Symposium History

About Bryan Miller

R. Bryan MillerR. Bryan Miller (1940-1998) received his bachelor's degree in chemistry from Washington and Lee University in 1962 and his doctorate from Rice University in 1967.

Professor Miller joined the UC Davis faculty in 1968, establishing a research program focused on organic chemistry and natural product synthesis. Professor Miller rapidly established a reputation as an imaginative researcher, a sterling teacher, and an extraordinary mentor to students at both the undergraduate and graduate level. He rose through the ranks to full professor, and served as chair of the Chemistry Department from 1985 to 1990. In this capacity, he oversaw a period during which the Department grew dramatically in numbers, diversity, and stature. His guidance and wisdom enabled a remarkable group of young scientists to successfully embark upon their careers. These individuals now make up a core of outstanding faculty upon which the Department continues to build.

In 1990-91, Professor Miller took a position as a visiting scientist in the Chemistry Division of the National Science Foundation, and from 1992 to 1995 he served as an NSF program officer. In this setting as well, his experience and advice were of enormous value to young chemistry faculty nationwide who were applying for grants to get their own research careers underway.

Upon his return to full-time service at Davis, Professor Miller was appointed chair of the Davis Division of the Academic Senate in 1997, in which capacity he worked closely with faculty and campus administrators on such major policy issues as time-to-degree enrollment planning, improvement of the undergraduate curriculum and support of faculty research needs. Professor Miller made a lasting impact on the University in this role as a knowledgeable, dedicated, and hard-working public servant.

At the end of his career, Professor Miller, an expert in synthetic organic chemistry, was pursuing cutting-edge research in environmental chemistry and remediation processes, and the design and synthesis of compounds with enhanced anti-cancer properties. He was truly the forerunner of the current thriving research efforts in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Chemical Biology in the Department. It is in a spirit of recognition of his achievements in research and teaching, and gratitude for his selfless service to the University and to the larger Chemistry community that we dedicate this annual symposium to the memory of Professor R. Bryan Miller.

Plenary Speakers

Academic Speakers


  • Yael David (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center)
  • Florence Wagner (Broad Institute of MIT/Harvard)
  • David Baker (University of Washington)
  • Justin Siegel (UC Davis)
  • David Olson (UC Davis)


  • Kit Lam (UC Davis)
  • Steven Townsend (Vanderbilt)


  • Eric Anslyn (UT Austin)
  • Michelle Arkin  (UC San Francisco)
  • Peter Beal (UC Davis)
  • Cynthia Burrows (University of Utah)
  • David Olson (UC Davis)
  • Sarah Reisman (Caltech)


  • Hosea Nelson (UCLA)
  • Eranthie Weerapana (Boston College)


  • Helen Blackwell (University of Wisconsin)
  • Erin Carlson (University of Minnesota)
  • Carlito Lebrilla (UC Davis)


  • Clark Lagarias (UC Davis)
  • Shana Kelley (University of Toronto)


  • Chi-Huey Wong (Academia Sinica Taipei)
  • Kendall Houk (UCLA)
  • Jason Hein (UC Merced)
  • Sheila David (UC Davis)


  • Justin Siegel (UC Davis)
  • Michelle Chang (UC Berkeley)


  • Mark Kurth (UC Davis)
  • Bradley Moore (Scripps Oceanography)


  • David Goodin (UC Davis)
  • Richmond Sarpong (UC Berkeley)


  • Annaliese Franz (UC Davis)
  • Anna Mapp (Michigan)


  • Heike Wulff (UC Davis)
  • Brian Stoltz (CalTech)


  • Jared Shaw (UC Davis)
  • Jack Taunton (UCSF)


  • Marisa Kozlowski (University of Pennsylvania)
  • Eric Kool (Stanford University)


  • Xi Chen (UC Davis)
  • Keith Woerpel (UC Irvine)


  • Dean Tantillo (UC Davis)
  • Justin DuBois (Stanford University)

