Chemistry and Biochemistry Department News

The Chemistry and Biochemistry publishes stories about student and faculty success.

Featured Faculty, Students and Alumni

2022 News

Kelsey WolfeKelsey Wolfe, BS Biochemistry, got accepted into  UC Berkeley, ranked #2, and The Scripps Research Institute, ranked  #6, graduate programs.  Kelsey worked in Dr. Fountain's research on the structure a triple helical DNA involved DNA damage and repair using the departments NMR  as well as docking metal ions and metal ion drug complexes to nucleic acids using Autodock software.  She will be attending the Scripps research institute in Florida.

Cassie Collea

Cassie Collea, BS Chemistry, Is now a forensic scientist 1 at the Niagara County Sheriff's Office Forensics Lab. She received her masters in Forensic Science at Syracuse University prior to starting at the Sheriff's office.

2021 News

 Kathleen Hayes '18  wins People's Choice winner in the 2021 Notre Dame Graduate School Shaheen 3 minute talk competition.  

Fredonia Alum Wins Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences

Alum Jeffery Kelly, BS Chemistry '82, wins $ 3,000,000 Breakthrough Prize

Alum Jeffery Kelly won the Breakthrough Prize for demonstrating that nervous system and heart diseases can be caused by protein clumping-associated toxicity, and for inventing a medication to slow progression of such diseases.

The 2022 Breakthrough Prizes in Fundamental Physics, Life Sciences and Mathematics are recognized as one of the world’s most prestigious science prizes. Kelly’s award, one of three life science prizes announced Thursday, recognizes transformative advances in the understanding of neurological disease. For more information on Jeffery Kelly's  award and research go to…

Joshuel Velasco participates in summer research at the Scripps Research Institute in California.

Joshuel Velasco

Joshuel worked in Jeffery Kelly's lab where he  synthesized and tested small molecule analogs to better understand their mechanism of action in neurodegenerative diseases. He gained valuable  experience in  working with U251 and HEK 293 cell cultures, Click-Chemistry, SDS-PAGE and Western Blotting to measure autophagic flux.

Dr. Cardenas and Brandon Landis do Summer  Research at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Brandon at PNNLBrandon Glove box

Dr. Allan Jay Cardenas and Brandon Landis participated in Department of Energy (DOE) Visiting Faculty Program (VFP).  The Visiting Faculty Program aims to increase the research competitiveness of faculty and students by providing research opportunities at DOE funded national laboratories. This part summer, Allan and Brandon joined the research group of Dr. Oliver Gutierrez-Tinoco of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Washington.  Their team developed rhodium-based hydrogenation catalyst. Their research results this summer is so promising that a continued collaboration between Dr. Gutierrez and Dr. Cardenas is established.  As part of DOE-VFP, students also participated in workshops and networking activities.  Participating students are given travel and housing allowance, as well at stipend of $600/week.  Allan and his research students are planning to go back at PNNL in summer of 2022.

Angela Nichols, Alex Frank and Swar Dakein go to top graduate programs  in the country.

Alex and angela

Alex Frank, Biochemistry (left)  Angela Nichols, Biochemistry (right)


2023 News

Swar Dakein, Chemistry

Angela Nichols is going to The Scripps Research Institute, which is ranked 6th in the nation for chemistry.  She will be pursuing her PhD in the area of Medicinal Chemistry. 

 Alex Frank will be going to the University of California, San Diego which is ranked  20th in the nation.  Alex will be applying his RNA research  experience at Fredonia to study the three dimensional structures of large RNAs at UCSD.

Swar Dakein will be going to Brown University.  Swar did research with Dr. Cardenas and already has a publication.

Bradley J. Brown will be attending  medical school in the fall.

Bradley Brown

Bradley, a biochemistry  major, will be attending  SUNY Upstate Medical University in the fall.  Bradley also  the recipient  2021 Lanford Presidential Prize. This prize recognizes a graduating senior who has exhibited balanced achievement and exemplified Fredonia’s ideals. High degree of personal honesty and integrity, substantial intellectual growth and exemplary service to SUNY Fredonia, including participation in more than one aspect of university life, are among the criteria for the honor, created and endowed by the late President Emeritus Oscar E. Lanford and Mrs. Lanford.


2020 News

distribution of graduates

Kaycie Malyk and Cordelia Beck-Horton go to top graduate programs.

2023 News

Kaycie Malyk will be attending the University of Rochester in the Fall of 2020. She did research with Dr. Mark Janik on the synthesis and characterization of modified anticancer chalcone analogues.   Kaycie also presented her research at the 2019 WNYACS Undergraduate Research Symposium in Buffalo.

Cordelia Beck-Horton

Cordelia Beck-Horton is going to Pennsylvania State University, ranked 20th in the nation, for Chemistry.   Cordelia did research in Dr. Milligan's lab were she used liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry to separate and characterize cannabinoids in CBD.  

