Our Team

Nadja Cech

nadja_cech@uncg.edu

Research Website

Nadja CechPatricia A. Sullivan Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Co-Director of the Medicinal Chemistry Collaborative, is a mass spectrometrist.  She specializes in analytical and natural products research, and supervises a highly collaborative and dynamic team of 12 undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral researchers.  Dr. Cech directs a National Institutes of Health Funded Predoctoral Fellowship Program focused on training and mentorship of students in the field of natural products, one of only two programs of this nature in the US.  The Cech group is recognized for their expertise in mass spectrometry metabolomics, particularly as it applies to studying synergy in complex natural product mixtures and in the development of novel approaches to target drug resistant bacterial infections. 

Nadja spent much of her childhood living with her family of 5 in a 300 square foot yurt on a farm in Southern Oregon.

 

Nicholas Oberlies

nicholas_oberlies@uncg.edu

Research Website

Nick Oberlies, Patricia A. Sullivan Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Pharmacognosy, and Co-Director of the Medicinal Chemistry Collaborative, has a passion for unlocking the chemistry of Nature. The long term goal of his lab is to discover bioactive compounds from Nature that can be used as drug leads against a variety of diseases, with particular emphasis in the anticancer realm. 

Nick enjoys playing guitar, with loads of enthusiasm (and a tasty amount of distortion).

Mohammed Al-Huniti

m_alhuni@uncg.edu

Mohammed AlHunitiResearch Scientist in the Croat Group, is an organic chemist by training often working on the late stage derivatization of natural products. Additionally, he is interested in the development of new synthetic methodologies that aim to shorten common synthetic protocols.  

Mohammed spends his free time with his daughters or hiking in the beautiful green areas that surround the city of Greensboro.

Matt Bryant

m_bryan2@uncg.edu

Matt Bryant, Medicinal Chemistry Collaborative Program Coordinator, also works on Chemistry and Biochemistry department communications, assists with graduate student recruitment, and helps coordinate the graduate training program. Matt has a background in art and communications.

Matt has a three-legged rescue cattle dog, and is often found making dust in his home workshop, wrenching or riding dual sport motorcycles, or working with his wife on DIY projects for their fixer-upper old house in the Lindley Park neighborhood of Greensboro.

Rick Bunch

rlbunch@uncg.edu

Rick Bunch, Professor of Geography, specializes in the development of methods and concepts that underlie Geographic Information Systems (GIS). He is interested collaborative research that requires the use of GIS and the conceptualization, modeling and analysis of geographic data. His work has included the development of radio wave propagation models and new approaches to incorporating the impacts of man-made and natural features that influence radio waves as they travel across the earth’s surface. He has also worked with faculty in Chemistry to help develop a geospatial database of collection sites.

Rick spends his free time geocaching wherever he can without getting into trouble, and doing math with his five homeschooled children.

Colin Cameron

cgcamero@uncg.edu

Colin CameronResearch Scientist in the McFarland Group, is nominally an electrochemist, but his career has covered diverse interests, including materials-based actuation, electrochemical energy storage and conversion, electromagnetic projectile weapons, polymer failure analysis, experimental aerospace coatings, and managing a naval fuels and lubrication laboratory. He holds a patent for a buoyancy engine, he ran his own consulting company, and, with Sherri McFarland, co-founded the biotech startup PhotoDynamic Inc. to commercialize a light-activated plant-sourced antibiotic. He is currently working in drug discovery, using spectroscopic and electrochemical techniques to reveal and optimize the mechanisms by which certain compounds become potent photochemical cytotoxic agents.  

When he’s not at work, Colin likes to play with his horses and sometimes he pretends to be a musician.

Norman Chiu

nhchiu@uncg.edu

Research Website

Norman Chiu Associate Professor of Chemistry and PhD Graduate Director, focuses on the analysis of disease associated biomarkers using mass spectrometry and other analytical techniques. Through the development of new methods for monitoring specific biomarkers, the ultimate goal is to improve our ability to prevent disease development and/or achieve accurate diagnosis as early as possible. Dr. Chiu has continued to enjoy working with his research students and proud of their achievements both inside and outside his research lab. 

