William G. Fateley Student Award

The William G. Fateley Student Award is given by the Coblentz Society annually to recognize outstanding contributions to vibrational spectroscopy during a current Ph.D. program.

William G. (Bill) Fateley was among the first winners (1965) of the Coblentz award, and worked tirelessly to promote the Pittsburgh Conference and FACSS. Author of more than 350 publications and recipient of numerous other awards, he returned to his alma mater, Kansas State University, as chairman of his department in 1972 and served there until his retirement 1997 and beyond. He served as the Editor of Applied Spectroscopy for 20 years, and served as mentor to a generation of spectroscopists.

For more information on the William G. Fateley Student award go to: https://sites.google.com/a/coblentz.org/coblentz/awards/william-g-fateley-student-award

2022 recipient

Yamuna Phal

Yamuna Phal is a Ph.D. candidate in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). She received her B.Tech. from the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (IIT-R) and an M.S. from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) both in Electrical Engineering. After working as an analog research engineer with Finisar and the Swedish Institute of Space Physics she joined Prof. Bhargava’s research group to develop next-generation IR imaging instruments. She was able to bring her knowledge and expertise in design of spectroscopic instruments for remote sensing applications to the field of vibrational spectroscopy, specifically to develop novel cancer imaging technology.

Yamuna’s research work involves the development of quantum cascade laser (QCL)-based vibrational circular dichroism (VCD) spectroscopy and imaging techniques for the rapid identification and separation of chiral samples. Her recent publications include the first study on VCD imaging and demonstration of its capabilities (Analytical Chemistry, 2021) and using decision theory to provide an analytical formulation for the resolution limit of spectral imaging systems (Journal of Physical Chemistry C). Both of these were featured on their respective journal covers. Her work has resulted in five first author peer-reviewed publications, nine total publications, and a book chapter. Her work has been recognized by awards in different scientific communities, including the best student poster award at SciX 2021. She was invited to present her work at OSA Biophotonics Congress and FACSS SciX in 2021. She was also selected to represent UIUC at the Global Young Scientists Summit in early 2022.

Yamuna is a recipient of the prestigious Cadence Women in Technology Program, the President of India Award (IIT-R), a Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Fellowship (Caltech), the Nadine Barrie Smith Award and the James Henderson Fellowship (UIUC). She is a passionate teacher and has been recognized by the Harold Olsen Award and E. A. Reid Fellowship for undergraduate teaching and engineering education at UIUC. Yamuna has served as a mentor to several high school, undergraduate, and graduate students and is committed to helping underrepresented students join STEM careers. Moreover, her efforts in undergraduate teaching have been recognized by the UIUC graduate college and she has been consistently ranked as an excellent teacher in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018. She is a founding member of the Society for Applied Spectroscopy (SAS) Illinois chapter and currently serves as President of the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) student chapter at UIUC.

past recipients

2021 Paulina Koziol

2019 Shachi Mittal

2017 David Bryce

2016 Mustafa Unal

2015 Marie Richard-Lacroix

2014 Chris Huber

2013 Tomasz P. Wrobel

2012 Xiaohua (Sarah) Zhou

2011 Rohith Reddy

2010 Ali Eftekhari-Bafrooei


For many years, the Coblentz Society has recognized outstanding young scientists pursuing studies in vibrational spectroscopy with Coblentz Student Awards. Awardees receive a copy of the Society’s Desk Book of Infrared Spectra, a certificate, SciX registration, and a year's membership in the Society. The winner’s faculty advisors, institution, and anticipated graduation date appear in the Society’s Newsletter and website.


Lamyaa Almehmadi

Lamyaa M. Almehmadi is a Ph.D student in Professor Igor K. Lednev’s laboratory at the University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY Albany). Lamyaa is originally from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. She has received a full scholarship from her home country supporting her higher education in the United States. As a result, she obtained her B.S. degree in Chemistry with emphasis on Chemical Biology and within only one year she received her M.S. degree in Chemistry, both are from SUNY Albany. During her one-year master studies, she worked on the development of a novel, highly sensitive, and label-free platform for medical diagnostics using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy. Her work was published in Scientific Reports, one of the Nature family of journals.

