Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry Seminar by Dr. Davita Watkins
Sep 18, 2020, 1:30 - 2:45 PM
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry Seminar
Friday, September 18th, 2020
1:30pm – 2:45pm
Zoom ID: 960 452 0800
A Spotlight on Supramolecular Chemistry in Nanomedicine
Speaker: Dr. Davita L. Watkins, University of Mississippi
Abstract: The ability to control molecules and understand their organization into discrete nanoscale arrays that exhibit unique properties affords the opportunity for transformative advances in chemistry and material science. Specifically, for biomaterials and nanomedicine, structural and chemical variations at the molecular level will influence morphology and mechanical properties as well as stability and degradation rates of the resulting material. Herein, a library of self-assembling linear-dendritic block copolymers (LDBCs) comprised of a hydrophilic polyamide-based dendrimer covalently linked to a hydrophobic linear polyester will be highlighted. These polymers are shown to be capable of forming a variety of supramolecular aggregates in water—particularly those possessing a biomimetic nature. In this lecture, the synthesis and characterization of the LDBCs library as well as their resulting nano-aggregates will be discussed. Results of this study will demonstrate the significant contribution of “bottom-up” approaches towards efficient materials for bio-imaging and theranostic nanomedicine.
Biography: A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Davita L. Watkins obtained her B.S. in Chemistry and Anthropology from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. After working briefly for a bioanalytical company, she received a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Memphis under the tutelage of Dr. Tomoko Fujiwara. As a doctoral candidate, she developed and established multi-step synthetic methods for a series of stimuli-responsive materials. In 2012, she accepted a postdoctoral position at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, with Dr. Ronald K. Castellano where she developed novel self-assembling organic materials for photovoltaic applications. In 2014, she began her independent academic career at the University of Mississippi, focusing on design guidelines towards functional materials with tunable properties through molecular self-assembly. Dr. Watkins is the recipient of several awards, including the Oak Ridge Associated Universities Ralph E. Powe Award, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, a Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering American Chemical Society Young Investigator Award and the Lloyd N. Ferguson Young Scientist Award. Alongside her research efforts, Dr. Watkins is an active voice for initiatives to increase minorities and women in STEM.