Past Group Members

Graduate Students

Sonya Adas

Sonya Adas

About me: Though born in Akron, I spent most of my life in the western part of Ohio. With parents from overseas, I have been fortunate to have grown up in a hybridized Italian and Jordanian household with vast perspectives and the most amazing food. I completed my undergraduate studies at Ohio Northern University, where an inspiring faculty fostered a great love and appreciation for the physical and biological sciences as threads in the same fabric. I chose to pursue a higher degree in inorganic chemistry, a field that can cross many borders of chemical disciplines. During my time in graduate school an interest in biological inorganic chemistry has developed as well as a passion for teaching; the latter being my current primary career goal.

Research Interests: Currently working on improving synthetic methodologies for preparing precursors of nitrosyl hydride that will subsequently be used for bioinorganic studies.

Other interests: Academic and philanthropic outreach, traveling, reading, cooking, yoga.

M. Saifur Rahman

M. Saifur Rahman

About me: I am from Bangladesh. I was born in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. I completed my graduation in Chemistry from Shahjalal University (SUST), Sylhet, which significantly shaped my career path in Chemistry. To my mind it is of key importance to gain valuable research experience and deepen my knowledge in Chemistry. I am interested in synthetic chemistry that has particular importance in nature. That is why I joined the Brasch/Sampson groups as part of my PhD studies in Chemistry at Kent State University.

Research Interests: My research work involves the synthesis of new nitroxyl donor compounds that will be used for bioinorganic studies.

Other Interests: Traveling, reading, cricket, watching movies, cooking.

Rohan Dassanayake

Rohan Dassanayake

About me. I am from the island of Sri Lanka, which is known as the pearl of the Indian Ocean. The name of my home town is Kandy. It is famous for many temples and could be called the cultural capital of the island. The most renowned temple in Kandy is the temple of the tooth relic. I majored in chemistry at the University of Peradeniya. Subsequently I joined the Brasch Group as part of the PhD program in Chemistry at Kent State University.

Research Interests. My work involves the study of the reactions of Vitamin B12 derivatives with reactive oxygen species in terms of their kinetics and mechanistic behavior.

Other Interests. Playing Cricket, Watching TV, Listening to music

Harishchandra Subedi

Harishchandra Subedi

About me. I am from Nepal, the country of Mt. Everest – the highest peak in the world. I completed my Master’s Degree in Inorganic Chemistry from Tribhuvan University, Nepal in 2004. I came to Kent State University in August 2008 to join the PhD program in Chemistry. I am now working in the Brasch Group.

Research Interests. I am interested to work with Vitamin B12 derivatives and currently synthesizing some of the cobalamins and studying the vanadium binding with them.

Other Interests. Watching comedy movies, visiting new places and listening to music.

Alexandria Lesak

Alexandria Lesak

About me: I was born in Parma, Ohio and have spent my entire life in Northeastern Ohio. Currently, I am pursuing a degree in chemistry with a concentration in biochemistry, along with a minor in biology at Kent State University. I joined the Brasch Group in June of 2012 because of the REU program and how intrigued I was to learn more about medicinal research.

Research Interests: My focus is on vitamin B12 derivatives as therapeutics for health conditions associated with oxidative stress, such as Alzheimer’s and anemia. I am also interested in learning about how vitamin B12 is stored in cells and its metabolic pathways throughout the body.

Other Interests: Traveling, running, music and trying new activities.

Riya Mukherjee

Riya Mukherjee

About me. I am from Calcutta, a lively and big city in the eastern part of India. I completed my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Physical Chemistry from University of Calcutta. I joined the Ph.D program in Chemistry at Kent State University in 2005 and started working with Dr. Nicola Brasch. The area of my research is Bioinorganic Chemistry.

Research Interests. I have been working on a wide variety of research projects. I started working on syntheses and spectroscopy of several V(III)/carboxylate complexes in aqueous solution. After that, I worked on vanadium-vitamin B12 bioconjugates and became interested in the chemistry of vitamin B12 derivatives or cobalamins. Currently I am working on syntheses and characterization of a novel thiolatocobalamin which may be beneficial for the treatment of diseases related to oxidative stress.

