Meet the Scientists

Darrell Irvine, Ph.D.

Darrell Irvine, Ph.D. the Eugene Bell chair in Tissue Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has a dual appointment in the Materials Science & Engineering and Biological Engineering Departments at MIT, where he has established a laboratory focused on the development of new materials for immunotherapy, drug delivery, and basic immunological studies. He is a faculty member at MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Dr. Irvine is the recipient of an Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation Young Investigator Award, an NSF CAREER award, was selected to the Technology Review ‘TR100’ in 2004, and is a Human Frontier Science Program Young Investigator. He completed a Ph.D. in Polymer Science at MIT under the supervision of Drs. Anne Mayes and Linda G. Griffith. He was a Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Mark M. Davis at Stanford University, where he studied the fundamental aspects of T cell recognition.

Lester Mitscher, Ph.D.

Lester Mitscher, Ph.D., is a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Kansas. His research interests include: natural products, antibiotics, antivirals, antimutagenics — or chemopreventive — agents, and antitumor agents. His research group has a long-term interest in screening and identifying pharmacologically active natural products (chemical compounds produced by a living organism), evaluating the therapeutic potential of these natural products, and in synthesizing analogues of these natural products in order to optimize therapeutic potential. Dr. Mitscher is a member of the Hall of Fame of the Medicinal Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society. He has received the Smissman Award and Medicinal Chemistry Award (ACS), Research Achievement Award (APhA), Volweiler Award (AACP), the Higuchi-Simons Award (KU), and is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He served as chair of the University of Kansas’ Department of Medicinal Chemistry from 1975-1993 and has held posts in numerous professional organizations. He consults for several major pharmaceutical firms and is on the editorial advisory boards of several peer-reviewed journals.

Rolande R. Hodel, Ph.D.

Rolande R. Hodel, Ph.D., is founder and president of AIDSfreeAFRICA, a non-profit organization based in New York ( This organization's mission is to help people in Africa to build their own pharmaceutical industry. Working in Cameroon, Dr. Hodel brought together professionals, advanced the building of a 10,000 square foot factory, researched production equipment and wrote management, production, and staffing plans. This project is structured to become self-sufficient. After this successful start, Dr. Hodel plans to work in other African countries such as Ghana and Uganda. Dr. Hodel has been an American Chemical Society (ACS) member since 1991. She was the Director of the ACS Westchester NY chapter (1995-1997), is the treasurer of the ACS Westchester NY chapter (1998- present), and was the Director-at-large of the ACS NY Section (2004-2005). Dr. Hodel received an M.S. in Inorganic Chemistry University of Kansas in 1995 and a PhD in Organic Chemistry at the City University of New York, Queens College in 2005. She also serves on the board of directors of Chemists Without Borders and represents Servas, an international peace organization at the United Nations.

Facundo Fernandez, Ph.D.

Facundo Fernandez, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His research group focuses on developing new bioanalytical mass spectrometric instrumentation and methods to solve complex biomedical and environmental questions. The experiments involve state-of-the-art mass spectrometry (a laboratory technique that identifies the chemical composition of a sample), ion mobility spectrometry (a technique to used separate and detect very low concentrations of chemicals), new types of ion sources (which help improve chemical detection in mass spec), high-speed liquid chromatography (a technique used to separate, and quantify compounds), and the mining of the obtained data using chemometrics (applying math or statistics tools to chemical data). Dr. Fernandez has received many awards, most recently the 3M Nontenured Faculty Award (2008), the NSF CAREER Award (2007), the “Professor Doctor Federico Luis Leloir” Award (Special Mention Buenos Aires University (2006), and Blanchard Fellow (2006).

Paul Philp, Ph.D.

Paul Philp, Ph.D., is the Joe and Robert Klabzuba Chair in Geology and Geophysics and the George Lynn Cross Research Professor in the ConcoPhillips School of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Oklahoma. His research interests are centered on the study of organic material as it is deposited in the sedimentary environment and undergoes changes resulting from diagenesis (changes undergone by sediment at low temperature ad pressure after it is deposited), microbial degradation, and thermal maturation at higher temperatures in older sediments. One application of his research is “environmental forensics.” Dr. Philp and his team are developing chemistry techniques to track down the source of oils, or other contaminants, that may have contaminated birds or other wildlife in the area of an oil spill or pollutant release.

William T. Cooper, Ph.D.

William T. Cooper, Ph.D., is Professor and Associate Chair of Chemistry & Biochemistry at Florida State University. He is also Director of Florida State’s Terrestrial Waters Institute and an affiliate scholar scientist at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, Florida. Dr. Cooper's research focuses on the application of advanced analytical techniques in studies of the organic chemistry of natural waters and sediments. He is particularly interested in the composition, structure and biogeochemical reactivity of natural organic matter (NOM), including NOM containing nitrogen and phosphorus. Natural bodies of water are dynamic, so the ultimate fate of anthropogenic chemical contaminants — such as heavy metals or hydrocarbons from industrial processes — is primarily dependent on the interaction of these chemicals with “natural” components in the watershed. However, the chemical principles underlying these reactions are not well understood, primarily due to a lack of sufficiently powerful analytical tools. The goal of Dr. Cooper’s research is a detailed understanding of the environmental geochemistry of surface and ground waters, with a major emphasis on development and application of new analytical techniques.