Allan Cardenas and students in the CHEM 481  Applied Crystallography course publish in the Journal of Molecular Structure 

X-ray structure determined  and reported in the publication

 Brett Baker, Christopher J. Cockram, Swar Dakein, Jonathan M. DeMaria, David M. George, Kaycie R. Malyka, Mormie Joseph F. Sarno, and Allan Jay P. Cardenas  successfully synthesized and characterized the structures of anilinium ionic liquids using X-ray diffraction.  The results of their work can be found in the article titled Synthesis and characterization of anilinium ionic liquids: Exploring effect of π-π ring stacking in the Journal of Molecular Structure.

The Applied Crystallography course is a research based course where students receive extensive training on the departments instrumentation.


Dr.  Matthew Fountain, Alex Frank and Tim Zembryski published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. 

RNA with drug structurerna with drug structure 2

One of four structures determined in the publication.

Dr. Fountain, Alex Frank and Tim Zembryski worked on the structures of small molecules bound to an RNA therapeutic target. These structures were presented in the article titled  Design, Optimization, and Study of Small Molecules That Target Tau Pre-mRNA and Affect Splicing. Chen JL, Zhang P, Abe M, Aikawa H, Zhang L, Frank AJ, Zembryski T, Hubbs C, Park H, Withka J, Steppan C, Rogers L, Cabral S, Petterson M, Wager TT, Fountain MA, Rumbaugh G, Childs-Disney JL, Disney MD. J Am Chem Soc. 2020 May 13;142(19):8706-8727.

2019 News

2019 Graduates - What are they doing now?

2019 graduate chart

Nacintyre Hider off to Vet schoolTwo 2019 biochemistry graduates are off to top Veterinary medicine programs.  Megan Macintyre(left) will be starting at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, ranked #5 in the nation.  Megan did research in Dr. Fountain’s Research lab and studied the secondary structure of a 5’UTR RNA involved in the G-cap independent translation of the gurken protein, a protein essential for the development of Drosophila.  Kelly Hider is now at  Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, ranked #2 in the nation.  Kelly did research in Dr. Gronquist’s lab on the synthesis of natural products.



Kevin Aumiller is going to Johns Hopkins for graduate school for cell and molecular biology.   Kevin was a biology major doing biochemical research in Dr. Fountain's lab.  Kevin studied metal ion binding to DNA mismatches using fluorescent spectroscopy, surface plasmon resonance, and MALDI-TOF MS.  He also worked on determining the secondary structure of a 5'UTR RNA strand containing an internal ribosome entry site IRES through a collaboration with Dr. Ferguson's lab in the Biology Department.  The IRES is an RNA element that allows for translation initiation in a cap-independent manner.


In Dr. Fountain's lab structures completed by Tim Zembryski and structural calculations by Alex Frank were part of a collaborative project with Matthew Disney at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida and researchers at Pfizer Research and Development in Groton, CT.  These structures will be part of a manuscript describing optimization of drug candidates for therapeutic RNA targets.

RNA targetsRNA targetsRNA targets

Student Summer Research

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry students were well represented in the 2019 National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF-REU) summer programs.  The NSF-REU program is a highly prestigious and competitive program. Kaycie Malyk, a chemistry major, did her REU internship in Duquesne University in Pittsburg PA.  Cordelia Beck-Horton and Jonathan DeMaria did their REU programs in New York State at Cornell University and SUNY at Buffalo.  Alexander Frank was involved in the REU program at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.  Jon and Alex are both sophomores and both received  awards to present their REU research at national conferences.

Swar Dakein was hired as a research intern in the lab of Dr. John Richard at the University of Buffalo.  Dr. Richard is one of the top researchers in the field of enzyme chemistry.  Justin Dunlap worked under our own Dr. Michael Milligan.  Justin worked on the collection and analysis of air pollutants using GC-MS.  Angela Nichols also stayed in Fredonia and worked with Dr. Matthew Fountain.  Angela used NMR and structural modeling to determine the structures of three DNA duplexes and did computer modeling of the structure of a DNA triple helix that we will be trying to solve using NMR  next year.

triple helixhelix structure

2018 News

2018 Graduates - what are they doing now

2018 graduate chart

Allan Cardenas and the CHEM 481 Advanced Experimental Chemistry Lab students submit manuscript to the Journal of Molecular Structure for their characterization of merocyanine.

Dr. Cardenas' students chemically synthesized merocyanine and characterized two distinct crystalline forms of the compound. The article is titled "Brooker's Merocyanine: Comparison of single crystal structures"

The following students contributed to the publication. Kathleen L. Hayes, Emily M. Lasher, Jack M. Choczynski, Ralph R. Crisci, Calvin Y. Wong, Joseph Dragonette, Joshua Deschner and Allan Jay. P. Cardenas

Dr. Milligan publishes article in one of the top journals in environmental chemistry.

