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Joey Tuccinardi Awarded Competitive Summer Research Fellowship

Congratulations to chemistry major and undergraduate research student Joey Tuccinardi, who was awarded the ACS Division of Organic Chemistry Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship!  Joey will be working for Dr. Don Warner during summer 2019.  As part of his fellowship, Joey will present a research poster and attend an award dinner at the Merck Research Labs on August 29, 2019.

Graduate Students Recognized at Graduate Student Showcase

Maranda Cantrell & Ashley Poppe

Maranda Cantrell (left) & Ashley Poppe (right)

Maranda Cantrell and Ashley Poppe were winners at the 2018 Boise State Graduate Student Showcase. Maranda, a student in the Boise State Biomolecular Sciences Ph.D. Program, received the College of Arts and Sciences Award for her poster titled “Organosulfide Components of Onions”. Ashley, a student in the Boise State M.S. Chemistry Program, received the Division of Research and Economic Development Scholar Award for her poster titled “Investigation of Acyl-Carrier Protein Specificity in Pseudomonas aeruginosa Quorum Sensing Signal Synthase”. Read more about the Graduate Student Showcase winners at the following link:

Congratulations to our 2017-2018 Student Academic Award Winners!

Freshman Chemistry Achievement Award: Fernando Aguilar, Dalton Miller
Award for Excellence in Organic Chemistry: Colvin Greenberg
Award for Excellence in Biochemistry: Daniel Greiner
Award for Excellence in Physical Chemistry: Kim Farrar
Award for Excellence in Inorganic Chemistry: Chris Bonner
Undergraduate Award in Analytical Chemistry: Alexandria Balzen
Boise State Analyst Certification: Alexandria Balzen
Boise State Department of Chemistry Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship: Zoe Anderson, Alexandria Balzen, Joey Tuccinardi
Boise State Department of Chemistry Graduate Summer Research Fellowship: Patrick Schwartz
Departmental Scholarship Recipients for the 2018-2019 Academic Year: Fernando Aguilar, Alexandria Balzen, Kim Farrar, Fabio Halla, Max Hillman, Crystal Lundgren, Maddi Nilson, Kolby Olney, Ryan Rau, Eric Read, Rebekah Rozowski, Jared Seale, Joy Sigurdson, Makenna Szolomayer, Rebecca Torres, Andrew Vizina, Jo Williams
Boise State Department of Chemistry Graduating Seniors: Kynna Bertagnoli, Heather Black, Chris Bonner, Micah Buckmiller, Kim Campbell, Vannessa Campfield Areli Castro, Hannah Davis, Creed Feigt, Christopher Gale, Ibrahem Hassan, Matt Lawson, Christina Lee, Wyatt Meyers, Tristan Olsen, Jordian Orien, Jason Rosecast, Alex Sessa
Outgoing Chemistry Club Officers: Wyatt Meyers (President), Makenna Szolomayer (Vice President), Nick Lopez (Secretary), Madilyn Paul (Treasurer), Kynna Bertagnolli (Representative)
Incoming Chemistry Club Officers: Makenna Szolomayer (President), Nick Lopez (Vice President), Rebecca Torres (Secretary/Treasurer), Elena Paz Munoz (Representative)
Boise State Department of Chemistry Outstanding Graduating Senior: Micah Buckmiller

Recipients Honored at the Boise State University 2018 Campus Awards Ceremony

Campus Awards Ceremony Group PhotoThe Boise State 2018 Campus Award recipients were honored at a ceremony hosted by the Boise State Student Involvement and Leadership Center on April 19.

Dr. Henry Charlier (pictured far right) received the David S. Taylor Service to Students Award. This award recognizes an outstanding faculty or staff member who is committed to impacting the lives of students; extends student learning beyond the classroom; inspires students to see possibilities; and seeks innovative ways to serve students in the 21st century.

