2021 Excellence in Research Awards

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Excellence Research 2021 Logo

Eight talented chemistry & biochemistry graduate students have been awarded 2021 Excellence in Research awards.

Congratulations to Zach Hern (Diaconescu group), Evan Hurlow (Harran group), Yao Gong (P Weiss group), Sepand Nistanaki (Nelson group), Carter Lantz (Loo group), Katie Spence (Garg group), Benjamin Natinsky (Nelson group), and Bosi Peng (Duan group)!

The Excellence in Research Awards are given to students who have advanced to candidacy. These awards are based on research excellence and productivity. 

These awards are normally presented to our students at our annual departmental awards ceremony, which has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch for more graduate student award announcements coming soon! 

Dafni Amirsakis Memorial Award for Excellence in Research

Established in 2016 to honor UCLA alumna and staff member Dr. Dafni Amirsakis, this award is given to a graduate student who goes above and beyond all expectations in their research, teaching, and mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students, and who has many of the wonderful characteristics that Dafni had, including kindness, generosity, determination, joyfulness, sweetness, and good humor. Zach Hern

Zach Hern

(Paula Diaconescu group)
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Theodore A. Geissman Excellence in Research Award

This award honors Professor Theodore (Ted) Geissman, an organic chemistry faculty member who passed away in 1978. For thirty-five years Professor Geissman provided distinguished service to the University of California and UCLA. His teaching covered the span from elementary courses to the guidance of postdoctoral scholars, many from foreign lands. Evan Hurlow

Evan Hurlow

(Patrick Harran group)
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George Gregory Excellence in Research Award (Physical Chemistry)

This award was established in 1990 by Products Research Corporation (PRC) and a life-long friend of the department alumnus George Gregory (B.A. ’42), upon his retirement from PRC, to support outstanding physical chemistry graduate students in the department. Mr. Gregory passed away in March 2005 at the age of 87.   Yao Gong

Yao Gong

(Paul Weiss group)
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Thomas L. and Ruth F. Jacobs Excellence in Research Award

This award honors Professor Emeritus Thomas L. Jacobs, an organic faculty member who passed away in 1996.  Professor Jacobs was a true organic chemist, a genuine scholar, and a great University servant. 

Sepand Nistanaki

Sepand Nistanaki

(Hosea Nelson group)
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John M. Jordan Memorial Award for Excellence in Research

This award honors Professor John Jordan, a biochemistry faculty member from 1970 until his death in 1997. His widow, Dr. Ann Sodja, a professor of chemistry at Wayne State, was instrumental in establishing the John M. Jordan Award to memorialize his love of intellectual discourse, passion for his work and originality in research.   Carter Lantz

Carter Lantz

(Joseph Loo group)
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Charles J. Pedersen/E.I. Dupont Excellence in Research Award

This award was established in 1988 with a gift from the DuPont company. Dr. Charles Pedersen was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1987 jointly with Professor Donald J. Cram (UCLA) and Professor Jean-Marie Lehn (Universite Louis Pasteur), for their development and use of molecules with structure-specific interactions of high selectivity. He spent his entire 42-year career as a chemist for DuPont at DuPont Experimental Station. 

Katie Spence

Katie Spence

(Neil Garg group)
Yellow Molecules 0

John Stauffer Excellence in Research Award 

This award was established by the John Stauffer Charitable Trust in 1997 to be awarded annually to an outstanding graduate student in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry with the selection based on merit. The first Stauffer Fellowship was presented in 1998.

Benjamin Natinsky

Benjamin Natinsky

(Chong Liu group)
Yellow Molecules 0

John Alan Walker Excellence in Research Award

This award was established in 2006 by Evelyn Walker to honor her son Dr. John Alan Walker (Ph.D. chemistry ’83) who passed away in 2005.

Bosi Peng

Bosi Peng

(Xiangfeng Duan group)

Learn about this year’s other award recipients at the links below:

2021 Ralph & Charlene Bauer Graduate Student Awards

2021 Jim and Barbara Tsay Excellence in Second Year Research and Academics Graduate Student Awards

2021 Graduate Student Commencement Awards

2021 Graduate Student Teaching Awards will be announced the week of June 14, 2021.

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.