Coblentz Student Awards
About the Award
The Coblentz Society has for many years encouraged young scientists to pursue studies in spectroscopy by seeking nominations of outstanding students for the Coblentz Student Awards. The awardees receive a copy of the Society’s Desk Book, a certificate, and a year’s membership in the Society.
2022 Coblentz Student Awardee – Sayantan Mahapatra
Sayantan Mahapatra is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Chemistry with a focus on single-molecule chemical analysis of surface structures at the University of Illinois Chicago. In 2015, he earned a bachelor’s degree (B.Sc.) in Chemistry with minors in Physics and Mathematics from the University of Calcutta, India. Following that, he obtained a master’s degree (M.Sc.) in Chemistry at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur in 2017 and moved to Chicago to pursue his doctoral studies in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Illinois Chicago under the supervision of Dr. Nan Jiang.
His current research interest is mainly focused on angstrom-scale chemical analysis of surface supported molecular structure (single-molecule) and two-dimensional materials using an ultrahigh vacuum tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (UHV-TERS) technique. His research integrates scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) with the optical spectroscopy inside UHV to understand some of the vital chemistry and physics-related problems in the single-molecule study ranging from spectroscopy to molecular-level catalysis. Besides single-molecule engineering of precursor molecules towards different desired products on the surface, there is another area that draws his attention. With atomically confined light at the STM tip apex, the highly energetic plasmons generated at the tip apex can be specifically utilized to probe certain chemical reactions. So far, he has six first-author publications, including one in JACS and one in Nano Letters.
Sayantan has received multiple awards during his time at the University of Illinois Chicago. In 2021, he received a Dean’s Scholar Fellow Award from the UIC Graduate College. He is a member of the American Vacuum Society (AVS), where he has earned the Morton M. Traum Student Award in 2020 and the Russel and Sigurd Varian Award in 2021. In India, he was an Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) fellow funded by the Government of India. Outside the lab, Sayantan loves to play soccer and cricket, hike, and watch the night sky.
2022 Coblentz Student Awardee – Lamyaa M. Almehma
Lamyaa M. Almehmadi is a Ph.D. student in Professor Igor K. Lednev’s laboratory at the University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY Albany). Lamyaa is originally from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. She has received a full scholarship from her home country supporting her higher education in the United States. As a result, she obtained her B.S. degree in Chemistry with emphasis on Chemical Biology and within only one year she received her M.S. degree in Chemistry, both are from SUNY Albany. During her one-year master studies, she worked on the development of a novel, highly sensitive, and label-free platform for medical diagnostics using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy. Her work was published in Scientific Reports, one of the Nature family of journals.
Currently, her work is focused on the use of surface-enhanced Raman Spectroscopy, deep UV resonance Raman spectroscopy, and conventional Raman spectroscopy for several applications ranging from the development of single-molecule and label-free platforms for drug discovery to the characterization of biopharmaceutical molecules. She has presented her work at both national and international conferences including SciX 2021, the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon 2019) and the 35th International Symposium on Microscale Separations and Bioanalysis. She has received several awards including an honorable mention for the 2021-2022 National Graduate Women in Science Award. Lamyaa has been elected as the president of a local SAS chapter for two consecutive years and was appointed chair of the 2022 First Annual New York Capital Region Applied Spectroscopy Symposium. She taught General Chemistry twice as an instructor of record in the Chemistry Department at SUNY Albany.
2022 Coblentz Student Awardee – Ethan A. Perets
Ethan A. Perets received his Ph.D. in Chemistry at Yale University, where his research focused on the development and application of vibrational spectroscopies to study hydration structures around proteins and DNA. Ethan was born in Tampa, FL, and earned his B.A. in biochemistry at Columbia University. Ethan served in the Department of Scientific Research at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, where he combined antibody-based protein recognition with surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (immuno-SERS) towards the study and preservation of artworks. Ethan later obtained his M.A. in the history and conservation of art at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, followed by post-graduate internships at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and Yale’s Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage.
Ethan carried out his Ph.D. research in the laboratory of Professor Elsa Yan, exploring the use of vibrational spectroscopies to map hydration structures around proteins and DNA. Ethan used chiral sum frequency generation (SFG) spectroscopy to achieve the first detection of a chiral assembly of water molecules in a protein hydration shell. Ethan also applied chiral SFG, infrared, Raman, and terahertz spectroscopies to study protein and DNA hydration during binding and liquid-liquid phase separation. His research has improved understanding of the hydration of biomolecules at interfaces and suggests a possible role for water in the emergence of biological homochirality, offering new perspectives why water is necessary for life and how water helped life to begin.
Outside of the lab, Ethan represented his fellow graduate students as a member of Yale’s Graduate Student Assembly, and he was a member of Yale Chemistry’s Diversity and Climate Committee.
2021 Coblentz Student Awardee – Isabella Goodenough
Isabella Goodenough is a graduate research assistant earning her PhD in physical and analytical chemistry with a focus in vibrational spectroscopy of complex nanoporous materials at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is involved in a collaborative project between the University of Pittsburgh and Temple University, which seeks to develop superior sorbents capable of capturing and degrading hazardous chemical agents, such as chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals. The ultimate goal of this work is to design protective equipment for military, industrial and civilian personnel using multifunctional, porous-hybrid nanomaterials, which couple Metal-Organic Framework (MOF) scaffolds and non-noble metal plasmonic nanoparticles. To date, Isabella’s role in this project has been to develop a fundamental insight on the interactions of the MOF scaffolds with select target analytes using in situ FTIR techniques under ultra-high vacuum conditions in order to understand the adsorption, transport and desorption phenomena in MOF-analyte systems. In addition she uses vibrational probe molecules to understand the nature and distribution of defects in these materials.