Chemistry major Micah Buckmiller (pictured second from the right) received the Spirit of Boise State Award. This award recognizes students who work hard and seek to learn; do their own research; generate new knowledge; and touch lives by serving the community, all of which exemplify the true spirit and values of Boise State University.

Read more about the Boise State 2018 Campus Award Winners here.

Micah Buckmiller Named 2018 Top Ten Scholar

Micah Buckmiller

Micah Buckmiller

Micah Buckmiller, a chemistry major with an emphasis in biochemistry, has been selected as a 2018 Top Ten Scholar! This recognition is given by the Boise State Alumni Association to students who achieve exceptional academic success. To qualify for the Top Ten, a student must have a 3.8+ GPA and are reviewed based on coursework, research, creative works and publications, presentations at professional meetings or conferences, and extracurricular community and campus service. Read more about Micah and the Top Ten Scholars at the following link:

Maranda Cantrell and Dr. Owen McDougal Helping Idaho Potato Processors Stay Globally Competitive

Maranda Cantrell

Maranda Cantrell

Boise State Biomolecular Sciences Ph.D. student Maranda Cantrell is teaming up with Dr. Owen McDougal to help Idaho potato processors stay globally competitive. Cantrell and McDougal are studying acrylamide, a chemical compound that can form in some foods during high-temperature cooking processes such as in the potato industry. Recent research has suggested a correlation between acrylamide and cancer risk, so Cantrell is working to discover the level at which this chemical compound is a problem. She will be devising a method to evaluate acrylamide in various potato products that can be implemented by potato processors. This will help them ensure acrylamide levels are minimal and demonstrate that their products are safe for public consumption.

Read more about Maranda Cantrell and Dr. McDougal’s research here.

ACS Chemistry Club Attends 255th ACS National Meeting (2018)

Chem Club at ACS Conference March 2018

Jo Williams, Chris Bonner, Kynna Bertagnolli, Wyatt Meyers, Madilyn Paul

The Boise State ACS Chemistry Club attended the 255th ACS National Meeting (2018) in New Orleans. These undergraduates had the opportunity to present their research, examine the research of others, and attend talks, workshops, and career fair events while proudly representing the Boise State Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry.


Thaaer Muhammed Successfully Defends Thesis

Thaaer Muhammed

Thaaer Muhammed

Congratulations to Thaaer Muhammed of the M.S. Chemistry Program for successfully defending his thesis titled “Total Synthesis of 6,7-Dimethyl-N-Methyl Aziridinomitosene”.




Omid Mohammad Mousa Recognized at PNW LSAMP/SHPE Conference 2018

Omid Mohammad Mousa

Omid Mohammad Mousa

Congratulations to Omid Mohammad Mousa for winning best poster of his session at the 2018 Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP)/Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) undergraduate research conference.

His poster was titled “Enzymatic synthesis of S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM) using archaeon Methanococcus jannaschii S-Adenosylmethionine synthase (MJ-MAT)”.

Fall 2017 Graduating Class

Congratulations to our Fall 2017 graduating class! Pictured left to right: Andy Hansen, Catie Hunt, Steve Nick, Allal Laaraj, Tudor Firica, and Sadigha Heydari.

Fall 2017 Graduating Class

Jerrett Holdaway Successfully Defends Thesis

Jerrett Holdaway

Jerrett Holdaway

Congratulations to Jerrett Holdaway of the M.S. Chemistry Program for successfully defending his thesis titled “Potent and Potentially Non-Cardiotoxic Anthracyclines; Their Synthesis, Biological Evaluation, and Comparison of Hydrozone-Mediated Reductions”.

Daniel Shin Successfully Defends Thesis

Congratulations to Daniel Shin of the M.S. Chemistry Program for successfully defending his thesis titled “AHL based Modulators for RhII, a Quorum Sensing Signal Synthase in P. aeruginosa”. Daniel is pictured with his advisor, Dr. Rajesh Nagarajan, and his thesis committee members, Dr. Michael Callahan and Dr. Henry Charlier.