Industrial Speakers


  • Dafydd Owen (Pfizer, Senior Scientific Director)
  • Jay Bradner (Novartis, President of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research)


  • Richard Mackman (Keynote Speaker - Gilead,  VP of Medicinal Chemistry)
  • Melissa Moore (Keynote Speaker - Moderna, Chief Scientific Officer)
  • Darlene Solomon (Agilent, Senior VP & CTO)


  • Nicole Gaudelli (Beam Therapeutics, Head of DNA Editing Platform)
  • Mano Manoharan (Alnylam, Sr. VP of Drug Innovation Chemistry)
  • Daniel Sutherland (Genentech, VP of Chemistry)


  • Sundeep Dugar (Cardero Therapeutics)
  • Duncan Lascelles (Centrexion Therapeutics)
  • Ann Weber (Kallyope, Merck)


  • Iyassu Sebhat (Sr. Director of Chemistry, Kallyope)
  • Vanita Sood (Dr. Director, EMD Serono)


  • Sanjeev Redkar (President & CEO, CBT Pharmaceuticals)
  • James Callahan (Manager, Medicinal Chemistry Stress & Repair, GSK)
  • John Kulp (Founder & CEO, Coniferpoint)


  • Michael Bartberger (Principal Scientist, Amgen)
  • Jeff Zablocki (Gilead)
  • Daniel Poon (Senior Investigator, Novartis)


  • Andrew Stamford (Director, Merck)
  • Bradley Morgan (Vice President, Cytokinetics)
  • Makonen Belema (Principal Scientist, Bristol Myers Squibb)


  • Mark Anderson (CSO, NovaBay)
  • Sundeep Dugar (President & CEO, Sphaera Pharma)
  • Bryant Yang (Senior Scientist, Amgen)


  • Heinz Moser (Vice President of Chemistry, Achaogen)
  • Mark Rosen (Senior Scientist, Johnson & Johnson)
  • Jack Scott (Associate Principal Scientist, Merck)


  • Gregory Vite (Director, Oncology Chemistry, Bristol-Myers Squibb R&D)
  • Gary Flynn (Research Professor, Pharmacology & Toxicology, U. Arizona)
  • Bary Hart (Associate Director, Medicinal Chemistry, Medivation)


  • Frank Brown (Senior Vice President and CSO, Accelerys)
  • Hing Sham (Senior Vice President, Elan Pharmacuticals)
  • Wendy Young (Associate Director, Medicinal Chemistry, Genentech)


  • David Smith (Principal Research Scientist, Roche Palo Alto)
  • Neil Moss (Director, Medicinal Chemistry, Boehringer Ingleheim)
  • David Kimball (Senior Vice President, Chemistry & Preclinical Chemical Development, Pharmacopeia)


  • Cheryl Grice (Principal Scientist, Team Leader, Hit-to-Lead Chemistry, Drug Discovery, Johnson & Johnson)
  • Dinesh Patel (President & CEO, Arete Therapeutics)
  • David Floyd (Executive Vice President & CSO, Pharmacopeia)


  • John Piwinski (Vice President, Chemical Research, Schering-Plough)
  • Michael Morrissey (Executive Vice President of Discovery, Exelixis)
  • Joel Barrish (Vice President, Inflammation Chemistry, Bristol-Myers Squibb)

Alumni Speakers

  • 2021: Rena Mizrahi (GigaGen,  VP of Process Development; UC Davis Ph.D 2013)
  • 2020: Bob Scott  (Gilad VP of Chemical Dev. & Manufacturing; UC Davis  '92)
  • 2017: Babak Borhan (Michigan State University; UC Davis Ph.D. '95)
  • 2016: Makoto Masumo (Micromidas; UC Davis Ph.D. '06)
  • 2014: John MacMillan (UT Southwestern; UC Davis Ph.D. '04)
  • 2013: Michael Dappen (Elan; UC Davis postdoc)
  • 2012: Ravindra Pandey (Roswell Park Cancer Institute; UC Davis postdoc & visiting scientist)
  • 2011: John Conboy (University of Utah; UC Davis B.S. '91)
  • 2010: Steve Farmer (Sonoma State; UC Davis B.S. '94, Ph.D. '02, postdoc '03-05, lecturer '05-06)

