Group Members
JNJ Members
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Post-Doctoral Fellows
Sergey Tsukanov
Sergey Tsukanov
Ph.D. Chemistry, 2012, North Carolina State University, NC
M.S. Chemical Technology and Biotechnology (Honors), 2007, Moscow State Academy of Fine Chemical Technology, Russia
B.S. Chemistry & Chemical Technology, 2005, Moscow State Academy of Fine Chemical Technology , Russia

Sergey was born in Moscow, Russia. He completed his undergraduate studies at Moscow State Academy of Fine Chemical Technology and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Chemical Technology in 2005. After graduation, he continued his studies at Moscow State Academy of Fine Chemical Technology, and in 2007, he received a Master of Science in Chemical Technology and Biotechnology with Honors. Upon completion of his Master’s program, Sergey decided to pursue a career in synthetic chemistry and began his graduate studies at North Carolina State University under the supervision of Dr. Daniel L. Comins working on the synthesis of indolizidine alkaloids lepadiformine and 205B. He successfully completed the total synthesis of 205B and received his PhD degree in 2012.

Kazuyuki Tokumaru
Kazuyuki Tokumaru
Ph.D., 2006, Chiba University, Japan
M.S. Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2003, Nagoya City University, Japan
B.S. Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2001, Nagoya City University, Japan
Kazuyuki was born and raised in Nagoya, Japan. He began his training at Nagoya City University, where he worked with Professor Takayuki Shioiri and Professor Toyohiko Aoyama to develop asymmetric phase-transfer catalysis. After receiving his M.S. degree in 2003, he moved to Chiba University, where he worked with Professor Atsushi Nishida. He received Ph.D. in 2006 accomplishing the total synthesis of manzamine A. He is a researcher of pharmaceutical research division of Toray Industries, Inc., Japan and joined the group as a Visiting Scientist in March 2015.
Mahesh Vishe
Mahesh Vishe
Ph.D. Chemistry, 2015, University of Geneva, Switzerland
M.Sc. Chemistry, 2009, SIES College, India
B.Sc. Chemistry, 2007, V.G. Vaze College, India
Mahesh is a native of India. After finishing Bachelors in chemistry from V.G. Vaze College (Mulund) he joined SIES College (SION). After securing a First Class Master’s Degree with distinction in organic chemistry, he joined as a junior research fellow at IIT Bombay in the lab of Prof. Kaliappan. There he focused on the total synthesis of callystatin A and spongidepsin. He subsequently moved to the University of Geneva in Switzerland and worked on the one step synthesis of functionalized macrocycles and their applications in the lab of Prof. Jérôme Lacour to obtain a Ph.D degree. He joined the group in 2016.
 
Graduate Students
Ken Schwieter
Ken Schwieter
B.S. Chemistry, 2011, Xavier University, OH

Chapter 1. Ken was born and raised in Cincinnati, OH. He began at Xavier University in 2007 and worked with Prof. Rick Mullins as an undergraduate researcher. Provided a furlough for the summer, he joined the privileged (albeit dubious) ranks of NSF-REU students at Vanderbilt, and more specifically, the Johnston group. Ken assisted the PBAM scale-up campaign, and prepared a novel BAM ligand. Ken is an avid collector and amateur model for St. X, Xavier, and Vanderbilt T-shirts.

Chapter 2. Ken matriculated at Vanderbilt in 2011, and completed his rotations during the Fall. He then joined the group in January 2012 and is developing the enantioselective synthesis of aliphatic a-amino acids using a combination of chiral proton catalysis and Umpolung Amide Synthesis.

Daniel Sprague
Daniel Sprague
B.S. Biochemistry, 2011, University of Miami, FL
B.S. Chemistry, 2011, University of Miami, FL
Dan grew up in New Jersey, but flew south for college to the University of Miami. He completed his B.S. Biochemistry and B.S. Chemistry degrees (General Honors) in 2011 with magna cum laude distinction. While at Miami, Prof. Norito Takenaka inspired him to begin research in organic chemistry, through which Dan prepared several new helically chiral catalysts for enantioselective catalysis. Dan completed his rotations at Vanderbilt during the summer and Fall, and joined the group in January 2012. He is investigating chiral proton catalyzed enantioselective hetero-Diels-Alder reactions.
Thomas Struble
Thomas Struble
B.S. Biochemistry, 2012, College of Charleston, SC
B.A. Chemistry, 2012, College of Charleston, SC

Thomas was born in Fargo, North Dakota and grew up on the beach in Charleston, SC. At the College of Charleston he worked for Dr. Marcello Forconi, where he worked on elucidation of the mechanism of catalysis for the hammerhead ribozyme. In his all-elusive free time he enjoys fishing, golfing, and swimming. Thomas smokes a mean rack of ribs, chicken, and boston butt but needs donations for a new smoker. Thomas joined the group after completing his third rotation.