Daniel Shin

Mike Callahan, Henry Charlier, Daniel Shin, Rajesh Nagarajan

Mila Lam Successfully Defends Thesis

Mila Lam

Owen McDougal, Mila Lam, Rajesh Nagarajan, Eric Brown

Congratulations to Mila Lam of the M.S. Chemistry Program for successfully defending her thesis titled “Investigation of Catalytic Activity of Stable β-Ketoacyl-ACP Substrate Analogs in Quorum Sensing Signal Synthesis”. Mila is pictured with her advisor, Dr. Rajesh Nagarajan, and her thesis committee members, Dr. Owen McDougal and Dr. Eric Brown.

Spring 2017 Graduating Class

chemistry seniors class of 2017

Congratulations to our Fall 2016 graduating class! Pictured left to right, top to bottom: Dalton Compton, Patrick Schwartz, Neil Rexrode, Seth Rourk, Samantha Walker, Brandon Stevenson, Thomas Garrett, Dannie Makar, Romaric Mukuna, Jesus Gonzalez, Kevin Shumard, Jenny Fothergill, Melissa Roberts, Christel Starry, and Ally Isnor.

Samantha Walker Recognized at the 2017 ACS National Conference

Sammy Walker

Sammy Walker

Undergraduate Samantha (Sammy) Walker attended the Spring 2017 ACS National Meeting in San Francisco where she was recognized for an excellent undergraduate poster presentation titled “α-Conotoxin Peptide Mutants as Parkinson’s Therapeutics: A Molecular Dynamics Study”. Sammy landed among the top five in her subdivision.

Fall 2016 Graduating Classfall-2016-graduates

Congratulations to our Fall 2016 graduating class! We wish each of these “alchemical wizards” all the best in their future endeavors. Pictured left to right: Jesse McDonald, Alison Good, Riley Olsen, Meagan Vanberkum Rossi, and Andrew Tripp.

Romaric Mukuna Wins at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students


Romaric Mukuna

On November 9-12, 2016, Boise State Chemistry student and Gates Millennium Scholar Romaric Mukuna attended the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) held in Tampa, FL. ABRCMS is the largest professional conference for underrepresented minority students in science, technology, and engineering. His trip was sponsored by the Student Research Program (SRP), Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) and the OHSU Center for Diversity and Inclusion. Romaric presented a talk based on work he performed while he was a 2016 summer research fellow at Oregon Health & Sciences University (OHSU).  For his talk “Synthesis and Testing of ELQ 300 Prodrugs as Novel Single Dose Cures for Malaria”, Romaric received an ABRCMS outstanding oral presentation achievement award, and a $250 cash prize. Update:

Meet Our Newest Graduate Students

Savannah Irving

Savannah Irving, Chemistry Senior, studio portrait

Homestate:  California

Educational Background: Boise State University, B.S. in Chemistry

Area(s) of specialization: Synthetic Organic Chemistry (undergrad), Physical Chemistry (grad)

Research Focus: Fullerenes and colloidal C60 nanoparticles

Q & A with Savannah:
1. What first got you interested in chemistry?
When I was taking organic chemistry as a Health Science major, my interest in chemistry really took off. Dr. Warner had done a presentation in organic and said he needed students to work in his research lab. So, I contacted him to try and become a member of his lab. About 6 months into researching with him and his group, I decided a degree in chemistry is what I wanted to pursue in order to continue research and learn about the subject in its entirety. That interest in chemistry never stopped and here I am pursing my Master’s degree in chemistry.

2. What attracted you to Boise/Boise State and our M.S. program?
Well, having graduated from Boise State, I had the pleasure of getting to know several faculty members during my undergraduate years. The faculty and staff here in the Chemistry Department truly want to see you succeed, they care about each student, and go above and beyond to help their students. All the while they are deeply immersed in their own research projects that have large impacts. Overall, I chose this program because of the support from the faculty, as well as the actual research they are pursuing.

