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Chemistry Student-Athletes

February 19, 2014

Chau Truong

SJSU chemistry majors often have passions beyond the laboratory. In the last year two of our students have made significant contributions in intercollegiate athletics. Wes Schweitzer, who is majoring in chemistry with a concentration in biochemistry, is also a starting offensive tackle for the San Jose State Spartans football team. In 2012, he was named the team’s Scholar-Athlete at the annual awards banquet. Wes’s chemistry interests have led him to engage in atmospheric chemistry research in the laboratory of Prof. Annalise Van Wyngarden. He is attempting to discover how chemical reactions that occur during cloud droplet formation affect climate change. Read more about Wes in the Washington Square magazine.

Chau Truong (pictured, photo by Thomas Sanders), who also is majoring in chemistry with a concentration in biochemistry, was a star on the San Jose Spartans tennis team. Chau set the SJSU record for most career wins with a combined total of 128 and lead the SJSU team to its first ever WAC Conference Championship in 2013. Read more about Chau in the Washington Square magazine.

Both Wes and Chau are interested in careers in science or medicine.

Muller Publishes 50th (and 51st and 52nd) Paper

February 14, 2014

Pesek research group

Chemistry Prof. and Department Chair Gilles Muller has reached the impressive milestone of 50 peer-reviewed articles published with the recent publication of a paper in the journal Chemical Science describing the preparation and chiroptical properties of a series of cycloplatinated helicenes. The published work was a collaboration between Prof. Muller's research group and scientists in France, Poland, England, and the Unites States. Muller’s achievement is all the more impressive because he is only in his tenth year on the faculty at SJSU! Muller credits the productivity of his research group to outstanding students, noting that many of his articles are based on the work of undergraduate students (36 undergraduate students as co-authors). Since this 50th publication was accepted in January, Prof. Muller’s group has already had two more papers accepted for publication, in Polyhedron and the Journal of the American Chemical Society.


Professor Pesek Awarded $250K by Keck Foundation to Develop Real World Laboratory Experiments

October 1, 2013

Pesek research group

The W. M. Keck Foundation made the award to a multidisciplinary team lead by Prof. Joseph Pesek that includes Prof. Claire Komives (Material and Chemical Engineering), Prof. Brandon White (Biological Sciences) and Prof. Steven Lee (Justice Studies) to develop new laboratory experiences for students that reflect the workplace environment and that expose students to cutting edge technology. Read more about the award on the SJSU Today page. Prof. Pesek has also been selected to give a keynote address at the 4th International Conference on Analytical and Bioanalytical Techniques. 

Efficient Light-Driven Enzyme Created

September 18, 2013

a light-activated P450

The Prof. Lionel Cheruzel research group has pioneered the use of light to drive the oxidation of fatty acids catalyzed by a modified cytochrome P450 enzyme (see news item Oct. 5, 2011, below).  In a striking advance, the Cheruzel group has engineered a more stable hybrid enzyme showing high photocatalytic activity unprecedented in the hybrid P450 field. Prof. Cheruzel and coworkers report their new finding in a just-published communication in Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Professor Lionel Cheruzel awarded the Herb Tabor Young Investigator Award

June 22, 2013

a light-activated P450Prof. Lionel Cheruzel was selected for the Herb Tabor Award by Editors at The Journal of Biological Chemistry from among presenters at conferences throughout the year for an outstanding oral or poster presentation. The award is meant to "recognize the innovators and achievers in new generations of researchers who exemplify [Herb Tabor's] values of creativity and scientific excellence." Prof. Cheruzel was cited for "his work on light-driven hybrid P450 BM3 biocatalysts." Read more about Cheruzel's award at the JBC/Tabor Award website.

Professor Bradley Stone Named one of the Top 20 Science & Technology Professors in California

May 14, 2013

CPL of actinide

Prof. Bradley Stone was cited by for "contributions beyond scholarship. As a radio station volunteer, he was honored as a 7-time National Programmer of the Year and with a Lifetime Achievement Award by JazzWeek Summit." This has been an extraordinary year of recognition for Prof. Stone, who also received the SJSU Distinguished Service Award in February 2013 (see below).