Other Interests. Reading books, listening to music, travel.

Edward Suarez-Moreira

Edward Suarez-Moreira

About me. I am from Montevideo, the second most southern capital in the world in Uruguay, the smallest Spanish-speaking country in South America. I obtained my B.Sc. degree in Biochemistry at the ‘Universidad de la República’ in 2002 where I worked as a teaching and research assistant at the Physical Biochemistry Laboratory until December of 2003. In January 2004 I joined the KSU/CCF/NEOUCOM Biomedical Sciences doctoral program under the guidance of Dr. Nicola Brasch, Dr. Donald Jacobsen and Dr. June Yun.

Research Interests. The exact biochemical mechanisms that lead to the incorporation of cobalamins into the B12-dependent enzymes have not yet been elucidated. We (Jacobsen et al.) were the first to show that glutathionylcobalamin (GSCbl) is present in mammalian cells and proposed that GSCbl is a key intermediate in the biosynthesis of cobalamin cofactors. Since human aortic endothelial cells have been shown to have no cystathionine β-synthase activity, they rely solely on B12-dependent methionine synthase to metabolize Hcy. We have chosen this model to demonstrate the natural occurrence of GSCbl in human cells and further investigate B12 intracellular metabolism. We have developed a general method for synthesizing cobalamin derivatives. We are currently studying the stability of different thiolatocobalamins to further understand the chemistry of this family of compounds.

Other Interests. Languages and linguistics. Politics. Theatre and films.

Hanaa Hassanin

Hanaa Hassanin

About me. I am from Egypt. I completed my B.Sc degree in Chemistry and my Master’s degree in Analytical Chemistry at the Ain Shams University in Cairo, and am a professor at this university. I came to Ohio in September 2007 to carry out part of my Ph.D studies under the supervision of Dr. Nicola Brasch, on a scholarship provided by the Egyptian government. I returned to Egypt in September 2009 and expect to complete my PhD thesis early in 2010.

Research Interests. In the Brasch Group I carried out studies on the reactions between cobalamins and NONOate compounds.

Other Interests. Reading, watching moves, spending more time with my kids and chatting online with my mother.

Luciana Hannibal

Luciana Hannibal

About me. I was born in Uruguay (34°53’S, 56°10’W). I obtained my degree (BSc) at the ‘Universidad de la República’ (Montevideo, Uruguay) in Biochemistry. During my undergraduate studies I worked on the biochemistry of free radicals. I was especially interested in the use of manganese porphyrins to protect biologically relevant targets against the damage provoked by oxidant species such as the deleterious peroxynitrite, which is produced under certain pathological circumstances. This research work ended up not only with my degree but also with a publication.

Research Interests. I joined the labs of Dr. Nicola Brasch and Dr. Donald Jacobsen in July 2005 to work in the research area of vitamin B12 and am part of the PhD collaborative program between Kent State University and the Cleveland Clinic. I have recently completed studies on the chemistry of nitrosylcobalamin, a vitamin B12 derivative with controversial biological effects. Both the synthesis and the characterization of this compound were carried out. My current research focus is cobalamin processing in mammalian cells and I am carrying out this work in the lab of Dr. Jacobsen at the Lerner Research Institute, Department of Cell Biology, at the Cleveland Clinic.

Michael Radomski

Michael Radomski

About me. I am a native Ohioan, and my family lives in Youngstown. I have a Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, completed in 2006 under the supervision of Dr Nicola Brasch.

Research Interests. My project was involved with the synthesis of vitamin B12 bioconjugates for the treatment of diabetes. After completing my MS, I went to medical school at The University of Cincinnati. Although not directly related to what I do now, I found my MS studies to be rewarding and an enjoyable experience. Some of my research was published in a Chem. Commun. Article in 2006, and even made it into C&E News! (June 30, 2008).

Postdoctoral Fellows

Dr. Edward Donnay

Dr. Edward Donnay

About me. My project involved the synthesis of vitamin B12 bioconjugates (October 2005-July 2006). I now have my own faculty position at McMurry University, Abilene, Texas.

