Alumni

Graduates of the program earn a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences, with a major in medicinal chemistry. Recent graduates have secured postdoctoral fellowships and landed faculty positions at major research universities, and they have acquired positions in government agencies, pharma and at biotech companies.

DR. Mccurdy with Hebaalla Agha, 2021

Heba and McCurdy

Yi Zhang with Dr. Luesch, 2019

YI ZHANG WITH DR. LUESCH, 2019

Chip Norwood, Katherine Cisneros and Xiao Liang with Dr. Huigens, 2019

CHIP NORWOOD, KATHERINE CISNEROS AND XIAO LIANG WITH DR. HUIGENS, 2019

Guangde Jiang with Dr. Luesch, 2019

GUANGDE JIANG WITH DR. LUESCH, 2019

Nicholas Paciaroni with Dr. Huigens, 2018

NICHOLAS PACIARONI WITH DR. HUIGENS, 2018

Danmeng Luo with Dr. Luesch, 2018

DANMENG LUO WITH DR. LUESCH, 2018

Yasmeen Abouelhassan with Dr. Huigens, 2018

YASMEEN ABOUELHASSAN WITH DR. HUIGENS, 2018

Weijing Cai with Dr. Luesch, 2017

WEIJING CAI WITH DR. LUESCH, 2017

Fatma Al-Awadhi with Dr. Luesch, 2017

Fatma Al-Awadhi, 2017 graduate, with Dr. Luesch

Marci Smeltz with Dr. James, 2017

MARCI SMELTZ WITH DR. JAMES, 2017

Guo Zhong with Dr. James, 2016

GUO ZHONG WITH DR. JAMES, 2016

Erin Jackson with Dr. James, 2015

ERIN JACKSON WITH DR. JAMES, 2015

Lilibeth Salvador, Rana Montaser and Krishnakanth Kondabolu with Drs. Luesch & Booth, 2013

LILIBETH SALVADOR, RANA MONTASER AND KRISHNAKANTH KONDABOLU WITH DRS. LUESCH & BOOTH, 2013

2021 Graduates

Xiaozhi Yang

  • Dissertation: Design, Synthesis and Evaluation of PRMT5 Inhibitors
  • Advisor: Chenglong Li, Ph.D
  • First position post graduation: Postdoctoral Associate | University of Florida | Gainesville, Florida

Hebaalla Agha

  • Dissertation: Targeting Chronic Pain Through the Design of Sigma-1 Receptor Antagonists with Insights on Structure Activity and Structure Metabolism Relationship
  • Advisor: Christopher McCurdy, Ph.D
  • First position post graduation: Postdoctoral Associate | T. Willson’s lab, The University of North Carolina | Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Jeremy Coleman

  • Dissertation: Design and Synthesis of Didehydro-Cortistatin A Analogs as Novel Tat Inhibitors for the Potential Treatment of the Potential Treatment of HIV
  • Advisor: Jane Aldrich, Ph.D
  • First position post graduation: Postdoctoral Associate | C. Lindsley’s lab, Vanderbilt University | Nashville, Tennessee

Kareem Galal

  • Dissertation: Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Optimized Analogues of Benzyl Piperidine Based Neuropeptide FF Receptor Ligands
  • Advisor: Christopher McCurdy, Ph.D
  • First position post graduation: Postdoctoral Associate | T. Willson’s lab, The University of North Carolina | Chapel Hill, North Carolina

2020 Graduates

Hongfen Yang

  • Dissertation: Synthesis and Discovery of Halogenated Phenazines as Anitbacterial and Biofilm-Eradicating Agents
  • Advisor: Robert W. Huigens III, Ph.D.
  • First position post graduation: Postdoctoral Associate | University of Florida | Gainesville, Florida
  • Current position: Postdoctoral Associate | S. Martin’s lab, UT-Austin | Austin, Texas

Robyn Pescatore

  • Dissertation: Macrocyclic Tetrapeptides as Potential Prostate Cancer Therapeutics
  • Advisor: Jane Aldrich, Ph.D.
  • First / Current position post graduation: Scientist | Bioagilytix | RTP, North Carolina

Peilan Zhang

  • Dissertation: Characterization of Functional Proteins for Drug Research
  • Advisor: Yousong Ding, Ph.D.
  • First / Current position post graduation: Scientist | SalubrisBio | Gaithersburg, Maryland

Wei Zhou (Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)

  • Dissertation: Biochemical, Biophysical, Structural and Cellular Studies of Protein-Ligand Interaction: Insights on Early Drug Discovery Targeting PRMT5 and TEAD2
  • Advisor: Chenglong Li, Ph.D.
  • First position post graduation: Scientist | Hansoh Bio | Rockville, Maryland

2019 Graduates

Katherine Cisneros

  • Dissertation: Interactions of Methoxy-Bromodiphenyl Ethers and Their Metabolites with Human Biotransformation Enzymes
  • Advisor: Margaret James, Ph.D.
  • First / Current position post-graduation: Project Management Associate | Biorasi | Miami, FL

