Meet Our Students

Alexander J. HoffmanAlexander J. Hoffman

Ph.D. Candidate
Hibbitts Catalysis Lab

Why did you select UF ChE?
I was drawn to the diverse research options at UF. I wanted to be able to explore different fields before settling on one, and UF’s department has so many options.

What are your research interests?
I study catalysis using density functional theory calculations. Density functional theory allows us to predict the structure and behavior of catalysts at a molecular level which, when combined with experimental analysis, offers more detail than was accessible two decades ago. In particular, I research zeolites, which are porous aluminosilicates often used in petrochemical upgrading, and single-atom Rh catalysts used to reduce automotive pollution.

What do you like about UF?
UF has a lot of resources that are available to students and faculty. For my research, in particular, there is a supercomputer on campus—Hipergator—which is one of the largest and fastest academic supercomputers in the country. I also like the collaboration between professors in the department; that kind of collaboration forms the bedrock of good science.

What do enjoy about living in Gainesville?
Despite its size, Gainesville has a lot to do—there are lots of good restaurants Downtown, seemingly endless sporting complexes or outdoor recreation spots, and regular music events in the area.

What do you do in your free time?
I spend a lot of time exercising or reading when I’m not doing research. My favorite sports are swimming and tennis, and Florida is a Mecca of sorts for both! A good book, whether or fiction or nonfiction, helps introduce me to new perspectives, and seeing how others write is important for graduate students.

Tell us about the connections you have made at UF
I’ve been really involved with our graduate student organization, GRACE, since joining the department. GRACE organizes lots of events for everyone in the department to gather and celebrate, from Lunar New Year celebrations to more academic symposia. It’s been a great way to encourage students to socialize across the department and outside of their respective labs, while simultaneously acting as a professional development organization.

Please share some positive experiences you’ve had with your ChE professors
I initially joined as a Master’s student, without intending to do a Ph.D., but I enjoyed working so much with my advisor, Dr. Hibbitts, that I decided to stay at UF when presented the chance to go elsewhere. I’ve also been really fortunate to have met several outstanding mentors in the department, primarily Dr. Jason Weaver, whom I’d regularly corner after classes to discuss chemistry, catalysis, and the ins-and-outs of academic research.


Julie F. JamesonJulie F. Jameson

Ph.D. Candidate
Stoppel Lab

Why did you select UF ChE?
I chose to do my Ph.D. at the University of Florida because they went above and beyond to make me feel valued and wanted, and had the community which has now given me a home. Furthermore, the resources here, including UF Health Shands Hospital being just a short walk, instantly attracted me and provided everything I needed to succeed as a researcher.
 
 What are your research interests?
My research interests lie in addressing clinical needs through an engineering perspective. The interdisciplinary approach the Stoppel lab takes to solve these problems is both innovative and impactful leading to fascinating discoveries. We specifically are interested in building dynamic and adaptable natural biomaterials to understand and control the behavior of cells both in vivo and in vitro
 
What do you love about Gainesville? 
What I love about living in Gainesville is the exciting and adventurous atmosphere that surrounds the city. There are so many nature trails to explore, football games to attend, and live concerts. Additionally, beaches and natural springs are only a short drive away. The community of graduate students both within the college of engineering and across the university makes it so easy to find a group of friends that will soon become family. 
 
Tell us about the connections you have made at UF

Some of the people I have met here at UF will be in my life forever. These are the people that continue to walk through the hard times of graduate school together; connections that far surpass your science network.


Alex JessAlex Jess

Ph.D. Candidate
The Hages Lab
 

Why did you select UF ChE?
I chose UF ChE because I am from Florida and went to UF for undergrad and absolutely loved it!

What are your research interests?
My research interests are in solar energy materials and nanoparticle synthesis.

What do you like about UF?
UF is a large university so there are plenty of opportunities for collaborations with other departments within UF. Also, I like the comradery in the UF  ChE department not only among graduate students, but also graduate students and professors.

What do you love about Gainesville? 
Gainesville has most of the amenities of a bigger city, but also has small town feel where it is easy to get around and cost of living is fairly low.

What do you do in your free time?
On weekends, I often play golf or go to local brewery.

Tell us about the connections you have made at UF
I have made many friends and connections while at UF for grad school. Some classmates and I formed a book club during the Covid-19 lockdown so that has been a nice way to keep in touch with each other.

Please share some positive experiences you’ve had with your ChE professors
I have many positive experiences with several professors in UF ChE. They have always been accommodating to my needs as a graduate student, whether it be help in a  course or using equipment in their lab for my research. I have never run into any issues.


Aniruddha KulkarniAniruddha Kulkarni

Ph.D. Student
Ziegler Research Group

Why did you select UF ChE?
I was aiming to join a graduate program which provided opportunities to conduct collaborative research in the areas of interfacial science with focus on nanomaterials.

What are your research interests?
My research interests lie in understanding and modifying nanoscale interfaces for developing novel biomaterials and studying them with techniques like X-ray and neutron scattering. I am also studying the thermodynamics of separating single walled carbon nanotubes using co-surfactant solutions.

What do you like about UF?
I like the big campus with lots of amenities like the library and gym. The people are very friendly as well.

What do you love about Gainesville?
Lots of nature trails and springs around to explore. Proximity to beaches is also a great thing.

What do you do in your free time?
I took up swimming lessons and spent some summers snorkeling around at the freshwater springs near Gainesville. I am planning to get my scuba license soon to dive at Key West. I also enjoy working out and cooking.

Tell us about the connections you have made at UF
I have made really long lasting friends in my time in Gainesville through various academic, social and volunteering events. The time I spent with these people has definitely been one of the highlights of my stay here.

Please share some positive experiences you’ve had with your ChE professors
All of the professors that I have had the chance of interacting with through classes or research have been very approachable and helpful. I have been using equipment from Dr. Rinaldi, Dr. Stoppel, Dr. Jiang, and Dr. Butler’s lab. Everyone is very supportive of me carrying out part of my work on their instruments which helped to drive my project faster.


Victor Rivera-LlabresVictor Rivera-Llabres

Ph.D. Student
NSF Graduate Research Fellow
 

Why did you select UF ChE?
I selected UF because I had a great visit in the spring and liked the dynamics of the department and the potential research I could do. There is a lot of collaboration going on and professors interact a lot with graduate students. 

What are your research interests?
My research interests surround using magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles for biomedical applications. Specifically, using magnetic alginate microparticles for creating aligned microstructures in hydrogels for tissue engineering. 

What do you like about UF?
What I like about UF is the diversity that is present everywhere. At classes, riding the bus, walking in campus and the department, anywhere. 

What do you love about Gainesville?
From Gainesville I enjoy that the climate is pretty similar to my hometown in Puerto Rico I don’t like when things get too cold, haha. 

What do you do in your free time?
On the weekends (pre-pandemic), I used to go out and play pool with some friends or play some sports. I also play video games regularly. 

Tell us about the connections you have made at UF
At UF I’ve made good friends in my first year specifically with other graduate students that started ChE in my same cohort.