Mini-Symposium Speakers

2019: Chemistry & Biology of Pain

  • Justin DuBois (keynote speaker, Stanford)
  • Jian Payandeh (Genentech)
  • Jon Sack (UC Davis)
  • Nurulain Zaveri (Astraea Therapeutics)

2018: Chemistry of the Microbiome

  • Jon Clardy (opening plenary speaker, Harvard Medical School)
  • Peter Dorrestein (UC San Diego)
  • Steven Frese (Evolve Biosystems)
  • Jessica Green (CTO of Phylagen, Inc.)
  • Susan Lynch (UC San Francisco)
  • Glenn Nedwin (keynote speaker, 2nd Genome)
  • Trent Northern (Berkeley Lab Biosciences)

2017: Chemistry & Biology of Aging

  • David Hughes (UC Davis)
  • Cynthia McMurray (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)
  • Steve Clarke (UCLA)
  • Bradford Gibson (Amgen)

2016: Computations in Chemical Biology & Pharmaceutical Chemistry

  • Eric Martin (Novartis)
  • Angelica Fierro Huerta (Pontificia Universidad Catolica, Santiago, Chlie)
  • Felice Lightstone (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)
  • James Fraser (UCSF)

2014: Genomics & Proteomics

  • Richard Michelmore (UC Davis)
  • Oliver Fiehn (UC Davis)
  • Ian Korf (UC Davis)

2013: Innovations in Drug Design & Development

  • Bruce Hammock (UC Davis, Entemology)
  • Fredric Gorin (UC Davis, Neurology)
  • Kit Lam (UC Davis, Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine)


  • Angelique Louie (UC Davis, Biomedical Engineering)

Student Award Winners

R. Bryan Miller Graduate Fellowship

  • 2022: Yuanyuan Bai (Chen) & Sarah Dishman (Shaw)
  • 2021: Jake Jagannathan (Franz) & Croix Laconsay (Tantillo)
  • 2020: RJ Tombari (Olson)
  • 2019: Wanqing Li (Chen)
  • 2018: Lee Dunlap (Olson) and Jackson Zhu (Kurth)
  • 2017: Stephanie Hare (Tantillo)
  • 2016: Nhu Nguyen (Tantillo)
  • 2015: Michael DiMaso (Shaw)
  • 2014: Hsiao-Wu Hsieh (Gervay-Hague)
  • 2013: Jared Moore (Shaw)
  • 2012: Gorkem Gunbas (Mascal) and Osvaldo Gutierrez (Tantillo)
  • 2011: Nadine Hanhan (Franz)
  • 2010: Nema Hafezi (Mascal)
  • 2009: Michael Lodewyk (Tantillo)
  • 2008: Richard Carpenter (Kurth)
  • 2007: Selina Wang (Tantillo)
  • 2006: Seth Dixon (Kurth), Patrick Berget (Schore), and Eric Du (Gervay-Hague)
  • 2005: Chris Dicus (Nantz) and Christopher Meadows (Gervay-Hague)
  • 2004: Laiqiang Ying (Gervay-Hague) and Mako Masuno (Molinski)
  • 2003: Sung Hee Hwang (Kurth)
  • 2002: John MacMillan (Molinski) and Mariuska Reynoso-Paz (Schore)
  • 2001: Patrick Kelly (Nantz) and Robert Sammelson (Kurth)
  • 2000: Karl Bailey (Molinski) and Michael Lizarzaburu (Nantz/Kurth)