During his time off, Dr. Chiu enjoys watching movies and traveling to different countries.

Mitchell Croatt

mpcroatt@uncg.edu

Research Website

Mitch CroattAssociate Professor of Chemistry and Department Heard, specializes in the synthesis of medicinally important molecules using as few steps as possible.  To do so, they: 1) design and develop new reactions; 2) use function-oriented synthesis to simplify structures; 3) collaborate with natural products chemists to modify complex natural products; and 4) use late-stage diversification.  

In his spare time, Mitch likes to help coach his daughters’ softball team,  go camping, and do woodworking.   

Stanley H. Faeth

shfaeth@uncg.edu

Research Website

Stan FaethProfessor of Biology, Associate Dean of Research in the College of Arts and Sciences, Florence Schaeffer Distinguished Professor of Science, performs research in population and community ecology that focuses on how fungal endophytes that live internally and asymptomatically in grasses affect insect and vertebrate herbivores via the production of alkaloids. 

Outside of his duties as Professor of Biology and Associate Dean of Research, Stan and his wife enjoy hiking, gardening and kayaking on their 25 acres adjoining the Dan River near Hanging Rock State Park. Their four dogs seem to enjoy it even more.

Tyler Graf

tngraf@uncg.edu

Tyler Graf, Research Scientist

Dow Hurst

dphurst@uncg.edu

Dow Hurst, Research Scientist

Zhenquan Jia

z_jia@uncg.edu

Research Website

Zhenquan JiaAssociate Professor of Biology, is a toxicologist and Associate Professor of Biology.  The undergraduate and graduate student researchers in his research group focus on the cardiovascular inflammation induced by exogenous and endogenous toxicants. In line with this research, his group is also actively studying the molecular mechanisms of bioactive compounds/novel natural products to ameliorate toxicant-mediated damage to cells and tissues. The approaches include cell- and molecular biology techniques and different animal models. 

 Dr. Jia loves spending time with his family, who enjoy traveling and swimming.

Joshua Kellogg

jjkellog@uncg.edu

Josh Kellogg, Research Scientist, is a postdoctoral research fellow at MC2. His work centers on developing new metabolomics-based analytical approaches using both mass spectrometry and NMR methodologies. Dr. Kellogg has applied these innovative techniques to natural products screening and discovery as well as analysis of botanical dietary supplements. 

Josh enjoys many outdoor activities, hiking, biking, and kayaking, and he is an avid photographer in his spare time.

 

Sherri McFarland

samcfarl@uncg.edu

Research Website

Sherri McFarland, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistryis a medicinal chemist and entrepreneur. She recently relocated from Acadia University in Canada to UNCG, where she and senior scientist Dr. Colin Cameron have assembled a multidisciplinary team of undergraduates and graduates who work to tackle fundamental problems in photophysics and photomedicine. The McFarland Group combines light and molecules to act as therapeutic and diagnostic agents for anticancer and antimicrobial photodynamic therapy. They are internationally recognized for their translational research, having been the first to advance a ruthenium-based photodynamic therapeutic to human clinical trials (in partnership with Theralase Technologies, Inc.). Dr. McFarland is also the founder of a biotech company Photodynamic Inc., which has advanced its light-activated antimicrobial natural product and device to a human clinical study for treating oral biofilms (plaque). 

In her spare time, Sherri enjoying hanging with her dogs, cats, horses, and goats.

Paula Morales

p_morale@uncg.edu

Paula Morales is an organic chemist by training, with a primary interest on the medicinal chemistry of the cannabinoids.  Her PhD project was centered on the design, synthesis and pharmacological evaluation of novel cannabinoid ligands. Her current research at the group of Dr. Patricia Reggio is mainly focused on the computational study of orphan G protein-coupled receptors that are potential members of the endocannabinoid system.

Paula loves traveling and reading when she is not working in the lab.

