Nan An, PhD ’17, is now working at the FDA Office of Cosmetics and Colors as a contractor.

Nathaniel “Nate” Bachtel, BS ’17, spent this year researching how HIV-1 proteins help to evade human immune responses during chronic infection. In the fall, he will be matriculating into Yale's Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP).

Randy Beatty, BS ’74, has just completed 44 years of working, the last 25 at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He went on after GW to get his PhD in chemical engineering and will retire in January 2019. Randy still remembers working at the Smithsonian on his senior project while at GW.

Mary (Tupling) Bergman, BS ’74, was a research associate at the U. of C Department of Immunology after graduation. Currently, after a career in alternative medicine, she is completing her Doctorate of Acupuncture/Oriental Medicine. Her capstone is based on Dendritic cells and herbal medicine.

Bhoomi Brahmbhatt, BS ’99, is a board certified ob/gyn who recently became trained in robotic surgery. She is also raising a 7- and 5-year-old with her husband in San Diego, Calif., and sharing her experiences on her baby bhoom blog.

Vanessa Cardona, BS ’17, was accepted into the forensic chemistry five-year program at GW, and she is getting ready to graduate with her Master of Forensic Science. She is looking forward to beginning her career in forensic science.

Daniel Cooksey, BS ’17, is currently living in Osnabrück, Germany, as a participant of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange fellowship. He is currently working at a local nonprofit designed to help refugees integrate into the community.

Kaitlin Cowles, BS ’17, is pursuing an MS in Education from the University of Pennsylvania GSE through the Boarding School Teaching Residency (BSTR). As a BSTR fellow, she works and lives at Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Conn., and is currently teaching mathematics.

Donald Danald, BS ’72, retired in 2002 from the pharmaceutical/medical device industry as VP of regulatory affairs. Previous positions in this professional line included laboratory director for several Pharma/MedDev companies leading up to this final assignment.

Larry Fertel, BS ’81, is research director at IsleChem LLC. Located in Western New York; they are a stone's throw from Niagara Falls. He focuses on process research and scale up of chemical processes in all areas of chemistry. He has fond memories of his time at GW.

Richard Fisher, BS ’16, has been working at the NIH since graduation and will be attending medical school in the fall.

Ryan T. Gualtier, BS ’07, is assistant professor in the Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative Care, and Pain Medicine at NYU Langone Health, and site director of Pain Medicine at NYU Langone-Brooklyn.

Emmeline Ha, BS ’14, graduated from medical school in May 2018. After eight years at GW, she will be moving to California to start her family medicine residency at Stanford University.

Atul Jani, BS ’82, is in private practice in general surgery in California since 1990. Atul is married and has two daughters in college.

Mona Khurana, BS ’94, is a team leader in the Division of Pediatric and Maternal Health at the FDA. She works collaboratively with pharmaceutical companies and FDA staff to promote pediatric drug development across 16 therapeutic areas.

George Latimer, BS ’55, continues to serve as the editor of Official Methods of Analysis (AOAC) and the U.S. representative of EPTIS.

Jennifer B. Lee, BS ’17, is currently an MHA student at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

John-Hanson Machado, BS ’16, makes life glow with Erik Rodriguez, PhD, at GW Chemistry. Together they study cancer chemistry and develop high content pharmaceutical drug screens using fluorescent technologies—crushing it, full time.

Maria Martins, BS ’84, is a practicing high risk obstetric physician in Central New Jersey. Thirty-four years after her graduation, her twin sons Ryan and Christopher will become the GW Class of 2018. “Congratulations!”

Michael Mavrofrides, BS ’96, skipped out on teaching high school mathematics in favor of globe trotting around the world running corporate trainings for everyone from business users to software developers, along the way giving home brewed beers to Sammy Hagar.

Larissa (Khalil) May, BS ’97, is now professor of emergency medicine at the University of California Davis, where she leads a patient safety program in antibiotic stewardship and conducts clinical research in antibiotic stewardship and infectious diseases diagnostics.

Jeff McPhee, BS ’04,  is currently working at Bristol Myers Squibb, as an "analytical product lead. Professor Houston Miller was his PChem teacher (thermodynamics), as well as his undergraduate research advisor during his senior year. (Best memory was the trip to NIST to get mass spec instrumentation.) Fast forward to now, he obtained his PhD in analytic chemistry in 2010 (worked in the industry for one year after undergrad and prior to grad school). He completed his PhD at Colorado State University. His dissertation involved steady state and time resolved spectroscopy (mainly fluorescence correlation spectroscopy).

Greg McWhir, BS ’10, recently graduated medical school and is currently an emergency medicine resident in New York City.

Eman Mirdamadi, BS ’16, is enrolled in Carnegie Mellon University for a MS in biomedical engineering with research (a two year program) starting this fall. Eman plans to apply to Carnegie Mellon's PhD Biomedical Engineering Program after his MS program.

Ramesh Nathan, BS ’96, completed his internal medicine residency and infectious diseases fellowship. Ramesh is now an infectious diseases physician and hospital epidemiologist where he sees patients and utilizes rapid diagnostic testing methods that are based on MALDI-TOF mass spec!

Katarzyna (Bagheri) Ostrzenska, BS ’91, completed her BS in chemistry 27 years ago. She has since completed medical school and returned to GW for her residency in Internal Medicine. She is currently working in a private practice in Florida.

Donald Reinhard, MS ’64, says: “My experience in the 60's under Dr. Wrenn provided me with a new level of confidence which was extremely useful at GE's Corporate Research Center.” Now Donald is a retired tennis player and gardener.

