Our Alumni

PhD and M.S. Degrees Conferred


Özgün Kılıç (PhD), "Targeting EGFR family receptors with CSANs utilizing alternative protein scaffolds" Advisor:  Dr. Carston R. Wagner 


Sara Coulup (PhD), "Synthesis and Evaluation of a Metabolically Stabilized Analog and Conjugates of Pironetin" Advisor: Dr. Gunda I. Georg

Harrison West (PhD), "Self-assembling Phosphoramidate Pronucleotides: Enzymatic Regulation and Application Towards Therapeutic Delivery" Advisor:  Dr. Carston R. Wagner 

Amanda Degner (MS), "Mass Spectrometry Based Analysis of Electrophile Induced Adducts of Biomolecules" Advisor: Dr. Natalia Y. Tretyakova

Katlyn Fleming (PhD), "Development of Molecular Probes for the Central Melanocortin System" Advisor: Dr. Carrie Haskell-Luevano

Erick Carlson (PhD), "The Development of Potential Male Contraceptives Via Inhibition of Catsper and also GBA2" Advisor: Dr. Gunda I. Georg

Andrea Wisniewski (PhD), "Identification and Characterization of Potential BRDT(1) Inhibitors by Fragment-Based Screening Using Differential Screening Fluorimetry and Orthogonal Techniques" Advisor: Dr. Gunda I. Georg

Emily Boldry (MS), "Ethnic Differences in the Metabolism of 1,3-Butadiene and Lung Cancer Risk" Advisor: Dr. Natalia Y. Tretyakova



Jillian Kyzer (PhD), "Design and Synthesis of Retinoic Acid Receptor Alpha Antagonists for Male Ccontraception" Advisor: Dr. Gunda I. Georg

Matthew Bockman (PhD), "Targeting Two Late-Stage Enzymes of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis Biotin Biosynthetic Pathway" Advisor: Dr. Courtney Aldrich

Christopher Seiler (PhD), "Epigenetic Mechanisms in Lung Cancer" Advisor: Dr. Natalia Y. Tretyakova

Joseph Buonomo (PhD), "Selective Chemistry to Improve Organic Chemistry and Drug Discovery" Advisor: Dr. Courtney Aldrich

Clifford Csizmar (PhD), "Engineered Proteins for Studying and Controlling Cellular Recognition" Advisor: Dr. Carston R. Wagner

Aniekan Okon (PhD),  "Development of Chemical Probes for Intracellular Nucleotide Delivery, Profiling of the Metabolic Fate(s) of Nucleoside Monoester Phosphoramidates, and A Nucleotide Mimetic Inhibitor of eIF4E" Advisor: Dr. Carston R. Wagner

Katerine Schlasner (MS), "Tetrapeptide Melanocortin Agonist Ligands Exploring Selectivity of the mMC3R Using DPhe Substitutions in the Ac-His-Arg-DPhe-Tic-NH2 Scaffold" Advisor: Dr. Carrie Haskell-Luevano

Arnold Groehler IV (PhD), "Mass Spectrometry-Based Characterization, Quantitation, And Repair Investigations Of Complex DNA Lesions" Advisor: Dr. Natalia Y. Tretyakova

Trinh Holth (PhD), "Design and Synthesis of Natural Product Analogs of Stevioside and Synthetic Aanalogs of Retinoic Acid" Advisor: Dr. Gunda I. Georg


Jacob Petersburg (PhD), "Prosthetic Antigen Receptors as a Platform for Solid Tumor Immunotherapy" Advisor: Dr. Carston R. Wagner

Rachit Shah (PhD), "A New Target for Pain: Development of Tools to Study Human Histidine Triad Nucleotide Binding Proteins" Advisor: Dr. Carston R. Wagner

Cody Lensing (PhD), "Bivalent Ligands as Pharmacological Probes for The Melanocortin Receptors: The Bivalent Advantage" Advisor: Dr. Carrie Haskell-Luevano

