6 February 2024 – Our undergraduate Cecilia Paranjothi has been selected by the University of Kansas to be nominated for the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. As described by the Goldwater Foundation, this scholarship is "one of the oldest and most prestigious . . . in the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics in the United States, [and] seeks to identify, encourage, and financially support college sophomores and juniors who show exceptional promise of becoming this Nation’s next generation of research leaders in these fields." Cecilia is one of only four students nominated this year. Brava, Cecilia!
1 February 2024 - Congratulations to our undergraduate Colleen Thach, who has been selected to be a McNair Scholar at KU! Through this program, Colleen will receive support for conducting an original research project in our laboratory. Colleen's project will be using NMR spectroscopy to examine the behavior of lithium cations in non-aqueous media, a topic of relevance to lithium ion battery chemistry. Congratulations, Colleen!
22 January 2024 – This week, James is attending the GRC on Chemical Separations in Galveston, Texas. This meeting is focused on some of the biggest challenges in chemical science and engineering, including work on separation of critical elements and development of strategies for handling of carbon dioxide for storage or conversion. Thanks to Dr. Vanda Glezakou (Oak Ridge) and Dr. Mark Shiflett (KU) for their leadership on the meeting, and the invitation to serve as Discussion Leader on the topic of "Separation of Critical Materials."
12 December 2024 – Congratulations to our undergraduate student Cecilia Paranjothi, who has been named a recipient of an Undergraduate Research Award (UGRA) by the KU Center for Undergraduate Research. This UGRA funding, the second that Cecilia has received in her time at KU, will support her research on surface-immobilized uranium complexes and their speciation properties. Congrats, Cecilia!
10 November 2023 – James is the keynote speaker at the 2023 Chemistry and Biochemistry Undergraduate Research Showcase at Wichita State University. James completed his undergraduate degree in Chemistry at WSU in 2007, and got his start in chemistry research at WSU as a member of Dr. Francis D'Souza's research group. Thanks to Dr. Jim Bann for the invitation to visit, and the opportunity to see old friends and make new ones on this visit. Dr. Bann was James's instructor for "Introduction to Biochemistry" way back in the spring semester of 2007, but he still remembers all his amino acids and many of their properties!
7 November 2023 – Graduate student Riddhi Golwankar has been named a Finalist in the KU Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition! Riddhi's 3MT presentation has the title "Unlocking Uranium's Potential" and describes our work regarding tuning of the electrochemical properties of uranium, which has an eye on applications in next-generation approaches to nuclear fuel recycling. Congratulations, Riddhi and good luck in the finals next week!
3 November 2023 – Today, our group was happy to join with the KU Department of Chemistry in welcoming Prof. Bill Evans of UC Irvine to campus and our department to deliver the 22nd Annual Brewster Lecture in Inorganic Chemistry. Bill is a leader in the field of the organometallic chemistry of the rare earth and actinide elements, and spoke in his lecture about how synthetic chemistry can contribute to the interdisciplinary arena of quantum science. Thanks to Bill for a great visit, a tremendous presentation, and enlightening conversations about the chemistry of the heavy elements!
28 October 2023 – Graduate students Alex Ervin and Fynn Cooper from our group travel to the National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) Annual Meeting in Tempe, Arizona. At the meeting, they presented our group's work on application of techniques from chemical data science to problems in catalysis. Thanks to the NSF for supporting this valuable activity and to Anna Chicas Mosier of CEBC for coordinating the trip!
18 October 2023 – Undergraduate Cecilia Paranjothi attends the 2023 Joint Midwest & Great Lakes Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society in St. Louis to present her work on tailored, surface-immobilized uranium complexes. Her travel to the conference was underwritten by an Undergraduate Travel Award from the KU Center for Undergraduate Research.
