Jun 10, 2021
2021 Graduate student commencement awards
Each year at commencement we recognize our graduate students for their accomplishments in academics and in research.
 
The 2021 Chemistry & Biochemistry Graduate Student Commencement Awards have been announced. Congratulations to this year's 43 recipients listed below! 
 
These awards are normally presented to our students at the department’s annual commencement ceremony, which has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, we will be honoring our students through a Virtual Graduation Celebration, which features 48 our graduating Ph.D. degree candidates and two master of science candidates, which can be viewed online starting at 12:00 p.m. (PST) on Saturday, June 12, 2021. Because the virtual celebration has been pre-recorded, it will be accessible at any time after that. The celebration will include a video of each student and remarks by each student’s research advisor (in lieu of a hooding ceremony).
 
We are incredibly grateful to our donors whose generous gifts make these awards possible!
 
Daniel E. Atkinson and Charles A. West Dissertation Award
This award honors Professors Daniel Atkinson and Charles West, the two UCLA chemistry faculty who were largely responsible for the development of biochemistry within the department. They were both exceptionally valued by their faculty colleagues, the students in their laboratories, by the national and international research communities, and by the multitude of undergraduates they taught. This award honors the significant contributions of both men to research, education, and the strength of the UCLA academic community.
 
Colleen Hui (Sabeeha Merchant group)
 
 
Donald J. Cram Dissertation Award

This award honors Professor Donald J. Cram (1919-2001), the Nobel Prize-winning chemist who taught and conducted research at UCLA for more than 50 years.  

    
Timothy Boit (Neil Garg group), Anna Kataki-Anastasakou (Ellen Sletten group), and Stanislav Popov (Hosea Nelson group).
 
 
Donna Speckman Inorganic Chemistry Dissertation Award
This award is made possible by a generous gift from UCLA alumna Dr. Donna Speckman (Ph.D. ’84, M. Frederick Hawthorne group), Senior Scientist, Energy Technology Department, The Aerospace Corporation.
 
Nicholas Bernier (Alexander Spokoyny group)
 
 
Dr. Myung Ki Hong Dissertation Award 
This award honors alumnus Dr. Myung Ki Hong (’59 Chemistry), Founder of Dura Coat Products, Inc., and recipient of the department’s 2015 UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry Alumni Award
 
   
            
(From top left, clockwise) Violet Yijang Chen (Ohyun Kwon group), Rachael Day (Ellen Sletten group), Mit Muni (Richard Kaner group), Lisa Pangilinan (Richard Kaner group), Fan (Frank) Song (Xiangfeng Duan group), Wang Xue (Yi Huang/Xiangfeng Duan groups), Guangyan Zhong (Yi Huang/Xiangfeng Duan groups).
 
 
Dr. Yuh Guo Pan Dissertation Award in Organic Chemistry
Eugenia Pan (BA Psychology '79) and her family endowed this award in 2020 to benefit organic chemistry graduate students in honor of her late husband, Dr. Yuh Guo Pan (MA Chem '77, Ph.D. Chem '80, Jung Group). Yuh Guo immigrated to the United States to pursue his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry under Professor Michael E. Jung at UCLA -he was one of Mike’s very first Ph.D. students. Yuh Guo had an unbridled enthusiasm and passion for chemistry. Throughout his life, Yuh Guo's research led him down a path of opportunity and intellectually stimulating work. Dr. Yuh Guo’s smile touched everyone around him and his kind, loving, and humble demeanor was the embodiment of UCLA’s True Bruin values. We are grateful to the Pan Family for giving our graduate students the opportunity to follow in Yuh Guo’s footsteps.
 
 
Selbi Nuryyeva (Ken Houk group) and Doug Rose (Heather Maynard group).
 
 
Herbert D. Kaesz Dissertation Award
This award honors Emeritus Professor Herbert David Kaesz (1933-2012), a remarkable and eminent organometallic and inorganic chemist. A UCLA faculty member for his entire career, Kaesz was a major force in the development of metal cluster and hydrido metal complexes, a class of organometallic compounds with metal-carbon bonds that bridge traditional inorganic and organic chemistry.
 
Ruxi Dai (Paula Diaconescu group)
 
 
Inorganic Chemistry Dissertation Award, Sponsored by the Charles J. Pederson/E.I. Dupont Graduate Fellowships and anonymous donors
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. 
 
    
Amy Lai (Paula Diaconescu group) and Fang-Chu Lin (Jeffrey Zink group)
 
 
Inorganic Chemistry Dissertation Award, Sponsored by the SG Fellowship in Chemistry and anonymous donors
The SG Fellowship in Chemistry fund was established in 1991 to support graduate students in the UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry.
 
