Current USNCO Mentors

The following faculty and students are serving as mentors for the 2023 USNCO program.

Learn how to become a mentor.

View Past Mentors

See who are serving as mentors for the past USNCO program since 1984.

Laura Serbulea, Head Mentor

Laura Serbulea, Head Mentor

Laura Serbulea earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Bucharest, Romania, and her Ph.D. degree at the University of California, Los Angeles. She joined the faculty at the University of Virginia in 2012, where she is Associate Professor of Chemistry, General Faculty, and Director of Undergraduate Program. Dr. Serbulea is actively involved in the development of organic chemistry lecture and laboratory curricula, focusing on improving the coordination between the topics in the lecture course and the experiments that are carried out in the laboratory. Laura Serbulea received the All-University Teaching Award (2016) at University of Virginia, Mead Endowment Honored Faculty (2015) and several grants for STEM course redesign.

Yitian Zhu, College Mentor

Songwen Xie, College Mentor

Songwen Xie was born in Kunming, China. She earned her BS degree in Chemistry at Peking University, China, and her PhD in Chemistry at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. She taught as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Indiana University Kokomo for five years before she joined Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) in 2010. She is currently an Associate Professor of Chemistry and teaches Organic Chemistry, Advanced Organic Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, and other upper level chemistry courses. She is in charge of the BS in Chemistry and MS in Pharmaceutical Chemistry programs and her research interest is in organic synthesis of small molecules that have potential drug use. Dr. Xie is the recipient of the 2022 Gail P. and Edward A. Bucher Trustees’ Award for Excellence in Faculty-Student Research Collaboration from MCPHS, and she also received two Faculty Awards for Teaching Excellence in 2014 and 2020. Dr. Xie has been a career consultant for American Chemical Society for nearly 15 years and has a lot of experience on career consulting related to academia. Outside of work she spends time with her husband and two children. 

Komal Jain, High School Mentor

Komal Jain, High School Mentor

Komal Jain was born in Lucknow, India. She earned her B.S. and M.S. in Chemistry from Lucknow University. She worked as a researcher at the Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI). There, her research involved the synthesis of chiral dopamine (D1/D2) agonists and antagonists as anti-Parkinson agents and testing of drugs. She moved to northern Virginia in 1998 and earned her Master’s degree in secondary education and curriculum development from George Mason University, VA. She started her High School teaching career in 2000 and teaches AP chemistry and Dual Enrollment chemistry at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Virginia. Outside the classroom, she is the Chemistry Olympiad coach and advises students for the regional science fair. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the Northern Virginia Community College, where she teaches the CHM 111 course. Outside of work, she spends time with her husband, two children and dog.

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