Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Academic Year 2019-20 News


CONGRATULATIONS to our 2021 graduates! We wish everyone continued success.

Bachelor’s Degree Awarded

  • Dylan Beard BS BIOCHEM
  • Brittany Bennett BS BIOCHEM
  • Seonna Bristol BS BIOCHEM
  • Kayla Crosby BS CHEM
  • Amber Davis BS BIOCHEM
  • Maurice Johnson BS BIOCHEM
  • Courtney Manning BS CHEM FORENSIC
  • Lionel  Perry BS BIOCHEM
  • Arian Toy BS BIOCHEM
  • Sierra Williams-McLeod BS BIOCHEM
  • Jeremy Young BS BIOCHEM

Master’s Degree Awarded

  • Jawaher S. Alenazi MS CHEM 

Jawaher Alenazi defended her MS Thesis titled: “Structural Genomics of Infectious Diseases” supervised by Dr. Oluwatoyin Asojo.


  • DeWayne Arrington MS CHEM

DeWayne Arrington defended his MS thesis titled “Ruthenium (II)-Arene Complexes Bearing Arylazopyrazole Functionalized Ligands: Synthesis and Photochromic Studies” supervised by Dr. Kesete Ghebreyessus.


CONGRATULATIONS to our 2020 graduates! We wish everyone continued success.

Dr. Willie Darby poses with five graduates in full ceremonial regalia duing the HU 149th Annual Commencement. The students names are listed below.

While graduation 2020 has been postponed due to the Corona virus pandemic, we proudly celebrate the accomplishments of our students. We wish all of you continued success and expect to hear from you as you move forward in life. Congratulations!

Bachelor’s Degree Award

  • Kendra Tierra Carroll BS CHEM
  • Jessica Cameron Fletcher BS CHEM
  • Isaac Seif Mukooza BS CHEM
  • Ashanti Monique Sallee BS CHEM FORENSIC
  • Nahzir Charles Williams BS CHEM FORENSIC
  • Stephanie Ngozi Chigbu BS BIOCHEM
  • Robert Clark Gresham, III BS BIOCHEM
  • Akilah Yvonne Johnson BS BIOCHEM
  • Jada White BS BIOCHEM

Ashanti Sallee and Robert Gresham have been accepted into PhD programs. Mr. Gresham will be attending the University of North Carolina’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy and Ms. Sallee will be attending Rice University in pursuit of a Ph.D. in material science and nano-engineering. Stephanie Chigbu is headed to the National Institute of Health as a research fellow for a year. Jessica Fletcher will be attending the ACS Chemistry Bridge Program at The Ohio State University in this Fall. Several students have future plans pending.

Master’s Degree Awarded

  • Wael Yahya Dighriri MS CHEM
  • Abdulrahman Hadi Husayni MS CHEM

Wael Yahya Dighriri defended his MS Thesis Title: “Chemical Profiles of Global Bottled Water Brands” and graduated with his MS in Chemistry, supervised by Dr. Isai Urasa.

Abdulrahman Husayni successfully defended his Thesis Title: “Synthesis and Spectroscopic Characteristics of Tetrahydro Beta Carboline” and graduated with his MS in Chemistry, supervised by Dr. Vincent Nziko.


Mishayla Mason completed degree requirements for BS Biochemistry, Dec 2019.

Najla Salem graduated with her MS Chemistry, Dec 2019, under the mentorship of Dr. Kesete Ghebreyessus, her thesis title was “Photoswitchable Arylazopyrazole-Functionalized Schiff Base Ligands: Synthesis and Complexation Studies.”


Graduate student DeWayne Arrington, presented a poster at the Annual Materials Research Society, in Boston, Massachusetts.

Stephanie Chigbu presented a poster at ABRCMS on a travel award. Other students and department alum attended The Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) in California. Some attended on competitive travel awards.