Chemistry Major Brian Castellano Awarded Gilliam Fellowship

March 19, 2013

Brian Castellano

Brian Castellano, an SJSU Chemistry major graduating in May 2013, has been awarded a prestigious Gilliam Fellowship for Advanced Study by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The fellowship provides $46,500 annually for four years to support Castellano's pursuit of a Ph.D. degree. He has been active in research while at SJSU, working with Prof. Daryl Eggers to try to understand the role of water thermodynamics on aqueous binding equilibria. Castellano is currently deciding between offers of admission from several prestigious Ph.D. programs for fall 2013. Read more about Castellano's award at SJSU Today. (Christina Olivas photo)

Professor Bradley Stone Receives 2012-13 Distinguished Service Award

February 27, 2013

CPL of actinide

SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi announced today that Chemistry Prof. Bradley Stone has been awarded the 2012-13 Distinguished Service Award at San Jose State University. Prof. Stone was cited for his broad service contributions across the University, including his leadership as chair of the Chemistry Department, chair of the University Council of Chairs and Directors, and co-director of the SJSU/NASA Faculty Fellows Program. He was also recognized for his years of service as faculty advisor, music director, and jazz radio programmer for KSJS, San Jose State University’s campus radio station.


Circularly Polarized Luminescence Spectrum Recorded for an Actinide

November 9, 2012

CPL of actinideFor the first time ever, a circularly polarized luminescence (CPL) spectrum has been recorded for an actinide complex. Prof. Gilles Muller and SJSU research student Vinh Luu, in collaboration with Prof. Kenneth Raymond and other scientists at UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab have reported the CPL spectrum of a chiral, radioactive curium (III) complex. The achievement is important because CPL is a powerful technique to probe electronic structure so the new work establishes a new way to study the nature of 5f orbital bonding in these chiral and difficult to study actinide complexes. The study was recently published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Cheruzel's Research Featured at SJSU Research Event

October 11, 2012

Cheruzel Research GroupOn Thursday October 18, President Mohammad Qayoumi co-hosted an event billed as “A Celebration of SJSU Sponsored Research”. One of two featured speakers was Prof. Lionel Cheruzel, who recently won the Early Career Investigator Award from the SJSU Research Foundation. Prof. Cheruzel spoke on the award winning research focused on making light-activated artificial enzymes with the potential to functionalize fatty acids. For more on the research, see the Oct. 5, 2011 new item.

Gilles Muller Becomes Chemistry Department Chairman

August 20, 2012

Profs. Pesek, Stone, and MullerOn Monday August 20, Prof. Gilles Muller took over as Chemistry Department Chairman from Prof. Bradley Stone. After nine years as Chairman, Prof. Stone is handing off his administrative duties and taking a well deserved sabbatical leave to focus on his research in microfluidics and nanoscience at the ETH Zurich. Prof. Stone ably led the department through many transitions and significantly strengthened the department even in the face of some challenging budgets. We are all grateful to Prof. Stone for his leadership and wish him a pleasant and productive sabbatical leave.

Prof. Muller, a native of France, earned his B.S. and M.S. at the University Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg, and his Ph.D. at University of Lausanne. After a Teaching Post-doctoral Scholar position at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, he joined the Chemistry Department at SJSU in 2004 as Assistant Professor. Rising quickly through the ranks, Prof. Muller now holds the position of Professor of Chemistry. He is a highly active researcher  and has been a pioneer of the use of circularly polarized luminescence spectroscopy.  He is also a beloved teacher and mentor in inorganic chemistry.

The photograph shows three generations of Chemistry Department leadership,  Prof. Joseph Pesek, Bradley Stone, and Gilles Muller (left to right).

What Makes Dormant Seeds Germinate After Wild Fires?

August 15, 2012

Daniel StrausSeeds from certain fire-adapted plants can lay dormant for years until an intense fire causes them to germinate. Prof. Daniel Straus and his students have been studying the chemical signals from the fire that induce germination in these plants. Karrikins, small butenolides produced in the smoke of burning cellulose from plant material, have been found to be potent stimulators of germination. However, their isolation is tedious. Prof. Straus and his research student Jia Lu, have been using synthetic methods to produce karrikin and then testing the compound in field studies. Straus and his team have observed growth enhancement by their synthetic karrikin in one species, Ithuriel's Spear, so far. The advantages of producing karrikins by laboratory synthesis include the possibility of producing larger amounts and the ability to modify the structure. Prof. Straus is interested in exploring whether the known karrikins or analogues might have value as a growth enhancing agent in other plants, including crops. To learn more, see the article about their work in SJSU Today.

