The goal of this initiative is to highlight the diversity of backgrounds and perspectives in the Department of Chemistry and help our community develop stronger connections and synergies. You can think of these spotlights as the beginning of a conversation that we very much hope you will continue in the corridors of Hutch and beyond.

If you wish to contribute to this initiative, please complete our questionnaire.

Behind the Test Tube: Q&A

July 8, 2024

Medina Afandiyeva in a lab coat and gloves with two thumbs up.Medina Afandiyeva

Graduate Student, Kennedy Group

What do you like to do when not on campus?
I always try to travel to new places whenever I have a chance. I love connecting with new cultures through learning their lifestyle, traditions, and languages.

June 6, 2024

Ignacio smiling at the camera while holding a cat.Ignacio Gustin

Graduate Student, Franco Group

Proudest accomplishment:
My proudest accomplishment at the University of Rochester isn't something I've done alone—it's the community we've built within the Association of Latin American Students (ALAS).

May 6, 2024

Ellie smiling at the camera while holding a cat.Ellie Vetack

Undergraduate Scholar

Proudest accomplishment:
Founding oSTEM (Out in STEM) at the University of Rochester!

April 30, 2024

Cay standing in a lab smiling at the camera.Cay McNichol

Graduate Student, Paradine Group

Why chemistry:
I chose chemistry because I love the challenges and problem-solving aspects that come along with research, the opportunity to collaborate with others, and that every day at work can be fast paced and unique.

March 28, 2024

Agnes Thorarinsdottir smiling at the camera.Agnes Thorarinsdottir

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Where is home/Where did you grow up?
I am born and raised in Akureyri, a town with a population of ~20,000 in North Iceland, right south of the Artic Circle.

January 16, 2024

Maggie Scholar smiling at the camera.Maggie Scholer

Undergraduate Student, Chemistry/Earth and Environmental Sciences

I really enjoy hiking, skiing, and reading. I'm currently studying in New Zealand and have been using my free time to get outside as often as possible!

April 14, 2023

Headshot of Chari Peter.Chari Peter

Graduate Student, Matson Lab

A Rocking Holiday:
In my opinion the best holiday is the Independence season in Dominica. It is the time in which we celebrate our rich heritage with music, dancing, tasty dishes and numerous colorful events such as Heritage Day, Creole Day, and Market Day.

February 3, 2023

Headshot of Xijue Wu.Xijue (Jade) Wu

Undergraduate Student, Kennedy Lab

Why chemistry:
I hope to make a contribution to the pharmaceutical field so that fewer people will suffer from diseases.

January 3, 2023

Erica Craddock.Erica Craddock

Graduate Student

Why chemistry:
It all clicked for me when I learned the mineral gypsum is also known as calcium sulfate because I could use chemistry to describe the natural world right in front of me. And I haven’t stopped since!

December 8, 2022

Loren Cardani.Loren Cardani

Undergraduate Student

Why chemistry:
I love learning about the chemistry behind biological processes. Figuring out how to manipulate molecules to cause biological changes is so fascinating!

November 29, 2022

Shannon Cooney.Shannon Cooney

Graduate Student

Proudest accomplishment:
My Chem. Sci. paper that came out in August that I worked on with an REU student over the summer. I love the opportunity to work with undergraduate students!

May 2, 2022

Donna Dolan.Donna Dolan


Favorite quote:
"To live each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, without apathy, without pretense." by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius

April 11, 2022

Yu standing on a rock outcropping at the base of a waterfall.Yu Gu

Graduate Student

Ask me about:
Best Chinese/Szechuan restaurant in town; how to make an authentic Szechuan hot pot; life in a mountain city.

April 4, 2022

Albert working in the lab.Donggeon (Albert) Nam

Graduate Student

Favorite pastime(s):
I'm a big gamer nerd, video, board or otherwise, both socially and anti-socially.

March 28, 2022

Jackson working in the lab.Jackson Hernandez

Graduate Student

Why chemistry:
I had the best AP chemistry teacher.

March 21, 2022

Jordan Butt working in the lab.Jordan Butt

Graduate Student

An inspiring book:
"I am Malala", Malala Yousafzai—for the lengths she goes to receive an education. It is very powerful.

March 14, 2022

Kara Bren receiving an award on stage.Kara Bren

Richard S. Eisenberg Professor in Chemistry

Why chemistry:
I chose chemistry because I like how it links to other areas of science—geology, biology, and physics. I especially enjoy working at the interfaces of fields.

March 7, 2022

Courtney Stanford sitting and smiling at the camera with a city view in the background.Courtney Stanford

Assistant Professor of Teaching

Ask me about: 
Traveling. I'm always looking for new places to visit and I like learning where others have explored.

February 23, 2022

Shauna Paradine with a river gorge in the background.Shauna Paradine

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Proudest accomplishment: 
My research group—I'm so fortunate to be able to work with a group of folks who are wildly talented scientists AND incredible human beings.

December 9, 2021

Robin Clark with a group of graduating students.Robin Clark

Graduate Coordinator, Course Administrator

Why our department:
I enjoy meeting brilliant students during visitation and eventually guiding them throughout their time as PhD students.

December 1, 2021

Aleksa MilosavljevicAleksa Milosavljevic

Graduate Student

Why chemistry:
I was always a fan of Severus Snape and potion-making.

November 24, 2021

Eric SchreiberEric Schreiber

Graduate Student

Ask me about:
The Jonas Brothers (fellow Jersey Boys!)

November 17, 2021

Elliott SilkElliot Silk

Chemistry Senior, Kennedy Lab

Fun fact:
If I didn't love chemistry so much, I would open a coffee shop and work full-time as a barista.

October 20, 2021

Geemi Wellawatte.Geemi Wellawatte

PhD Student, White Lab

Where did you grow up:
I was born and raised in Sri Lanka, a small tropical island in the Indian ocean.

October 13, 2021

Karla SanchezKarla Rosalía Sánchez Liévanos

Graduate Student, Knowles Group

An inspiring book:
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. I don't want to spoil it, so go and give it a read. For me, it was a life changer.

October 6, 2021

Sue Cardinal sitting in the library reading a book.

Sue Cardinal

STEM Librarian

A Rochester must:
Smell the lilacs!

September 22, 2021

José L. Álvarez-Hernández standing with in front of a poster presentation.

José L. Alvarez-Hernández

Graduate Student

Proudest accomplishment:
The community of friends that I have helped build here.

September 15, 2021

Ray Teng standing under a Helium HWY sign.

Ray Teng

Senior Lab Engineer

Why chemistry:
My career started in geology. Through metamorphism, my geological career transformed into the energetic world of physics. With the high energy and intense forces acting on my career, it was only a matter of time before it morphed into chemistry.

September 9, 2021

Professor Todd Krauss in his lab.

Todd Krauss


Proudest accomplishment:
When students leave the group and go on to become highly successful at what they choose to do.

September 3, 2021

Kaelyn McFarlane Connelly standing with a view of mountains.

Kaelyn McFarlane Connelly

Chemistry Senior, Goldwater Scholar

Why chemistry:
When I was in elementary school, I wanted to understand why most cookie recipes asked for softened butter (not melted or cold). That lead me down a long rabbit hole that resulted in me being a chemistry major, and then wanting to continue to a career in research!