2020 Mandel Fellows

November 10, 2020

The Department of Chemistry would like to announce the recipients of the 2020 Mandel Fellowship, an award made possible by a gift established in honor of Dr. Frederick Mandel: Meenakshi Ranasinghe, Shiyu Zhang, Lucas Ayres, Kaylan Jackson, and Kerrick Rees. These students have achieved an outstanding level of productivity since their arrival to our program. Each of them has earned a fellowship of $4000 that will be added to their stipends. We are thankful for their contribution and we expect that this award contributes to their professional development and success.

Kaylan Jackson earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, NC in 2018. As a third-year graduate student, she is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Chemistry, where her current work focuses on the development of analytical tools to isolate and characterize extracellular vesicles of cancer origin based on their biomarker cargos.


Lucas de Brito Ayres earned his bachelor in Pharmacy-Biochemistry from the University of Sao Paulo (Brazil) and has already worked with Drs. Do Lago and Gutz on analytical Instrumentation, specifically by developing chemical instruments based on open-source technologies (e.g. Arduino, 3D printers and Android). He is currently pursuing his PhD in Chemistry and is interested in continuing working with low-cost sensors, instrumentation, and automation.


Meenakshi Ranasinghe earned her bachelor’s in chemistry from University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Chemistry and working on patterning plasmonic nanoparticles using mechanical deformation, synthesizing bright x-ray nanoscintillators for neuron stimulation, studying x-ray stimulated behavior of Caenorhabditis elegans, and Covid-19 detection in saliva. She is interested in working on multidisciplinary research projects. Her graduate advisor is Dr. Jeffrey N. Anker.


Shiyu Zhang earned his bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Nankai University in China. During his undergraduate period, he joined Prof. Xianhe Bu’s group and worked on the design and synthesis of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). Currently, he is a third-year Chemistry Ph.D. student in Prof. Sourav Saha’s group, focusing on design, construction, and structure-property relationship studies of stimuli-responsive electronic and photonic metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) based on redox- and photoactive ligands.


Kerrick C. Rees obtained his Bachelors and Masters of Science in the field of Chemistry from Colorado State University. During this time, he worked under the supervision of the late professor Robert Williams pursuing the total synthesis of several different classes of indole alkaloid natural products. He has further expanded upon his synthetic organic knowledge while working on a variety of different projects for professor Daniel Whitehead, including the development of small molecule therapeutics for the selective growth inhibition of human gut microbes and the treatment of Toxoplasma gondii infections in immunocompromised individuals.


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