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Jeff Foster (left), Xiao Wang (center), and Shugeng Cao (right)

Alumni Highlights

Alumnus Jeff Foster '17, who earned his Ph.D. under the direction of John Matson, has been named an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellow at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

His dissertation focused on developing a methodology to leverage gaseotransmitters, specifically hydrogen sulfide, for human therapy. His work showed that hydrogen sulfide exhibits selective anticancer activity and may represent a promising alternative cancer therapy.

Jeff will focus his fellowship research on developing homogeneous, stimuli-responsive catalysts for precision polymer synthesis. His methodology will enable kinetic control over polymer sequence, providing a tool to create polymers with intentionally designed sequences. Fundamental sequence–structure–property relationships discovered during Jeff’s fellowship work will provide a framework for the design of future sustainable materials for packaging, construction, energy storage, and medicine. His ongoing research interests leverage a framework of synthetic methodology, homogeneous catalysis, and organic material science to uncover structure– property relationships, create novel materials with emergent functionality, and develop efficient and sustainable manufacturing processes.

Xiao Wang, a former postdoctoral associate under the direction of Edward Valeev, has been named as a tenure-track assistant professor at University of California, Santa Cruz.

In 2019, Xiao joined the Flatiron Institute as a Flatiron Research Fellow in the Center for Computational Quantum Physics. Together with Prof. Timothy Berkelbach, Xiao studied various exciton properties in solids with the state-of-the-art quantum chemistry methods.

His research lies at the interface of theoretical chemistry and materials science. In particular, he develops ab initio quantum chemistry methods for materials to answer challenging problems involving molecular crystals, heterogeneous catalysis, and strong light-matter interaction.

Shugeng Cao '08, of professor emeritus David Kingston's group, is currently a full professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawai'i at Hilo.

Prior to moving to Hawai'i in 2013, Cao was an instructor at the Department of Biological Chemistry & Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School from 2008 - 2013. 

Cao received the Award for Excellence in Scholarly and Creative Activities from the UH Hilo for the 2020-2021 academic year. He was also awarded the Organic Division Horizon Prize in Bioorganic Chemistry for his work with a new class of natural enzymes called Pericyclases from Royal Society of Chemistry in 2021. Furthermore, he received the "Student choice award for teaching Pharmaceutical Sciences" from the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at UH Hilo for the 2021-2022 academic year.