Carter Eiden (PhD), "Room Temperature Chemoselective Phosphine Oxide Reduction and Mechanism-Based Inhibitors of BioA" Advisor: Dr. Courtney Aldrich

John Widen (PhD), "Design of Cysteine Reactive Probes for Targeting Transcription Factors" Advisor: Dr. Daniel Harki


Denise Casemore (MS), "Chromene Based Compounds to Treat Multidrug Resistant Cancer" Advisor: Dr. Chengguo Xing

Skye Doering (PhD), "Discovery of Peptide and Peptidomimetic Based Ligands Targeting the Melanocortin Receptors: A Campaign in Mixture-Based Positional Scanning, Chemical Topology, and Structure-Activity Relationships" Advisor: Dr. Carrie Haskell-Luevano

William Fiers (PhD), "Biochemical Interrogation of Polyketide Ketoreductase and Dehydratase Domain Stereoselectivity, Stereospecificity and Mechanism via Synthetic, Truncated Substrates" Advisor: Dr. Robert Fecik

David Huang (PhD), "The Synthesis and Evaluation of Pironetin and Pironetin Analogs as Ovarian Cancer Chemotherapeutic Agents" Advisor: Dr. Gunda Georg

Kimberly Maize (PhD), "Structure Biology for Drug Design: Applications in Two System" Advisor: Dr. Barry Finzel

Jingjing Shen (PhD) (Chemistry), "Self-Assembled Antibody Nanorings as Prosthetic Antigen Receptors for Redirecting T Cells and as Platform for Co-delivery of Vaccine and Adjuvants for Cancer Immunotherapy" Advisor: Dr. Carston R. Wagner

Nicholas Struntz (PhD), "Synthesis of Photoresponsive Nucleosides and Their Incorporation into Oligonucleotides: Targeting Androgen Receptor and NF-kB Transcription Factors" Advisor: Dr. Daniel Harki

Adam Zarth (PhD), "Analyses of Detoxification and DNA Damage From the Human Carcinogens Benzene and N'-Nitrosonorni Cotine" Advisor: Dr. Stephen Hecht

Bo Zhou (PhD), "Chalcone-Based Chemical Probes as Versatile Tools for Potential Target Identification and Mechanism Elucidation of Chalcone's Bioactivities" Advisor: Dr. Chengguo Xing


Ran Dai (PhD), "Fragment based inhibitor design of Mycobacterium tuberculosis BioA" Advisor: Dr. Barry Finzel

Elbek K. Kurbanov (PhD), "Synthetic, Biochemical, C-ray Crystallographic, Computational and High-Throughput Screening Approaches Toward Anthrax Toxin Lethal Factor" Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Ambrose

Yang Li (PhD), "Deciphering Cryptic Stereochemistry in Polyketide Biosynthesis and Functional Characterization of β-processing Domains in Pikromycin Synthase" Advisor: Dr. Robert Fecik

Li-Kai Liu (PhD), "Discovery of Small Molecule Inhibitors of Hyaluronan Binding at Cell Receptor CD44" Advisor: Dr. Barry Finzel

Margaret Olson (PhD), "High-Throughput Screening and Chemical Synthesis for the Discovery of APOBEC3 DNA Cytosine Deaminase Inhibitors" Advisor: Dr. Daniel Harki

Wei Li (PhD,  Department of Chemistry), "Macrocyclization Through Ene-yne Cross-Couling/alkyne Redcution Tandem Reactions and its Application in Natural Product Synthesis." Advisor: Dr. Gunda I. Georg



Amit Gangar (PhD) "Self-Assembled Nanostructures For The Cellular Delivery Of Small Molecules, Oligonucleotides And Proteins For The Treatment Of Cancer" Advisor: Dr. Carston R. Wagner

Kwon Ho Hong (PhD) "Na,K-ATPase Alpha4 Isoform and HSP90 Molecular Chaperone as Molecular Targets for Drug Discovery" Advisor: Dr. Gunda I. Georg

