Magdalena Usategui – BS ’56, MS ’58 and PhD ‘61
Magdalena Usategui was born and raised in Cuba where her father was a “brilliant lawyer” who died when she was only 12 years old. Her mother assumed the conventional role of homemaker and cared for her three children. Young Magdalena was not enthusiastic about the tertiary education opportunities in her homeland and the traditional expectations of women at the time. Her mother was supportive of her ambitious, youngest child and arranged for her to repeat her senior year of high school at Ravenhill Academy, a private Catholic girls’ high school in Germantown, PA, to improve her English and acclimate her to the USA.
Kenneth G. Kneipp
Tulane BS ’66, LSU PhD ‘71
Retired from 3M Company, St Paul, Minnesota
Ken Kneipp entered Tulane University in Fall of 1962 with the intention of becoming either a scientist or a mathematician. By halfway through his freshman year, chemistry emerged as the subject in which he would major. During his sophomore year, he became aware of the new NSF URPP (Undergraduate Research Participation Program) at emerging centers of excellence. LSU’s Department of Chemistry received funding under this program and Kneipp was selected to participate. In the summer of 1964, Kneipp was assigned to work in the newly created laboratories of Professor Bill Pryor. In relation to that entrée to research, Kneipp recalls the summer as “a rich and interesting experience.”
Ashley M. Taylor
(BS ’12 Winston-Salem State, MS ’15 LSU and PhD ’17 LSU)
Specialty Beauty Scientist, Neostrata, Princeton, NJ
Ashley Taylor was born in Queens, New York. Her parents studied computer engineering (father) and nursing (mother). When Ashley was 10 years old, they moved to Piscataway, New Jersey, for her father’s job with Colgate R&D. Growing up, Ashley and her brother were introduced to science fairs, science museums, science books, computer programs and virtually anything science related. Looking back, Ashley says, “I really thought I would become an astronomer and a chemist in a beauty lab.” With her parents’ vocational focus, they figured she would become a healthcare professional or an engineer. She came to realize that “astronomy was more than pretty pictures,” but through twists and turns has recently achieved her ambition of being a scientist in the beauty field.
Arther T. Gates
BS ’00 Alcorn State, MS ’02 University of Nebraska-Lincoln, PhD ’08 LSU
Team Leader, Syngenta Crop Protection, Greensboro, NC
Dr. Arther Gates, an alumnus who graduated with his PhD in 2008, was born in the Mississippi Delta in a small town, Marks, Mississippi. Arther earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 2000 at Alcorn State University in Lorman, Mississippi. He earned a Master of Science in Chemistry at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2002.
In August of 2002 he began his graduate career at LSU. Later that year he began to work in Dr Isiah Warner’s Research Group and was engaged in a collaboration with Professor Robert M. Strongin (now at Portland State University).
Holden T. Smith
BS (UL Monroe ’13), PhD (LSU ’17)
PTD Module and Integration Device Yield Engineer, Intel, Hillsboro, OR
Dr. Holden T. Smith hails from Forest, a small town in Northeast Louisiana. He attended Forest High
School in Northeast Louisiana, receiving his high school diploma and an associate’s
degree from Louisiana Delta Community College the same week of May 2010. He completed
his Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, where he majored in
Chemistry, with a concentration in Biochemistry, graduating in May of 2013. Holden
joined the LSU Chemistry Graduate Studies Program in August of 2013. He earned his
PhD Degree in only four years, graduating in December of 2017.
Dr Anne M Sauer
Global Sector Leader, Adjacencies, Sealed Air, Charlotte, NC
Dr. Anne M Sauer was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She completed her Bachelor’s degree
in 2000 in Chemistry with a minor in Psychology at Louisiana State University. LSU
seemed to be the perfect home for Anne as she also decided to return for her PhD degree
in the Department of Chemistry. She joined the organic division and worked under the
direction of Professor Crowe (Chemistry), Professor Laine (Biochemistry), and Professor
Henderson (Entomology). During Anne’s time as a graduate student at LSU, she received
multiple awards including the Procter & Gamble Award for Most Academically Distinguished
Beginning Graduate Student in the Department of Chemistry, the Outstanding Teaching
Award, the Troy H. Middleton Scholarship, and the Procter & Gamble Research Fellowship.