Dr. Vijay Iyer

About me. I spent one year in the lab of Dr. Brasch working on the synthesis of vitamin B12 bioconjugates from 2006-2007. I now work as a licensing associate at the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research and Strategic Initiatives at Temple University, Philadelphia.

Undergraduate Students

Matthew Brining

Matthew Brining

About me: I was born in the San Fernando Valley in California, but I’ve spent most of my life in Ohio. While in high school, I was attracted to the thought of a law enforcement career, and this led me to attend a vocational school that did not have a single course in chemistry. After a stint in the Army as a military police officer, I returned to college with the goal of finding a different career. During my freshman year I was an exploratory major. My initial interest in science came from the biology department. I took a freshman level biology course, and found myself curious. I wanted to learn more, and in the process of following the biology major I came upon the general chemistry course offered here at Kent. I was so fascinated by the ability of chemistry to explain everyday experience, as well as the science behind what makes biological systems work, that I soon declared the chemistry major. In the future I hope to get a PhD in chemistry and continue doing research.

Research Interests: I am most interested in chemistry when it remains biologically relevant. This makes the Brasch Group a perfect fit. Currently, I am synthesizing bioconjugates of vitamin B12 for cell studies.

Other Interests: Volunteering, reading, movies, video games, and philosophy.

Mary Waddington

Mary Waddington

About me: I was born and raised in the Akron/Canton area. I went to a small high school and decided I wanted to attend a large university after I graduated. I chose Kent and decided to major in chemistry with a biochemistry concentration. I have since dropped the biochemistry concentration and have added a math minor. I’m very excited to be able to start research so early in my undergraduate career.

Research Interests: I am currently investigating the kinetic and mechanistic properties of HNO when reacted with other biological species. I am very interested in being exposed to many types of chemistry, one of the major advantages with joining the Brasch group.

Other Interests: Trying new foods, snow skiing, boating, meeting new people, and playing with my puppy.

Andrew Hunt

Andrew Hunt

About me: I was born in Columbus OH, where I lived the majority of my life until I started attending Kent State University. I came to college with the initial thought that I wanted to go to pharmacy school but changed my mind mid sophomore year after taking a real interest in my chemistry courses and talking with multiple advisors. The conversations I had with them are where I realized that I would much rather be helping make or discover new chemicals and biochemical pathways to aid people instead of helping to distribute them. I am now pursuing my B.S. in chemistry with a biochemistry concentration and minor in biology, with the intent to attend a graduate school and then obtain a job in a biomedical field of study.

Research Interests: I joined the Brasch Group because I am interested in the chemistry behind biological molecules such as vitamin B12 – their reactivity, mechanisms and the applications they hold in living organisms. I am currently studying the reactions of cobalamins with reactive oxygen species.

Other Interests: Playing guitar, exercising, the great outdoors, traveling, trying new foods, grilling/cooking, good movies, and learning about the universe.

David Walker

David Walker

About me: I was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, but I have spent most of my life in Northeastern Ohio. I am currently pursuing a degree in Chemistry with a concentration in Biochemistry. I joined the Brasch Group in July of 2010. I became involved in this group because I wanted to know what it was like to participate in research, and I also wanted to learn more about the fascinating chemistry of vitamin B12.

Research Interests: I am currently focusing on the kinetics of vitamin B12 derivatives, such as glutathionylcobalamin, nitrosylcobalamin and nitrocobalamin, reacting with different species. More generally speaking, I am interested in Bioinorganic Chemistry and Organic Chemistry.

Other Interests: Playing hockey, soccer and golf; reading and camping.

Jeff Brown

Jeff Brown

About me: My name is Jeffrey Brown and I am from Tallmadge, OH. I joined the Brasch Group in the summer of 2010 through the REU program. At that time, I was entering my junior year at Kent State pursuing a B.S. in biochemistry. In May 2012, I graduated with a BS (Biochemistry) and was accepted into Medical School at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Research and Academic Interests: I decided to pursue research because I wanted to gain more knowledge on modern research techniques (including instrumentation), and learn more about the chemistry of bioinorganic compounds. Currently I am conducting equilibrium studies on vitamin B12 derivatives. I have enjoyed the time spent this summer working under Dr. Brasch’s supervision, and plan to continue working in the lab throughout my undergraduate studies.

