2023 Graduation

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Prof. Omar Farha

On June 17, the UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry hosted this year’s commencement ceremony to celebrate the graduating class of 2023.

The ceremony began with the welcome address by Department Chair, Professor Neil Garg.  Dean Miguel García-Garibay then presented the UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry 2023 Alumni Award to commencement speaker Dr. Omar K. Farha (B.S. ’02, Ph.D. ‘06), the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor in Chemistry at Northwestern University, an Executive Editor for ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, and President of NuMat Technologies.

The full video of the event, including the commencement address by Prof. Farha, can be viewed here.  Select photos from the event can be viewed below.

Dean of Physical Sciences Professor Miguel García-Garibay (left) and Department Chair Professor Neil Garg (right) presented the 2023 Alumni Award to Professor Omar Farha.

At the ceremony, 34 doctoral graduates received Ph.D.’s and 3 departmental scholars received Master of Science degrees. In addition, 287 undergraduates received 2023 bachelor’s degrees.

During the ceremony, we also commemorated graduate student Samantha “Sammy” T. Mensah, who sadly passed away earlier in the year. Her posthumumous Ph.D. degree was presented to her brother, sister and nephew.  In addition, Prof. Garg announced that the department has established the Samantha T. Mensah Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Awards for graduate students in her honor.

(Left) Prof. Neil Garg announced the establishment of a DEI award in Samantha “Sammy” T. Mensah’s honor. (Right) Sammy’s family with her diploma and her thesis advisors Profs. Paul Weiss and Anne Andrews.
(Left) Dolores Cannon Southam award recipients with Robin Genchel, a cousin of the late alumna Dolores Cannon Southam. (Right) Prof. Farha with Prof. Richard Kaner and Prof. Alex Spokoyny, who will be the next Department Chair starting July 1, 2023.
(Left) Ph.D. recipient Shreya Patel hugs advisor Prof. Sarah Tolbert after being hooded. (Right) Undergraduate students excitedly wait for their names to be called.
Commencement award recipients pose for a photo before the ceremony begins.
Undergraduates receive their certificates from (left) Dr. Anne Hong-Hermesdorf and (right) Prof. Hung V. Pham.
(Left) The Court of Sciences patio was filled with graduates and their friends and families. (Right) Faculty wait for the ceremony to begin.
(Left) Prof. Justin Caram hoods Ph.D. recipient Austin Bailey. (Center) Prof. Chong Liu hoods Ph.D. recipient Yi Shen and (right) Prof. Keriann Backus hoods Ph.D recipient Sunny Yan.
(Left) Prof. William Gelbart (center) with Ph.D. recipient Gelbart group member Zach Gvildys, his family, and alumnus Dr. Jesus Alberto Iniguez (Ph.D. ‘22). (Right) After the ceremony graduates proudly posed for photos with faculty, family and friends.

The following graduate and undergraduate award recipients were also recognized for their achievements at the ceremony.  We are very grateful to our generous donors who made these awards possible!  In-depth articles about the graduate and undergraduate student commencement awards, with photos of the recipients, will be posted soon.  Congratulations to all the recipients!

Graduate Student Commencement Awards

Chemists Association Dissertation Award
Ailun (Helen) Huang
(Kaner group), Angel Mendoza (Harran group), Yi Shen (Diaconescu group), Anthony Spearman (Sletten group), Stephanie Tenney (Caram group)

Daniel E. Atkinson and Charles A. West Dissertation Award
Jiahui Lu
(Eisenberg group)

Donald J. Cram Dissertation Award
Andrew Kelleghan
(Garg group)

Dr. Yuh Guo Pan Organic Dissertation Award
Cesar Garcia
(Sletten group)

ElectraTect Dissertation Prize
Katie Spence (Garg group),Danlei Xiang (Liu group)

Evelyn Pan Dissertation Award
Shijie Deng
(Diaconescu group), Zach Hern (Diaconescu group)

George Gregory Dissertation Award
Natalie Kashanchi
(Tolbert group), Sanghyun Park (Schwartz group)

James D. McCullough Dissertation Award
Austin Bailey
(Caram group), Xueying Chang (Kaner group), Shreya Patel (Tolbert group)

Majeti-Alapati Dissertation Award
Morris Dweck (Harran group), Milauni Mehta (Garg group)

Trueblood Dissertation Award
Patricia Poths
(Alexandrova group), Daniel Robertson (Tolbert group), Ashley Shin (Caram group)

Upjohn Graduate Dissertation Award
Charlene Salamat
(Tolbert group), Tianyang Yan (Backus group)

Undergraduate Commencement Awards

ACS Award for Outstanding Senior in Inorganic Chemistry
Zhaozong Wang
(Duan group)

ACS Award for Outstanding Senior in Organic Chemistry
Elaine Chao
(Maynard group)

ACS Award for Outstanding Senior in Physical Chemistry
Abigail Chapman
(Gelbart group)

Daniel E. Atkinson and Charles A. West Commencement Prize in Metabolic Biochemistry
Alexia Andrikopoulos
(Schmitt group), Cameron Flowers (S. Clarke group), Ashley Holtz (S. Clarke group), Anna Tran (S. Clarke group), Darren Wijaya (Yang group), Nicole Zagon (Koehler group).

Dr. Ravi and Aparna Bikkina Family Commencement Award
Palak Jariwala
(Garcia-Garibay group)

Ramsey Commencement Award for Excellence in Academics
Yang (Miranda) Li

Ramsey Commencement Award for Excellence in Research
Varit Chantranuwathana
(Diaconescu group), Mason Cooper (Diaconescu group)

Ramsey Commencement Award for Excellence in Research & Academics
Hafez Etemad
(Diaconescu group), Catherine Li (C. Clarke group), Samantha Vi-Tang (Kaner group)

Susan Elizabeth Baumgarten Award for Excellence in Science Education
Susy Moon

The American Institute of Chemists Student Award
Gray Carson
(Kaner group)

The Dolores Cannon Southam Commencement Award
Ryan Lamkin
(Tolbert group), Eric Lin (Kwongroup), Magdalena Polite, Ethan Shi (Kaner group), Laurie Tan (Caram group), Jason Zhu (Kaner group).

The Maria Rebecca and Maureen Bellettini Award
Riley Danna
(Kaner group), Tracie Luu (Gelbart group), Victoria (Haiying) Zheng (C. Clarke group)

Raymond and Dorothy Wilson Commencement Award for Excellence in Academics
Riley Danna
(Kaner group), Alejandro Hernandez, Palak Jariwala, Tracie Luu (Gelbart group),
Rachel Ma, Jacob Newman, Jasmine Tzeng.

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