 
Tian Deng (Jeffrey Zink group) and Roselyn Rodrigues (Chong Liu group)
 
 
Inorganic Faculty Dissertation Award, Sponsored by the SG Fellowship in Chemistry and anonymous donors
The SG Fellowship in Chemistry fund was established in 1991 to support graduate students in the UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry.
 
Dan Zhu (Xiangeng Duan group)
 
 
James D. McCullough Dissertation Award
The James D. McCullough Prize Fund was established from the estate of James D. McCullough in 1986. 
 
Dane Stanfield (Benjamin Schwartz group) 
 
 
John Alan Walker Dissertation 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.
 
Sophia King (Sarah Tolbert group)
 
 
M. Frederick Hawthorne Inorganic Chemistry Dissertation Award
This award is made possible by a generous gift from boron research pioneer UCLA Professor Emeritus M Frederick Hawthorne and his wife, Diana Hawthorne. 
 
   
Harrison Mills and Mary Grumbles Waddington (Alexander Spokoyny group)
 
 
Majeti-Alapati Dissertation Award
Dr. Satyan (Sat) Majeti (PhD ’69) and Dr. Vimala Majeti (Ph.D. ’71) were graduate students in the late Professor Christopher Foote’s group.  In 2001 they established the “Majeti-Alapati Endowed Graduate Fellowship” along with matching funds from Proctor & Gamble to support our graduate program, in particular by granting Fellowships to deserving graduate students. 
 
          
Daniel Estabrook (Ellen Sletten group), Marcus Jellen (Miguel Garcia-Garibay group), Ieva Liepuoniute (Ken Houk/Miquel Garcia-Garibay groups), Margeaux Miller (Ellen Sletten group), Melissa Ramirez (Ken Houk/Neil Garg groups).
 
 
Nano Research-UCLA Dissertation Award for Excellence in Inorganic Nanoscience
This award was made possible by a generous gift from Nano Research, a peer-reviewed, international and interdisciplinary research journal that focuses on all aspects of nanoscience and nanotechnology.
 
    
Xiaoyang Fu and Peiqi Wang (Xiangfeng Duan group)
 
 
Pfizer-UCLA Dissertation Award for Outstanding Contributions to Organic Synthesis
This award was made possible by a generous gift from Pfizer, Inc.
 
   
Sarah Anthony (Neil Garg) and Liubo Li (Patrick Harran)
 
 
Pythia Labs – UCLA Dissertation Award for Excellence in Molecular and Structural Biology
This award was made possible by a generous gift from Pythia Labs, which was founded by UCLA alum Dr. Joshua Laniado (PhD ’20 Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology, Yeates group). Pythia Labs develops artificial intelligence and machine learning methods to facilitate the discovery and design of biomolecular therapeutics.
 
David Boyer (David Eisenberg group)
 
 
Roberts A. Smith Dissertation Award
In 2009, the Roberts A. Smith Graduate Award for the Study of Biochemistry was established with a generous endowment from funds contributed by Atsuko Fujimoto (PhD ’63, MD ’69) and her husband, Akira Fujimoto, and by Emeritus Professor Smith. 
 
John Muroski (Joseph Loo group)
 
 
Saul and Sylvia Winstein Dissertation Award
This award honors Professor Saul Winstein (1912-1969), who was one of the leading physical organic chemists of the 1950s and ‘60s, employing the tools of physical chemistry to explore reactions in solution, and his wife,  Sylvia Winstein, also a UCLA alumna, was a long-time supporter of the department until she passed away in 2009.
 
     
Vincent Hipwell (Miguel Garcia-Garibay group), Cooper Jamieson (Ken Houk/Yi Tang groups), and Ga Young (Gina) Lee (Ellen Sletten/Ken Houk groups).
 
 
Theodore A. Geissman Dissertation 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.
 
   
Neil Forsythe (Heather Maynard group) and Joseph Jaye (Ellen Sletten group)
 
 
Thomas L. and Ruth F. Jacobs Dissertation 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.
 
Arundhati Deshmukh (Justin Caram group)
 
 
Turing Video-UCLA Dissertation Award for Excellence in Inorganic Chemistry
This award was made possible by a generous gift from UCLA alum Dr. Jerry Zhong (Ph.D. ’14, Chemistry, Duan group), President of Turing Video, which utilizes AI and robotics to bridge the space between security and technology to advance industries and human capabilities.
 
  
Bocheng Cao (Xiangfeng Duan group)
 
 
UCLA Chemists Association Dissertation Award
This award is given to worthy graduate students in chemistry and biochemistry. It was established by various donors in 1988.
 
Monica Pengshung (Ellen Sletten group)
 
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.