BS UNO ’70; PhD LSU ‘77
Owner-Operator, NMR Analysis and Consulting, Decatur, IL
Gary Juneau grew up in New Orleans where he attended Cor Jesu (now Brother Martin) High School. He attended LSU New Orleans (now UNO) from whence he received his BS in Chemistry in 1970. Looking back, this is where Gary first became interested in NMR, although he concedes, “I didn’t know much about it.” As an undergraduate, he helped support himself by working as a waiter at the Roosevelt Hotel, where his father was the banquet manager. He was drafted into the army two weeks after graduation. The Vietnam War was coming to a close by then, so he was posted to Nurnberg, Germany. He described this assignment as a “great duty” that enabled him to see Europe.
Upon return to the USA, and New Orleans, Gary performed assorted spectrophotometric analyses as a technician in the laboratory of Dr Gerald Berenson at LSU Medical School on Tulane Avenue. Of that position, Gary says, “the state didn’t pay much and I wanted a more challenging position, so I applied to graduate school.” He entered the PhD program at LSU in the Fall of 1974.
Instructor, LSU Department of Chemistry
Kandace Hurst grew up in Baton Rouge, LA. She attended Scotlandville Magnet High School and participated in the LS-LAMP Timbuktu Academy at Southern University the summer between 11th and 12th grades. She received her BS in Chemistry from Southern University and A&M College. During her time as an undergraduate she had four summer research experiences: in the Department of Physics at Southern, as part of the SMART program, developing lanthanide cathodes with physics applications, a summer of computational chemistry at Iowa State University and two summers at Albemarle R&D where she worked on flame retardants in polymers.
Assistant Professor, Louisiana State University at Alexandria
Alex Nguyen was born in Vietnam and emigrated to the USA with his family at the age of nine. Via Georgia, the Nguyens ended up in Baton Rouge, where Alex attended Belaire High School. Although Alex was born in Vietnam, today he calls Louisiana home, identifying the people, food and education as being rich aspects of life in The Pelican State. As an entering freshman at LSU, Alex planned to pursue a degree and career in pharmacy.
Dr Ning Xie
Senior Research Chemist at Sasol Performance Chemicals in Westlake, LA
Ning Xie was born and raised in Baton Rouge, LA, with a strong family-focus. He completed his Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Louisiana State University, doing undergraduate research with Professor Bob Hammer. He decided to stay on for his graduate studies in Organic Chemistry, starting Spring 2008. In the summer, he joined Professor Carol Taylor’s research group. As a graduate student, Ning achieved the first synthesis and characterization of an epitope in an allergenic protein (Art v 1) of mugwort, a major cause of hayfever in Europe and North America. Following graduation, Ning accepted a postdoc position at TumorEnd, LLC, in Baton Rouge, LA. His projects involved the multistep synthesis and characterization of small bioactive molecules for drug target and therapeutic applications.
Dr Purnendu (Sandy) Dasgupta
Hamish Small Chair in Ion Analysis in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Texas at Arlington
Dr Purnendu Dasgupta was raised in India, where his father provided a strong STEM influence. The senior Dasgupta was a Physician by training and a Professor of Pharmacology. As a high school student, Sandy saved his weekly allowances to fund his personal electrochemistry projects. He received his Bachelor’s degree with Honors in Chemistry from the University of Burdwan, being recognized as a National Science Talent Search Scholar. He continued his studies at Burdwan, earning a MSc degree in Inorganic Chemistry. He then attended the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Sciences (IACS) in Calcutta as a research scholar with Professor Santi R. Palit in Physical Chemistry.
Dr. Claude J. Davis AKA “Dr. Boil”
Principal Scientist and Brand Ambassador at Zatarain’s in New Orleans, LA
Dr Claude J. Davis was born and raised in the wonderful city of New Orleans, LA. He obtained his ACS-certified Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Xavier University of Louisiana. He joined the Department of Chemistry at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge as a graduate student in organic chemistry. He worked in the group of Professor Robert M. Strongin and successfully defended his dissertation and graduated in May of 2001. On reminiscing about his time at LSU as a graduate student, Claude recalls, “I greatly appreciated the diversity of the LSU Chemistry graduate program. The program had great global representation from a student perspective, and it taught me how to work well with people from different backgrounds including some with language barriers.