3. What is your ultimate career goal? 
My ultimate goal is to go to medical school after completing my Master’s degree.

4. What do you most look forward to as a graduate student?
Publishing papers! I have several goals for myself as a graduate student, and publishing papers and getting a lot accomplished in lab is at the very top of my list. I also look forward to hopefully using my background in synthetic organic chemistry to bring new ideas or methods to my new research project, as well as learning as much as I can about my new area of research—physical chemistry.

5. What fun fact do most people not know about you?
I earned my black belt in Tae Kwon Do when I was 13 years old. I also only have one kidney; I had to have it removed when I was 5 years old.

6. What is your favorite book, song, or movie, or quote, and why?
“Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory” –George S. Patton
As a chemistry major, we accept that there are going to be long nights and days filled with new information that we are trying to understand. We accept those challenges because we are passionate about chemistry and want to know as much information as we possibly can. But we also accept that challenge for that feeling we get when we put on our wizard hats before graduation. That feeling of accomplishment and victory lights the fire underneath you to keep going and know that you can truly reach your goals if you try hard enough.

Ashley Poppe

HomestateAshley Poppe, Chemistry Graduate Student, Studio Portrait, Priscilla Grover Photo:  South Dakota

Educational Background: BYU-Idaho, B.S. in Biochemistry

Area(s) of specialization: Biochemistry/Organic Chemistry

Research Focus: Inhibition of metabolic pathways by creating various analogs and/or isoforms

Q & A with Ashley:
1. What first got you interested in chemistry?
I had an amazing chemistry professor in high school who sparked my interest. Plus, chemistry is the one of the sciences where blowing things up and catching stuff on fire is appreciated.

2. What attracted you to Boise/Boise State and our M.S. program?
Dr. Cornell came to our school for a seminar and introduced the program. I looked into it and decided a chemistry M.S. program was a good fit.

3. What is your ultimate career goal? 
I would like to continue doing research, earn my Ph.D., and eventually teach at a university.

4. What do you most look forward to as a graduate student?
I look forward to being in the lab as much as possible.

5. What are some of your hobbies/interests?
I love to run, hike, and practice photography.

6. What fun fact do most people not know about you?
I can recreate the Napoleon Dynamite dance from the movie “Napoleon Dynamite”.

7. What is your favorite book, song, or movie, or quote, and why?
My all-time favorite movie is “The Goonies”. I grew up watching that movie all the time. Not only is it a treasure hunt, it’s hilarious, and I have memories of watching it with my family.

8. Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?
My favorite holiday is Halloween.

Jonathan Prince

Jonathan Prince, Chemistry Graduate Student, studio portrait, Priscilla Grover photo

Homestate: New Jersey

Educational Background: Western State Colorado University, B.A.

Area(s) of specialization: Electronic structure theory, spectroscopy and bonding

Research Focus: Undecided

Q & A with Jonathan:
1. What first got you interested in chemistry?
I first became interested in chemistry during an environmental science class where I was introduced to the photosynthesis reaction. I loved being able to see how the molecules interacted with each other.

2. What attracted you to Boise/Boise State and our M.S. program?
I was attracted to Boise because of the relatively small size of the city, as well as the proximity to the Rocky Mountains.

3. What is your ultimate career goal?
I plan on entering a Ph.D. program in Physical Chemistry upon earning my degree at BSU. My ultimate goal is to become a university teacher who is able to continue conducting research.

4. What do you most look forward to as a graduate student?
I like the thrill of discovery, so discovering new things is probably what I look forward to the most.

5. What are some of your hobbies/interests?
I like anything that has to do with the outdoors: fishing, skiing, mountain biking, hiking and backpacking.

6. What is your favorite book, song, or movie, or quote, and why?
My favorite book is “The Nature of the Chemical Bond” by Linus Pauling. Linus Pauling has been an inspiration for me from about my sophomore year as an undergraduate.