Cheruzel Wins Early Career Investigator Award

May 21, 2012

Lionel CheruzelChemistry Prof. Lionel Cheruzel has been named one of two Early Career Investigator Award winners by the San Jose State University Research Foundation. This honor, awarded annually, recognizes excellence in the areas of research, scholarship, or creative activity "as evidenced by their success in securing funds for their research, publishing in peer-reviewed journals, and carrying out other scholarly and creative activities at an early or beginning point in their career at SJSU". Indeed Prof. Cheruzel, in his third year at SJSU, has already secured research grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Research Corporation, and CSUPERB, and has published his research group's results in several papers. For one example, see the article below. To read the award citation for Prof. Cheruzel, visit SJSU Today.

Professor Joseph Pesek Publishes 200th Paper

May 18, 2012
200 publications celebratory cakeOn Friday, May 18, the Department had a celebration to commemorate the 200th publication by Prof. Joseph Pesek. Prof. Pesek, along with his wife and research collaborator Dr. Maria Matyska-Pesek (Lecturer and Adjunct Professor in our Department), and his research students, have amassed this amazing publication record - an achievement that would even be significant at a Ph.D. granting institution. The Pesek research group is world renowned for their studies in the surface modification of capillaries for performing novel separation capabilities in chromatography. Our congratulations to Prof. Pesek and his research team - a remarkable accomplishment!


SJSU Chemistry Students Win Prestigious Awards

April 23, 2012
(left to right) SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi, Killol Acharya, Phillip Calabretta.For the second year in a row, a chemistry student has been named as Outstanding Graduating Senior at SJSU. Phillip Calabretta, pictured above on the right (photo by LiPo Ching, San Jose Mercury News Staff), is the recipient of the 2012 award and Andrew Ingram, now a doctoral student at Stanford University, received this honor in 2011. SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi (at left of photo) recognized Calabretta, along with mechanical engineering student Killol Acharya (center of photo), at the University Commencement ceremony on May 26 in Spartan Stadium. Calabretta, who graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry and who did research with both Prof. Daryl Eggers and Prof. Marc d’Alarcao, is being recognized for his scholarship and contributions to the community. He is planning to pursue a Ph.D. degree in Chemical Biology at the University of Wisconsin beginning in the fall. Read more about Calabretta’s achievements.

Five current and former students that have done research in the SJSU Chemistry Department are recipients of coveted NSF Graduate Research Fellowships. Jessica Killian (BS 2010) received the Fellowship in 2010 and is currently in a Physics graduate program at Cornell University. Killian did her undergraduate research with Prof. Bradley Stone. Both Victoria Chemistruck (BS 2010) and Cardius Richardson (BS 2010) were awarded the Fellowship in 2011. Chemistruck and Richardson, now in graduate school at the University of Minnesota and UC Santa Cruz, respectively, both did research with Prof. David Brook. Thao-Nhi (Lily) Le (BS 2010) and Andrew Ingram (BS 2011) are Fellowship recipients in 2012. Le, who did research with Prof. Elaine Collins, is now in graduate school at UC Santa Cruz, while Ingram is undertaking graduate study at Stanford after doing research with Prof. Gilles Muller. Each Fellowship awardee receives a $30,000 annual stipend plus a $12,000 cost of education allowance to their graduate institution for a total of three years.

Two SJSU chemistry students have been named as 2012 CSUPERB Presidents’ Commission Scholars.  Andy Dang, a third year student conducting research with Prof. Joseph Pesek and Jennifer Le, a second year student working with Prof. Eggers will each receive a $8,000 research scholarship. The Presidents’ Commission Scholarship program, in its inaugural year, is designed to support CSU students conducting biotechnology-related research in the summer.


