Category: Graduate

Karabencheva-Christova Lab Reveals Molecular Mechanism of Cancer-Associated Enzyme

Cover page and images of Karabencheva-Christova's New Study
Karabencheva-Christova Publishes New Study
Tatyana Karabencheva-Christova
Associate Professor

A recent research article by Karabencheva-Christova’s group was showcased on the back cover of Chemical Science, the flagship journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).

The team led by Dr. Karabencheva-Christova includes Ph.D. students Anandhu Krisnan (first author) and Fathima Hameed Cherilakkudy; Ph.D. graduate Sodiq Waheed ’23, currently a researcher at Eli Lilly in Indianapolis, Indiana; and Ph.D. graduate Ann Varghese ’23, currently a postdoctoral researcher at the National Center for Toxicological Research, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in Jefferson, Arkansas. Professor Christopher J. Schofield from the University of Oxford, U.K., was a collaborator on the study.

The research illuminates the origin of the atypical catalytic strategy employed by the human non-heme Fe(II)/2-oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenase AspH, which is a target for anticancer therapy.
This research was funded by NIH grant 2R15GM132873-02. We thank Sarah Atkinson (RD, MTU) for her assistance with image preparation.

Anandhu Krisnan, Karabencheva-Christova New Study
Anandhu Krisnan
Ph.D. student
Fathima Hameed Cherilakkudy, Karabencheva-Christova New Study
Fathima Hameed Cherilakkudy
PhD Student
Ann Varghese ’23
Ann Varghese ’23
Ph.D. graduate
Sodiq Waheed ’23
Sodiq Waheed ’23
Ph.D. graduate

About the Chemistry Department at Michigan Tech

Chemists at Michigan Technological University help students apply academic concepts to real-world issues and advance research making contributions to health and well-being, environmental protection, responsible use of materials, and climate stabilization. The Chemistry Department offers five undergraduate degrees, an MS and PhD in Chemistry, and an accelerated MS. Supercharge your chemistry skills to meet the demands of a technology-driven society at a flagship public research university powered by science, technology, engineering, and math. Graduate with the theoretical knowledge and practical experience needed to solve real-world problems and succeed in academia, research, and tomorrow’s high-tech business landscape.

Questions? Contact us at Follow all the latest happenings on the Chemistry Blog.

Call for Applications: 2023 Songer Research Award for Human Health

Undergraduate and graduate chemistry students are encouraged to apply for the 2023 Songer Research Award for Human Health. Matthew Songer, (Biological Sciences ’79) and Laura Songer (Biological Sciences ’80) established these awards to stimulate and encourage opportunities for original research by current Michigan Tech students.

Students may propose an innovative medically-oriented research project in any area of human health. The best projects will demonstrate the potential to have a broad impact on improving human life. This research will be pursued in consultation with faculty members within the College of Sciences and Arts. The Songers’ gift and matching funds from the College will support two awards for undergraduate research ($4,000) and two for graduate research ($6,000), for research conducted over the Summer of 2023 and/or the following academic year.

Learn more about who is eligible to apply, how to apply, and how the funds may be used.

Submit applications as a single PDF file to the Office of the College of Sciences and Arts by 4:00 p.m. Monday, April 24, 2023. Applications may be emailed to Any questions may be directed to David Hemmer (

Chemistry in Print

Chemistry Team Publishes in JACS Au

Congratulations to the team including Department of Chemistry Ph.D. students Shobhit Chaturvedi (lead author), Bathir Sathik, and Sodiq Waheed, and undergraduate students Jon Wildey (chemical engineering) and Cait Warner (biological sciences), and led by Christo Christov and Tatyana Karabencheva-Christova (Chem), whose article was published in JACS Au.

The article is titled “Can Second Coordination Sphere and Long-Range Interactions Modulate Hydrogen Atom Transfer in a Non-Heme Fe(II)-Dependent Histone Demethylase?” Christopher Schofield of the University of Oxford, U.K., is also a co-author of the article. This research is supported by NIH grant GM139118.

The study reveals how residues in the second coordination sphere and beyond drive and control the reactivity of the non-heme iron(iv)-oxo complex of the histone demethylase PHF8 to perform the key hydrogen atom abstraction reaction in its catalytic mechanism.

Chemistry Team Publishes in Chemistry – A European Journal

Ph.D. student Sodiq Waheed (chemistry) and Christo Christov (Chem) are participants in a collaborative experimental/computational study led by Nicolai Lehnert at the University of Michigan which was published in Chemistry – A European Journal.

The study, titled “YfeX – A New Platform for Carbene Transferase Development with High Intrinsic Reactivity,” focuses on a redesign of YfeX enzyme as a platform for carbene transferase reactions.

Victor Sosa Alfaro (lead author) and Hannah Palomino of the University of Michigan and Anja Knorrscheidt and Martin Weissenborn of the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany, are co-authors of the manuscript.

NOBCChE Brings Chemistry to Baraga Youth

As part of its goal of outreach to the local community and promoting STEM — and chemistry in particular — to young people from low socioeconomic backgrounds, the MTU student chapter of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) recently organized an outreach event for the high school chemistry class of Baraga Area Schools.

