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Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

Chelsea Massaro • Southwestern University

By Vaseline May30,2024
Chelsea Massaro • Southwestern University

Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

My name is Chelsea Massaro. I’m from Florida. I received my bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Florida State University. I took a gap year and did research at the University of Central Florida before coming to Austin and getting my PhD. in medicinal chemistry from UT Austin. I graduated from UT Austin in 2022 and immediately started here at Southwestern as a visiting professor, before becoming a tenure-track professor this year.

What sparked your interest in chemistry and why did you want to become a professor?

I have been interested in chemistry since high school. My love for chemistry continued to grow in college, especially when I started studying organic chemistry. I really liked organic chemistry. I decided I wanted a Ph.D. and eventually I moved into teaching when I started working in a lab during my undergraduate program. I really loved doing research, and I found that I was most excited about it when I could share it with someone else and teach someone else about it. That put me on the learning path.

Are you currently conducting an investigation, if so what is it?

I currently work with six students. We are designing small molecule inhibitors of an enzyme called JAK3, which is upregulated in several disease states, including cancer. We hope to create a selective covalent inhibitor of this enzyme that we can ultimately use as a treatment against cancer. The students do a lot of synthetic organic chemistry and then hopefully they will have the opportunity to perform some biochemical tests to test the success of their inhibitors.

How did you hear about Southwestern and what made you want to work here?

When I was at UT, one of my good friends worked in the lab at UT where Dr. Zewail is taking sabbaticals. I had actually already met her and heard about Southwestern through that relationship, so it was on my radar. Southwestern had a visiting position open just as I was graduating. It seemed like the stars aligned with my being here. I really enjoyed being here last year, so doing the tenure track was an easy decision.

What lessons do you teach?

I teach Organic Chemistry I in the fall, then Biochemistry II, and special topics in Biochemistry in the spring.

What are you looking forward to teaching in the coming semesters?

I enjoy teaching organic chemistry. I am also very much looking forward to teaching special topics again next spring. I’m reworking the lesson to make it a public-facing course and we’re going to focus on scientific accuracy and misinformation on social media.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I like reading and baking. I bring a lot of my pastries to classes for my students and they usually like them. I also like to garden.

What would students be surprised to learn about you?

I feel like I’m pretty open in class, but they might be surprised to know I have a dog. They know how much I love cats, so I feel like my dog ​​flies under the radar.

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