Light-Powered Artificial Enzyme Prepared

October 5, 2011

Light-powered artificial enzyme preparedGlobal climate change and the current economic crisis have stimulated interest in developing technologies utilizing renewable energy, such as sunlight, to avoid the dependence on fossil fuels. In a striking development in this area, Prof. Lionel Cheruzel's research group has developed a semisynthetic light-powered redox enzyme. The first generation of these enzymes are hybrids containing a photosensitizer covalently attached to a cytochrome P450 BM3 heme domain enzyme. Upon light activation, these hybrid enzymes catalyze the selective hydroxylation of long chain fatty acids. A preliminary account of their achievement has been published recently in a paper in Chemical Communications. Cheruzel and his coworkers are now engaged in preparing the second generation of hybrid enzymes with improved catalytic activity and substrate recognition.

Metabolomics by Capillary Electrochromatography

May 23, 2011

Michael Nshanian

A new manuscript highlights how capillary electrochromatography can be used for the analysis of metabolites. Michael Nshanian, a graduate student in Prof. Joseph Pesek's research group, wrote the manuscript titled "Open tubular capillary electrochromatography of small polar molecules using etched, chemically modified capillaries" based on the results from his M.S. thesis. The methods reported have applications in biomarker discovery, in disease diagnosis, and for drug analysis. The paper, coauthored by Prof. Pesek and Dr. Maria T. Matyska, has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed international journal Electrophoresis.

SJSU Hosts ACS Northern California Undergraduate Research Symposium

May 20, 2011
Northern California Undergraduate Research SymposiumThe 23rd annual American Chemical Society Northern California Undergraduate Research Symposium was held on May 14, 2011 on the SJSU campus. Many thanks to the keynote speaker, Prof. Kenneth N. Raymond from the University of California at Berkeley and to all the volunteers from the SJSU SAACS Chemistry Club and the SJSU Chemistry Department for helping to make this a very successful event.

High School Researcher in Collins Lab Wins Science Fair Awards

April 1, 2011
Eesha Kare in front of her projectEesha Kare, a student at Lynbrook High School, won four awards at the 2011 Synopsys Silicon Valley Science & Technology Championship: 1st Award, Individual Project, Chemistry Category; 3rd Place Award, ACS Santa Clara Valley Local Section; Grand Prize Alternate - Physical Sciences - Trip to State Science Fair, Santa Clara Valley Science & Engineering Fair Assn - Board of Directors Awards - High School Finalist; The Synopsys Outreach Foundation n+1 Prize.  Her project “A Novel Method Using Chemically Engineered CYP101 Enzyme and Light to Hydroxylate Camphor” was initiated when Eesha was a 2010 summer intern in Prof. Collins’ lab at SJSU through the Johnson & Johnson Bridges to Employment (BTE) Silicon Valley program.  The project is in collaboration with Prof. Cheruzel at SJSU and teacher Amanda Alonzo at Lynbrook High.

Does Water Structure Matter?

February 1, 2011
Model of effects of secondary solutes on biological equilibria Yes! In a paper published in Biochemistry, Prof. Daryl Eggers describes a new phenomenological model for interpreting the effects of secondary solutes on biological equilibria, including protein folding. The model is based on the idea that changes in water structure, as induced by specific boundary conditions, are important because they reflect changes in the free energy of water. Co-existing subpopulations of water are related to a desolvation energy term that, in turn, may be used to explain the thermodynamic contribution of water to any aqueous reaction. Read Prof. Eggers' paper. An interview with Prof. Eggers, entitled “A New Perspective on Water,” was featured in the Winter 2009 issue of the alumni magazine, the SJSU Washington Square.


Magnetic Nanomaterials from Stable Free Radicals

August 10, 2010
Magnetic nanomaterials from stable free radicalsA verdazyl free radical is that most uncommon of species: a stable free radical. Now Prof. David Brook's laboratory, in collaboration with Prof. Gordon Yee's group at Virginia Tech, has used a novel dipyridyl verdazyl ligand to generate a nickel (II) complex. In a recent paper published in Chemical Communications, these researchers demonstrate strong ferromagnetic coupling between paramagnetic ligand and metal suggesting possible uses of such complexes as new magnetic nanostructures.

Collins Receives IBM Faculty Award

July 25, 2010
Elaine CollinsProf. Elaine Collins was named a recipient of the IBM Faculty Award. This is a worldwide competitive intended to "foster collaboration between researchers at leading universities worldwide and those in IBM research, development and service organizations; and promote courseware and curriculum innovation to stimulate growth in disciplines and geographies that are strategic to IBM". Read more at the IBM Awards page.