A hands-on explorative activity on paper chromatography was the focus of the outreach event, introducing students to the wide array of applications of chromatography as a separation technique. After introducing students to the concept of chromatography, students were able to see it come alive by separating various colored inks into their constituents. After this introductory activity, students used their chromatography skills to do some forensic analysis on an ink sample and pens from various “suspects” to see who was responsible for defacing a very expensive book from the school library. Finally, the volunteers engaged the students in a discussion to synthesize their observations and draw out the big scientific ideas.

The students were very focused, interactive, and excited about the activities. Some of them, when asked to comment on the activity, noted that it was engaging and insightful. One even said, “This is so cool and fun.”

NOBCChE hopes to continue to get out in the local schools and open up the wide world of chemistry to area students. See photos from the outreach event.

Michigan Tech graduate students in chemistry and chemical engineering — Sodiq Waheed, Kobina Ofori, Parya Siacheshm, and Monica Nyansa — organized this outreach event with NOBCCHE advisor Jeremy Brown (Chem). The event was funded by the NOBCChE K-12 Initiative.

This post was originally published in the Michigan Tech Chemical Engineering News blog on May 26, 2022.

On the (Virtual) Road

Two members of Dr. Kathryn Perrine’s research group, Mikhail Trought, and Chathura de Alwis, presented at the spring Materials Research Society (MRS) meeting April 17th-23rd.

Trought presented on redox chemistry of iron oxide single-crystal surfaces using ambient pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (AP-XPS). de Alwis presented on probing the initial stages of iron surface corrosion using AP-XPS. Dr. Perrine presented on measuring the effects of ions on iron surface oxidation at the air/liquid/solid interface using polarization modulation infrared reflection-absorption spectroscopy (PM-IRRAS) and surface analysis, the research group’s current focus.

This work is supported by the NASA award number NNX15AJ20H, a Michigan Space Grant Consortium faculty seed grant, NSF MRI CHE 1725818, and the Michigan Tech 2019 Research Excellence Fund.

2021 Chemistry Awards

On April 21st, 2021, the Chemistry department gathered to congratulate those students who have excelled and accomplished so much during this past year.

Congratulations to the following and thank you everyone for your hard work!

Outstanding Student in First-Year Chemistry – Justin Andersen

Doc Berry Award – Steve Beuther

Leslie Leifer Award in Physical Chemistry – Henry Roell

Undergraduate Award in Organic Chemistry – Ellianna Sempek

Undergraduate Award in Inorganic Chemistry – Collette Sarver

Undergraduate Award in Analytical Chemistry – Andrew Zampaloni

Undergraduate Award in Biochemistry – Henry Roell

Outstanding Senior Award – Collette Sarver

Outstanding Senior Research Award –  Ethan Burghardt

Departmental Scholar– Ethan Burghardt
Honorable Mentions: Steve Beuther, Henry Roell, and Garven Huntley

Rebecca Sandretto/Susan Stackhouse Summer Fellowship – Connor Hall

Outstanding Lower-Division Chemistry Teaching Assistant – Connor Hensley & Amanda Studinger
Honorable Mentions: Ethan Burghardt and Alexander Apostle

Outstanding Upper-Division Chemistry Teaching Assistant – Nick Newberry & Parya Siahcheshm

Ray E. and Eleanor K. Cross Endowed Graduate Fellowship in Chemistry – Priyanka Kadav

Robert and Kathleen Lane Outstanding Graduate Research Award – Dhananjani Eriyagama & Chathura Adambarage

Outstanding Graduate Student Summer Fellowship – Sodiq Waheed

Department of Chemistry Ambassador Awards – Komal Chillar, Erin Berglund, Gretchen Heins, and Abby Schwartz


Congratulations to Priyanka Dipak Kadav for winning third place in the oral presentations at the annual Graduate Research Colloquim for her presentation titled “Capture and Release (CaRe): A novel protein purification technique,’ on April 1st, 2021. Kadav was one of 31 oral presenters. The oral sessions were hosted live via Zoom. You can watch all the poster videos and recordings for the oral sessions here. Each presentation was scored by two judges from the same field of research.

Virtual Poster Session

The Chemistry Department will be hosting a Virtual Poster Session on Friday, October 23rd, from 3:00-5:00 PM via Zoom. Passcode: 587532 if needed. To smoothly move from one break room to the other, all participants are asked to use Zoom version 5.3.1 or newer.

The goal of the event is to provide undergraduate and graduate students in Chemistry with an opportunity to share their research experiences not only with the Chemistry Department but also with the wider Michigan Tech community and, possibly, with members of the external audience too. You can find the public Canvas course that is hosting this event here:

In Print

Christina J. Welch, Priyanka D. Kadav, Jared L. Edwards, Jessica Krycia, Melanie L. Talaga, Purnima Bandyopadhyay, and Tarun K. Dam were published on September 3rd, 2020. Their paper, “A Rapid and Facile Purification Method for Glycan‐Binding Proteins and Glycoproteins” was funded by the National Science Foundation. Grant Number: 1608537. It was published on the cover of the September issue of Current Protocols in Protein Science.