28 September 2023 – James visits the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and delivers a talk on our group's work in actinide chemistry, including recent efforts in neptunium chemistry conducted jointly with Richard Wilson at Argonne National Laboratory. Thanks to Prof. Manar Shoshani for the opportunity to visit and talk inorganic chemistry!
11 September 2023 – Graduate student Riddhi Golwankar was named the recipient of a Best Poster Prize at the GPCS Fall Symposium. Her presentation described our group's advance in the preparation and study of uranyl crown ether complexes, a project that she has led through the development of specialized crown ether ligands tailored for this purpose. Congratulations, Riddhi!
10-11 September 2023 - The Great Plains Catalysis Society (GPCS) Fall Symposium was held this week at the University of Kansas. Our group was pleased to welcome Dr. Orson Sydora, a leader in the organometallic chemistry of selective olefin oligomerization chemistry, and Prof. Polly Arnold, a leader in organometallic f-element chemistry, to Lawrence as speakers at the event. James served on the organizing committee for the conference, which was held in conjunction with the 25th Annual CEBC Industrial Advisory Board Meeting. Thanks to Polly and Orson for visiting and delivering great lectures!
1 August 2023 – Two of our group's publications have been honored with Sutton Awards by the KU Department of Chemistry this year! This first was awarded for our paper on quantification of the Lewis acidity of electropositive metal cations. The second was awarded for our paper on the mechanism of hydrogen evolution by [Cp*Rh] complexes. Congratulations to everyone associated with these works, and thanks to the department for featuring our work!
1 July 2023 – Two of our groups publications have been featured by the journal Organometallics in a Virtual Special Issue on the topic of "Experimental Studies of Reaction Mechanisms in Organometallic Chemistry and Catalysis." These articles, both featuring the work of first-author and former student Dr. Julie Leseberg, center on the redox reactivity of complexes of rhodium and chromium. Congratulations to Julie and all our co-authors on this distinction!
22 June 2023 – James has been named an Oustanding Reviewer for the journal Dalton Transactions in 2022, one of only 11 individuals around the world selected for this distinction. Thanks to the RSC for their appreciation, and the opportunity to submit peer reviews, an important component of the research cycle. Cheers!
12 June 2023 – Congratulations to our graduate student Emily Mikeska, who has begun a year of collaborative research in transuranic redox chemistry with Dr. Richard Wilson in the Heavy Element Chemistry and Separation Science Group at Argonne National Laboratory! Emily is being supported for her research by the DOE SCGSR program, as part of the 2022 Solicitation 2 round of awards. First off, we will be doing some neptunium and plutonium electrochemistry to learn new lessons about controlling actinide speciation through redox. Congratulations, Emily, and good luck with the research!
29 June 2023 – Congratulations to all the members of our group that have been named recipients of departmental awards and prizes in 2023! In particular, congratulations to Riddhi Golwankar for being named the recipient of the Ernest & Marvel Griswold Award, which is given each year to the graduating student with the outstanding, top thesis in inorganic chemistry. Well done, all!
5-9 June 2023 – Thanks to Dr. Tom Albrecht-Schönzart and his team for the invitation and opportunity to attend the Actinides 2023 meeting in Golden, Colorado this week. James's invited talk focused on our group's study of the mechanism of reduction-induced uranyl oxo activation chemistry, including a molecular electrochemical approach to triggering of actinide reactivity. A great meeting full of exciting scientific discussions on a true frontier in chemistry!
15 May 2023 – Our collaborative work on the mechanism of [Cp*Rh]-catalyzed hydrogen evolution and the role of ligand-protonated [Cp*H] complexes in the mechanism has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS). This project, which first began in 2018, is based on a collaboration with Drs. David Grills, Dmitry Polyansky, and Etsuko Fujita of the Artificial Photosynthesis Group at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Among other highlights, this work involved use of pulse radiolysis and time-resolved stopped-flow techniques to unravel the mechanism. Congratulations to first author Dr. Wade Henke on completing this important work, featured by both KU and BNL in news releases, as part of his PhD studies.