Currently, her work is focused on the use of surface-enhanced Raman Spectroscopy, deep UV resonance Raman spectroscopy, and conventional Raman spectroscopy for several applications ranging from the development of single-molecule and label-free platforms for drug discovery to the characterization of biopharmaceutical molecules. She has presented her work at both national and international conferences including SciX 2021, the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon 2019) and the 35th International Symposium on Microscale Separations and Bioanalysis. She has received several awards including an honorable mention for the 2021-2022 National Graduate Women in Science Award. Lamyaa has been elected as the president of a local SAS chapter for two consecutive years and was appointed chair of the 2022 First Annual New York Capital Region Applied Spectroscopy Symposium. She taught General Chemistry twice as an instructor of record in the Chemistry Department at SUNY Albany.

Sayantan Mahapatra

Sayantan Mahapatra is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Chemistry with a focus on single-molecule chemical analysis of surface structures at the University of Illinois Chicago. In 2015, he earned a bachelor’s degree (B.Sc.) in Chemistry with minors in Physics and Mathematics from the University of Calcutta, India. Following that, he obtained a master’s degree (M.Sc.) in Chemistry at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur in 2017 and moved to Chicago to pursue his doctoral studies in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Illinois Chicago under the supervision of Dr. Nan Jiang.

His current research interest is mainly focused on angstrom-scale chemical analysis of surface supported molecular structure (single-molecule) and two-dimensional materials using an ultrahigh vacuum tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (UHV-TERS) technique. His research integrates scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) with the optical spectroscopy inside UHV to understand some of the vital chemistry and physics-related problems in the single-molecule study ranging from spectroscopy to molecular-level catalysis. Besides single-molecule engineering of precursor molecules towards different desired products on the surface, there is another area that draws his attention. With atomically confined light at the STM tip apex, the highly energetic plasmons generated at the tip apex can be specifically utilized to probe certain chemical reactions. So far, he has six first-author publications, including one in JACS and one in Nano Letters.

Sayantan has received multiple awards during his time at the University of Illinois Chicago. In 2021, he received a Dean’s Scholar Fellow Award from the UIC Graduate College. He is a member of the American Vacuum Society (AVS), where he has earned the Morton M. Traum Student Award in 2020 and the Russel and Sigurd Varian Award in 2021. In India, he was an Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) fellow funded by the Government of India. Outside the lab, Sayantan loves to play soccer and cricket, hike, and watch the night sky.

Ethan A. Perets received his Ph.D. in Chemistry at Yale University, where his research focused on the development and application of vibrational spectroscopies to study hydration structures around proteins and DNA. Ethan was born in Tampa, FL, and earned his B.A. in biochemistry at Columbia University. Ethan served in the Department of Scientific Research at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, where he combined antibody-based protein recognition with surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (immuno-SERS) towards the study and preservation of artworks. Ethan later obtained his M.A. in the history and conservation of art at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, followed by post-graduate internships at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and Yale’s Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage.

Ethan carried out his Ph.D. research in the laboratory of Professor Elsa Yan, exploring the use of vibrational spectroscopies to map hydration structures around proteins and DNA. Ethan used chiral sum frequency generation (SFG) spectroscopy to achieve the first detection of a chiral assembly of water molecules in a protein hydration shell. Ethan also applied chiral SFG, infrared, Raman, and terahertz spectroscopies to study protein and DNA hydration during binding and liquid-liquid phase separation. His research has improved understanding of the hydration of biomolecules at interfaces and suggests a possible role for water in the emergence of biological homochirality, offering new perspectives why water is necessary for life and how water helped life to begin.

Outside of the lab, Ethan represented his fellow graduate students as a member of Yale’s Graduate Student Assembly, and he was a member of Yale Chemistry’s Diversity and Climate Committee.

Past Recipients

2021 Isabella Goodenough

Christopher Warkentin

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