Guangde Jiang

  • Dissertation: Discovery and Production of Bioactive Microbial Natural Products and their Analogs
  • Advisor: Yousong Ding, Ph.D.
  • First / Current position post-graduation: Postdoctoral Associate | University of Illinois Urbana Champaign | Champaign, IL

Mohammad Rezaei (Department of Chemistry)

  • Dissertation: Computational Investigation of Protein-Ligand Molecular Recognition
  • Advisor: Chenglong Li, Ph.D.
  • First position post-graduation: Pfizer Inc., Boston

Xiao Liang

  • Dissertation: Discovery, Total Synthesis and Bioactivity of Natural Products from Marine Cyanobacteria
  • Advisor: Hendrik Luesch, Ph.D.
  • First position post-graduation: Postdoctoral Associate | National Cancer Institute | Bethesda, MD
  • Current position: Senior Scientist | PPD Inc.

 Verrill (Chip) Norwood

  • Dissertation: The Ring Distortion of Vincamine Creates Complex and Diverse Molecules for Drug Discovery
  • Advisor: Robert Huigens, III, Ph.D.
  • First position post-graduation: Postdoctoral Associate | University of North Carolina Chapel Hill | Chapel Hill, NC
  • Current position: Product Development to help companies gain FDA approval

Yi Zhang

  • Dissertation: In Vitro Reconstitution of the Modular Biosynthesis of Microviridins for the Production of Serine Protease Inhibitors
  • Advisor: Yousong Ding, Ph.D.
  • First position post-graduation: Postdoctoral Associate | Princeton University | Princeton, NJ
  • Current position: Scientist I | Absci

2018 Graduates

Yasmeen Abouelhassan

  • Dissertation: Discovery and Mechanistic Investigations of Novel Bacterial Biofilm-Eradicating Agents.
  • Advisor: Robert Huigens, III, Ph.D.
  • First / Current position: Lawrence & Memorial Hospital; Fellow, Center for Anti-infection Research and Development

Danmeng Luo

  • Dissertation: Discovery, Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Bioactive Secondary Metabolites from Marine Cyanobacteria
  • Advisor: Hendrik Luesch, Ph.D.
  • First / Current position post-graduation: Postdoctoral Associate | Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center | New York City, NY

Nicholas Paciaroni

  • Dissertation: Ring Distortion of Yohimbine Leads to Diverse Biological Discoveries
  • Advisor: Robert Huigens, III, Ph.D.
  • First position post-graduation: Postdoctoral Associate | The Scripps Research Institute | Jupiter, FL
  • Current position: Scientist | Deluge Biotechnologies

 Ran Zuo

  • Dissertation: Developing Biocatalytic Processes for the Synthesis of Nitro Compounds
  • Advisor: Yousoung Ding, Ph.D.
  • First position post-graduation: Postdoctoral Associate | University of Florida, Department of Microbiology and Cell Science
  • Current position: Research Scientist | University of Florida

2017 Graduates

Aaron Garrison

  • Dissertation: Discovery and Development of Halogenated Phenazines and Halogenated Quinolines as Biofilm-Eradicating Agents
  • Advisor: Robert Huigens, III, Ph.D.
  • First position post-graduation: Postdoctoral Associate | Vanderbilt University
  • Current position: Senior Scientist | AstraZeneca

Weijing Cai

  • Dissertation: Drug Discovery and Development of Natural Products from Marine Cyanobacteria as Anticancer Agents and Growth Factor Modulators
  • Advisor: Hendrik Luesch, Ph.D.
  • First / Current position post-graduation: Scientist, Intra-Cellular Therapies | New York, NY

Fatma Al-Awadhi

  • Dissertation: Discovery and Characterization of Novel Anticancer and Antimetastatic Agents from Marine Cyanobacteria
  • Advisor: Hendrik Luesch, Ph.D.
  • First / Current position post-graduation: Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry | Kuwait University

Marci Smeltz

  • Dissertation: Factors Modulating Dichloroacetate-Induced Glutathione Transferase Zeta 1 Inactivation in a Rat Model
  • Advisor: Margaret O. James, Ph.D.
  • First position post-graduation: Scientist III | ScitoVation, LLC | Research Triangle Park, NC
  • Current position: Federal Postdoctoral Researcher | US Environmental Protection Agency

Akash Kumar Basak (Department of Chemistry)

  • Dissertation: Synthetic Efforts to Develop Novel Antibacterial Agents that Eradicate Persistent Biofilms
  • Advisor: Robert Huigens, III, Ph.D.