5 May 2023 – Congratulations to Claire Dopp, who has been named the 2023 recipient of the KU Campanile Award. The Campanile Award was the Senior Class Gift from the Class of 2000 and is presented to a single graduating senior each year by the KU Alumni Association’s Student Alumni Network (AASAN), as this organization inherited the responsibilities of the Board of Class Officers organization for KU. The 2022-2023 AASAN Executive Board coordinated the selection process for this prestigious award this spring. The description of the Campanile Award states: “The recipient must display outstanding leadership, strength of character, and respect for the University of Kansas and its students.” Claire has been a member of our group since her first year at KU, and will be heading to the University of Rochester for graduate school in the fall. She will also defend her three-chapter undergraduate research thesis next week; her work has cut new ground in heterobimetallic chemistry, with a focus on the vanadyl ion. Congratulations on all your success, Claire!
10 April 2023 – James has been named the recipient of the Grant Goodman Undergraduate Mentor Award by the KU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. The aim of this award is "to recognize an outstanding faculty member who exemplifies great teaching in and out of the classroom by mentoring students as they travel the journey of life." Thanks to all the students who nominated James for this award; what a privilege we've all had working together at KU since 2016!!!
29 March 2023 - This week, the Blakemore Group traveled to the ACS meeting in Indianapolis. James presented our work on development of a tripodal ligand for supporting heterobimetallic lanthanide complexes in a symposium honoring the life and legacy of Daryle Busch, a giant of coordination chemistry and former KU faculty member. Other group members, including Riddhi Golwankar, Joe Karnes, Emily Mikeska, Christian Nilles, Davis Curry, Alex Ervin, Fynn Cooper, Cecilia Paranjothi, and Natalie Lind, also attended the meeting and presented their work in a variety of symposia. Great to share our work and connect with friends at ACS!
10 March 2023 - Congratulations to Cecilia Paranjothi, who has been named the recipient of the Jack & Carolyn Landgrebe Summer Undergraduate Research Scholarship at KU! This scholarship will support Cecilia for full-time research work in our group during summer 2023, and includes a stipend as well as funds for research supplies. With this support, Cecilia will be continuing her studies of the speciation of electropositive metal cations in polar organic solvents, along with co-mentor Davis Curry. Congratulations on this stellar news, Cecilia!
5-10 March 2023 - This week, James attended the Gordon Research Conference on Inorganic Reaction Mechanisms. At the meeting, he presented our group's work on electrochemical activation of high-valent uranium complexes, and also served as Discussion Leader during the conference session on f-element chemistry. Thanks to Prof. Jennifer Love of the University of Calgary for the invitation to serve and for organizing a great meeting! Looking forward to the next edition of this great conference, to be organized by Prof. Elon Ison of North Carolina State University, in 2025!
6 March 2023 - Congratulations to Claire Dopp, who has been named as our department's nominee for the 2023 ACS Division of Inorganic Chemistry Undergraduate Award in Inorganic Chemistry. Claire was selected for this national recognition in light of her accomplishments in research and scholarship as an undergraduate, and her promise for future success in graduate school. Congratulations, Claire!
6 March 2023 - Congratulations to Cecilia Paranjothi, who has been selected to receive an Eli Lilly Travel Award from the Women Chemists Committee (WCC) of the American Chemical Society. Cecilia will use this support to travel to the ACS Meeting in Indianapolis later this month, where she will be presenting a poster on her research results as well as participating in professional development activities organized by the WCC. Through this program, WCC and Eli Lilly and Company continue to increase the participation of women in the chemical sciences, and we thank them for these important efforts. Way to go, Cecilia!
24 February 2023 – Cecilia Paranjothi has been named the recipient of a KU Undergraduate Travel Award. Cecilia will be traveling to the Spring American Chemical Society National Meeting in Indianapolis to present a poster on her work in quantifying the properties of electropositive metal cations through phosphorus-31 NMR titrations. Way to go, Cecilia!
