Department News

A view of the Chemistry Annex on a beautiful Fall day
A view of the Chemistry Annex on a beautiful Fall day








  • "Professor's Gift Establishes Experimental Thermodynamics Award" from College of Letters and Science News. A gift from Professor Alexandra Navrotsky has established the Navrotsky Award for Experimental Thermodynamics of Solids.
  • "Alumnus Richard Larock Supports Chemistry Undergraduate Education and Research" from College of Letters and Science News.
  • Congratulations to Associate Professor Justin Siegel on his promotion and tenure!
  • Professor Xi Chen’s research on the synthesis of human milk oligosaccharides is featured in the cover story of the July 2, 2018 issue of Chemical & Engineering News.
  • "College of Letters and Science Undergraduate Publishes Cutting-Edge Research" shines the spotlight on Alexandra Greb, a UC Davis senior in pharmaceutical chemistry conducting research under the direction of Professor David Olson.
  • "Spotlight on early-career researchers: an interview with Marie Heffern." Communications Biology does a Q&A session with Professor Marie Heffern.
  • "Psychedelic Drugs Change Structure of Neurons" from University News. Research from the Olson Lab is looking to "psychedelics as possible treatments for depression and PTSD."
  • Professor Valentin Taufour (Physics) has been elected to join our Chemistry Graduate Group.
  • Professor Emeritus Marilyn Olmstead gave the keynote address at the Women in Science Student Summit at Reed College, an event where students learned about the challenges and rewards of STEM careers.
  • Dr. Troy Stich, currently an associate research specialist in the Britt Lab, has signed on to a chemistry faculty position at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC.
  • The Global Tea Initiative (GTI) is exploring ways to start tea agriculture in California. The GTI symposium on Feb 22-23, 2018 featured presentations from Professor Jacquelyn Gervay-Hague and graduate student Crystal Ye, and included discussions on sustainable tea farming.
  • The Siegel Lab has started a research collaboration with TechAccel, a Kansas-based venture company, to investigate engineered wheat enzymes that can produce plants capable of thriving in warmer global temperatures.
  • Graduate student Crystal Ye (Gervay-Hague Lab) was one of the four student speakers selected to present at the 2018 Global Tea Initiative Symposium. The talk focused on how natural products chemistry can shed light on the study of tea in the 21st century.
  • "Blindness Didn't Stop Hoby Wedler From Being Successful." PhD graduate Hoby Wedler was a special guest at the Louisiana Association for the Blind's "Dining in the Dark", an immersive experience where those dining do so while blindfolded.
  • Valley Public Radio’s “Science Friday” is featuring a story about how members of the public can play a video game called FoldIt to fight against aflatoxin, a deadly carcinogen found in contaminated food. The story highlights Pharm Chem undergrad Patrick Camarador and the research of Professor Justin Siegel’s lab.
  • Graduate student Robert Van Ostrand (David Lab) has created a video that introduces Chemistry for Life Sciences, a new undergraduate course which emphasizes interactive learning.
  • Research conducted by Professor Cheuk-Yiu Ng's group on quantum-state-selected ion-molecule reactions has made the 21 November 2017 cover of Physical Chemistry of Chemical Physics.
  • Professor Justin Siegel has helped create a game called FoldIt in which gamers from around the world can help design an enzyme that can stop aflatoxin--a dangerous toxin in our food. Aflatoxin is known to cause liver cancer and has been linked to stunting. Four-and-a-half billion people are chronically exposed to it, particularly in the developing world. To learn more about this game and it's implications, check out this video.
  • In celebration of Marie Curie's 150th Birthday, the ACS has highlighted 66 female scientists and researchers who have published in The Journal of Physical Chemistry. Professor Gang-Yu Liu has been recognized in this highlight for her paper "New Insights for Self-Assembled Monolayers of Organothiols on Au(111) Revealed by Scanning Tunneling Microscopy," published in the J. Phys. Chem. B in 2003. 
  • "New X-ray Spectroscopy Explores Hydrogen-generating Catalyst" from Egghead research blog. Researchers from Japan, Germany and the U.S. have identified a key step in production of hydrogen gas by a bacterial enzyme.
  • Professor Lee-Ping Wang has recently been awarded three awards. As the main PI, he has been awarded the ACS-PRF grant from the ACS Petroleum Research Fund in the amount of $110,000 to evaluate the potential of deep eutectic solvents in natural gas sweetening, a process that helps separate hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide from natural gas streams. Additionally, Professor Wang recently received a grant from the Army Research Office in which he is the PI of a multi-campus agreement (PI of primary award at UC Merced is Andy LiWang) in the amount of $279,666 to create computational predictions aimed at discovering a class of metamorphic proteins (proteins that are able to switch between multiple three-dimensional folds). Additionally, Professor Wang and Professor Xi Chen with collaborator Professor Ajit Varki at UCSD have been awarded a NIH - R01 grant by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases/National Institutes of Health. Professor Chen is the contact PI while Professor Wang is a co-investigator. The proposed study will synthesize and characterize N-acetylated sialosides as stable mimics to naturally occurring O-acetylated sialosides, in order to use them to study their biological functions. The structural comparison of O-acetylated sialosides and their N-acetylated counterparts will be explored by computational methods. The project has been awarded $2,113,890, of which $185,023 has been awarded to Professor Wang.



