Spring Graduation – Praveen and Mark

Dr Praveen George Vadakkedath (PhD) and Mark-Anthony McLarin (BScH) attended the University Spring 2020 Graduation Ceremony yesterday. It is a well deserving celebrations of their achievements especially after such a turbulent year :) Congratulations to both Praveen and Mark!

Ryan’s PhD Thesis Submission

Congratulations to Ryan, who submitted his PhD Thesis last Thursday.

Ryan did an amazing PhD project across three disciplines (organic synthesis, chemical biology and cell biology) and 3 groups (Main Supervisor: Associate Professor Sperry, Co-Supervisor: Professor Maurice Curtis at FMHS and Ivan) to search for bioactive compounds that modulate neuroplasticity, and to identify the cellular targets that these compounds are acting on. His work is of excellent quality and hopefully will lead to multiple high impact publications soon.

Ryan will continue his great work as a postdoc with Maurice. Well done!

Science Scholar Presentation – Steve Hansel

Steve Hansel, a SCISCHOL 302B student, worked with Nabangshu this semester to produce laccases to degrade textile dyes.

Steve presented the results from his work at today’s Science Scholar Programme poster symposium.

Well done Steve. It wasn’t easy as Steve has lost a few week’s of research time due to the Auckland lockdown earlier. However, we hope you have enjoyed doing research and gained some valuable experience! Good luck with studies & exams!

New Paper in RSC Medicinal Chemistry

Congratulations Brooke and team for our new paper in RSC Medicinal Chemistry, which documents our work in elucidating the mode of inhibition of itaconate to isocitrate lyase. Thanks to the contribution from Annabelle and Martin. This is a successful collaboration with Dr Ghader Bashiri and Associate Professor Jon Sperry.

You can read the paper by following the link here: https://doi.org/10.1039/D0MD00301H

Dr Naasson Mbenza – Congratulations

Congratulations to Dr Naasson Mbenza who successfully defended his PhD thesis “Studies on the Modulation of the Enzymatic Activity of Hypoxia-Inducible Factor Hydroxylases” this afternoon.

Naasson did very well in his oral examination. He gave a good presentation summarising his PhD work and highlighting important results. He also answered the examiners’ questions with confidence. The examiners were impressed by Naasson’s PhD thesis, in particular the quality of the work and the communication style. Naasson will be starting his postdoc at the Victoria University of Wellington next week. Well done Naasson and many congratulations. Good luck with your next adventure!

I would like to thank Professor Christian Hartinger as Naasson’s PhD co-supervisor. I would also like to thank the examiners (Drs Luke Hunter and Mun Chiang Chan), HoD nominee (Dr Erin Leitao), independent chair and staff at the School of Graduate Studies for their help with the examination.

Naasson during his PhD oral examination
Congratulations Dr Naasson Mbenza

Dr Dona Gunawardana – Congratulations

Congratulations to Dr Dona Gunawardana for successfully defended her thesis in her PhD oral examination this morning.

Dona’s final preparation was interrupted by last night’s announcement that Auckland will be moving back to Alert Level 3 by midday today, and her oral examination was changed from a “hybrid face-to-face + Zoom” format to the “online Zoom” format. Nonetheless, Dona performed well in her oral examination. Dona answered the questions well and I think the examiners were impressed by her effort integrating results from the different biophysical tools to study the structure of the ethylene-forming enzyme. Well done Dona and your PhD was well deserved! Due to the Alert Level 3 lockdown, we were unable to celebrate with you today, but we hope that we will be able to give you a farewell celebrations before you depart to the UK for your next adventure. Many congratulations!

Finally, I would like to thank Associate Professor Chris Squire for being the co-supervisor of Dona. I would also like to thank the examiners, HoD nominee, independent chair and staff at the School of Graduate Studies for their help with the examination.

Dona giving her presentation during her PhD oral examination

Weijing’s PGDipSci submission

Congratulations to Weijing, who submitted her PGDipSci dissertation for examination this afternoon.

Weijing tested the efficacy of a series of compounds against antibiotic-resistant bacteria during her PGDipSci. Her project was severely impacted by the coronavirus situation (including self-isolation and lockdown) so she did a good job gathering enough data and putting the thesis together. Well done and good luck with your future work/studies Weijing!

I would like to thank Mike for looking after Weijing during her PGDipSci studies. This project is a long-standing collaboration with Dr Jack Chen at AUT, Dr Jóhannes Reynisson (Keele University) and Associate Professor Chris Squire.

Dr Jinal Patel – Congratulations

Congratulations to Dr Jinal Patel for successfully defended her thesis in her PhD oral examination this morning.

Jinal performed well in her oral examination. The examiners were impressed by the numbers of compounds that she has tested, as well as the thorough analyses that she has conducted during her PhD. They were also happy with some of the ideas that she has tried to restore the activity of TDP1 mutant. Well done Jinal and the PhD was well deserved! Many congratulations!

Finally, I would like to thank Dr Jóhannes Reynisson and Associate Professor Chris Squire, co-supervisors of Jinal. I would also like to thank the examiners (Dr Cassandra Fleming and Associate Professor Ram Sagar), HoD nominee (Dr Rebecca Deed), independent chair and staff at the School of Graduate Studies for their help with the examination.

Jinal during her PhD oral examination
Group celebrations
Group celebrations

ChemComm Back Cover – Congratulations Danilo and team

Congratulations to Danilo and team, whose paper “An investigation into the effect of ribosomal protein S15 phosphorylation on its intermolecular interactions by using phosphomimetic mutant” was featured at the outside back cover in the latest issue of ChemComm! Thanks Ryan Dixon and his dad Jeffrey Dixon (Digital impressions, Kolkata) for designing the back cover illustration (and Nabangshu and Danilo for ideas about the design of the illustration).

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