Adwait Ranade (PhD) “Library Synthesis of Piperidinone Sulfonamides, Transition Metal-free C-H Trifluoromethylation of Cyclic Enaminones, and Elucidating the Binding Site of Epothilones on Beta-Tubulin with Epothilone Phtotoaffinity Probes” Advisor: Gunda I. Georg

Dewakar Sangaraju (PhD) "Mass Spectrometry Based Quantifications of 1, 3-Butadiene Induced DNA Adducts: Biomarkers of Cancer Risk” Advisor: Dr. Natalia Y. Tretyakova

Susith Wickramaratne (PhD) “Biological Consequences of Complex DNA Lesions Induced by Bis-Electrophiles” Advisors: Drs. Natalia Y. Tretyakova and Mark D. Distefano

Xia Zhang (PhD) "Experimental and Computational Methods for Identification of Novel Fungal Histone Acetyltransferase Rtt109 Inhibitors" Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth A. Ambrose



Timothy E. Andrews (MS) "Enhancing the Potency and Water Solubility of the Sesquiterpene Lactone Parthenolide" Advisor: Dr. Daniel A. Harki

Adam R. Benoit (PhD) "Synthesis and Evaluation of Acridine and Acridone Based Compound as Anti-Cancer and Anti-Bacterial Agents" Advisor: Dr. David M. Ferguson.

Nicholas P. Bleeker (MS) "Advancing a Novel Chemotype for the Treatment of Multidrug-Resistant Cancer" Advisor: Dr. Chengguo Xing

Kari A. Gabrielse (PhD) "Chemically Self-Assembled Antibody Nanorings: a Multifaceted Approach to Anti-Cancer Therapeutics Using Techniques Including Drug Delivery, Bispecific Targeting, and T Cell Surface Modification" Advisor: Dr. Carston R. Wagner

Srikanth Kotapati (PhD) "Mass Spectrometry-Based Analysis of Urinary Metabolites of 1,3-Butadiene (BD) in Humans and Influence of BD-DNA Adducts on DNA Replication" Advisor: Dr. Natalia Y. Tretyakova

Rahul R. Lad (PhD) “Chemical and Biomolecular Structures in Recognition of DNA Modification” Advisor: Dr. Shana J. Sturla

Kathryn M. Nelson (PhD) "Synthesis and Evaluation of Tranvalencin Analogues and Adenylation Inhibitors as Antitubercular Agents and Chemical Probes" Advisor: Courtney Aldrich

Dan Wang (MS) "Synthesis and Evaluation of Parthenolide Analogues: Chemical Probes and Therapeutic Agents" Advisor: Dr. Daniel A. Harki



Bryant C. Gay (PhD) " Cyclic Enaminones: Synthons for Piperidine Containing Natural Products and Natural Product Analogs" Advisor: Dr. Gunda I. Georg

David Lampi Hermanson (PhD) "Mechanisms of CXL017: Targeting Drug Resistant Cancer" Advisor: Dr. Chengguo Xing

Shui Li (MS) "Evaluation of Eukaryotic Initiation Factor 4E (elF4E) Antagonist 4Ei-1 in Mammalian Breast Cancer and Lung Cancer Cells: Chemosensitization with Low Cytotoxicity" Advisor: Dr. Carston R. Wagner

Michael T. Peterson (PhD) "Design and synthesis of tubulysin analogs that stabilize and mimic a key acetate important for potent antiproliferative activity against multi-drug resistant cancers" Advisor: Dr. Robert A. Fecik

Martin B. Philips (PhD) "Characterization of the Chemical Properties of Intermediates in Furan Metabolism" Advisor: Lisa A. Peterson

Aaron Teitelbaum (PhD) "Pre-clinical Drug Development of 9-aminoacridines for Malignant Glioma and Meropenem Prodrugs for Drug-resistant Tuberculosis" Advisor: Dr. Rory P. Remmel



Sonia Das (PhD) “Developing Effective Anti-Cancer Agents that Target Drug-Resistant Malignancies” Advisor: Dr. Chengguo Xing