Matthew Knowe
Matthew  Knowe
B.S. Biochemistry, 2012, College of Charleston, SC

Matthew was born in Athens, Georgia in 1990, and has lived in Oregon, Florida, Tennessee, and South Carolina since then. He studied Biochemistry at the College of Charleston and conducted chemical biology research under Dr. Marcello Forconi. He began his graduate studies at Vanderbilt in 2012. Matthew tries to keep a strict diet of gummy worms and ice cream, and he enjoys any type of game anytime anywhere, including 'creative expression portraiture' initiated by Thomas. 

 

Suzanne Batiste
Suzanne Batiste
B.S. Bioengineering, 2012, UC San Diego, CA

Suzanne was born and raised in California. She received her B.S in bioengineering at the University of California, San Diego. At UCSD, Suzanne worked on creating a device to detect essential minerals for algae growth using gene circuits.  She began her graduate studies in chemistry at Vanderbilt in 2012. In her spare time, Suzanne enjoys running, dancing, and playing with her adorable cat Mo (also making him dance and feeding him cheese). Suzanne joined the group after completing her rotations.

Andrew Flach
Andrew Flach
B.S. Chemistry, 2014, University of Louisville, KY
Andrew was born in 1991 in Cincinnati and grew up in Northern Kentucky. At the University of Louisville he conducted research as an undergraduate in the Hammond-Xu group, first working on elucidating the mechanism of toxicity of an anticancer compound developed by Dr. Xu, and then investigating the role and effects of different counterions in organocatalysis. He joined Vanderbilt University in the Fall of 2014, and joined the Johnston group in March of 2015 after completing his rotations. He is currently studying counterion in PBAM-catalyzed reactions.
Jade Bing
Jade Bing
B.S. Biochemistry, 2013, Rider University, NJ
Jade is a Jersey girl, born and raised. In 2013 she received an ACS accredited B.S. in biochemistry from Rider University. At Rider, Jade became a McNair Scholar (2011) and worked with Dr. Danielle Jacobs on the stereocontrolled total chemical syntheses of cytotoxic and antimycobacterial natural products. In the summer of 2012, she worked with Dr. Robert Knowles at Princeton University on the use of PCET for intermolecular ketyl-olefin coupling. After graduation, she became a research coordinator and counselor for the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program before coming to Vanderbilt in the fall of 2014. Jade truly appreciates a clever one-liner or pun and in her free time she enjoys playing sports, cooking and games.
Michael Crocker
Michael Crocker
B.S. Chemistry, 2015, University of Kentucky, KY
B.S. Chemical Engineering, 2015, University of Kentucky, KY
Michael is a native of Bowling Green, KY where he attended the Carol Martin Gatton Academy where he did research with Dr. Jeremy Maddox and Dr. Lester Pesterfield on Pourbaix diagrams. He also participated in an NSF-International Research Experience for Scientists in Taiwan working with Dr. Ru-Jong Jeng on dendron synthesis, for which he received a Barry Goldwater Scholarship. Michael also trained with Dr. Chad Snyder and Dr. Rui Zhang in synthesis. He did his undergraduate work at the University of Kentucky pursuing a double chemical engineering/chemistry major with a math minor. There he worked with Dr. Mark Meier on oxidative cleavage of lignin. Outside of class, Michael likes biking, cooking, and collecting/enjoying Chinese and Japanese teas and tea wear. Michael joined the group in 2016 at the end of his rotations. In 2016, Michael was awarded the prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.
 
UnderGraduate Students
Zachary Carter
Zachary Carter
Zach is a rising junior at Vanderbilt University, majoring in Chemical Engineering and Chemistry, with minors in biology and neuroscience. He was born and raised in Chicago, IL. Zach is a Chancellor’s Scholar and continuing Resident Advisor in the Martha Ingram Freshmen Commons. He is also the Cultural Chair of the Vanderbilt Association of Hispanic Students. Zach took organic chemistry as a Freshman and gained research experience through the Department of Epithelial Cancer Biology. In 2014 he began work with the Johnston laboratory in an effort to apply new chemical methods to the synthesis of natural products with interesting biological activity, and became a VU Beckman Scholar for May 2014-August 2015. His postgraduate plan is to attend medical school in pursuit of an MD/PhD dual degree, eventually specializing in neurosurgery.
Sarah Sun
Sarah Sun
B.A. Chemistry/Applied Math, 2017, Vanderbilt University, TN
Sarah is a junior at Vanderbilt University majoring in chemistry and applied mathematics. She has lived most of her life in Houston, TX, but was born in Norway, and has family living in China, Norway, Canada, and the United States. Sarah is a College Scholar in the College of Arts and Science. She is also public relations chair of the Vanderbilt American Chemical Society and on the executive board of the Scientific Immersion and Mentorship program. Beginning her sophomore year, she conducted research investigating the linkages between irregular patterns of RNA editing and the development of depression. In the spring of 2016 she joined the Johnston lab where her research has been focused on synthesis of the chiral organocatalyst, PBAM.
 
REU Students
 
Rotation Students
 
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