Dr Kiara Taylor-Edinbyrd
Research Scientist in the PhD Professional Development Program at BASF
Dr Kiara Taylor-Edinbyrd was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas. After graduation, Kiara taught high school chemistry and physics courses at Arlington Height High School in the Fort Worth Independent School District. Her passion for chemistry was enhanced over time and she decided to join the Department of Chemistry at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and was awarded a Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship from the National Science Foundation, via the Office of Strategic Initiatives.
Dr. Britney Hebert
R&D Chemist at Oxiteno USA, LLC in Hattiesburg, MS
Dr Britney Hebert grew up in Houma, Louisiana and completed her Bachelors in Chemistry at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, LA. After graduation, she decided that she would continue her journey at Louisiana State University as a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry. She joined the macromolecular division and completed her studies under the direction of Dr David Spivak. As a student in his group, Britney synthesized stationary phase materials, their packing into chromatography columns and their use for HPLC analysis.
Dr Veronica Holmes
Senior Technical Services Chemist, Bercen, Inc.
Dr Veronica Holmes hails from the microscopic village of “Bayou Goula”, 30 miles south of Baton Rouge. She attended the Honors College at Southern University in Baton Rouge, from whence she received a BS in Chemistry in 1999. In her time at Southern she received a number of awards, including the David and Lucille Packard Foundation Award. She was a Golden Key National Honors Society Scholar and a Timbuktu Academy Scholar.
Dr. Ralph Isovitsch
Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, Whittier College, Whittier, CA
Dr Ralph Isovitsch was born and raised in Butler, in the west of Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. He attended Grove City College in Grove City, PA, graduating in May of 1992 with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. A month later, Ralph joined the Department of Chemistry at Louisiana State University as a graduate student. In keeping with his interests in inorganic and organic synthesis, as well as inorganic photochemistry, he decided to work with Professor Maverick.
Dr. Sherrisse K. Bryant
Visiting Instructor at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida
Dr. Sherrisse K. Bryant was born and raised in Tallahassee, Florida and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee, FL in 2007. She relocated to Baton Rouge, LA, to become a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry at Louisiana State University. She identified as an analytical chemist and decided to join Professor Doug Gilman’s research group.
Dr Wayne Huberty
Analytical Chemist in the Process Development Center at Albemarle in Baton Rouge, LA
Dr Wayne Huberty was born and raised in Appleton, Wisconsin, and completed his Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Biology at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 2009. He accepted his offer to become a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry at Louisiana State University. With interests in polymers, Wayne decided to join the macromolecular division and was co-advised by Professor Russo and Professor Zhang. Before becoming a PhD candidate, Professor Russo required his students to complete a Master’s degree and Wayne successfully defended his Master’s thesis in 2012 and continued his research toward the PhD candidacy exam. His research involved the synthesis of polymers and their characterization.
Senior R&D Chemist, Vincit Group, Zeco Inc. Chattanooga, TN
Natchitoches, LA, is the hometown of Dr Rider Barnum. He graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans, LA, with a BS in Chemistry in 2007. Rider joined the LSU PhD program in Chemistry in August of 2007. He earned his PhD under the direction of Cyril and Tutta Vetter Alumni Professor George Stanley. Rider loved the “freedom to work on research projects, the great facilities available to students/researchers” and the camaraderie amongst grad students.
Dr Jasmine M. Drake
Assistant Professor, Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs
Dr Jasmine Drake is a native of Baton Rouge, LA. She completed her BS in Chemistry at Southern University and A&M College. She continued directly with graduate studies, joining the Department of Chemistry at LSU. With interests in inorganic chemistry, she decided to join Professor Julia Y. Chan’s solid-state chemistry group. Jasmine’s dissertation described the synthesis and characterization of lanthanide intermetallic materials using single crystal X-ray diffraction, powder, X-ray diffraction, and scanning electron microscopy. During her time at LSU, Jasmine was a recipient of the Proctor & Gamble Outstanding Graduate Research Award and won third place at the Colloquium Poster Competition.
Dr. Emanuel Waddell
Associate Dean for the College of Science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville
Dr Emanuel Waddell was born and raised in Bull City, also known as Durham, North Carolina. He decided to head south where he attended Morehouse College, an all male HBCU in Atlanta, Georgia. After becoming a “Morehouse man” and completing his Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, Emanuel set his compass north and joined the graduate program in Chemistry at the University of Rochester in the State of New York. He completed an MS in Physical Chemistry and then joined the Department of Chemistry at LSU.