Nicholas “Nick” Ryan, BS ’16, is finishing up his post bac MS in anatomical and translational science. He is applying to medical schools in June and will be moving back to Massachusetts to continue working in a new clinical role.

Renée (Verdecchio) Smith, BS ’07, is living in New Jersey. She works as a relay test engineer at the local electric utility.

Mark Vogt, BS ’82, MD ’86, is currently chair of the department of anesthesia at Suburban Hospital, Johns Hopkins Medicine. Prior to that he was at medical school, for his MD at GW in 1986, surgery at WHC and anesthesia at USC. His time in chemistry was still the best.

Henry Weaver, BS ’50, received a PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Delaware in 1953. He taught at Goshen College and the University of California at Santa Barbara as well as in Peru and Nepal and retired as deputy director of the education abroad program of the University of California system.

Hanhui Xu, MS ’06, is currently working at Lonza, Inc. as a senior scientific specialist of special chemical ingredients. “Thanks for the study in GW.”

Yazeed Yabroudi, BS ’09, is superintendent of the raw materials laboratory at Emirates Global Aluminium working in both sites, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and responsible for identifying high purity raw materials for aluminum production and managing a team of 25 chemists and analysts.

Back to top

Donor Recognition


The Department of Chemistry would like to gratefully acknowledge the following generous donors who made a gift to the department from January 1, 2017 – December 31, 2017.

Schwab Charitable Fund

Brittany K. Bernstein, BS '18 

Robert J. Bowen, BA ’59, MS ’64

Shelesa A. Brew, BS ’69

Christopher F. Bryan, BS ’09

Wanda Lee Chang, BS ’71

Elizabeth B. Donaldson, AA ’59, BS ’61

Richard J. Evans, BS ’48

Nelson Lawrence Ferreira, MD, PhD ’82, MD ’88, RESD ’89

Lawrence B. Fertel, BS ’81

Dr. Carly S. Filgueira, BS ’03

Sebastian J. Filgueira, BA ’02, MA ’03

David Firestone, PhD, PhD ’69

Dwayne Gamble +

Dr. Susan D. Gillmor +

Dr. David E. Goldberg, AA ’52, BS ’64

Dr. James Goydos #

Thomas M. Hall, MD, RESD '79

Matthew S. Henderson, GMBA ’12

Madeleine S. Jacobs, BA ’68, Honorary Doctorate ’03

Karah E. Knope, PhD, MPhil ’08, PhD ’10

Dr. Stuart Kornfeld

John-Hanson Machado, BS ’16

Dr. Maria E. Martins, BS ’84 #

Le-Nhung McLeland, MS ’76

Dr. James H. O'Mara

Alan S. Nadel, BS '71, JD '76

Eugenia C. Perros *

Victoria G. Perros Levi *

Beatrice Elisabeth Poolt, BS ’84

Dr. Richard L. Reeves, AA ’48, BS ’50

Dr. Wilbert J. Robertson, AA ’49, BS ’50

Mitchell Neal Ross, MD, BS ’77

Dr. Clare E. Rowland, BS ’09

Dr. David A. Rowley +

Elaine H. Rowley *

Pamela L. Russ, MS ’74

Stanley Steven Seelig, FAIC, BS ’77

Ann Y. Shulman, BA ’66

Dr. Joel I. Shulman, BS ’65

Jennifer Leigh Skaggs, BA ’93, Med ’95

Reynolds Reed Skaggs, PhD, PhD ’98

Jere B. Stern, MD, AA ’52, BS ’54, MD ’58

Paul A. Thomas, MD, AA ’47, BS ’48, MD ’52

Michael K. Tobin ~

Raymond L. Van Hoven, PhD, BS ’83, MPhil ’87, PhD ’92

Susan B. Van Hoven, BA ’88

John F. Van Patten, USN (RET), AS ’81, BS ’85

Mark D. Vogt, MD, BS ’82, MD ’86

Charles P. Wales, AA ’48, BS ’49

Dr. Anthony Winston, AA ’48, BS ’50

Dushan Zdravkovich, Esq, LAW ’71

Vera Zdravkovich, PhD, MPhil ’70, PhD ’79


+ Faculty/Staff
# Parent
~ Student
* Friend

Back to top

Support the Department

Gifts to the Department of Chemistry allow us to provide support for faculty and student research and travel, graduate student fellowships, and academic enrichment activities including guest speakers, visiting faculty, and symposia. Each gift, no matter how large or small, makes a positive impact on our educational mission and furthers our standing as one of the nation's preeminent liberal arts colleges at one of the world's preeminent universities.

You can make your gift to the department in a number of ways:

  • Securely OnlineJust choose "other" under designation and type in the Chemistry Department E&R fund.
  • By mailing your check, made out to The George Washington University and with Chemistry Department E&R fund in the memo line, to:

The George Washington University

2033 K Street NW, Suite 300

Washington, DC 20052

  • By phone by calling the GW Annual Fund at 1-800-789-2611 and reference the Chemistry Department E&R fund.

Back to top

Stay Connected


A reunion celebration is only a success if your classmates come back to celebrate with you. Classes ending in "3s" and "8s" are celebrating reunions this year! We need a strong group of reunion ambassadors who are willing to help create a buzz leading up to Colonials Weekend. No matter the amount of time you are able to commit, we have an opportunity for you! Email [email protected] to learn more.

Volunteer with GW in 2018


There are several ways to be a GW volunteer, including representing the university in a region, mentoring current students, becoming a social media ambassador, taking on leadership roles within your school, and more. Learn more about these opportunities and grow your GW network today.

Join one or more of GW’s 8 industry networks in areas such as Healthcare, Technology, and more. Connect with fellow alumni professionals through both virtual and in-person networking programs. Join Now!