Milligan's article with collaborators from SUNY Oswego, Water Science and Technology Directorate of Canada, and Clarkson University titled "Age-Corrected Trends and Toxic Equivalence of PCDD/F and CP-PCBs in Lake Trout and Walleye from the Great Lakes" was recently published in Environmental Science and Technology. This journal is one of highest rated environmental chemistry journals in the country. His work focuses on the quantification of trace amounts of pollutants using gas chromatography and mass spectroscopy.

graphic from Milligan's EST article
Figure showing the decrease in the total concentrations of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-
dioxins (PCDDs) in fish from 1975-2017.

Video highlighting Dr. Milligan's research grant

RNA structures associated with Huntington's Disease and Myotonic Dystrophy published by Dr. Matthew Fountain and Damian VanEtten in the ACS journal Biochemistry.

RNA structure
RNA structure showing hydrogen bonding in AA and UU base pairs.

Dr. Matthew Fountain and Damien VanEtten (BIOLOGY 2017) published a paper with collaborators at The Scripps Research Institute. The paper describes the structure of two toxic RNA triple repeat sequences that are associated with Huntington’s disease and myotonic dystrophy.

Jonathan L. Chen† , Damian M. VanEtten‡, Matthew A. Fountain‡, Ilyas Yildirim*†§ , and Matthew D. Disney*†§ Structure and Dynamics of RNA Repeat Expansions That Cause Huntington’s Disease and Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1, Biochemistry, 2017, 56 (27), pp 3463–3474

2017 News

2017 Graduates

2017 Graduate Chart

The Chemistry and Biochemistry Department was recently represented at the 254th American Chemical Society (ACS) National Fall Conference in Washington, D.C. August 20-24, 2017

True Science ACS Meeting
American Chemical Society (ACS) National Fall Conference

Brett Baker and Brianne Weichbrodt attended and presented their scientific findings at the 254th American Chemical Society (ACS) Fall National Meeting. ACS National meeting is one of the largest gathering of scientific minds from around the globe with at least 10,000 participants and attendees. The theme for the Fall 2017 meeting is Chemistry’s Impact in the Global Economy. It was held at the nation’s capital, Washington D.C on August 20-24.

Brett Baker
Brett Baker

Brett is senior majoring in chemistry. He presented a poster featuring is on-going study of Synthesis and Characterization of Anilinium Based Ionic Liquids. He aims to relate the structure of the molecule/ion pair to its physical properties such as melting point, viscosity and diffusion. The chemistry of ionic liquid is a fast growing field due to its wide array of application in industry, and energy generation/utilization. Brett also recently awarded the Keller Research award and the Boriello and Casden award as recognition for outstanding undergraduate research.

Brianne Weichbrodt

Brianne is also a senior chemistry major. Her study focuses on the Synthesis and Characterization of Sulfur-Boron Frustrated Lewis Pairs (FLPs). The science of FLPs are relative young and Brianne wants to add more example of FLPs. These FLPs are fascinating molecule that can capture and activate small molecules such as hydrogen gas (H2), carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitric oxide (NO). Applications of FLPs in catalysis, synthesis and even environmental protection is now being developed. Brianne has successfully synthesized a new example of these FLPs which impressed and captivated the attention of many attendees. Last summer, she joined the research group of Dr. John P. Richards at State University of New York at Buffalo (UB) as a summer research intern. She is also a recent recipient of the Frank J. Contanza’s Greenhouse Memorial award which is a testament for her exemplary performance in undergraduate research.


Crystallography articles written by chemistry undergraduate students get published in IUCrData

Undergraduate chemistry students, Kathleen L. Hayes (left) and Emily Lasher (right) with an X-ray crystal structure.

Nine students in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the State University of New York at Fredonia representing sophomore, junior and senior classes are making an impact in the scientific community one crystal structure at a time.

Their separate lab experiments produced two articles that were published in IUCrData, a peer-reviewed open-access data publication of the International Union of Crystallography. Both dealt with the molecular structure and crystal packing of a compound the students synthesized in their respective undergraduate laboratories.

Four seniors Joshua Deschner, Calvin Y. Wong, Ralph R. Crisci and Joseph Dragonette and three juniors Jack M. Choczynski, Kathleen L. Hayes and Emily Lasher had their paper published in the Feb. 21 issue. They are enrolled in CHEM 481 Advanced Experimental Laboratory.


2016 News

Fredonia 2016 graduates going to the top graduate programs in the country!

Phil Frankino
2016 Biochemistry graduate Phillip Frankino (right) with another Fredonia Alumnus Dr. Michael Marletta, a faculty member at UC Berkeley.

