Dr. JaimeLee Iolani Rizzo is Professor of Chemistry Pace University, NYC and was the 2012 Chair of the American Chemical Society, New York Section. Dr. Rizzo is known as a “fiver” – a five time graduate of CUNY. She earned an A.S., B.A, M.A. M.Phil, and Ph.D. all through the City University of New York’s educational system. Dr. Rizzo’s work involves the synthesis and characterization of materials bearing antimicrobial activity.
As an undergraduate student, Jaime began her studies at Queensborough Community College. It was there where her love for organic chemistry was founded. She refers to Dr. Paris Svoronos, who taught her organic chemistry, as her “first mentor”. She was introduced to The Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LS-AMP) program where she first started research in the mathematics field. She graduated from QCC as valedictorian and was the recipient of 10 awards ranging from chemistry to opera. Jaime then continued her studies at Queens College and began research in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Engel. It is here where a variety of opportunities were made available to her. The synthesis of compounds that were antibacterial and antifungal were developed. After earning her B.A. in Chemistry, Jaime began her Ph.D. studies at the Graduate Center and continued her research with Engel at Queens College. Within three short years Jaime had 12 publications and had presented her work at an International Phosphorus Chemistry Conference, at National American Chemical Society meetings, and at local conferences. She was also given the opportunity to conduct biochemistry research under the guidance of Dr. Burton Tropp. She tested her synthesized compounds against bacteria. From her time at QCC through graduate studies Jaime was fully supported by LS-AMP. Another program at Queens College which was instrumental in Jaime’s development was the “Preparing Future Faculty” program, funded by NSF. It was here where grad students were introduced to mock interviews, CV preparation, thesis reviewing, networking opportunities, etc. ion with her “second mentor”, Engel, they developed materials which kill bacteria and fungi on contact.
Two months after earning a Ph.D. in Chemistry, Jaime started a new position as Assistant Professor at Pace University. Through her continued collaborations her work has led to 15 patents to date. Through another collaboration with Dr. Geoff Abbott, UC Davis, and UC Irvine, they secured another patent on compounds that selectively open and close potassium ion channels. She has also worked with Johnson & Johnson Wound Management Division, the U.S. Army Soldier and Biological and Chemical Command, and the U.S. Army Batelle securing contracts with them. She has mentored over 40 undergraduate students in her laboratory. She is also a co-author of two textbooks, “Phosphorus Chemistry,” and “Organic Chemistry”. In 7 short years Jaime worked her way up the rank from Assistant to Full Professor. She has served as Assistant Chair of the Chemistry Department for 5 years and currently serves as the Coordinator of the Professions in Health Advisory Team (PHAT). Her current work involves the synthesis of naturally derived materials bearing antimicrobial activity.
Her ties to her mentors and grad school peers at CUNY remains strong after all these years. CUNY has provided Jaime with a tremendous opportunity to succeed and she will always be indebted to them.
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