Four chemistry graduate scholars have been selected as the recipients of the 2023 William B. Dickinson Award.
Funded by a generous donation to the Laney a school that offers advanced degrees. Important! Some schoo... More, the Dickinson Award focuses on recognizing excellence among graduate scholars with a focus in organic chemistry, broadly defined.
Benjamin is a rising fifth year scholar in the group of Dr. Monika Raj. Benjamin has clearly placed himself as the absolute pioneering young graduate student in the area of developing chemical probes to study biological systems. He fluently speaks the languages of organic chemistry and peptide chemistry and hence is able to push the frontiers in developing new chemoselective, stereoselective organic reactions for the synthesis of chemical sensors to study the aberrant changes in protein modification.
Benjamin currently has three first author papers under review in high impact journals (Nature Communication, JACS and Angew Chem.). Benjamin’s research also served as a stepping stone for an NSF grant and an American Cancer grant funded last year. He was also instrumental in three patent applications filed last year based on reactions he developed and some industrial companies are interested in licensing these chemical probes. Benjamin has previously received a Quayle Excellence in Research Award and a travel award to attend the American Peptide Society (APS) conference. In his advisor’s words: “There is no doubt that Benjamin’s research impact and productivity will only continue to skyrocket in future years with access to outstanding facilities, and collaborators at Emory University.”
Patrick is a rising fifth year scholar in the Blakey Group. He joined Emory after distinguishing himself as the most accomplished student graduating in chemistry from the College of Charleston, where he earned the Outstanding Student Award, the ACS Outstanding Student in Organic Chemistry, and the Best Chemistry Undergraduate Poster Award. This trajectory has continued at Emory. In lab, Patrick has laid the foundation for three important first author papers, and is working closely with an undergraduate mentee on what will undoubtedly be a fourth. This is particularly remarkable considering Patrick is working on a highly technical and advanced project that was impacted heavily by pandemic-related closures.
Patrick is passionate about the science of drug development and understands the central role synthetic chemistry plays in this venture. He understands that the ability to design and synthesize increasingly more sophisticated drugs is predicated on the ability to synthesize complex structures, and that this requires fundamental advances in reaction invention and catalyst design. In his advisor’s words: “In summary, Patrick is amongst the best graduate students I have worked with in my 17 years as a faculty member. He has an exceptional track record of accomplishment, a demonstrated potential for creative scientific discovery and leadership, and will be a well deserved recipient of a Dickinson Award.”
Maizie Lee is a fifth year scholar in the Davies Group with plans to graduate in Summer 2023. Maizie has been highly productive time at Emory with five publications. She also completed a six month internship at Merck doing high throughput synthesis. Maizie’s research program is directed towards exploring the intermolecular reactions of diarylcarbenes. This is a new researfh direction for the Davies Group and the field – prior to her work, all of the enantioselective applications of diarylcarbenes were limited to intramolecular reactions. Maizie has blazed this trail with confidence, including managing collaborative effort with Shannon Stahl’s group at the University of Wisconsin. Maizie’s accomplishments to date have halso served as important background studies for a recently funded NIH grant.
Maizie has previously received a Quayle Excellence in Research Award at Emory. In her advisor’s words: “I am pleased with what Maizie has achieved with me. She is determined and works hard on her project. She knows what needs to be done and is steadily driving her projects forward. I have been impressed with the way she has matured as a researcher and also how she is exploring various career options and professional engagement, while maximizing her research accomplishments. The Merck internship has been a great career development opportunity for her and gaining the experience in high throughput synthesis gives her additional valuable skills. I am delighted to recommend here for the Dickinson Award.”
Chang is a rising fifth year scholar in the Dai Group. Chang has been focusing on the total synthesis of medicinally important natural products. His work on the total synthesis of peyssonnoside A, a complex and unique diterpene glucoside with a rare and highly congested pentasubstituted cyclopropane, was recently publsihed in JACS. Chang earned co-first authorship ion this paper and this work was praised highly by the JACS Editorin-Chief Professor Erick Carreira. It was also highlighted by Douglass Taber in “Organic Chemistry Highlights” and Professor Carreira in “Synfacts”. In addition, Chang was given the opportunity to present this work at one of the Catalysis Innovation Consortium meeting.
Chang has since made significant progress toward a total synthesis of phaeocaulisin A which has the potential for another high impact publication. This productivity and impact is all the more remarkable considering Chang whethered both pandemic-related closures and the transfer of the Dai Group from Purdue to Emory in 2022. In his advisor’s words: “Chang is among the best graduate students I have mentored and interacted with at Purdue University (2012-2022) and Emory University (since 2022). He is smart, creative, and knowledgeable. He also shows high level of perseverance and self-discipline. He is an outstanding and intelligent student.”