Kelsey Skluzacek

Kelsey Skluzacek, Chemistry Graduate Student, studio portrait, Priscilla Grover photo

Homestate:  Minnesota

Educational Background: St. Norbert College, B.S. in Chemistry (Biochemistry)

Area(s) of specialization: Organic Synthesis

Research Focus: Undecided

Q & A with Kelsey:
1. What attracted you to Boise/Boise State and our M.S. program?

I’m excited to explore the area and to (hopefully) learn how to ski.

2. What is your ultimate career goal? 
My goal is to pursue a career in pharmaceutical research.

3. What do you most look forward to as a graduate student?
I’m looking forward to conducting research.

4. What are some of your hobbies/interests?
I enjoy playing volleyball and reading.

Phillip Hammer Conducts Research in Japan

GraduatePhillip with ELSI chemist_Edited student Phillip Hammer recently returned from a three-week research trip to Tokyo, Japan. While in Japan, Phillip investigated the survivability of nitrogen heterocycles when exposed to gamma radiation, which simulate conditions in extraterrestrial environments. His research, Phillip with samples (2)_Editedwhich is part of an international scientific collaboration with the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, is funded through an EON Seed Grant with Professor Mike Callahan as the Principal Investigator. Phillip also attended a workshop on the history and philosophy of origins of life research while in Japan.

Paul Phillips Earns M.S. in Chemistry

Paul Phillips, Chemistry, studio portrait

After two years of hard work and long hours in the lab, Paul Phillips has passed both his oral and written thesis defense!

Paul joined the Boise State M.S. program in Chemistry and Biochemistry in 2014 from Northern Arizona University where he was an undergraduate. The research of Professor Owen McDougal on conotoxins originally interested Paul in Boise State. Paul’s research focused on using specialized computer modeling methods on conotoxins, a type of venom found in Cone snail darter venom, which show promise for binding and inhibiting nerve receptors that contribute to Parkinson’s disease and act as non-narcotic analgesics for chronic pain relief.

When asked about what he enjoyed most about living in Boise, the outdoor terrain, the mountains, and the nearby river access behind campus were high on Paul’s list! A bit of advice Paul has for future M.S. Chemistry students is to get in contact with the professor they desire working with, start reading literature on their area of research, and get started on their thesis right away!

Now that he has completed his M.S. degree, Paul plans on pursuing jobs at national labs to gain industry experience, specifically in pharmaceutical drug discovery, before pursing his Ph.D. The Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry congratulates Paul on graduating and wishes him success in the future!

Paul Phillips Receives Honorable Mention

ChemistPaul Phillips, Chemistry, studio portraitry graduate student Paul Phillips recently attended the 97th annual American Association for the Advancement of Science, Pacific Division meeting on the University of San Diego campus. Paul was one of 12 students from undergraduate to Ph.D. candidate that competed for top honors. Paul presented his work titled, “Binding Affinity Optimization of α-Conotoxin MII Analogs to Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors” and received an honorable mention for the quality of his presentation.

New Publication Out For Matthew TurnerMatt Turner, Chemistry, studio portrait

Biomolecular Sciences Ph.D. student Matthew Turner has been published in the Journal of Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry for his work in Dr. Owen McDougal’s chemistry research lab. His manuscript, “Cyclopamine Bioactivity by Extraction Method from Veratrum californicum“,  appears in the June 14, 2016 edition. The research explores extraction methods and biological activity for a chemical substance called cyclopamine, found in corn lily (Veratrum californicum). Cyclopamines are thought to be cancer causing agents during fetal development. To read the full article, click on the following link:

Phillip Hammer Receives Prestigious NASA Fellowship

Phillip Hammer, Chemistry, studio portraitGraduate student Phillip Hammer has been awarded the prestigious NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF). The NESSF is a nationally competitive fellowship in which selection is based upon scientific merit, relevance of proposed research, and academic excellence. NASA received 767 applications among four research divisions including Planetary Science, the division for which Hammer applied. Only 28 out of 180 applicants were selected for the Planetary Science division! Hammer’s research proposal, “Some Like It Hot: A Study of Thermally Altered Meteorites and Laboratory Analogs”, deals with understanding the formation and evolution of organic compounds in meteorite parent bodies. Hammer will carry out this research in the laboratory of his advisor, Prof. Michael Callahan, in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. The one-year fellowship, which includes a $30,000 annual stipend, is renewable for up to two years. For more details on the NESSF, please click the following link:

New Publication Our For Paul PhillipsPaul Phillips, Chemistry, studio portrait

Paul Phillips, a graduate student in Dr. Owen McDougal’s research group in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Boise State University, recently published his work “Assessing the utility and limitations of high throughput virtual screening” in AIMS Molecular Science. The study focused on using specialized computer modeling methods on conotoxins, a type of venom found in the snails of genus Conus. The compounds found in Conus snail darter venom show promise for binding and inhibiting nerve receptors that contribute to Parkinson’s disease and as non-narcotic analgesics for chronic pain relief. The full article can be viewed here:

New Publication Out For John French

UndeBiology group photo, for Kristen Fil, Photo by Allison Coronargraduate chemistry student John French (pictured on the right), under the mentorship of Dr. Owen McDougal and Dr. Matt King, investigated the Quantitative Determination of Vinpocetine in Dietary Supplements. French’s study focused on HPLC-UV measurement techniques for determining concentrations of vinpocetine in neutraceuticals. Vinpocetine is currently unregulated by the FDA or any other federal agency. During the course of this study, French perfected extraction methods for this controversial additive. His manuscript was recently published in Natural Product Communications 11 (5) 2016!

Kiyo Fujimoto Receives Prestigious DOE FellowshipKiyo Fujimoto , Chemistry Senior, studio portrait

Kiyo Fujimoto, part of our Chemistry Graduating Class of 2016, has been offered a prestigious three-year graduate fellowship from the Department of Energy! Only 32 students were selected nationwide for this competitive fellowship which is administered on behalf of the Integrated University Program (IUP). The fellowship will help pay for her graduate studies and the research she will be conducting in Boise State’s Materials Science Ph.D. Program! For more details, click on the following link:

Chemistry Graduating Class of Spring 2016


2015-2016 Student Achievement Awards

Freshman Chemistry Achievement Award: Kenneth Coward, Austin Mello, Justin Nelson, Sadie Ranck, Laura Van Duker
Award for Excellence in Organic Chemistry: Austin Snyder
Award for Excellence in Biochemistry: Jessica Roberts
Award for Excellence in Physical Chemistry: Jenny Fothergill
Undergraduate Award in Analytical Chemistry: Joshua Pridey
BSU Analyst Certification: Joshua Pridey, Veronica Wiseman, Christina Lee
BSU Dept. of Chemistry Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowships: Kynna Bertagnolli and Brandon Stevenson
BSU Dept. of Chemistry Graduate Summer Research Fellowships: Thaaer Muhammed and Hanna Meinikheim
Graduating Seniors: Keanan Cassidy, Sarah Rehn, Roberto Cruz Romero, Jacob Smith, Kiyo Fujimoto, Billal Sultani, Savannah Irving, Lillian Volz, Chris Radford, Levi Mitchell
Outstanding Graduating Senior (Merck): Sarah Rehn
Out-going Chem Club Officers: President Alexandra Isnor, Vice President Kevin Shumard, Treasurer Jordan Orien, Secretary Steve Nick
In-coming Chem Club Officers:  President Steve Nick, Vice President Jo Williams, Treasurer Alex Sessa
Departmental Scholarship Recipients for 2016-2017: Bri Durham, Jenny Fothergill, Tristan Olsen, Jo Williams, Alex Sessa, Sierra Etzler, Michael Black, Heather Black, Zoe Anderson, Sammy Walker, Andy Bogard, Bradley Lopes, Adam Thompson, Lukas Little, Steve Nick, Joseph Jenkins, Christopher Bonner, Kynna Bertagnolli, Alex Bravo, Gabrielle Donalson, Eric Read