Xun Ming (MS) “DNA-protein cross-linking by CIS-1,1,2,2-diamminedichloroplatinum (II) (Cisplatin) formation of 8-OXO-dG and oxazolone lesions with p53 derived DNA sequences following photooxidation in the presence of riboflavin” Advisor: Dr. Natalia Y. Tretyakova

Satish Patil (PhD, Department of Chemistry) “Preclinical Development of a Novel Triptolide Prodrug for Cancer Treatment” Advisor: Dr. Gunda I. Georg

Hajime Seki (PhD, Department of Chemistry) “Cyclic Enaminones: Methodology Development, Total Synthesis, and Library Construction” Advisor: Dr. Gunda I. Georg

Ajay Yekkirala (PhD, Department of Pharmacology) “Elucidating the Role of Opioid Receptor Heteromers as Targets for Analgesic Drug Design” Advisor: Dr. Philip S. Portoghese



Theresa Aliwarga (MS) “Clinical Pharmacokinetics Study of Phenytoin in Epilepsy Patients and Expression of Oxysterol 7alpha-Hydroxylase (hCYP7B1) in E. coli” Advisor Dr. Rory P. Remmel

Sanaa K. Bardaweel (PhD) “Defining the Catalytic and Kinetic Mechanism and Natural Function of the Highly Conserved Acyl-AMP Hydrolase, Hint1” Advisor: Dr. Carston R. Wagner

Xingxian (Wayne) Gu (PhD, University of Kansas) “Synthesis and Evaluation of Novel Iminosugars as Potential Male Contraceptive Agents; and the Chemistry of 2,3-Dihydropyridin-4-(1H)-ones and Related Enaminones in Multicomponent Reactions” Advisor: Dr. Gunda I. Georg

Yan Jia (PhD, Department of Chemistry) “Development of Eukaryotic Initiation Factor 4E (eIF4E) Antagonists as Potential Anticancer Therapeutics” Advisor: Dr. Carston R. Wagner

Erick K. Leggans (PhD, Department of Chemistry) “Design and Synthesis of Polyketide-Based Labels for Polyketide Synthase Thioesterase and Ketoreductase Domains” Advisor: Dr. Robert A. Fecik

Qing Li (PhD) “Chemically Self-Assembled Antibody Nanorings (CSANs): Design and Characterization of an Anti-CD3 IgM Biomimetic” Advisor: Dr. Carston R. Wagner

Erin Michaelson-Richie (MS) “DNA-Protein Cross-Linking by Bifunctional DNA Alkylating Agents” Advisor: Dr. Natalia Y. Tretyakova

Micah Niphakis (PhD, University of Kansas) “Phenanthropiperidine Alkaloids: Methodology Development, Synthesis, and Biological Evaluation.” Advisor: Dr. Gunda I. Georg

Upthala Seneviratne (PhD, Department of Chemistry) “Exocyclic Deoxyadenosine Adducts: From Environmental Carcinogens to Antiviral Drugs” Advisor: Dr. Natalia Y. Tretyakova

Jin Zhou (PhD) “Exploration on Atypical Kinetics of UGT1A1 and UGT1A4” Advisors: Dr. Rory P. Remmel, Dr. Timothy S. Tracy

Xin Zhou (PhD) “I. Probing the Catalytic Potential of Tyrosine 190 of the Hamster Arylamine N-Acetyltransferase 2 (NAT2) and Implication of Protein Intracellular Stability II. Catalytic and Kinetic Mechanisms of Human Histidine Triad Nucleotide Binding Protein 1 (Hint1)” Advisor: Dr. Carston R. Wagner



Swapna Bhagwanth (PhD) “Synthetic approaches Toward Azabicyclic and Azaspirobicyclic Scaffolds Relevant to Peptide Conformation Control” Advisor: Dr. Rodney L. Johnson

Heidi Dahlmann (MS, Department of Chemistry) “Synthesis of Englerin A and Analogues” Advisor: Dr. Shana J. Sturla