Silber Selected as ACS Fellow

July 23, 2010
Herbert SilberProf. of Chemistry and Interim Associate Dean Herbert Silber has been selected as a 2010 ACS Fellow. This new ACS program recognizes members for "outstanding achievements in and contributions to Science, the Profession, and the Society". In addition to his duties as faculty member and Interim Assoc. Dean, Silber has been highly active in supporting minority student access to careers in chemistry and is the Program Director for the MARC U-STAR program at SJSU supported by the National Institutes of Health. He is also the winner of the ACS Shirley B. Radding Award to "recognize demonstrated, dedicated, unselfish leadership, service and significant contributions, over a sustained period of time, to industrial or applied chemistry and to the American Chemical Society at local, regional and national levels."

Modifying Materials and Cells with Fluorine

June 22, 2010
coating cell surfaces with fluorinated carbohydrates leads to reduced cell adhesion.It is well known that coating surfaces with fluoralkyl groups makes them both hydrophobic and lipophobic. The most well known example of this is DuPont polymer Teflon that can be used to generate an array of non-stick products from frying pans to stadium roofs. Now two research groups at SJSU have discovered that fluoroalkyl coatings can be used to significantly modify the surface properties of cells and chromatography materials. Prof. Joseph Pesek's research group recently published in Separation Science the finding that their newly prepared silica hydride-based fluorinated stationary phases have very promising retention properties for small hydrophilic analytes in aqueous normal phase HPLC. In a recent paper in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, Prof. Marc d'Alarcao's research group, in collaboration with Prof. Krishna Kumar's research group at Tufts University, report the finding that coating cell surfaces with fluorinated carbohydrates leads to reduced cell adhesion. This result may be important in the development of antimetastasis agents and diagnostic methods for cancer.

Undergraduate Student Goes to Germany for Research

June 2, 2010

Josh Young at work Josh Young, an undergraduate chemistry major at San Jose State University, traveled to Germany recently to help analyze the properties of silica hydride by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Silica hydride, a unique material developed by the Pesek Research Group, has been shown to be more adaptable to the chromatographic analysis of samples ranging from simple organic compounds to large biological molecules than currently available commercial materials which are based on ordinary silica. Analysis of complex mixtures is essential for such fields as disease diagnosis, drug development, forensics, food safety and environmental monitoring. The new separation material, developed at San Jose State University, provides major benefits in all of these critical areas.  In Germany, Young studied the material by nuclear magnetic resonance in collaboration with Prof. Klaus Albert at the University of Tübingen. Practical applications of silica hydride are being developed by laboratories across the country and around the world.

Graduate Student Places in Statewide Competition

May 1, 2010
Graduate Student Meenakshi Goel (M.S. 2010) won 2nd place in the statewide Student Research Competition in which students from the 23 California Sate University campuses compete. Goel competed in the Physical and Mathematical Sciences division of the competition. Goel's research involves the synthesis of small carbohydrates with anticancer properties. Read her award-winning thesis.


Understanding Student Misconceptions

December 18, 2009
Symbolic drawing of chemical equationStudents studying general chemistry often develop misconceptions about the molecular details of the processes that they study. How can teachers prevent, or at least reduce these? In a recent paper published in the Journal of Chemical Education, Prof. Resa Kelly and her group begin to answer this question. In an NSF-funded study, Kelly's team examined student misconceptions about simple aqueous precipitation reactions by asking students to depict in drawings the molecular details of symbolic chemical equations. A careful analysis of the results reveals a range of misconceptions mainly dealing with misunderstanding the detailed meanings of the symbolic representations. These conclusions lead Kelly's group to make a series of recommendations for people teaching these principles.


Muller Wins Dreyfus Award

August 5, 2008
Gilles MullerProf. Gilles Muller has been awarded a prestigious Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award. The Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards Program recognizes young faculty that "have demonstrated leadership in original scholarly research of outstanding quality with undergraduates and excellence and dedication in undergraduate education."

Singmaster Named Professor of the Year

March 25, 2008
Karen SingmasterProf. Karen Singmaster was named San Jose State University Outstanding Professor. Upon announcing the award, SJSU President Don W. Kassing stated "Karen is a committed and passionate professor who gives her all to the advancement of education."