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Best Research Group

Current Group Members


Michael Best

Principal Investigator

Disclaimer: this picture is just for fun and should not be taken seriously

Jinchao Lou

Post-doctoral researcher
B.S. Northwest Normal University                    

Ph.D. University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Mayesha Mustafa

Graduate Student
B.S. University of Dhaka

Brooke Smith

Graduate Student
B.S. University of North Georgia

Kazi Shahriar

Graduate Student
B.S. University of Dhaka

Michael Kadiri

Graduate Student

Annaleena Hansen

Graduate Student

B.S. University of North Georgia

Rob Maraski

Graduate Student

B.S. Berry College

Mahbub Ullah

Graduate Student

B.S. University of Dhaka

Honorary Group Members


Vincent Best (left), Jackson Best (right)

Biscuit Best

B.S. in biting feet

Butters Best

Butters Best

B.S. in taking naps

Group Alumni
Ph.D. Graduates


Christelle Ancajas

Ph.D. in Chemistry 2023
B.S. Randolph-Macon College

Post-doctoral researcher, National Institutes of Health

Ruhani Sagar

Ph.D. in Chemistry 2023
B.S. and M.S. Panjab University

Post-doctoral researcher, University of California, Berkeley (Messersmith)

Megan Qualls

Ph.D. in Chemistry 2023
B.S. University of Tennessee, Knoxville

ReCode Therapeutics, Menlo Park, CA

Jinchao Lou

Post-doctoral researcher
B.S. Northwest Normal University                    

Ph.D. University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Xiaoyu (Lucia) Zhang

Ph.D. in Chemistry 2019

Adam Carr

Adam Carr

Ph.D. in Chemistry 2019
B.S. Virginia Tech

Post-doctoral researcher, UNC-Chapel Hill (Zhang)

Sam Mattern-Schain

Ph.D. in Chemistry 2018

Post-doctoral researcher, University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine (Mountain)

Tanei Ricks

Tanei Ricks

Ph.D. in Chemistry 2017

Post-doctoral researcher at the University of Memphis (Brewster)
Faculty member at the University of Memphis

Shahrina Alam

Shahrina Alam

Ph.D. in Chemistry 2016
B.S. University of Dhaka, M.S. Tennessee State University

Tennessee Department of Agriculture

Stuart Whitehead

Stuart Whitehead

Ph.D. in Chemistry 2016
B.S. Purdue University

Naval Surface Warfare Center

Andrew Bayer

Andrew Bayer

Ph.D. in Chemistry 2014
R&D Chemistry, Avanti Polar Lipids, Inc.

Heidi Bostic

Heidi Bostic

Ph.D. in Chemistry 2012

Faculty member at Wofford College

Meng Meng Rowland

Meng (Chloe) Rowland

Ph.D. in Chemistry 2011
NIH Ruth Kirschstein post-doctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins Medical School (Stivers)
Faculty Position at University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg

US Food & Drug Administration

Chi-Linh Do-Thanh

Ph.D. in Chemistry 2011
Post-doctoral researcher at the University of Tennessee (Dai)

Matt Smith

Matt Smith

Ph.D. in Chemistry 2009

Associate Professor of Chemistry and Dean of Natural Sciences at Walters State Community College

M.S. Graduates


Justin Kirby

M.S. in Chemistry 2023

Graduate Student
B.S. Wofford College

Matthew Johnson

M.S. in Chemistry 2020
B.S. Utah Valley University

Southwestern Jefferson County Schools

Sara Barker

M.S. in Chemistry 2019

Alexa J. Watson

Alexa J. Watson

M.S. in Chemistry 2019
B.S. Tennessee Wesleyan University

Zhengsu Yu

Zhengsu Yu

M.S. in Chemistry 2018

Graduate student at the University of Tokyo

Yilin Wang

Yilin Wang

M.S. in Chemistry 2012
Ph.D. in Chemistry, University of California at Irvine

Instructor at Orange Coast College

Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith

M.S. in Chemistry 2013
Research scientist, Baxter Health Care, Arkansas

Ritu Nandal

Ritu Nandal

M.S. in Chemistry 2010

Ashdeep Kaur

Ashdeep Rajpal

Graduate Student
M.S. in Chemistry 2010
Chattem Chemicals, Chattanooga, TN

Senior Medical Economics Analyst, Fallon Health

Paul Petersen

Paul Petersen

M.S. in Chemistry 2010
Eastman Chemical, Dallas, TX

Visolis, Inc.