Jayso’n Davidson, a May 2019 Biochemistry graduate, won a poster award at ABRCMS in California. He was a PREP scholar at Baylor Medical School, in Houston, Texas and is now headed to UCSF for a PhD. In Chemical Biology.

Jasmine Maddy became a member of the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society and was awarded a summer research fellowship in genomics at the Baylor College of Medicine.

Imani Porter was awarded an Argonne Undergraduate Research Internship.

Ashanti Sallee won a travel award to present her research findings at the National Technical Associations Inc. (NTA) in Baltimore, MD. The theme of the conference was “Preparing the Next Generation of Technical Leaders for the New Global Economy”, Baltimore, Maryland. Ms Sallee worked with Dr. Kesete Ghebreyessus and the title of the presentation was “Multi-component and Photo-responsive Arylazopyrazole Based Metallo-hydrogels”.

Ms. Sallee was also this year’s recipient of the W. Adrian Freeman Award, which would have been presented at the senior’s banquet. Her award was highlighted in the President’s Letter to Graduating Seniors dated May 8, 2020.

Auriel Sanders received the Burger King Scholarship and NOAA crest summer internship.

Sierra Williams – McLeod was awarded an American Heart Association EmPOWERED to ServeTM Scholarship. Read more in this HU News Article. Ms. Williams-McLeod is also the recipient of a 2-year funded fellowship to increase diversity in neuroscience, including two summers of paid summer research and trips to the Annual Society for Neuroscience meeting. She also won a travel award to ABRCMS.

ACS Scholar, Jeremy Young, received a Rita Haysbert-Times Scholarship, is a NOAA-CREST Undergraduate Fellow and a recipient of a SMART fellowship for undergraduate research at the Baylor College of Medicine.


Dr. Edmund Moses N. Ndip was recently named a fellow of the African Scientific Institute (ASI). The ASI Fellows association is an international group of accomplished academics, researchers and business people in the fields of science and technology.

As of April 2020, there are currently 1638 ASI Fellows from 57 countries including the USA. The association recognizes the achievement of excellence of each fellow in his or her field through election to membership and various awards for distinguished achievement. Dr. Ndip has been recognized by ASI for his achievements in research [computational chemistry and applications including computational materials science] and teaching [received HU’s highest honor for teaching excellence – Edward L. Hamm, Sr. Distinguished Teaching Award in 2008].

For more information about ASI Fellows, visit the African Scientific Institute and Dr. Ndip’s webpage.


Dr. Oluwatoyin A. Asojo served as a reviewer on 3 NSF panels and continues her editorial responsibility for Scientific Reports and the Journal of Structural Biology. She continued her leadership roles in various professional societies, including the US National Committee for Crystallography, IUCR, ACA and she chairs and helped developed HU’s new NIH-approved IBC program. She was recently elected Vice–chair of the International Union of Crystallography (IUCR) Commission on Crystallographic Teaching and is a PI on the NIGMS awarded $1,554,390 U-RISE grant. Dr. Michelle Waddell is also involved in the grant. Dr. Asojo also had several recent publications.

Cirillo P.F, Asojo, O. A*, Khire U., Lee Y., Mootien S., Hegan P., Sutherland A.G, Peterson-Roth, E., Ledizet M., Koski R.A, and Anthony K. Inhibition of Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor by a Chimera of Two Allosteric Binders. ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters November 19, 2019 DOI: 10.1021/acsmedchemlett.9b00351

Lobo-Silva J, Cabral FJ, Amaral MS, Miyasato PA, de Freitas RP, Pereira ASA, Khouri MI, Barbosa MMF, Ramos PIP, Leite LCC, Asojo OA, Nakano E, Verjovski-Almeida S, Farias LP.The antischistosomal potential of GSK-J4, an H3K27 demethylase inhibitor: insights from molecular modeling, transcriptomics and in vitro assays. Parasit Vectors. 2020 Mar 17;13(1):140. doi: 10.1186/s13071-020-4000-z. PubMed PMID: 32178714; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7077139.

