Alumni Spotlight


Amber Wang
Awesome Alum: Amber Wang
September 2021

Meet Alumna Dr. Amber Wang, a doctoral student who graduated with her Ph.D. in Chemistry and Biochemistry from UTSA this past spring. Amber is from China and chose to attend UTSA for graduate school because she was interested in studying at a fast-growing research institution with a diverse student population.

"UTSA seeks to promote an inclusive community of learners which embraces and supports diversity," said Amber. "It has been like a family to me for the past six years and I'm grateful for my time here as a Roadrunner."

Amber's graduate work embraces a wide range of chemistry-related subjects that include heme and nonheme iron-dependent enzymes related to cancer and immune diseases, amino acid metabolism, oxidative stress, protein cofactor biogenesis, and natural product biosynthesis.

At UTSA, Amber has conducted research under the mentorship of Dr. Aimin Liu, endowed chair in the Department of Chemistry, and has also collaborated extensively with the Liu lab members and Special Research Associates, Dr. Wendell Griffith and Dr. Daniel Wherritt. "A collaborative and dedicated team is fundamental to success, so I truly appreciate the enormous support and generous help from the Liu lab and our department" said Amber. They together published 14 research papers in high-impact journals and made significant contributions to the field of metalloenzymology. Amber's research studies have focused on mechanistic enzymology, structural biology, and bioinorganic chemistry.

"I love the rich intellectual environment and multidisciplinary research opportunities available in my program," said Amber. "Our department has broad research interests and diverse expertise that touch on nearly every major research area in chemistry."

Amber recently started in a new role as a tenure-track assistant professor position for bioinorganic chemistry at the University of Georgia (UGA). Her duties will include contributing to the field of bioinorganic chemistry, developing her own independent research programs, instructing students, and serving the community.

At first, Amber was hesitant to apply because she had just completed her graduate education and this role typically requires a few years of postdoctoral research. However, Dr. Liu encouraged her because the position fit her background well and was worth considering.

"Dr Liu told me that there is nothing to lose but a good opportunity to grow. If I get the position, that is perfect; but if I don't, I'd still gain precious experience where I may even have the chance to present and discuss my research with the faculty and students there," said Amber. "In the worst-case scenario that my application is turned down, this opportunity will accumulate my experience which will help me be better prepared in the future."

Amber will start at UGA on September 15. The selection criteria included two research presentations on systems with significant biological impact and included proposed research studies that will leverage our understanding of basic science.

"I am grateful that I received solid training, developed an array of skills, and was exposed to an academic environment with diverse research interests," said Amber. "My time at UTSA undoubtedly helped me prepare for this opportunity and develop some essential qualities to stand out from a candidate pool."

Follow Amber on Twitter through @Dr_YifanWang to stay up-to-date on her future research projects at UGA.


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