The Fall 2018 Chemistry Colloquium Series

This Fall, the Chemistry Department is introducing a Chemistry Colloquium presented by a range of internal and external speakers on Thursdays from 3:05–4:20 PM. Seminars may be attended and viewed by ITV simulcast in Edinburg's Engineering Building 1.262 and Brownsville's Main Building 1.220. Refreshments will generally be provided.

The schedule of upcoming talks is currently being populated, with speakers still TBD for many dates. Please contact Dr. Shervin Fatehi, chair of the seminar committee, with nominations for speakers. Dates with confirmed speakers are listed below:


Sep 27: Dr. Yuanbing Mao (UTRGV Chemistry)

Exploration of the Synthesis and Properties of Metal Oxide Nanomaterials

Scaling metal oxides to nanoscale dimensions substantially alters their phase stabilities and interfacial activities with tremendous consequences for the manifestation of unique physical phenomena. Developing novel metal oxide nanomaterials and understanding their synthesis-structure-property relationship have paramount importance to meet the materials needs and challenges of our evolving and expanding society. In this seminar, an overview of my research will be given on three areas, i.e. luminescence, catalysis, and environmental remediation. For luminescent nanomaterials useful for solid-state lighting, X-ray scintillators, and bioimaging, we focus on pyrochlore A2M2Onanoparticles. We have achieved substantial tunability of their particle size, crystal phase, and more importantly, luminescence properties. We have gained clear understanding of the influences of the synthesis conditions, particle morphology and composition on their photoluminescence and radioluminescence. For catalysis, we have explored (i) delafossites with CuIMIIIOcomposition and (ii) branched ZnO nanostructures as cost-effective and active electrode materials for (photo)electrical water splitting. Regarding environmental remediation, we developed a facile coating method for TiO2particles with a thin organic layer to increase their photocatalytic water purification efficiency of both cationic and anionic contaminants. In sum, we have explored three types of functional metal oxide nanomaterials, which offer bright promise of producing innovative advances across multiple technologies, and thus will continue impacting our lives in substantial ways.


Oct 18: Dr. Myoung-Hwan Kim (UTRGV Physics)

Tailoring Evanescent Light on Surface

Optical index engineering using metamaterials has been quite successful in creating a new class of artificial optical materials, which bends light at will. Two-dimensional metamaterials called metasurfaces represent a much more attractive platform for the shorter wavelengths due to the ease of fabrication taking advantage of current planar integrated circuit technology. Particularly, metasurfaces can create gradient optical responses including amplitude, phase, polarization, and impedance which can mold the wavefronts of light. In this talk I will introduce the basic concept of metasurfaces to control light propagation in free space and in optical waveguides. Furthermore, I will present our recent experimental demonstration of a new metasurface platform with hyperbolic materials to control light localized on the surface. We observed a near-perfect absorption from tunable surface phonon polariton resonances confined in subwavelength-thin nanostructures. This metasurface platform can be used as the main building block in mid-/far infrared flat optical devices and integrated nanophotonic devices.


Nov 1: Dr. Jyoti Prakash (Arizona State University/Bhabha Atomic Research Centre)

Innovative Societal Applications of Solar Energy: Moving Beyond Photovoltaic Modules

I will be talking about innovative use of solar energy to fuel different sectors of society using nonconventional solar devices. The lecture will cover current renewable energy status (especially solar energy) and how we can innovate new devices to harvest solar light to fuel major energy consuming sectors such as domestic and industrial heating/cooling, and transport. I will be covering basic material design & development and integrating components for harvesting light efficiently.


Nov 8: Dr. Evangelia Kotsikorou (UTRGV Chemistry)

Exploring the reliability of a homology model of GPR119 receptor to predict the EC50s of a set of agonist compounds

GPR119 receptor is a target for type 2 diabetes therapies. Many different compounds have been synthesized to date in hopes of discovering an orally available and effective therapy for T2D. Crystal structures assist in the development of potent ligands for the receptor, but there is no crystal structure of this receptor available today. In the absence of a crystal structure, we constructed a homology model of the receptor that can be used to identify and develop new potent compounds. To test the reliability of the homology model, we conducted a blind computational study to evaluate the relative potency of a set of compounds. Docking studies followed by analysis of the interactions between the docked ligands and the receptor shed light on the types of interactions these compounds have with the receptor, the magnitude of these interactions and the importance of specific amino acids of the binding pocket in ligand binding. The analysis showed that the homology model estimated correctly the energy of interaction of these compounds with the receptor. The energy of interaction of a compound correlates with the potency for activating the receptor. The experimental EC50s were in agreement with the predicted potency of the set of compounds, validating the GPR119 receptor homology model and suggesting that it is a valuable tool for predicting compound potencies.


Nov 15: Dr. Sarah Co (AbbVie Inc.)

Large-Scale Tales: Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients from Development to Commercial Manufacturing at AbbVie 

AbbVie may have a new name, since its separation from Abbott Laboratories in 2013, but it has a rich heritage from its Abbott roots, dating from 1888. AbbVie defines itself as a biopharmaceutical company, meaning we combine the resources of a large, established corporation with the focus and innovation of a biotech. Our patient-centered approach focuses on areas of unmet medical need, including oncology, virology, immunology, and neuroscience. 

Chemists at AbbVie, working in different functions, make significant contributions to the discovery, development, and commercialization of a medicine. An overview of process development and commercialization of small-molecule active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) will be presented, highlighting the roles of chemists along a medicine’s path from discovery through approval and beyond. Vignettes from process development and commercial manufacturing will be described.


Nov 29: Dr. Bandana Chatterjee (UT Health Science Center San Antonio Dept. of Molecular Medicine)

Leveraging Androgen-Androgen Receptor Axis for Prostate Cancer Inhibition

Oncogenic activities of androgen receptor (AR) and mTORC1 (Mechanistic Target oRapamycin Complex-1) are key drivers of prostate cancer progression to the metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC), which is aggressive, incurable and fatal. The AR-mediated intracellular signaling remains active throughout the disease continuum.  Furthermore, the PI3K/AKT/TORC1 axis is activated in most cases of late-stage, treatment resistant prostate cancer. The current standard of care for prostate cancer is effective for a limited period.  Novel treatment avenues are needed for sustained success in prostate cancer inhibition. Several new strategies for the inhibition of advanced prostate cancer will be discussed.