Jessica Rouge, PhDAssistant Professor of Chemistry at University of Connecticut
Jessica earned her B.S. in Biochemistry from Boston College in 2006, during which time she conducted undergraduate research in the laboratory of Dr. Shana Kelley. There she helped develop an aqueous route for synthesizing semiconductor quantum dots with tunable emission profiles using DNA building blocks as ligands. After graduating from BC, Jessica headed west to the University of Colorado, where she earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Prof. Bruce E. Eaton’s laboratory in 2012. It was during her time in Colorado that she learned of the incredible diversity of structures and functions that the biomolecule RNA possessed, along with the utility of in vitro selections for isolating high specialized RNA structures known as aptamers. Although in vitro selections are traditionally used for identifying aptamers that target specific proteins and biomolecules, Jessica explored RNA’s potential to mediate the formation of inorganic nanoscale structures, much like an organism can guide the formation of bones and shells. After completing her Ph.D., Jessica began her postdoctoral studies in 2013 in the laboratory of Prof. Chad A. Mirkin at Northwestern University. In the Mirkin Laboratory she applied the skills she learned for interfacing RNA and inorganic materials for developing enzymatic assembly approaches useful for synthesizing RNA gold nanoparticle conjugates with the potential for intracellular gene regulation applications. Using this approach, she was able to target the knockdown of two separate genes with a single nanoparticle construct. In 2015, Jessica joined the faculty of the University of Connecticut as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry, where she combines the chemical diversity of nucleic acids with the synthesis of nanoscale materials in new ways to tailor the properties of hybrid nanomaterials for stabilizing and delivering nucleic acids.