17 February 2023 – James delivers an invited departmental seminar at the University of Texas at El Paso. He discussed our group's work on understanding the mechanisms of redox-induced reactions of lanthanide and actinide complexes. Thanks to Prof. Skye Fortier for the invitation, and the enthusiastic students and faculty for their warm welcome. This was James's third visit to El Paso, and he looks forward to returning again in the future! Thanks again!
15 January 2023 – Congratulations to Cecilia Paranjothi, who has been admitted to the University Honors Program effective Spring 2023!
14 December 2022 – Congratulations to our undergraduate student Cecilia Paranjothi, who has been named the recipient of a KU Undergraduate Research Award for Spring 2023! This award comes with a $1,000 scholarship to support Cecilia, who is working on development of new quantitative measures of the effective Lewis acidity of highly electropositive metals in organic solvents. Congrats, Cecilia!
13–17 November 2022 – Congratulations to Dr. Aaron Sattler of the ExxonMobil Technology & Engineering Company, a long-time friend to James and the whole Blakemore Group, who has been named the 2022 recipient of the Catalysis and Reaction Engineering Prize of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AICHE). This week, James traveled to the AICHE Annual Meeting to give an invited talk on our group's work in carbon dioxide conversion chemistry during Aaron's award symposium. Congratulations to Aaron on this well-deserved honor, and thanks for the opportunity to share our work and interact at the meeting!
1-3 November 2022 – James gave an invited departmental seminar at the University of Alabama on the topic of "Controlling the Redox Properties of the f-Elements." Thanks to Prof. Liz Papish for the invitation to visit and present our work, and the faculty and students at UA for their warm welcome and tremendous opportunity to talk chemistry face-to-face!
24-25 October 2022 – James and members of our group attend the CEBC Industrial Advisory Board Meeting. Several members of our group, including Riddhi, Joe, and Emily, presented posters on their work, and James delivered an invited talk on our group's research on electrocatalysis and electrochemistry at elevated pressures. Thanks to all the advisory board members for their feedback on our work, and great conversations during the meeting!
19-22 October 2022 – James attended the annual Southeast Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society (SERMACS) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Thanks to Dr. Jorge Colón and Dr. Dalice Piñero-Cruz for their invitations to present our group's work at the meeting, and to all the speakers for great talks & scientific discussions throughout the meeting. James presented our group's efforts to discover the mechanism of hydrogen evolution by [Cp*Rh] complexes, as well as our work in structural lanthanide and actinide chemistry. ¡Gracias a todos los organizadores por una reunión excelente y la oportunidad de regresar a Puerto Rico, un país hermoso y dinámico!
7 October 2022 – James and Davis are wrapping up a collaborative visit to the laboratory of Ron Grimm and his group. On this visit, they carried out X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) experiments on actinide coordination complexes, an exciting frontier ripe for exploration. Prof. Grimm is on the faculty of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Massachusetts, and we have teamed up with his group to take advantage of his expertise in photoelectron spectroscopy. Special thanks also to PhD candidate Julie Martin from the Grimm Group, who helped lead the charge to collect data this week. Here's to more great experiments down the road!
28 September 2022 – Congratulations to Claire Dopp, who was named a Finalist for a campus Ex.C.E.L. Award! These awards, formally the Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership Awards, are supported by Konica Minolta and highlight notable student leaders at KU on the occasion of Homecoming. Claire is currently carrying out research in our group, and also serves as a lead student assistant in the Center for Undergraduate Research. Congratulations, Claire!
21 August 2022 – James attended the ACS National Meeting in Chicago this week, and delivered an invited talk on our electrochemical uranyl functionalization chemistry. Thanks to Korey Carter and Tori Forbes (U. Iowa) for the invitation to present in their symposium "Macromolecular, Supramolecular, and Solid-State Structural Chemistry of Actinides." Great to see many folks at the meeting and talk about new chemistry!
