Feb 14, 2022
Dr. Marco Messina
Alumnus Marco Messina (PhD '19 Maynard/Spokoyny groups), now a postdoc at the University of California, Berkeley, is selected for the department's Norma Stoddart Prize for Exemplary Citizenship and Excellence in Graduate Research.
 
Dr. Marco Messina (pictured above) will give the Norma Stoddart Lecture at UCLA in the Spring of 2022 and will receive a $5,000 prize. Nobel Laureate and UCLA Emeritus Professor of Chemistry Sir Fraser Stoddart (pictured right) will present the award to Messina at the lecture. Stoddart was a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UCLA from 1997 to 2008 when he joined the faculty at Northwestern University as its Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry. He received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2016. Since 2012, he has returned to UCLA each year to present the Norma Stoddart Prize. 
 
The award honors Stoddart’s late wife Dr. Norma Agnes Stoddart (pictured left) and it is open to all current and recently graduated research students and fellows in the UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Selections are made by a committee of graduate students within the department. Recipients are chosen for  their outstanding science, service and humanity - the same qualities that Norma brought to UCLA.  
 
About Dr. Marco Messina
 
Dr. Marco Messina received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Texas A&M University Corpus Christi in 2014, where he worked with Professor Mark A. Olson. He then moved to UCLA where he completed his Ph.D. in 2019 under the supervision of Professors Heather Maynard and Alexander Spokoyny, where he worked on developing new polymerization and bioconjugation techniques using main-group and inorganic chemistry approaches. 
 
Throughout his graduate career at UCLA, Messina held officer positions in multiple cross-campus organizations with the goal of increasing diversity in science such as the Organization for Cultural Diversity in Science (OCDS) and the Scientific Excellence through Diversity Seminar (SEDS) series. In addition, he was heavily involved in the mentorship of undergraduate and graduate students in the laboratory, working closely with two to three students from diverse backgrounds at any given time during his Ph.D. studies.
 
Messina joined the group of Professor Christopher Chang at UC Berkeley in 2019 as a Chinook-Berkeley Postdoctoral Fellow. Over the next couple of years, he went on to earn the UC President’s Postdoctoral and NIH NIGMS MOSAIC K99/R00 fellowships. His current research is focused on developing new fluorescent probes for the activity-based sensing of reactive oxygen species and labile metal pools involved in biological signaling and oxidative stress.  He continues to be involved in outreach initiatives as a postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley, where he is part of the Científico Latino Graduate School Mentorship Initiative (CL-GSMI) which involves mentoring undergraduate students from underrepresented backgrounds through the graduate school and fellowship application process.
 
“UCLA provided an excellent environment for me to delve deeply into both research and outreach related activities,” Messina said. “Many of the lessons and experiences I have gained throughout the years will prove vital as I look to establish my own research program and to foster the personal and professional growth of students from diverse backgrounds and ensure that they leave my laboratory with the confidence and independence to succeed in their respective journeys.”
 
About the Norma Stoddart Prize
 
The Norma Stoddart Prize for Exemplary Citizenship and Excellence in Graduate Research was established in 2004 by Stoddart and his family to honor his late wife Dr. Norma Agnes StoddartNorma was a chemistry major at Edinburgh University where she subsequently obtained a Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry within the Medical School. She was an active participant in many activities of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department at UCLA from 1997 until the time of her passing in 2004. 
 
Norma and Fraser Stoddart with daughters Fiona and Allison. 
 
Norma was a caring and loving mother to Fiona McCubbin and Alison Stoddart-Ho, both chemistry majors at Imperial College London (ICL) and Cambridge University, respectively, who went on to obtain their Ph.D. degrees in Chemistry, Fiona at ICL and Alison at Durham University.  Read about Norma and Fraser Stoddart and the prize in this UCLA College News article. 
 
Previous Stoddart Prize recipients are Dr. Janice Lin, The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research (2019), Dr. Nako Nakatsuka, ETH Zürich (2018), Dr. Liana Hie, Yale, and Dr. Christian Beren, Colorado School of Mines (2017),  Dr. Steven Lopez, Harvard (2016), Dr. Alexander Patananan, Amgen and Prof. Jessica Wang, UC Merced (2015); Prof. Jessica R. Kramer, University of Utah (2014); Dr. Sarah M. Bronner, Maze Therapeutics (2013); Dr. Gregory B. Kuzmanich, Honeywell UOP (2012). (The prize was not awarded in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid 19 pandemic.)
 
Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.