2023 Graduate Student Departmental Awards

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Thanks to our generous donors, 56 talented graduate students received departmental awards this year in recognition of their accomplishments in teaching, academics, research, and service.

The 2023 Chemistry & Biochemistry Graduate Student Departmental Awards were presented to our students at our annual departmental awards ceremony on May 31, 2023. Congratulations to all the recipients listed below!

Sammy T. Mensah Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award
The awards honor graduate student Samantha “Sammy” T. Mensah who passed away in March of this year.  Sammy did many remarkable things during her time at UCLA, including co-founding BlackInChem in 2020.  An in-depth article about the award and recipients will be posted soon.

Zerina Mehmedovic (Schwartz group), Hayden Montgomery (Maynard group), Arismel Tena-Meza (Garg group), AJ Addae (P. Weiss group), and Caitlyn Fick (Srivastava group).

Michael E. Jung Excellence in Teaching Awards
These awards are given to students who have excelled as teaching assistants (TAs), as reflected in undergraduate student evaluations and faculty nomination letters. The award honors Professor Michael Jung, who is one of our department’s greatest educators.

Richard Liu (Caram group), Emily Mobley (Sletten group), Eric Lee (Yeates group), Will Borrelli (Schwartz group), Winston Gee (Alexandrova & Doyle groups), Alek Lotuzas (Harran group), Jeremy Dworkin (Bunnell group), Jordan Gonzalez (Garg group), Sibo Wang (Duan group), Xinyu Liu (Rubin group), Yongjia He (Narang group), David DeLuca (Spokoyny group), Kara Lo (Schwartz group), Grace Kim (Tolbert group), Emma Greene (Harran group), Gabriella Cooper (Harran group), Georgia Scherer (Garg group), Katherine Snell (Maynard group), Holly Senebandith (Srivastava group), Prairie Hammer (Sletten group), Susan Ju (Tolbert group), and Helen Lin (Sletten group).

John Stauffer Excellence in Second Year Academics and Research Awards
This award was established by the John Stauffer Charitable Trust in 1997.

Sining (Cindy) Wang (C. Clarke group), Kaitlin Hartung (Sletten group), Dominick Witkowski (Garg group), Yessica Nelson (Spokoyny group), Kayla Rich (Torres group), Spencer Hamilton (Tolbert group), Eric Pang (S. Clarke group), Robert Lavroff (Alexandrova group), Barry Li (Caram group), Hootan Roshandel (Diaconescu group), Carolyn Wu (Quinlan group).

Ralph and Charlene Bauer Awards
These awards were made possible by a generous endowment established in 1988 by Dr. Ralph Bauer (B.S. ’52, Ph.D. ’58) and his wife Charlene Bauer (B.S. ’54).

Natalie Schibrowsky (Rodriguez group), Luca McDermott Catena (Garg group), Noelle Alexa Novales (C. Clarke group), Yuto Katsuyama (Kaner group), Austin Ready (Spokoyny group), Katie Spence (Garg group).

Charles J. Pedersen 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. 

Eric Lin (Sletten group)

Dafni Amirsakis Memorial Award
Established in 2016 to honor UCLA alumna and staff member Dr. Dafni Amirsakis.

Jingyu Wang (Liu group)

Dr. Yuh Guo Pan Excellence in Research Award
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).

Nikolas Burton (Backus group)

Evelyn Pan Excellence in Research Award
Established by Walter and Shirley Wang, this award honors Shirley’s mother, Evelyn Pan. 

Matthew McVeigh (Garg group)

George Gregory Excellence in Research Award
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.

Nadine Bradbury (Neuhauser group)

Jim and Barbara Tsay Excellence in Research Award
These awards were made possible by a generous endowment established in 2009 by Dr. Shyr-Jin “Jim” Tsay (Ph.D. ’77), recipient of our 2019 Alumni Legacy Award, and his wife Barbara. 

Claire Dickerson (Alexandrova group), Zisheng Zhang (Alexandrova group)

John M. Jordan Excellence in Research Award
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.

Tianyang Yan (Loo group) 

Roberts A. Smith Excellence in Research 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.

Benqian Wei (Loo group) 

Saul and Sylvia Winstein Excellence in Research 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.

Joseph (Billy) Treacy (Houk group) 

Theodore A. Geissman Excellence in Research Award
This award honors Professor Theodore (Ted) Geissman, an organic chemistry faculty member who passed away in 1978.

Ana Bulger (Garg group)

Thomas and Ruth 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.

Aamir Shah (Duan group)

The Department is extremely grateful to our generous donors and alumni whose support makes these many fellowship and award programs possible.

To learn how to contribute to our student departmental award funds or to establish a new named award or fellowship, please contact the Chair’s office, chair@chem.ucla.edu, (310) 825-3958. Your gift of any size will directly impact one of our world-class students and aspiring scientists!

Photo montages by Héctor Osorio.

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