  • Postdoc Daniel Suess (Britt Lab) has accepted an Assistant Professor position in the Department of Chemistry at MIT. His research group will study redox reactions that underpin global biogeochemical cycles, metabolism and energy conversion.
  • Graduate student Hoby Wedler (Tantillo Lab) was the keynote speaker at the 2016 Graduate Studies Commencement Ceremony: "The mentoring I've received here at UC Davis focused my curiosity and has been indispensable to my success." His address is available here.
  • Dr. Muhammad Hagras (Stuchebrukhov Lab) has recently launched the Electron Tunneling in Proteins (ETP) program that automates electron tunneling calculations and analyzes and visualizes the results. ETP different tunneling visualization outputs appeared on the cover images of the most recent issue of the Journal of Computational Chemistry.
  • "Showcasing natural products in the gardens they come from" from C&EN: Two exhibits in the UC Davis Arboretum educate visitors about chemicals found in plants.
  • Featured story: "Michele Martin Extends the Power of NMR Spectroscopy into the Tomato Paste Industry."
  • Faculty, staff and students on the Educational Outreach Committee and Chemistry Club performed four shows to "sold out" audiences in Rock Hall for Picnic Day. Under the leadership of Professor Kyle Crabtree, the EOC completely revamped the show this year to highlight how the chemistry demonstrations tied into the current research of faculty in our department.
  • Featured story: "A Theoretical Approach to Reducing the Impact of World-Wide Water Scarcity."
  • Graduate student Hoby Wedler (Tantillo Lab) was featured in a Nature story about early-career scientists who face physical challenges such as blindness, deafness or paralysis.
  • Featured story: "Nurturing the long-standing research ties between UC Davis and Chile."
  • UC Davis has been ranked as the #1 best value college for women in STEM by Forbes magazine, topping such heavyweights as Cornell and Johns Hopkins.
  • A retirement symposium and reception in honor of Professor Marilyn Olmstead's over 46 years of service to the University was held on Friday, March 18th. In lieu of a gift, please consider making a contribution to the newly established Marilyn M. Olmstead Student Excellence Award.
  • "...Jackson Named 'Distinguished Emeriti'" from UC Davis News and Information, recognizing Dr. Bill Jackson's "long history in fostering diversity in science" and "his continued commitment to the department and the university."
  • Kristie Koski will be joining our faculty as an Assistant Professor starting July 2016. Her expertise will bridge boundaries between chemistry, physics and engineering and promote research on a promising class of materials with applications in batteries and electronic devices.
  • Claire Filloux will be joining our faculty as a Lecturer with Potential for Security of Employment starting July 2016. She has designed and executed research projects using both organo- and transition metal catalysis. She also has strong proficiency in analytical methods such as GC, HPLC, mass spectrometry and NMR.
  • Alexander Dudnik will be joining our faculty as an Assistant Professor starting July 2016. His research at UC Davis will focus on the development of bimetallic polymerization catalysts, sustainable synthesis of conjugated polymers and of covalent organic framework materials.
  • Jesús Velázquez will be joining our faculty as an Assistant Professor starting July 2016. He comes to the Department with a strong record in the synthesis and characterization of nanomaterials for renewable energy applications.
  • Featured story: "Carving Snow and Molding Minds: Chemical Educators Use Evidence-Based Teaching to Further General Chemistry Understanding Among Undergrads."
  • "Explorit: Bloom or Bust? Two sides of algae" from The Davis Enterprise, which highlights the research of Professor Annaliese Franz and her collaborators.
  • Featured story: "Amplifying the Impact of Science: Recent UC Davis Chemistry Ph.D. Breaks into Policy-Making in the Capital."
  • Professors Julia Chamberlain and Ozcan Gulacar have been selected for the inaugural Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Community at UC Davis. This group is designed to support Lecturers with Potential Security of Employment, individuals hired because of their expertise in pedagogy and commitment to undergraduate education. Participants will be provided with a space to share ideas and discuss how to best develop and conduct research projects that investigate student learning.
  • Featured story: "Don't Flip Out: UC Davis and Vanderbilt researchers challenge what is known about DNA repair enzyme chemistry."
  • Graduate student Henry "Hoby" Wedler has been recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of their “30 under 30” in the area of Food and Drink for his activities as a wine educator, specifically leading blind wine tastings at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery.
  • "Turning up the tap on microbes leads to better protein patenting" from UC Davis News and Information, featuring the work of Professor Justin Siegel and his research team.
  • Henry "Hoby" Wedler, the Department's trailblazer for the visually impaired, has been featured as the November cover story for Diversity in Action magazine, which focuses on diversity in the STEM fields.
  • "Reefer Sanity" from Capitol Public Radio. Professor Don Land is a guest on Insight.
  • The Department celebrated National Chemistry Week at Sacramento's Discovery Museum. This year's theme was "Chemistry Colors Our World!" A group of our faculty, staff and students led exciting activities and demonstrations exploring florescence, chemical indicators and color-changing chemistry with area families. Professor Kyle Crabtree shared some of their demonstrations on Good Day Sacramento.
  • "UC Davis Chemistry Goes Green" from College of Letters and Science News and Research. The Department has pledged to train all chemistry majors in the 12 green principles, such as designing safer chemicals and reducing waste.
  • A group of faculty led by Professor Kirill Kovnir have successfully secured NSF MRI funding for a modern single crystal X-ray diffractometer. A joint effort of Professors Alan BalchLouise BerbenSusan KauzlarichMark Mascal, Marilyn Olmstead, Phil Power and staff crystallographer Jim Fettinger resulted in acquiring a new instrument superior to the currently available diffractometers in the departmental X-ray facility.
  • The Department welcomes five new faculty hires: Julia Chamberlain and Ozcan Gulacar (Education), Lee-Ping Wang and Davide Donadio (Theory), and David Olson (Chemical Biology).
  • Professor Annaliese Franz received a grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC) on "Improving microalgae feedstock for biofuel production using CO2 and waste nutrients from anaerobic digesters." This grant program funds projects that emphasize "transformative techology solutions to significant biofuels industry problems that increase yields, productivity or cost effectiveness of biofuel productions; and/or that target a specific unmet need in California's biofuels industry."
  • Professor Annaliese Franz was the featured attraction at "Science Night Live" in Lodi, discussing the question: Can sustainable fuels be created from algae? She was also a guest on Capital Public Radio's "Insight Program" discussing the same topic. Click here to listen to the interview.