Outside of the laboratory, Isabella serves as the Chair of the Philadelphia Younger Chemists’ Committee (YCC) and is a founding member of the Eastern US YCC partnership. Her mission is to build a network of motivated young professionals that will empower and unite chemists in the community. She is passionate about pursuing social justice through community engagement and strives to advance accessibility, representation, and equality in STEM disciplines. In the future she hopes to expand the boundaries of leadership and teamwork to influence positive change and to inspire diversity and inclusion.
2021 Coblentz Student Awardee – Christopher Warkentin
Chris Warkentin is currently a Ph.D. candidate in experimental physical chemistry at the University of Minnesota. Prior to his academic career, he found work building trails in the Appalachian Mountains, restoring wetlands in the Midwest, establishing a sustainable farm, and managing a custom construction shop. These experiences informed his interest to pursue a career in sustainability and his eventual return to collegiate studies at Indiana University South Bend. Here his research career began, exploring a range of interests in chemistry and physics. As a SMART Research Fellow, under the advisement of Dr. Grace Muna, he developed nickel-palladium modified glassy carbon electrodes for the electro-analytical detection of steroid hormones in local surface waters. In 2017, he earned a BS in Chemistry with minors in Physics and Mathematics from IUSB and moved to Minneapolis to pursue his doctoral degree in Chemistry at the University of Minnesota under the advisement of Dr. Renee Frontiera. While pursuing his Ph.D., he obtained his master’s degree in Chemistry in 2018.
Today, his research interests center on using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) to investigate the dynamics of plasmon-driven chemistry in a variety of plasmon-molecule systems. A better understanding of plasmon-molecule interactions could aid in the rational design of new plasmon-based green catalysts for more sustainable chemical production and solar energy generation. Chris’ work uses ultrafast (ps) time-resolved SERS and steady-state (ms) SERS in order to understand both the fast energy-transfer dynamics that occur on the timescale of plasmon decay and the slower reaction kinetics that result from the cumulative effects of continuous irradiation. His research, in collaboration with theorists and material scientists, has revealed new insights into nanoscale spatial control of plasmon-driven processes, ultrafast plasmon-induced charge transfer, and upconversion applications with new plasmonic materials.
Chris has earned a number of awards during his tenure at the University of Minnesota, where he is currently an Institute on the Environment Renewable Energy Commercialization Fellow. He is an active member of the Analysis and Compliance committee for the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Joint Safety Team and involved with various student groups within the department. Outside of the lab, Chris enjoys hiking, fishing, gardening, and playing with his 11-month old son, Oliver.
2009-2020 Coblentz Student Awardees
The Coblentz Society member who nominated the student is also listed.
2013 Coblentz Student Awardees
- Tomasz P. Wrobel, Jagiellonian University, Professor Malgorzata Baranska
- Sarah E. Holton, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Professor Rohit Bhargava
- Tao Liang, University of Georgia, Professor Gary Douberly
- Rachel Masyuko, University of Notre Dame, Professor Paul W. Bohn
2012 Coblentz Student Awardees
- Xiaohua (Sarah) Zhou, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Professor James R. Durig
- Eduardo Berrios, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Professor Martin Gruebele
- Marleen Kerssens, Gloucestershire Hospitals, Professor Nick Stone
- Rajesh Morampudi, Cleveland State University, Professor John F Turner
- Jonathan Schaefer, University of Utah, Professor Joel M. Harris
- Andreas Wilk, Georgia Institute of Technology, Professor Boris Mizaikoff
2011 Coblentz Student Awardees
- Rohith Reddy, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Professor Rohit Bhargava
- Nathaniel R. Gomer, University of South Carolina, Professor S. Michael Angel
- Esther J. Ocola, Texas A&M University, Professor Jaan Laane
- Savitha S. Panikar, University of Missouri – Kansas City, Professor James Durig
- Megan R. Pearl, University of South Carolina, Professor Michael Myrick
2010 Coblentz Student Awardees
- Ali Eftekhari-Bafrooei, Temple University, Professor Eric Borguet
- Ram Bhatta, University of Akron, Professor David Perry
- Praveenkumar Boopalachandran, Texas A&M University, Professor Jaan Laane
- Bryon Herbert, University of Delaware, Professor Karl S. Booksh
- Yuliya Luzinova, Georgia Tech University, Professor Boris Mizaikoff
- Hajime Okajima, University of Tokyo, Professor Hiro-o Hamaguchi
2009 Coblentz Student Awardees
- Christopher J. Addison, University of British Columbia, Professor Michael Blades
- Kyle C. Bantz, University of Minnesota, Professor Christy L. Haynes
- Sudhir Dahal, Towson University, Professor Boon Loo
- Arindam Ganguly, University of Missouri – Kansas City, Professor James R. Durig
- Rosina A. Lombardi, Syracuse University, Professor Laurence A. Nafie
- Allen M. Ricks, University of Georgia, Professor Michael A. Duncan
- Sean T. Roberts, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Professor Andrei Tokmakoff
- Bhavya Sharma, University of Pittsburgh, Professor Sanford A. Asher
- Christina R. Young, Georgia Institute of Technology, Professor Boris Mizaikoff