Kimberly Petersen

kspeters@uncg.edu

Research Website

Kimberly PetersenAssociate Professor, is a synthetic organic chemist.  The undergraduate and graduate student researchers in her group use state of the art equipment and techniques to develop new reactions for the preparation of small molecules with a specific spatial arrangement.  These molecules are valuable because of their relevance to compounds of biological importance. 

Kim has traveled to (or through) 47 US states and visited more than 30 National Parks

Huzefa Raja

haraja@uncg.edu

Huzefa Raja, Research Scientist, is a mycologist by training and studies fungal diversity and biology.  He isolates and describes known and novel fungi belonging to different ecological groups.  His research findings have important implications in studies of biodiversity, phylogenetics, and taxonomy, contributing new understanding to the origins and diversity of the fungal kingdom. Huzefa is an expert at identifying fungi, using a combination of morphological data, molecular phylogenetics and DNA barcoding approaches. 

When Huzefa is not examining fungi through a microcope, he may be found playing or watching cricket or, with the right company of friends, even golf.  He also enjoys watching model trains. 

José Rivera-Chávez (Pepe)

jarivera@uncg.edu

José Rivera-Chávez (Pepe)Research Scientist, is a Chemist-Pharmacologist-Biologist by training, with a primary interest on understanding the chemistry and pharmacology of natural products produced by fungi.  He is interested in the application of microorganisms to increase the chemical and medicinal space of compounds from nature. He also enjoys the application of computational tools to predict protein-ligand interactions and calculate phytochemical properties of organic compounds. 

Pepe loves to take spontaneous adventures and explore new places.

E. Will Taylor

ewtaylor@uncg.edu

Research Website

E. Will Taylor, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Director of the Biosafety Level 3 Laboratory at the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, is a pharmacologist, computational chemist and virologist. Dr. Taylor has been engaged in research on HIV, Ebola and other emerging infectious diseases for over 25 years, and is best known for his work on the role and mechanisms of the dietary trace element selenium in reducing the pathophysiological effects of various RNA viruses. His group recently identified novel antisense interactions between viral RNAs and host mRNAs such as thioredoxin reductases as a previously unrealized contributor to viral pathology. Active research projects with current graduate students range from purely computational studies of nano-bio-structures (such as G-quadruplexes) to studies of mechanisms of viral pathogenesis, including both in vitro cellular and molecular methods, and work with live HIV-1 and Zika virus. 

 Will is a guitar and piano enthusiast, ready and willing to form a house band with any other MC2 members. With his wife Maria Dormandy Taylor, he is also a cofounder of the Triad Vegan Society, and operates the Dharma Farm Animal Refuge in Archdale, NC

Jerry Walsh

jlwalsh@uncg.edu

Research Website

Jerry WalshProfessor of Chemistry and Associate Chemistry Department Head, specializes in inorganic chemistry and chemistry education.  Jerry Walsh promotes STEM Education in the community through teaching and outreach, including Science Olympiad, STEMX Summer Camp, National Chemistry Week, and the campus-wide Science Everywhere.  His upcoming project, CUR Transformations, involves working with MC squared staff to incorporate natural products, analytical, and synthetic chemistry research projects into traditional undergraduate labs, with plans to expand access for undergraduate students to research experience.  His work with the Transforming Teaching through Technology grant places undergraduate science majors in classrooms as role models for the students and as science support for the teachers. 

Jerry likes to work on yards and gardens, houses, and cars.  He also plays noonball (basketball) regularly.

Qibin Zhang

q_zhang2@uncg.edu

Research Website

Qibin ZhangAssociate Professor of Chemistry, is a biological mass spectrometrist and Co-Director of the UNCG Center for Translational Biomedical Research in Kannapolis. His research group works to identify biomarkers to Type 1 Diabetes, and is funded by the National Institutes of Health on a project aimed at understanding what triggers this disease. 

When not working or driving back and forth between Greensboro and Kannapolis, Qibin likes to play with his three children.