Hailey L. Gahlon (MS) “Understanding p53 Regulation: Post-Translational Modification Affects at the DNA Binding domain and Binding to its Negative Repressor hDM2” Advisor: Dr. Shana J. Sturla

Melissa M. Goggin (PhD) “Formation, Persistence, and Repair of 1,2,3,4-Diepoxybutane-Induced Bifunctional DNA Adducts in Tissues of Rodents Exposed to 1,3-Butadiene by Inhalation” Advisor: Dr. Natalia Y. Tretyakova

Rebecca Guza (PhD, Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics) “Effect of Sequence Context on the Formation and Repair of DNA Adducts” Advisor: Dr. Natalia Y. Tretyakova

Kriangsak Khownium (PhD, University of Kansas) “Synthesis and Evaluation of Modified Oximidine Analogues as Anticancer Agents and of Terephthaldehyde-bis-Guanylhydrazones as Endotoxin Sequestering Agents” Advisor: Dr. Gunda I. Georg

Matthew Leighty (PhD, University of Kansas) “Vinylogous Esters and Amides: Useful Synthons for Diversity-Oriented and Natural Product Synthesis.” Advisor: Dr. Gunda I. Georg

Li Liu (PhD) “Studies on Human Arylamine N-Acetyltransferases” Advisor: Dr. Patrick E. Hanna

Xiaodan (Kathy) Liu, (PhD) “Natural Products and their Derivatives in Cancer Prevention and Therapy: Inositol Phosphates and Illudin S” Advisor: Dr. Shana J. Sturla.

Lei Meng (MS) “Quantitation of N2-Ethylidene-dGuo in Human Leukocyte DNA of Singapore Chinese Women and the Effect of Wok Cooking” Advisor: Dr. Stephen S. Hecht

Kathryn E. Pietsch (MS) “Chemical Aspects of Scylfulvene Bioactivation to a Cytotoxic Reactive Intermediate” Advisor: Dr. Shana J. Sturla

Christopher Schneider (PhD, University of Kansas) “Studies on Oximidines II – Total Synthesis by an Unprecedented Reductive Coupling.” Advisor: Dr. Gunda Georg

Brian R. White (PhD) “Toward Therapeutic Nanoassemblies: The Design and Modeling of Protein-Protein Interactions” Advisor: Dr. Carston R. Wagner

Siyi Zhang (PhD) “Analysis of Pyridyloxobutyl and Pyridylhydroxybuty1 DNA Adducts in Extra-Hepatic Tissues of Rats Treated with Tobacco -Specific Nitrosamines” Advisor: Dr. Stephen S. Hecht



Ranganathan Balasubramanian, (PhD) “Part I: Design and synthesis of CYP7B1 Inhibitors for the Chemoprevention of Prostate Cancer," "Part II: Synthesis and Structure-Activity Relationships of Tubulysins” Advisor: Dr. Robert A. Fecik

Jignesh Doshi (PhD) “Rational Design, syntheses, and Biological Evaluation of Antagonists against Anti-Apoptotic Bcl-2 Proteins” Advisor: Dr. Chengguo Xing

Thomas E. Johnson (MS) “Design, Synthesis, and Biological Evaluation of Potential Chemopreventive Agents Against Lung Tumorigenesis” Advisor: Dr. Chengguo Xing

Norton, Jolanna (MS) “Synthesis of Nucleoside Analogs for Elucidation of APOBEC3G Cytidine Deaminase Mechanism” Advisor: Dr. Shana J. Sturla

Cory Kending (PhD) “The Design and Synthesis of Constrained AVPI Peptidomimetics” Advisor: Dr. Rodney L. Johnson.

Rachel Loeber (PhD) “DNA-Protein Cross-Linking by Bis-Electrophiles” Advisor: Dr. Natalia Y. Tretyakova.

