UDC’s Chemistry Program offers students cutting-edge research opportunities

UDC’s Chemistry Program offers students cutting-edge research opportunities

UDC’s Chemistry Program offers students cutting-edge research opportunities


Dr. Dilek and Nazharie in lab

Nazharie Brandon (left) and UDC alumna Srey Kong (`22) in the material characterization lab.

UDC’s Chemistry Program has produced outstanding students and created unique research opportunities. The Program is staffed with trendsetting professors who are well respected in the area and is certified by the American Chemical Society (ACS). The curriculum prepares students for immediate transition to the workforce for careers in medicine, research, the federal government, private industry, pharmacy and education, or a seamless entry into graduate and professional schools.

Through the STEM Center for Research and Development and other research initiatives offered by the University, students have ample opportunities to gain experience as undergraduates by disseminating findings at local, national and international meetings and peer-reviewed publications.

Dr. Uche Udeochu, the program coordinator, helps students uncover their passion and incorporate it into the classroom, labs and research experience.

“We try to provide quality customer service to our students,” Udeochu said. “They pay to be in school and deserve the best.”

Junior Nazharie Brandon found her passion by combining chemistry and her desire to help the environment through green and clean energy. Her work focuses on developing efficient methods for synthesizing semiconductor nanomaterials using fruit and vegetable extracts with minimal toxic chemicals.

Brandon’s research abstract on “Simple Green Synthesis and Characterization of Nano-sized Zinc Oxide (ZnO)” was accepted for a poster presentation during this year’s Eastern Analytical Symposium & Exposition (EAS) at Princeton Conference Center in Plainsboro, New Jersey, in November.

According to their website, EAS is an international conference that provides professional scientists and students with continuing education in analytical and allied sciences through presenting symposia of papers, workshops and short courses. More than 2,000 scientists and industry experts attend the conference.

Udeochu said he is thrilled that Brandon is presenting her research as an undergraduate at the same conference where he presented as a graduate student.

“We are extremely proud of her,” he said. “I meet with the students to share their passion and short-term and long-term goals. I want to know what excites them in the context of problem-solving. The research we do at UDC is student-centered. I try to put them in the driver’s seat.”

Udeochu teaches general chemistry, lecture and labs and upper-level classes, including quantitative chemistry, instrumental analysis, independent study and senior research courses. In addition, Udeochu mentors a UDC CAS DAWN scholarship recipient who conducts research in state-of-the-art chemistry labs.

UDC chemistry professors are also sought out to speak at conferences and often choose to share the spotlight with their students.

Dr. Ozlem Dilek, an assistant chemistry professor, joined UDC in 2020 and teaches organic chemistry I and II and its labs. She frequently speaks about her research on the early detection of cancer cells. Dilek has included chemistry students in her study to give them a jumpstart in preparation for graduate school and their careers.

Dilek has already presented at three national conferences this year, including the Bioorganic Chemistry and Gordon Research Conference in June in Andover, New Hampshire. The conference’s central theme was “Enabling Technologies in Chemical Biology.” Dilek’s research presentation was “Highly selective turn-on fluorescent probes for imaging oxidative stress-induced carbonyl moieties in live cells.” She recently presented her research with UDC students at the World Molecular Imaging Conference in Miami, Florida. Her UDC research team will present at the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) conference in December in Washington, D.C.

Dilek has received two cohort-faculty nationally competitive development programs, fully supported and funded by ASCB. She is also an adjunct assistant professor at Georgetown University Medical Center, where she has ongoing research collaborations with several research teams.

“Our research is very multidisciplinary, covering organic chemistry and cell biology. We develop new fluorescent probes and bioorthogonal click chemistry strategies for live cell imaging. We are very excited to continue this research since the most recent 2022 Nobel Prize was awarded for chemistry. We are particularly interested in developing chemical probes and tools for early diagnosing fibrosis and metastatic cancers.”

For more information about the UDC Chemistry Program, please click here.