  • "Buildings, bikes and even our purple gloves are green" from UC Davis News and Information. Lisa Anderson, a Ph.D. student in the Franz Lab, and Jillian Emerson, teaching lab specialist, are recognized for introducing a glove recycling program.
  • The W.M. Keck Foundation's Medical Research Program presented Professor Angelique Louie a grant for $1 million. This grant will help fund her project "In Vivo 3D Imaging Using Bioluminescent Gene Reporters and MRI," which she is undertaking in collaboration with Professors Yohei Yokobayashi and Jared Shaw.
  • "Sweet smell of sustainability: renewable sources for artificial scents" from UC Davis News and Information. Professor Shota Atsumi and his team are engineering bacteria to make esters.
  • "New technique makes 'biogasoline' from plant waste" from UC Davis News and Information, featuring the research of Professor Mark Mascal.
  • Safety officer Debbie Decker was quoted by C&EN: "Just wrapping people up in a lab coat and gloves doesn't automatically make them safe."
  • "ChemWiki takes on costly textbooks" from University News. Professor Delmar Larsen's ChemWiki project received a grant of $250,000 from the National Science Foundation.
  • Professors Mike ToneyShota Atsumi and Justin Siegel were awarded a DOE ARPA-E grant to convert ethylene to butanol. Currently, ethylene is readily available and used by the chemicals and plastics industries to produce a wide range of useful products, but it cannot be converted to fuels economically. If successful, the new biocatalyst would enable cost-effective conversion of ethylene into an existing infrastructure-compatible fuel.
  • Gabriela Borba Mondo was an undergraduate chemistry student visiting UC Davis as a part of "Science Without Borders" from the Federal University of Santa Catarina (Brazil). She spent her summer in the Kauzlarich Lab working with Alexandra Holmes on the synthesis of Germanium and silicon-germanium nanoparticles for energy conversation applications such as photovoltaics. Regarding her time at UC Davis, she says, "Being abroad is, by its own, an exciting experience. I am glad I came to UC Davis and was able to take classes and conduct research. The experience of working in a research is very rewarding. It is a moment where you can apply what you learned on classes in real science, and also to get a sense on how knowledge is constructed and how it is transmitted. To me, this experience was extremely enriching, both academically and personally."
  • Undergraduate student James Fulmer was named first author on two papers in JACS and Inorganic Chemistry. James has been working with Professor Kirill Kovnir and his research group for the past one-and-a-half years to earn this distinction.
  • TED Talk: "Science vs. God: Bryan Enderle at TEDxUCDavis."



  • Dr. Justin Siegel has accepted the offer to join UC Davis. His appointment will be in both the School of Medicine and Department of Chemistry. His labs will be located in the Genome center, which brings wonderful opportunities for the chemistry department to formally interact with the Genome Center in addition to the School of Medicine.
  • Professor Alex Navrotsky and her colleagues Peter C. Burns at University of Notre Dame and Rodney C. Ewing at University of Michigan published a review article in Science in which they discuss the “current understanding of nuclear fuel interactions with the environment, including studies over the relatively narrow range of geochemical, hydrological, and radiation environments relevant to geological repository performance, and discuss priorities for research needed to develop future predictive models.”