2016 Graduates

Khanh Ha (Department of Chemistry)

  • Dissertation: Development of Methodologies for Coupling and Cyclization of Peptides and Synthesis of Polyketide Fragments for Modified Peptides
  • Advisor: Hendrik Luesch, Ph.D.
  • First position post-graduation: Postdoctoral Associate | Harvard Medical School

Guo Zhong

  • Dissertation: Human Liver Glutathione Transferase Zeta1 (GSTZ1) in Mitochondria and Dichloroacetate-Induced GSTZ1 Inactivation, Roles of Anions, Age and Subcellular Location
  • Advisor: Margaret O. James, Ph.D.
  • First position post-graduation: Postdoctoral Associate | University of Washington
  • Current position: Drug Metabolism Scientist | Amgen, San Francisco

Daniel Felsing

  • Dissertation: Drug Discovery Targeting Serotonin G Protein-Coupled Receptors in the Treatment of Neuropsychiatric Disorders
  • Advisor: Raymond Booth, Ph.D.
  • First / Current position post-graduation: Postdoctoral Researcher | University of Texas Medical Branch

Nikki Thiele

  • Dissertation: Parkinson’s Disease: Prodrug Approaches for Improving the Delivery of Therapeutic Agents
  • Advisor: Kenneth Sloan Ph.D.
  • First position post-graduation: Postdoctoral Associate | Cornell University
  • Current position: R&D Associate Staff Scientist | Oak Ridge National Laboratory

2015 Graduates

Michelle Bousquet

  • Dissertation: Characterization of Natural Products and Genes in Cytoprotective and Oncogenic Pathways Using Complementary in Vitro and in Vivo Model Systems
  • Advisor: Hendrik Luesch, Ph.D.
  • First position post-graduation: Teacher, Math & Science | The School for Young Performers | New York, NY
  • Current position: Senior Project Manager | Oconology; Premier Research

Erin Jackson

  • Dissertation: Interaction of Triclosan with Human and Sheep Phase II Enzymes
  • Advisor: Margaret O. James, Ph.D.
  • First position post-graduation: Postdoctoral Scholar | University of Kentucky
  • Current position: Research Scientist |University of Miami College of Medicine

2013 Graduates

Lilibeth Salvador

  • Dissertation: Drug Discovery from Marine Cyanobacteria Symploca spp. and Phormidium spp.: Novel Structures and Bioactivities of Secondary Metabolites
  • Advisor: Hendrik Luesch, Ph.D.
  • First position post-graduation: Assistant Professor, Marine Science Institute | University of the Philippines – Diliman
  • Current position: Associate Professor, Marine Science Institute | University of the Philippines – Diliman

Rana Montaser

  • Dissertation: Structural Characterization, Biological Evaluation and Synthesis of Novel Secondary Metabolites from Guamanian Marine Cyanobacteria Lyngbya spp.
  • Advisor: Hendrik Luesch, Ph.D.
  • First position post-graduation: Postdoctoral Associate (NIH F32 Fellow) | University of Chicago
  • Current position: Senior Research Associate | Northwestern University

Krishnakanth Kondabolu

  • Dissertation: In Vitro and in Vivo Pharmacology of Novel Phenylaminotetralin (PAT) Analogs at Serotonin 5-HT2 Receptors: Development of Drugs for Neuropsychiatric Disorders
  • Advisor: Raymond Booth, Ph.D.
  • First position post-graduation: Postdoctoral Fellow | Northeastern University
  • Current position: Postdoctoral Fellow | Rutgers University

2012 Graduates

Rui Wang

  • Dissertation: Discovery and Characterization of Small Molecule Activators of the Antioxidant Response Element
  • Advisor: Hendrik Luesch, Ph.D.
  • First position post-graduation: Quality Systems Specialist | Nanotherapeutics, Inc. | Alachua, FL
  • Current position: Associate Director, Project Management | Gilead Sciences, Inc.

Sriram Ambadapadi

  • Dissertation: Modulation of Steroid Sulfonation by Small Molecules That Interact with Sulfotransferases and Sulfatases
  • Advisor: Margaret O. James, Ph.D.
  • First position post-graduation: Postdoctoral Associate | University of Florida
  • Current position: Medical Science Liaison (Oncology) | Bayer

2011 Graduates

Sean Travers

  • Dissertation: Characterization of the Molecular Determinants for Class A G Protein-Coupled Receptor Ligand Binding and Function: Drug Discovery Targeting the Histamine H1 Receptor
  • Advisor: Raymond Booth, Ph.D.
  • First position post-graduation: Sales Associate | Rlgaku Raman Technologies
  • Current position: Sales Associate | Anatom Technologies | Baldwin, MD

Kristen Merritt

  • Dissertation: Cloning and Characterization of Cytosolic Sulfotranferases from Channel Catfish Liver
  • Advisor: Margaret O. James, Ph.D.
  • First position post-graduation: Senior Biological Scientist | Florida Biologix | Alachua, FL
  • Current position: Senior Biological Scientist | Florida Biologix

Wenjun Li

  • Dissertation: Glutathione Transferase Z1-Catalyzed Biotransformation of Dichloroacetate – Roles of Mitochondrion, Subject Age, GSTZ1 Haplotype and Chloride Interaction
  • Advisor: Margaret O. James, Ph.D.
  • First position post-graduation: Postdoctoral Fellow | University of Geneva
  • Current position: Head of Business Development, Greater China & Singapore | Boehringer Ingelheim

2010 Graduate

Jason Kwan

  • Dissertation: Discovery and Biological Evaluation of Secondary Metabolites from Marine Cyanobacteria
  • Advisor: Hendrik Luesch, Ph.D.
  • First position post-graduation: Postdoctoral Associate, College of Pharmacy | University of Utah
  • Current position: Associate Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences | University of Wisconsin-Madison