Dr. Alecia McCall-Gabriel
Global Coordinator for Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA)
Dr. Alecia McCall-Gabriel was born and raised in Jefferson City, Missouri but claims Detroit, Michigan as home since moving there after her freshman year of high school. Later, she attended Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, where she majored in biochemistry and minored in biology. Alecia enjoyed her undergraduate research in the synthesis of molecules for cancer treatment so much that she decided to pursue a PhD. In the summer of 2007, she lived in Ghana where she conducted research at the University of Cape Coast, using analytical techniques to analyze phytochemical components of interest for the treatment of diabetes and hypertension.
Dr. Rolanda Johnson
Principal Scientist and Senior Manager of Scientific Communications
Dr Rolanda Johnson Wilkerson has an innate passion for beauty care as well as science! She was born and raised in Baker, LA, where she would do hair, and experiment with makeup, on her dolls and friends. She decided to turn this hobby into her reality and completed a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at Southern University. Rolanda became a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry at Louisiana State University and received a Huel Perkins Graduate Fellowship. She was drawn to organic chemistry and worked in Professor Robert Strongin’s laboratory where she elucidated the mechanism of chromophore formation in resorcinarene compounds. Her research presented industrial implications for the detection of glucose in blood.
Dr. Benson Getenga Ongarora
Associate Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer Moi University, Eldoret Kenya
Dr. Benson Getenga Ongarora was born and raised in the rural parts of Kisii County, Kenya. He completed his Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at Moi University in Eldoret, Kenya. Benson enrolled for a MS degree and, after completing a year of coursework, he was accepted into the Doctoral program in the Department of Chemistry at Louisiana State University. As a graduate student, Benson joined Professor Graça Vicente’s group where he worked on phthalocyanines as biomarkers and possible photodynamic therapy agents. He published seven journal articles as a graduate student and was also a recipient of Coates Travel Awards which allowed him to present at several conferences.
Dr Michael Griffith
Retired Vice-President of R&D, ARCO Chemical Company
Michael Griffith received a BS in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, in 1963. He was the first PhD student of Boyd Professor Emeritus William A. Pryor. He received his PhD in physical-organic chemistry from LSU in January 1968. He did post-doctoral studies at the University of Minnesota in 1968. Dr Griffith started his career with duPont, and spent a total of 30 years in industrial research and development before retiring in 1998. He is the retired Vice-President (VP) of Research & Development (R&D) for ARCO Chemical Company, a position he held for 7 years
Dr. Matthew McKenzie
HPC Technical Lead, Corning Inc. Corning, NY
Dr. Matthew McKenzie was born and raised in Naples, FL and moved to Tampa, FL where he completed his Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at the University of South Florida. Matthew’s decision to attend graduate school was motivated by his participation in an undergraduate research program where he studied the effects of toxin absorption in waterway plants. As a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry at LSU, he worked with Professor Bin Chen and collaborated closely with Professor Garno and Professor Waldrop.
Dr William Silvers
Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Radiology, UTSW
Dr William Silvers grew up in Kerrville, Texas and matriculated from Texas State University with his BS in Chemistry. He entered the graduate program at Louisiana State University in Fall of 2007 and joined Professor Robin McCarley’s Lab. William graduated with his doctorate in the fall of 2012 and accepted a position in the Department of Radiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center as a postdoctoral associate. His schedule varies from week to week, depending on tasks that need to be completed.
Dr. Constantina Kappnissi-Christodoulou
Assistant Professor, University of Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus
Constantina Kapnissi-Christodoulou was born and raised in Nicosia, Cyprus. She received her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the University of Cyprus in Nicosia where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. Constantina moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to attend graduate school at Louisiana State University, where she completed her PhD studies under the direction of Professor Isiah M Warner in 2004.
Benson J. Edagwa
Instructor and ViiV Healthcare Distinguished Scientist, Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience, University of Nebraska Medical Center
Dr. Benson Edagwa was born and raised in Kenya and received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Moi University in Eldoret, Kenya. Reflection on his time as a PhD student Benson stated that he enjoyed the state-of-the-art lab facilities and gifted faculty engaged in cutting edge research and mentoring of students to deepen their understanding of science is something that few other chemistry programs enjoy. Benson completed his PhD in the Spring 2012 and accepted a position at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in July of 2012.