15 August 2022 – Congratulations to our grauate student Christian Nilles on being awarded a Best Poster Presentation Prize at the 2022 Great Plains Catalysis Society Annual Meeting! The meeting was held in Ames, Iowa, and Christian presented his work on developing new media for carbon dioxide conversion. He was selected for the Prize by a panel of expert judges working in catalysis in both academia & industry. Well done, Christian!
2 August 2022 – Claire Dopp, a rising senior undergraduate in our group and current Beckman Scholar, presented a talk and poster this week on her vanadyl chemistry at the 2022 Beckman Symposium, held on this day at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Congratulations to Claire on being selected to give an invited talk, and on all her research successes—well done!
1-4 August 2022 – This week, the Integrated Science Building underwent a major electrical system maintenance overhaul. The work done required multiple, full on-off cycles of electrical power, resulting in a need to carefully cycle our three inert-atmosphere gloveboxes. Thanks to Group Safety Officer Davis Curry and fourth-year graduate student Emily Mikeska for leading the glovebox effort, and also ISB Building Manager Laurie White for helping coordinate this major event. Way to go, team!
26–30 June 2022 – James and Riddhi attend the 29th Rare Earth Research Conference (RERC29) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. James delivered an invited talk on the first morning of the meeting on the topic of "Redox Tuning of Tripodal Cerium Complexes with Secondary Metal Cations," and Riddhi was awarded a Best Poster Prize for her work on "Electrochemical Activation of the Uranyl Ion." Thanks to Prof. Eric Schelter and Dr. Marta Guron (U. Penn) for organizing such a great meeting—a truly inspirational experience!
12–19 June 2022 – This week, James is attending the American Crystallographic Association's Summer Course in Chemical Crystallography in order to undergo formal, intensive training in X-ray crystallography, diffraction data collection, and structures solution & refinement. Building on our years of fruitful collaboration with Dr. Victor Day and Dr. Allen Oliver, this training will bolster our group's efforts in synthesis and characterization of molecular metal complexes for years to come. Thanks to Allen for bringing the course to our attention, and to all the instructors at the course for the opportunity to attend and learn so much!
15 June 2022 – Congratulations to our group members who have been named recipients of annual Departmental Awards and Scholarships! This year's recipients include undergraduates Emma Cosner, Jonah Stiel, and Claire Dopp, and graduate students Davis Curry, Riddhi Golwankar, Julie Hopkins Leseberg, and Wade Henke. Well done!
6 June 2022 – An exciting summer of research is underway in the Blakemore Group–our seventh here at KU! Welcome to our newest group members: Fynn Cooper, an incoming graduate student; Cecilia Paranjothi, a rising sophomore at KU; and Natalie Lind, a visiting summer REU student from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. Let the fun begin!
3 June 2022 – Our newest group member, undergraduate Cecilia Paranjothi, has been named the recipient of a Clark E. Bricker Summer ChemScholar Award from the KU Department of Chemistry. This award will support Cecilia's research in phosphine oxide probes of Lewis acidity, an effort in which she is being co-mentored by Davis Curry. We thank KU Chemistry for this endorsement of our research, and George and Bev Wilson for their support of this tremendous program.
31 May 2022 – James delivered an invited talk today in the monthly Angular Momentum virtual seminar series on the topic of redox tuning in heterobimetallic cerium complexes. Thanks to Prof. Jerome Robinson (Brown U.) and the other organizers of the series for the opportunity to present our group's work!
6 May 2022 – Emma Cosner has been named the recipient of the Class of 1913 Award. This prize, which is one of the prestigious University Awards, is granted annually to two graduating students “who, by their evidenced intelligence, devotion to their studies, and personal character, give promise of such usefulness to society.” The central criterion for this award is a stellar academic record, making Emma a very deserving recipient. Emma has been conducting research in our group for over three years, and has been co-mentored throughout that time by Dr. Julie Leseberg. Congratulations, Emma!