Other interests: Fishing, Gardening, Traveling, Running, Grappling, Reading, and Music.

Bryan Smith

About me: I am from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I am currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Chemistry. I joined the Brasch Group in January of 2011. As a freshman, it is great to have an opportunity to participate in a research lab.

Research Interests: As I have just begun research in the lab, I am exposed to all sorts of new and different projects. I am currently being taught the fundamentals of the lab, but everything I am doing is in the context of researching the chemistry of reactions between cobalamins and NO donor molecules.

Other Interests: Playing any sport, lifting, anything involving football.

Noah Plymale

Noah Plymale

About me. I am a native Kent resident and am currently pursuing a B.S. degree in Chemistry at Kent State University. I am a member of Dr. Brasch’s undergraduate research group and am involved in research on vitamin B12 derivatives. I have enjoyed working in a Bioinorganic Lab and I plan on continuing my undergraduate research with Dr. Brasch.

Research and academic interests. I am currently very interested in Organic, Biological, and Bioinorganic Chemistry. My motivation for doing research is to develop an understanding for the chemistry of biological systems. I feel that Bioinorganic Chemistry is a fascinating and unique way to learn more about such biological systems.

Other Interests. In addition to Chemistry, I am very interested in Biology and Mathematics. Outside of school, I am a math tutor for the Academic Success Center and I play the trumpet in the athletic bands at Kent State. I also enjoy being with my friends, baking, and playing games of any sort.

Noah Plymale was kind enough to provide a statement about his undergraduate research experience in the Brasch Group for the Open Positions Page (bottom of page).

Elizabeth Schindler

Elizabeth Schindler

About me. My name is Liz Schindler and I’ve lived in the Stow-Kent area of Ohio all my life. I am working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Chemistry at Kent State University. In March 2008 I joined Dr. Nicola Brasch’s research group. I enjoyed participating in the REU program under Dr. Brasch’s guidance in summer 2008 and plan on continuing vitamin B12 research during my undergraduate studies.

Research and academic interests. Inorganic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, psychology, and neuroscience. Last year I carried out biological research in Costa Rica and enjoyed the varied environments there.

Other Interests. Cooking, tennis, movies, yoga, and travel. I am also an officer of the American Medical Student Association and hope to go to Medical School to pursue MD/PhD degrees.

Kamille Garcia

(NSF-REU, summer 2009)

John Hwang

John Hwang

About me. I am an American of Taiwanese descent from Akron, Ohio. I am a senior at Kent State University studying Biological Chemistry. Since 2007, I have been an undergraduate researcher with Dr. Brasch’s group.

Research and academic interests. In the summer of 2008, I was a participant in Kent State’s REU Chemistry program where I synthesized potential glucose-lowering B12 bioconjugates capable of vanadium binding. After graduating from Kent State University I plan on attending Pharmacy School to pursue a Pharm. D. degree.

Other Interests. I have been a member of the Taiwanese Student Assosciation and the Kent State Badminton Club. In my spare time I enjoy volunteering at the local hospital, playing golf and piano.

Justin Yun

(2005-2007; NSF-REU, summer 2005)

Leslie Schumacher

(2007-2008; NSF-REU, summer 2006)

Roberto Chavez

(2005-2007; supported by the OSEA)

R. Sean Trevino

(NSF-REU, summer 2005)

Brenda Dougan

Brenda Dougan

(2004-2005; NSF-REU, summer 2004)

Brenda Dougan was kind enough to provide a statement about her undergraduate research experience in the Brasch Group for the Open Positions Page (bottom of page).

Michelle Riggs

(NSF-REU, summer 2003)

 

The Brasch Group in Summer 2005

The Brasch Group in Summer 2005