Versteeg L, Wei J, Liu Z, Keegan B, Fujiwara RT, Jones KM, Asojo O, Strych U, Bottazzi ME, Hotez PJ, Zhan B. Protective immunity elicited by the nematode-conserved As37 recombinant protein against Ascaris suum infection. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2020 Feb;14(2):e0008057. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0008057. eCollection 2020 Feb. PubMed PMID: 32053593; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7017989.

Dr. Kesete Ghebreyessus attended the ACS National Meeting in Philadelphia, PA, March 22 – 26, 2020. Dr. Ghebreyessus and graduate student, DeWayne Arrington, gave a virtual poster presentation titled “Photo-switchable metal containing click derived arylazopyrazole ligands”.

At the ACS National Meeting, San Diego, CA, August 25 – 29, 2019, Dr. Ghebreyessus had several presentations, an oral presentation titled “Phenylalanine-Based Metallohydrogels with Photoswitchable Arylazopyrazole ligands” in collaboration with Ashanti Sallee and the poster presentation titled “Microwave-assisted synthesis of Mn-and rare earth ion-doped CsPbX3 (X = Br, Cl) perovskite nanocrystals” in collaboration with A. Kabir, L. Flagg, U. Hommerich.

Dr. Peter Njoki finished off his term as the chair of the Hampton Roads local section of the American Chemical Society, was elected alternate councilor. He serves as vice-chair of the chemistry section of the Virginia Academy of Science (VAS) reviewer for NSF, ACS, ABRCMS, and other organizations. He was awarded $ 70,000 from American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund (ACS PRF) for undergraduate research (2019-2022).

Dr. Njoki published a peer-reviewed manuscript with two students Anais Rhoades and Joy Barnes, entitled “Microwave-Assisted Synthesis of Anisotropic Copper-Silver Nanoparticles,” in the journal, Materials Chemistry, and Physics, Volume 241, February 2020, 122348.

Dr. Insu Hahn received a 2019 DOD-HBCU/MI Summer Fellowship Grant to perform research at the US Army Research Lab in Adelphi, Maryland. The research used single-particle thermal emission spectroscopy to detect bioaerosols. He also presented a research poster at the HBCU/MI Symposium, held at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. The poster was titled “Blackbody Calibration Method at Low Temperatures for FT-IR Spectrometer”.


The Spring 2020 semester was impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic and teaching quickly moved to remote teaching in March using Zoom and Blackboard Collaborate. Faculty received training and with teamwork and persistence, all chemistry classes including labs transitioned to remote teaching. Many activities transitioned online to include our departmental meetings. Thanks to all for your resolve.

Zoom Meeting
Zoom meeting, May 6, 2020


The organic chemistry group of Drs. Michelle K. Waddell, Charles M. Bump, Edmund M. Ndip and Godson C. Nwokogu, has published an article in the World Journal of Chemical Education. The article on an organic chemistry lab activity that was developed and implemented for Organic Chemistry, Che 302 lab, is titled Determination of the p/o-Isomer Product Ratios in Electrophilic Aromatic Nitration of Alkylbenzenes Using High-Resolution 1H NMR Spectroscopy. The citation is World Journal of Chemical Education. 2019, 7(3), 216-224. DOI: 10.12691/wjce-7-3-5 Received June 25, 2019; Revised August 10, 2019; Accepted August 25, 2019. Read the entire article at the World Journal of Chemical Education.

Drs. Nwokogu, Waddell and Ndip were also featured in a JEOL Instruments’ blog post in February 2020.


The 97th annual meeting of the Virginia Academy of Science was held at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia on May 22nd – 24th, 2019 and Dr. Edmund Ndip served as the Chemistry section Chair.

