Carnegie Mellon University

New Faculty to Join Department of Chemistry

October 03, 2019

New Faculty to Join Department of Chemistry

By Ben Panko

Jocelyn Duffy
  • Associate Dean for Communications, MCS

Three new faculty members will join the Carnegie Mellon Department of Chemistry in 2020. The researchers, who take interdisciplinary approaches to their work, will support the department’s efforts in automated science, computational chemistry, quantum chemistry and biological chemistry.  

Ashok Ajoy will come to Carnegie Mellon as an assistant professor in June 2020. Ajoy, who received his Ph.D. in nuclear science and engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was most recently a postdoctoral associate at the University of California, Berkeley.  

"We are a young experimental group focused on harnessing the power of quantum technologies in real-world chemical sciences," Ajoy said in describing his research. In particular, he is working to harness quantum sensing technology to develop nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) detectors that would obtain signals with light and not require the large and expensive magnets currently found in such devices.

"Our group thrives on interdisciplinary research at the intersection of chemical physics, engineering and computation," Ajoy said.

Olexandr Isayev will come to Carnegie Mellon as an assistant professor in January 2020. He received his Ph.D. in theoretical chemistry from Jackson State University and most recently was a research assistant professor at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"We are working towards the acceleration of molecular discovery by the combination of AI, informatics and high-throughput quantum chemistry," Isayev said of his research, placing it at the "interface of theoretical chemistry, pharmaceutical sciences and computer science." Using machine learning and neural networks, Isayev is developing technology that can rapidly yet accurately calculate and model complex molecular structures and interactions, as well as develop new molecules.

Anna Kietrys will come to Carnegie Mellon as an assistant professor in January 2020. After receiving her Ph.D. in biochemistry from the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry Polish Academy of Sciences, Kietrys most recently worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University.  

Kietrys' research aims to understand the signals conveyed by RNA during aging and neurodegeneration brought on by diseases such as Parkinson's. "Despite the rapid improvement in transcriptomics and new research techniques, researchers remain far from fully understanding the complexity of the RNA world and its role in the organization and function of the cell," Kietrys said.

In particular, Kietrys will focus on studying recently discovered groups of RNA such as circular RNAs and ultra-small RNAs that are not yet well understood.