R.B. Miller Graduate Research, Service and Mentoring Award

  • 2022: RJ Tombari (Olson) & Savannah Conlon (David)
  • 2021: Lindsay Cameron (Olson) & Elizabeth Lotsof (David)

Francesca Miller Undergraduate Award

  • 2022: Samuel Carter (Olson)
  • 2021: Elya Kandahari (Olson)
  • 2020: Noah Yardeny (Olson)
  • 2019: Madeline Bright (David)
  • 2018: Alexandra Greb (Olson) and Noreen Bar (Franz)
  • 2017: Alexandra Greb (Olson) 

R. Bryan Miller Undergraduate Award

  • 2015: Anisha Rajavel (David)
  • 2014: James Lucas (Siegel)
  • 2013: Molly Fensterwald (Shaw)
  • 2012: Amy Atherton (Shaw)
  • 2011: Liana Hie (Chen)
  • 2010: Henry Wedler (Tantillo)
  • 2009: Gregory Chin (Shaw)
  • 2008: Sidra Ayub (Nambiar) and Evan Horn (Gervay-Hague)

Best Poster Awards 

  • 2022: Trisha Nguyen (graduate, Britt), Erin Doherty (graduate, Beal), Wentao Guo (graduate, Tantillo), Elizabeth Lotsof (graduate, David)
  • 2021: Ben Bergstrom (graduate, Shaw), Peishan Huang (graduate, Siegel), Agya Karki (graduate, Beal), Jessica San Juan (graduate, Heffern)
  • 2020: Shannon Lu (undergraduate, Beal) and David Gutierrez (graduate, Shaw)
  • 2019: Alex Pell (undergraduate, Olson) and Kevin Pham (graduate, Beal)
  • 2018: Arya Azinfar (undergraduate, Olson), Shabnam Jafari (graduate, Lam), Chandrima Majumdar (graduate, David) and Christina McCulley (graduate, Tantillo)
  • 2017: Alexandra Greb (undergraduate, Olson) and Heesung Shim (graduate, Wulff)
  • 2016: Terry O'Brien (Tantillo) and Jackson Zhu (Kurth)
  • 2015: Stephanie Hare (Tantillo)
  • 2014: Nicolas Ball-Jones (Franz)
  • 2013: Kathryn Tucker (San Francisco State University)
  • 2012: Paige McKibbin (David)
  • 2011: Phil Painter (Tantillo) and Nohemy Sorto (Shaw)
  • 2010: Ashkaan Younai (Shaw)
  • 2009: Nadine Hanhan (Franz)

Best Undergraduate Poster Awards 

  • 2022: Albert Liu (undergraduate, Macalester College), Vivian Kellner (undergraduate, David), Natasha Deo (undergraduate, David), Olivia Matsumoto-Elliot (undergraduate, David) sponsored by AMPAC Fine Chemicals
  • 2021: Vivian Kellner (undergraduate, David) & Seona Patel (undergraduate, Olson) sponsored by ACS Sacramento section

Chemical Science Poster Book Award, Royal Society of Chemistry

  • 2021: Savannah Conlon (Graduate, David) & Madeline Bright (Undergraduate , David)
  • 2020: Lan Na (Chen), Yolanda Reyes (American River College/Mira Loma High School) and Gnaneswari Karayi (Sierra College)
  • 2019: Jayashiri Viswanathan (Olson)

Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry Poster Book Award, Royal Society of Chemistry

  • 2019: Lee Dunlap (Olson)

ACS Central Science Poster Award

  • 2022: Yuqi Huang (Liu)
  • 2020: Justin O'Sullivan (Heffern)

ACS Biochemistry Poster Award

  • 2022: Herra Grajo (Beal)
  • 2021: Herra Grajo (Beal)  & Angela Zhang (Atsumi)

Accounts of Chemical Research Poster Awards

  • 2022: Jose Ruiz (Shaw)
  • 2021: Erin Doherty (Beal) & Phillip Gingrich (Tantillo)