The oral presentations for Chemistry included:

  • Photo-responsive metallo-gels by K. Ghebreyessus, Isaac Mukooza and A. M. Sallee
  • Transformation of silver nanoparticles in anions P. N. Njoki
  • Synthesis and antimicrobial activity of spiro-oxindoles V. D. N. Nziko1 , B. Bennette1 and S. M. N.Efange2 1Dept. of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Hampton University; 2Dept. of Chemistry, University of Buea, Cameroon
  • Molecular modeling and drug mapping hemolin protein with dragomabin analog M. Waddell
  • Theoretical studies of the nonlinear optical properties (NLO) of a series of dithienopyrrole-based donor-piacceptor dyes E. M. N. Ndip

Poster sessions included:



Dr. Isai T. Urasa was an invited speaker at the “2019 IUPAC for Africa: Postgraduate Summer School on Green Chemistry” that occurred at the University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, May 12-19, 2019. Organized and managed by the IUPAC Inter-divisional Committee on Green Chemistry for Sustainable Development (ICGCSD), this was one of many events that have been organized in celebration of the IUPAC Centenary and the 150th anniversary of the creation of the Periodic Table. The six-day event was the first to be held on the Continent of Africa.

The Summer School was hosted by the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), University of Dodoma (UDOM) and the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) in collaboration with the Tanzania Chemical Society (TCS). Both UDSM and UDOM are among highly ranked Universities in Africa offering a wide range of academic disciplines at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The goal of the Summer School was to provide a platform for the participants to discuss the concepts, practice, and applications of green/sustainable chemistry. It is expected that events like this will have a catalytic effect on encouraging young African scientists, engineers and others, to create new solutions for a more sustainable development agenda for the Continent. Participants of the Summer School (mostly early career chemistry professionals and graduate students) represented a broad range of African Countries from Morocco to South Africa, Europe, the U.S., and China. The event included 12 lectures given by invited speakers, and 55 poster presentations given by early career professionals and graduate students, covering a broad range of research topics centered on the Twelve Principles of Green Chemistry & Sustainability. Many of the presentations had a strong emphasis on Catalysis. Also in attendance were IUPAC President Qifeng Zhou and Vice President Chris Brett (IUPAC President elect).


The annual Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry dinner was held on December 4, 2019 in the Student Center Cyber Lounge. Senior Stephanie Chigbu opened with a greeting and blessing, followed by a delicious meal prepared by staff and faculty. Everyone enjoyed reflections offered by a representative of each year group and Dr. Asojo presented certificates to recognize outstanding academic performances by students.

Two returning alumni were in attendance, Janay Little and Kennedy Goldsborough. They are both pursuing advanced degrees at VCU in Richmond. The presenter for the evening was Janay Little who spoke on her activities at VCU including her research on type IV pili biogenesis in E. coli.

Little and Ghebreyessus


Dr. Stefan France from Georgia Institute of Technology had planned to give a seminar on “Acceptor-Acceptor Diazo Compounds as Building Blocks for Intermolecular C-H Functionalization” on Thursday, March 19, 2020 but unfortunately the seminar was postponed due to the corona virus


The commonwealth of VA approved the Masters in Chemistry Teaching degree in Fall 2019.

The Department welcomed Mr. Zachary Messegee as the Chemical Instrument Technician. Mr. Messegee provided support for teaching and research instrumentation and the water quality lab. He worked with Dr. Isai Urasa, monitoring local estuaries and wetlands in the Hampton, VA area and performing measurements for trace heavy metals, nitrate/nitrite and phosphates. Mr. Messegee was accepted to graduate school recently and we wish him well in his future studies.

We also welcomed Dr. Renata Baroni, a post-doc working with Dr. Asojo, who helped train students in biochemistry and biotechnology techniques. Dr. Baroni completed her nine-month international Post-doctoral fellowship in March 2020. She worked under the mentorship of Dr. Oluwatoyin Asojo and was funded by SĂŁo Paulo State Research Foundation (FAPESP).