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Narratives of undergraduate research, mentorship, and teaching at UCLA

  • Simone L. Stevens , Alice C. Phung , Alejandra Gonzalez , Yanwu Shao , Elamar Hakim Moully , Vinh T. Nguyen , Joshua L. Martin , Chantel Mao , Azin Saebi , Daniel Mosallaei , Monica Kirollos , Paul Chong , Alexander Umanzor , Kevin Qian , Gustavo Marin , Omar M. Ebrahim , Ramya S. Pathuri , Morgan Hopp , Roshini Ramachandran EMAIL logo , Mary A. Waddington EMAIL logo and Alexander M. Spokoyny

    Alexander M. Spokoyny is currently an Associate Professor in Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCLA and a faculty member of the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI). Prior to this he received a Ph.D. degree in 2011 from Northwestern University in inorganic and materials chemistry and conducted a post-doctoral stint at MIT in chemical biology until 2014. His group’s research encompasses an interdisciplinary approach focusing on pressing problems in chemistry, biology, medicine and materials science. Specifically, Spokoyny and his co-workers are currently developing new solutions to problems in chemical synthesis, energy conversion and storage and biomolecular recognition and labeling using three-dimensional boron clusters. He has co-authored over 70 peer-reviewed manuscripts and given over 100 invited lectures. Spokoyny’s independent research and educational accomplishments have been recognized by multiple awards including Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (2020), NSF CAREER Award (2019), Cottrell Scholar from Research Corporation for Science Advancement (2018), Maximizing Investigator’s Research Award (MIRA) from the NIH (2017), Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship (2017), Chemical and Engineering News (C&EN) Talented 12 (2016), 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award (2016). He was a 2012 winner of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) Prize for Young Chemists.

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Abstract

This work describes select narratives pertaining to undergraduate teaching and mentorship at UCLA Chemistry and Biochemistry by Alex Spokoyny and his junior colleagues. Specifically, we discuss how individual undergraduate researchers contributed and jump-started multiple research themes since the conception of our research laboratory. This work also describes several recent innovations in the inorganic and general chemistry courses taught by Spokoyny at UCLA with a focus of nurturing appreciation for research and creative process in sciences including the use of social media platforms.


Article note:

A collection of peer-reviewed articles by past winners of the IUPAC and IUPAC-SOLVAY International Award for Young Chemists to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Pure and Applied Chemistry.



Corresponding authors: Roshini Ramachandran, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, 607 Charles E. Young Drive East, Los Angeles, CA90095, USA; and UCLA Center for the Advancement of Teaching, University of California, Los Angeles, CA90095, USA; Mary A. Waddington, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, 607 Charles E. Young Drive East, Los Angeles, CA90095, USA; and Alexander M. Spokoyny, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, 607 Charles E. Young Drive East, Los Angeles, CA90095, USA; and California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), University of California, 570 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA90095, USA, E-mail: (R. Ramachandran), (M. A. Waddington), (A. M. Spokoyny)

Award Identifier / Grant number: R35GM124746

Award Identifier / Grant number: CHE-1846849

Funding source: NIGMS

About the author

Alexander M. Spokoyny

Alexander M. Spokoyny is currently an Associate Professor in Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCLA and a faculty member of the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI). Prior to this he received a Ph.D. degree in 2011 from Northwestern University in inorganic and materials chemistry and conducted a post-doctoral stint at MIT in chemical biology until 2014. His group’s research encompasses an interdisciplinary approach focusing on pressing problems in chemistry, biology, medicine and materials science. Specifically, Spokoyny and his co-workers are currently developing new solutions to problems in chemical synthesis, energy conversion and storage and biomolecular recognition and labeling using three-dimensional boron clusters. He has co-authored over 70 peer-reviewed manuscripts and given over 100 invited lectures. Spokoyny’s independent research and educational accomplishments have been recognized by multiple awards including Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (2020), NSF CAREER Award (2019), Cottrell Scholar from Research Corporation for Science Advancement (2018), Maximizing Investigator’s Research Award (MIRA) from the NIH (2017), Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship (2017), Chemical and Engineering News (C&EN) Talented 12 (2016), 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award (2016). He was a 2012 winner of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) Prize for Young Chemists.

Acknowledgments

A. M. S. is grateful to all his past and present co-workers and collaborators for their contributions to the projects described in this work.

  1. Research funding: This research was funding from UCLA, 3M, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA), The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Petroleum Research Fund (PRF), National Science Foundation (CHE-1846849 and individual fellowships), Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and NIGMS (R35GM124746) over the past six years for supporting our research and educational endeavors.

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Published Online: 2021-02-08
Published in Print: 2021-02-23

© 2021 IUPAC & De Gruyter. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. For more information, please visit: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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