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Committee Members

Iowa State University

Gayatri Viswanathan

Gayatri Viswanathan is a fifth year graduate student co-advised in the Kovnir and Miller groups at Iowa State University. She graduated from the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Science with University Honors in Chemistry. Gayatri's current research is focused on employing experimental and computational techniques to synthesize and characterize novel solid-state materials for energy-related applications, such as thermoelectric materials. In her free time, Gayatri enjoys bingeing Friends, traveling, and learning about random things. She loves dogs.

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Ernesto Soto

Ernesto is a third-year graduate student in Kirill Kovnir’s group, where he is studying the synthesis and properties of ternary metal silicon phosphides for applications in non-linear optics and electrocatalysis. During his undergraduate studies, he participated as a member of the 2017 McNair Cohort, where he conducted research on microplastic and pollutants, under guidance of Dr. Lorena Rios Mendoza. Shortly after graduating from UW-Superior with his bachelors in Chemistry, he went on to pursue a Masters in Chemistry at Illinois State University, where he conducted research on the synthesis and reactivity of hexanuclear rhenium selenide clusters systems with alkynyl ligands, under the guidance of Dr. Lisa F. Szczepura. Ernesto is passionate about teaching and conducting research. He is proud to represent the Latinx population and the LGBTQ+ community. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, reading, gaming, and eating.

Umesha Peramune

Umesha is a fourth-year graduate student in the Anand Group at ISU. She obtained her BSc. Degree in Chemistry from University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka. Her research in Dr. Anand's group focuses on developing electrochemical biosensors, and using ion concentration polarization for preconcentration and separation of charged analytes. In her free time, Umesha likes watching movies and listening to classical Sri Lankan music.

Brendan Wall

Brendan Wall is a third-year graduate student in Organic Chemistry at Iowa State University. He is advised by Dr. Brett VanVeller. Previously, Brendan graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry from Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. His research focuses on synthetic methods towards accessing medicinally-important heterocycles, and application of heterocycles as fluorescent reporters. In his free time Brendan likes running, biking, video games, and spending time with his cat Mochi!

Emily O'Brien

Emily is a third-year graduate student in organic chemistry at Iowa State University under the supervision of Dr. Brett VanVeller. Before Iowa State she obtained a B.A. in chemistry at Central College in Pella, Iowa. Emily's current research focuses on the modification of peptides backbones during solid-phase synthesis. Outside of the lab, you can find Emily in the gym lifting, on the football (American tackle) with her teammates or sitting down with a good book. 

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Sommer Osman

Sommer is a graduate student in the Anand group. She graduated from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette with an honors baccalaureate degree in chemistry. Her research at Iowa State focuses on two different projects 1) developing an electrochemical immunoassay for the diagnosis of Sjogren’s syndrome at the point-of-care and 2) quantifying the isolation of melanoma cells from buffy coat by dielectrophoresis. Sommer loves spending time with her husband and daughter, traveling, and reading in her free time.

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Aishwarya Mantravadi

Aishwarya Mantravadi is a fifth-year graduate student at Iowa State University, advised by Dr. Julia Zaikina. She graduated from the University of Mumbai with a Master of Science degree in Chemistry. She is an inorganic solid-state chemist. Her research work is centered on the use of unconventional synthetic routes towards accelerated discovery of novel materials for magnetic and energy conversion applications. In her leisure time she likes to cook, hike and travel and wishes to visit all the US National Parks someday. 

Aparna Krishnamurthy

Aparna Krishnamurthy is a fourth year graduate student at Dr. Robbyn K. Anand's group at Iowa State University. She previously completed her masters and undergraduate degrees in Chemistry (hons.) from the University of Delhi, India. Presently, her research focus is to electrokinetically manipulate the composition of nanoliter-scale water-in-oil droplets in a microfluidic device for a variety of applications. In her free time, Aparna likes to paint, try out different types of food and musical instruments.

Ethan Leung

Ethan Leung is a second year graduate student at Iowa State University. He is co-advised between Dr. Robbyn Anand and Dr. Jared Anderson. Ethan received his B.S. degree in Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where he conducted research under the guidance of Dr. Lloyd Smith. His research involves exploiting favorable features of electropolymerizable materials for the production of platforms that can be used to solve pressing analytical challenges related to human health. In his free time, Ethan enjoys playing instruments, swimming and experiencing new places and activities.

Midwest Representatives

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Indika Warnakula

University of Kansas

Indika Warnakula is a fifth-year graduate student in Prof. Susan Lunte's research group at the University of Kansas. He completed his bachelor's degree in physical science at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. His research area is bio-electroanalytical chemistry and current research work focuses on the development of a bipolar electrode-based fluorescence system for the detection of electrochemically active species with a better limit of detections. In his free time, Indika enjoys reading about history and watching sci-fi movies.

Palak Sondhi

University of Missouri-St.Louis

Palak is a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Missouri, Saint Louis (UMSL). She is advised by Dr. Keith J. Stine. She has earned a master's degree in advanced methods of chemical analysis. She also worked as an exchange student at the Leibniz University in Hannover, Germany, under Professor Detlef W. Bahnemann during that time. Her research at UMSL is focused on surface nanobioscience. She uses electrochemical methods to create electrodes, modifies the surface, and uses it as a substrate to study protein-protein, protein-carbohydrate, and other biologically significant interactions. In her spare time, Palak enjoys spending time with her husband, watching movies, and painting.

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Eleni Spanolios

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Eleni is a 4th year graduate student in Christy Haynes' Lab at the University of Minnesota. They study the effects of battery materials on the environment by tracking the production of analytes of interest using electrochemical techniques. In their free time, they like to play rugby, hike, mountain bike, and bake biscuits. 

Kuziva Madungwe

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Kuziva is a second-year graduate student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities advised by Dr. Philippe Bühlmann. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry and Biological Sciences from Mount Holyoke College. Her research focuses on developing ionophore doped textile and paper-based ion selective electrodes for the detection of clinically relevant ions. Outside of lab, Kuziva enjoys playing squash, traveling and exploring different food spots in the Twin Cities.

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