Phillip Frankino, 2016 Biochemistry graduate, is going to the #1 graduate program in molecular biology at Berkeley! Phillip did research in Dr. Ferguson's lab at Fredonia as well and Jeffery Kelly's Lab at The Scripps' Research Institute in San Diego. Pictured is Fredonia Alumnus Michael Marletta (Faculty member at UC Berkeley) and long time supporter of the department with Phillip Frankino.

Robert Schrader, 2016 Chemistry graduate

Robert Schrader, 2016 Chemistry graduate, is going to the #1 graduate program in analytical chemistry at Purdue University in Indiana! Robert did research in Dr. Milligan's Lab (see below).






Fall 2016 Dr. Allan Cardenas and sophomore students publish x-ray crystal structure of 2,3-dibromo-3-phenylpropanoic acid in IUCrData

X-ray structure
2,3-dibromo-3-phenylpropanoic acid

Visiting Professor Allan Cardenas and Fredonia students Trent R. Howard and Kaleh A. Mendez-De Mellon published the X-ray structure of 2,3-dibromo-3-phenylpropanoic acid in the peer reviewed International Union of Crystallography journal IUCrData. Trent R. Howard and Kaleh A. Mendez-De Mellon are students in Dr. Cardenas' sophomore level organic chemistry lab.

Fall 2016 Visiting Professor Allan Cardenas incorporates X-ray diffractometer structure determination into organic chemistry lab.

X-ray structure
Published X-ray structure


Students in Organic Chemistry Laboratory I (CHEM 225) successfully isolated and recrystallized phenacetin as a part of an experiment in CHEM 225. Using the newly acquired D8 Venture Single Crystal X-ray Diffractometer, he was able to confirm the identity of his compound and moreover he had fun learning X-ray structure determination. The diffractometer is only one of a wide array of analytical and spectroscopic instruments in the department. Students’ training and exposure with these new technologies is a top priority of the Department when it comes to chemical education.

Summer 2016 Dr. Michael Milligan receives third major grant.

Dr. Milligan is part of a research team that recently received its third Great Lakes Fish Monitoring and Surveillance Program (GLFMSP) grant, valued at $6.75 million, to significantly expand their analysis of Great Lakes fish.

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Max Morgan (right) Dr. Mike Milligan (left) setting up an air sampler.
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Undergraduate research students Erin Ducett (left) and Robert Schrader(right) setting up experiments with Dr. Mike Milligan.

Spring 2015 Dr. Matthew Fountain's research students present their research at the WNYACS Undergraduate Research Symposium.

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Allison Martin (Left) and Cory Embryski (right) presented their research at the 2015 WNYACS Undergraduate Research Symposium at Canisius College, Buffalo NY. They presented their work on the secondary structure of an internal ribosome entry site associated with translation of the protein gurken.

The Shape of an IRES: Using SHAPE Chemistry to Map the Secondary Structure of the Drosophila gurken mRNA 5’ UTR Allison H. H. Martin, Cory R. Emborski and Matthew A. Fountain Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, State University of New York at Fredonia, Fredonia, NY. Spring 2015.

Dr. Fountain takes Students to the American Chemistry Society National meeting in Denver, CO. 

Dr. Matthew Fountain, Melyssa Shively and Mariya Shapovalova, and Cassidy Benson presented their work at ACS National conference in Denver, March 20, 2015.

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Dr. Fountain, Mariya, and Mellyssa at Rocky Mountain National Park.
Americna Chemical Society meeting Denver
Mariya, Cassidy Benson, and Mellyssa at their poster session. Dr. Fountain, Mariya and Melyssa presenter their work on the binding of zinc containing macrocycllic compounds to DNA quadruplexes.

New York Sea Grant awarded to Dr. Sherri Mason (Chemistry) and Dr. Courtney Wigdahl-Perry (Biology)

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Dr. Sherri Mason (Chemistry) and Dr. Courtney Wigdahl-Perry (Biology) receive NY SeaGrant.

The New York Sea Grant award will be used to conduct a feeding study using plankton extracted from the lake and to conduct a degradation study. The research grant will run from May 1 through April 30, 2018, and will be funded incrementally for a total award of $186,907.

Dr. Matthew Fountain co-authored a paper describing the binding of small molecules to telomeric G-quadruplexes.

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Siters KE , Fountain MA, Morrow JR. Selective binding of Zn2+ complexes to human telomeric G-quadruplex DNA. Inorg Chem. 2014 Nov 3;53(21):11540-51.

Dr. Sherri Mason's Great Lakes plastics pollution research

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Dr. Sherri Mason

Dr. Sherri Mason's Great Lakes plastics pollution research has led to legislative change in Illinois, in addition to proposals in New York, Ohio and California! See her groundbreaking work profiled by Al Jazeera and Bloomberg Businessweek.

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