NSF has awarded four students the Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) award

This year’s recipients are:

Irma Avdic is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Mazziotti group. Her current research focuses on developing novel computational techniques that will maximally utilize noisy quantum computers as new-generation quantum sensors. She uses one-electron theories from the generalized Pauli exclusion principle to study the openness of few-qubit systems and the effect noise on noisy intermediate-scale quantum (NISQ) devices has on these systems, specifically for applications in quantum sensing. She hopes that theoretical insight into the role of quantum computers in quantum sensing technology will be significant in the experimental implementation of molecular multi-qubit quantum sensors that may be used to map protein structures and dynamics, optimize spintronic devices, and even detect dark matter.

Ian Bongalonta

Ian Bongalonta is a second-year theoretical chemistry PhD student in the groups of Professors Aaron Dinner and Andrei Tokmakoff. He is interested in chemical dynamics, specifically nonequilibrium relaxation processes and the connections between two-dimensional infrared spectroscopy and classical molecular dynamics. Currently, he is studying the role of disorder in the structure of insulin.  Ian is also interested in the implementation of new pedagogical theories as Chicago Center for Teaching and Learning Fellow. Outside of the lab, he plays bassoon with the University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Seth Freedman

Seth Freedman is a second-year organic chemistry PhD student in Professor Scott Snyder’s research lab. Interested in natural product total synthesis, he is currently working towards developing gold-catalyzed transformations to provide facile access to difficult natural product structures. Ultimately, this work will be utilized towards the total synthesis of complex natural products.

Jose Luis Guerra

Jose Guerra is a 2nd year theoretical chemistry PhD student working in Prof. Benoît Roux’s lab. He is interested in the study of proteins and their function.  Jose utilizes a variety of computational methods to study the underlying principles behind ion transport in P-type ATPase pumps. Importantly, these molecular machines are noted for their incredible efficiency and the mechanisms that govern the coupling of chemical energy to work are still elusive despite several decades of research on the system. Overall, the work will provide details on the fundamental process of transport in P-type Pumps. Outside of lab, Jose is the chair of Recruitment and Retention on the UChicago Diversity Advisory Board, a mentor for STEM signing day, and a of the Graduate Student Engagement and Community team for Científico Latino.

Matthew Hennefarth

Matthew Hennefarth is a second-year theoretical chemistry PhD student and a member of Professor Laura Gagliardi’s research group. He is interested in electronic structure methods which are applicable to studying quantum dynamics and light-matter interactions. He is currently developing a new multi-state pair density functional theory which can give the correct potential energy surface topology near conical intersections, respect spatial and spin symmetry when present, and generate quantitatively accurate molecular properties. Ultimately, Matthew wishes to apply this method to various iron-sulfur cluster proteins which play important roles in photosynthesis, cellular respiration, and nitrogen fixation to name a few.