Sadiya Noor Addo, (MS) “Mechanistic Studies of Small Molecule Antagonists of Anti-Apoptotic Bcl-2 Proteins” Advisor: Dr. Chengguo Xing

Jaeson C. Steel (MS) “Progress Towards the Synthesis of the Tubulysins” Advisor: Dr. Robert A. Fecik



Swati S. More (PhD) “Design, Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Glutathione Peptidomimetics as Components of Targeted Prodrugs and Glyoxalase I Inhibitors” Advisor: Dr. Robert Vince

Ding Lu (PhD) “The Design, Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Pseudosymmetric HIV-I Protease Inhibitors Featuring Sulfoximine Functionality as a Potential Transition State Mimic” Advisor: Dr. Robert Vince



Upendra Argikar (PhD) “Effects of Age, Induction, Regulation and Polymorphisms on the Metabolism of Antiepileptic Drugs” Advisor: Dr. Rory P. Remmel

Tsui-Fen Chou (PhD) “Histidine Triad Nucleotide Binding Proteins (Hints): Nucleoside Phosphoramidases and Potential Regulators of Aminoacyl – tRNA Synthetases” Advisor: Dr. Carston R. Wagner

David S. Daniels (PhD) “Bivalent Opioid Ligands as Probes for the Investigation of Opioid Receptor Dimerization. Development of Novel Analgesics without Tolerance or Physical Dependence” Advisor: Dr. Philip S. Portoghese

John W. Giraldes (MS) “Substrate Specificity and Affinity Labeling Studies of Polyketide Synthase Thioesterases” Advisor: Dr. Robert A. Fecik

John R. Goodell (PhD) “Synthesis and Evaluation of Heterocyclic Antiviral Agents” Advisor: Dr. David M. Ferguson

Brian E. Kane (PhD) “Molecular Recognition of G – Protein Coupled Receptor Ligands: Insights into Salvinorin A and Xanomeline” Advisor: Dr. David M. Ferguson

Yabin Lao (PhD) “Analysis by HPLC – ESI – MS/MS of Pyridyloxobutyl DNA Adducts in F344 Rats Treated with Tobacco – Specific Nitrosamines” Advisor: Dr. Stephen S. Hecht

Bhooma Raghavan (PhD) “Synthesis of 5.6.5 Spiro Bicyclic Lactams and Photoaffinity Labeling Ligands for PLG Binding Site and Stereoseletive Synthesis of α – Substituted γ – Lactams” Advisor: Dr. Rodney L. Johnson

Terry W. Steele (PhD) “Acid Cleavable Alkyl Polyethlenimine Dendrimeric Vectors for Novel Gene Delivery” Advisor: Dr. W. Thomas Shier

Ashish P. Vartak (PhD) “Design and Synthesis of Type – VI β-Turn Mimics of L-Prolyl-Xaa-L-Prolinamide” Advisor Rodney L. Johnson



Jonathan C. T. Carlson (PhD) “Towards Therapeutic Nanoassemblies: Chemically Induced Protein Oligomerization” Advisor: Dr. Carston R. Wagner

Abigail Fisher (PhD) “Photoaffinity Labeling and Conformationally Constrained Analogs of the Dopamine Receptor Modulator L-Prolyl-L-Leucyl-Glycinamide” Advisor: Dr. Rodney L. Johnson

Xingnan Li (PhD) “Synthesis and Biological Evaluations of Conformationally Restrained α, γ-Diketo Acid Analogs and Purine-Containing Mg2+ Chelating Ligands as Inhibitors for HIV Integrase” Advisor: Dr. Robert Vince

Priyanka A Rao (MS) “Analysis of Phenathrene Metabolite by Liquid Chromatography – Tandem Mass Spectrometry” Advisor: Dr. Stephen S. Hecht

Ye Tang (PhD) “Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Unsaturated Carbo-Acyclic Nucleosides” Advisor: Dr. Robert Vince

Haiqing Wong (PhD) “Studies on Arylamine N-Acetyltransferases” Advisors: Dr. Patrick E. Hanna, Dr. Carston R. Wagner

Hansen L. Wong (PhD) “Tissue-Specific Metabolic Activation of Carcinogenic Nitrosamines” Advisor: Dr. Stephen S. Hecht