American Chemical Society Recognizes Undergraduates for Outstanding Achievement



Top row, from left: Wenya Jian, Maya Spencer; Bottom row, from left: Jeshurun Luke, Vincent Du

April 8, 2022

By Jillian Dempsey

The American Chemical Society recognizes undergraduates for outstanding achievement in four disciplines of chemistry.

Four UNC Chemistry students are recipients of the 2022 American Chemical Society Undergraduate Awards:

  • Wenya Jian, 2022 American Chemical Society Undergraduate Award in Analytical Chemistry
  • Maya Spencer, 2022 American Chemical Society Undergraduate Award in Inorganic Chemistry
  • Jeshurun Luke, 2022 American Chemical Society Undergraduate Award in Organic Chemistry
  • Vincent Du, 2022 American Chemical Society Undergraduate Award in Physical Chemistry

Senior Wenya Jian is from Cary, NC and is a researcher in the Hicks lab in the Department of Chemistry. Her time at UNC has fostered her growth as a scientist through both a supportive learning environment and by providing opportunities in research.

“In the Hicks’s Lab, I was introduced to the versatility of mass spectrometry in solving real-world problems. I found my love for analytical chemistry and develop my passion to pursue a career as a researcher. I was fortunate to have an incredible research advisor, Dr. Hicks, and an excellent graduate student mentor, Patric Sadecki, giving me support and guidance in research. I am deeply grateful for their selfless mentorship on my path to become the scientist I am today. Additionally, I would like to thank Dr. Redinbo, Dr. Zurcher, and Dr. Hogan for their help and support during my undergraduate career.”

Receiving the 2022 American Chemical Society Undergraduate Award in Analytical Chemistry has helped Wenya affirm her success at UNC, and she recognizes the guidance and efforts of her research advisors and professors in the chemistry department at Carolina. In the Fall, Wenya will pursue her Ph.D. in Chemistry at Yale University.

Junior Maya Spencer is from Charlotte, NC and conducts undergraduate research in the Miller group in the Department of Chemistry. While she was always interested in chemistry, it was her introductory inorganic chemistry class that first helped her make connections between the classroom and the real world. This experience motivated her to keep pursuing her chemistry degree, but also to pursue further knowledge through research and advanced classes in inorganic chemistry.

Maya is honored to receive the 2022 American Chemical Society Undergraduate Award in Inorganic Chemistry. “I look forward to continuing my chemistry education, and this award has affirmed my current efforts. Although I won’t be pursuing graduate education for some time, I am excited to combine my interest in chemistry with my naval career where possible. I would also like to thank Professor Dempsey, Professor Miller, and Professor Gagné for their support in my pursuit of the subject.” Upon graduation, she will be commissioned as an officer in the United States Navy, and anticipates attending Nuclear Power School.

Senior Jeshurun Luke is from Cary, NC and carries out research in the Knight lab in the Department of Chemistry. He arrived at UNC interested in chemistry, but didn’t know exactly what that path would look like. “After working with my mentors in the Knight Lab, I have gotten a better idea of what a path in chemistry would look like for me and was greatly inspired by the freedom they had given me to explore different avenues of chemistry.”

Jeshurun feels privileged and honored to have received guidance and support from so many mentors in the Department of Chemistry at UNC.

“Dr. Abigail Knight, Dr. Meredith Barbee, and Matthew Bogen have supported me time and time again throughout most of my years in Chapel Hill. I would also like to thank Dr. Kanai for helping me understand the path I wanted to pursue in graduate school. I definitely wouldn’t have gotten to or dreamed of getting to where I am today without all their help.”

Receiving the 2022 American Chemical Society Undergraduate Award in Organic Chemistry has helped assure Jeshurun in his plans to explore new avenues of chemistry in graduate school. In the Fall, Jeshurun will pursue a Ph.D. at Harvard University.

Senior Vincent Du is from Las Vegas, NV. Here at UNC Vincent has carried out research in the Lu group. Vincent has found inspiration throughout his time at UNC.

“At Carolina, I was consistently inspired by my group mates and by Professor Lu, as well as professor Shubin Liu. Their energy and kindness have helped me so much.”

Receiving the 2022 American Chemical Society Undergraduate Award in Physical Chemistry is a great accomplishment for Vincent, who will next pursue a Ph.D. in physical chemistry.