Manpreet Cheema

Manpreet Cheema

M.S. in Chemistry 2009
Graduate student at the University of Tennessee Food Science and Technology

Product Development Manager, Starbucks

Leah Cuthriell

Leah Cuthriell-Dawkins

M.S. in Chemistry 2009

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow 2006
Instructor of Chemistry, Wallace Community College

Erin Losey

Erin Losey

M.S. in Chemistry Summer 2008
Galbraith Laboratories, Inc., Knoxville, TN

Y12 National Security Complex

Former Graduate Students


Shawn Cureton

Shawn Cureton

Lead Salesforce Developer, CRM Passport

Mary Coulter

Mary Coulter

Former Postdoctoral Researchers


Kathrin Tscherch

Senior Technologist at the J.M. Smucker Company

Denghuang Gong

Denghuang Gong

Ph.D., Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 2004
Shijiazhuang Pharm Group R&D Center, Shijiazhuang, China

Former Undergraduate Researchers
Former REU Students


Emily Jaremba

2022 REU Student from Saginaw Valley State University

Sydney Bottcher

2021 REU Student from Samford University

Graduate Student in Chemistry at California Institute of Technology

Bolatito Babatunde

2019 REU Student from UNC-Chapel Hill

Shelby Hill

2017 REU Student from Wofford College

Graduate Student at the University of Southern California

Cynthia Bunders

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow 2007
B.S. Iowa State University
Ph.D. in Chemistry, NC State University

The Coca-Cola Company

Former Tennessee Undergraduates


Macy Hudson

Undergraduate Student

Graduate Student in Chemistry, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Hannah Hagewood

Undergraduate Student

Medical Student, Indiana University

Omar Budayr

Undergraduate Student

Graduate Student in Biological & Biomedical Sciences, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Ryan Fisher

Undergraduate Student

Cameron Workman

Undergraduate Student

Ph.D. in Chemistry, University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Long)

Andrew Mikhael

Andrew Mikhael

Undergraduate Student

Medical Student at UT Health Science Center

Nicholas Galan

Nicholas Galan

Undergraduate Student

Ph.D., University of Tennessee Knoxville (Brantley)

Zach Austin

Zach Austin

Undergraduate Student
Ph.D. in Chemistry, Vanderbilt University

Post-doctoral researcher, Vanderbilt University

Juan Quintero

Juan Quintero

Undergraduate Student

TJ Yokley

TJ Yokley

Ph.D. in Chemistry, University of Memphis

Post-doctoral researcher, The Ohio State University
Post-doctoral researcher, Vanderbilt University

Alana Stein

Alana Stein

Undergraduate Student

Ph.D. in Sociology, UC-Davis

Anna Walsh

Anna Walsh

Undergraduate Student
B.S. in Chemistry May 2015
M.D. Student at University of Tennessee Health Science Center, College of Medicine

Barrett Thompson

Barrett Thompson

Undergraduate Student
B.S. in Chemistry May 2015
M.D. Student at University of Tennessee Health Science Center, College of Medicine

Lacy Cardwell

Lacy Cardwell

Undergraduate Student
B.S. in Chemistry May 2008
Dental Student at University of Tennessee Health Science Center, School of Dentistry

Brad Grimes

Brad Grimes

B.S. in Chemistry May 2006

Elizabeth Jacobs

Elizabeth Jacobs

Undergraduate Student
Graduate student at University of East Anglia (UK)

Andew Mabe

Andew Mabe

Undergraduate Student
Ph.D. in Chemistry, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Amy Pollard

Amy Pollard

2006 UT Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship

B.S. in Chemistry, May 2007
Ph.D. in Chemistry, LSU

American Radiation Services

John Prenshaw

John Prenshaw

Undergraduate Student

MD, University of Tennessee Health Science Center
Opthalmologist, White Eye Associates

Justin Reno

Justin Reno

Undergraduate Student

2006 UT Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship

2007 Pfizer Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship
B.S. in Chemistry May 2008
M.D., East Tennessee State University School of Medicine

Amanda Sobhani

Amanda Sobhani

Farragut High School Student

Tyler Tantisook

Tyler Tantisook

Undergraduate Student
M.D., University of Tennessee Health Science Center

Chinenye Usoh

Chinenye Usoh

B.S. in Chemistry, May 2007
M.D. Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

Medical Doctor, Wake Forest University School of Medicine

Brittany Wallen

Brittany Wallen

Pfizer Global Research Intern, Madrid, Spain
Undergraduate Student

PharmD, Touro College of Pharmacy

Tim Weatherall

Tim Weatherall

Undergraduate Student
B.S. in Chemistry May 2008
M.D. East Tennessee State University School of Medicine

Tim Wesley

Tim Wesley

Undergraduate Student
B.S. in Chemistry May 2008
Medical Student at East Tennessee State University School of Medicine

YearNameHome InstitutionCurrent Position
2011Jordan RossSamford UniversityMedical School at University of Tennessee Health Science Center
2011Neelam KhanalColumbia CollegeChemistry graduate student at Indiana University
2012Kevin RobbTruman State UniversityChemistry graduate student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne
2014Pilar OrozcoNewman University 
2015Laney BrowderWestern Carolina University 
2015Jake O’LearyBirmingham Southern CollegeChemistry graduate student at Columbia University
2016Alexia ThomasJackson State University 
2017Shelby HillClemson University