An update from Chris

“Since late June to early August I’ve been doing research in a supramolecular organic chemistry lab. I’ve been taking part in is synthesizing organic ion transport channels that can be implemented into cells! Essentially the ion channels have a backbone consisting of aryl rings connected via peptide bonds, and then off the aryl rings are a variety of peptide chains that interact with each other via hydrogen bonding, forming a helical structure that facilitates ion transport! I got as far as synthesizing the main building block, the single aryl ring that gets repeated over and over. If I had more time, I would have been able to join the units together into a six-unit monomer that then gets polymerized into the actual ion channel. For those of you that don’t understand anything I just said, I essentially made building blocks for a door your cells use to move little charged particles in and out, which is quite crucial for life. I’ve learned so much while I’ve been in the lab here. I mainly work with polymeric materials at UConn, so getting my hands on some organic synthesis has been incredible. I came in not being 100% sure on how to run TLC well and left being fully confident running large scale column chromatography for purification. I’ll be sure to upload some pictures of what lab looked like, as pictures are worth a thousand words.”- Chris ChapmanIMG_3342


UCONN Chemistry

Sorry for the late update. Chris and I caught a pretty bad cold so we had to take some time to recuperate and also the internet is extremely slow. Currently, I am back in lab and I am carrying out the synthesis of organometalic ligands for the synthesize of macrocycles. I have completed synthesis of hydrogels using stearyl methacrylate, and the results are remarkable.

I never realized how great the UCONN Chemistry Department is until I came to China. Everyone I have talked to from the United States to Germany knows about UCONN because of the Chemistry Department (and also the basketball team). Students from Harvard and University of Munister in Germany were talking to us about how well renown our chemistry department is, and continued to detail some of the research it has accomplished. What’s even more remarkable is how well UCONN prepares its students. I attended several graduate classes on cationic Olefin-metathesis catalysts and variable size molecular squares via reduction and oxidation of the metal center and back bonding and I understood exactly what was going on (thank you Dr. Leadbeater’s Inorganic II course!!). I could not have wished to study chemistry elsewhere and I am really excited for what is yet to come. Also if you can’t tell…. UCONN Chemistry department is phenomenal!

VLOG update #3

Ni hao! After a month of carrying out chemical reactions in the lab, our research groups have left for a two week vacation. Chris and I have used this time to explore China. We have gone to Nanjing, Suzhou, Beijing, Huang Shan, and Hangzhou. All these little gems (Beijing isn’t really little) are filled with beautiful geographical and cultural sites that have just blown our minds. Huang Shan (Yellow Mountains) are one of the most beautiful mountains I have ever laid eyes upon. The pictures do no justice.

Our new home





1-chris walking-21-driving-21-move in-21-tall buildings-2
Ni hao! Chris and I (Omar) landed safely in Shanghai and are enjoying our new home. We arrived a day late due to cancellations and delays. The language barrier is tough but we are managing, and we have learned enough to bargain with the street vendors. The weather in Shanghai is very hot and humid, but our rooms have AC! Last but not least, Chris and I bought bikes today and we are starting to feel like natives.

An Introduction

Since 2012, the Chemistry Department at the University of Connecticut (UConn) has been actively developing international collaborations with other Universitas 21 institutions (the leading global network of research universities), such as Fudan University and Shanghai Jiaotong University (SJTU) in China. The partnership has provided great channels for the exchange of students, scholars, and educational resources.

This summer, we (undergraduate students Omar Allam and Chris Chapman) will carry out chemistry research at Fudan University. Here, we will detail our experiences inside and outside the lab!

Last Week in China

During our last week in China, we went on a day trip to a nearby city called Suzhou in Jiangsu Province. It was about a twenty minute ride by fast train from Shanghai. We visited the Humble Administrator’s Garden and the Tiger Hill.

Humble Administrator’s Garden and Tiger Hill in Suzhou
Humble Administrator’s Garden and Tiger Hill in Suzhou

One of our last dinners together was at a restaurant called Yeli Xiali located in Wujiaochang. The restaurant served cuisine from Xinjiang Province, which tasted very similar to Turkish cuisine.

group photo at dinner
from left to right: Chen Lan, Huai Kun, Tania Mohamed, Guo Rong, Xin Pengyang, and Stuart Mehrens

cuisine from Xinjiang Province

Before we left, we presented the gifts from the UConn Chemistry Department to the graduate students and professors. They were very appreciative and also gifted Stuart and me with souvenirs from Fudan University.

I would like to thank Professor Li and Professor Zhang for allowing us to work in their lab, and all the graduate students who helped us during our stay. I especially want to thank Chen Lan, Huai Kun, and Guo Rong, who spent the majority of their time with us. Lastly, I would like to thank the UConn Chemistry Department for giving us this opportunity to go to Fudan University.

group photo with UConn Chemistry shirts
from left to right: Guo Rong, Chen Lan, and Huai Kun

group photos with Tania and Stuart