9 April 2022 – James attends the 2022 KU Chemistry Faculty Retreat, where all the colleagues gathered to discuss the future of our department and strategies to achieve our shared mission and vision. Thanks to Prof. Bob Dunn for his leadership and the leaders of the event for an exciting day of planning for the future of KU Chemistry!
4 April 2022 – Congratulations to our undergraduate researcher Emma Cosner, who has been named a recipient of a US NSF Graduate Research Fellowship! The NSF GRF is among the most prestigious fellowships for graduate study in the US, and provides full support for three years. Way to go, Emma!
2 April 2022 – Wade Henke presents his work on organometallic Cp*H ligand chemistry at the Kansas Academy of Science Annual Meeting in Sterling, KS. At the meeting, he was selected as recipient of a First Place Award for his Oral Presentation. Congratulations, Wade!
29 March 2022 – This week, James visited Southeast Missouri State University (Cape Girardeau, Missouri) and the University of Memphis for invited seminars. At Cape, James presented our group's work in uranyl chemistry as well as our work in understanding hydrogen evolution with [Cp*Rh] complexes. At Memphis, James shared our latest work in uranyl oxo activation chemistry. Thanks to Dr. Sarah Shaner (Cape) and Dr. Chuck Garner & Dr. Tim Brewster (UM) for their generous invitations to visit and warm welcome to the Mississipppi Delta!
20 March 2022 – The Blakemore Group traveled to the ACS National Meeting in San Diego this week, and presented a diverse range of talks and posters based on our work! James presented work from Julie and Amit on the topic of heterobimetallic Ce and U chemistry; Riddhi presented her work on uranyl activation and Pd heterobimetallics; Joe presented his work on Ni heterbimetallics; Davis presented his work on Lewis acidity quantification; Jonah presented his work on Rh complexes with monosubstituted bipyridine ligands; Emma presented her work on tripodal Sm and Eu complexes; and, Claire presented both her work on vanadyl chemistry as well as her experiences at the COP26 meeting in Glasgow, Scotland. Great work, group!
19 March 2022 – Thanks to Prof. Konstantinos Kavallieratos for inviting and hosting James for a departmental seminar at Florida International University in Miami. Also, thanks to Prof. Chris Dares, Prof. Raphael Raptis, and Prof. Kostya Bukhryakov for their warm welcome. What a great visit and opportunity to talk redox chemistry in the sunshine!
10 March 2022 – Congratulations to our former REU student Gabe Benitez, who has been selected for the 2022 Nuclear Chemistry Summer School!
4 March 2022 – Our group and the full KU Chemistry community were thrilled to host this year's cohort of prospective graduate students for our annual recruitment weekend. This was our first in-person Graduate Recruitment Opportunities Weekend (GROW) since 2019, and it was great to have everyone together! Thanks to Aaron Teator and Meredith Hartley for leading the events!
2 March 2022 – Claire Dopp has been named recipient of a Travel Award scholarship through the KU Center for Undergraduate Research. Claire will use the support to travel to the ACS National Meeting in San Diego, California and present her work on heterobimetallic vanadyl complexes as well as share her experiences as a student-professional delegate to the COP26 summit that took place in 2021. Congratulations, Claire!
25 February 2022 – James presents an invited seminar in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Iowa on our group's work in electrochemical activation and oxo functionalization of the uranyl ion. Thanks to Prof. Korey Carter for the invitation, and all the faculty and students for the great discussions and friendly welcome!
16 January 2022 – Congratulations to Claire Dopp, who has been selected as one of KU's nominees for the prestigious national Udall Scholarship! The Udall Foundation awards scholarships to college sophomores and juniors for leadership, public service, and commitment to issues related to Native American nations or to the environment. Well done, Claire!