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Mona Minkara, Ph.D., receives Ford Foundation Fellowship

Recent research from the research group of Professor

Mona Minkara, Ph.D., a post-doctoral associate working with Professor J. Ilja Siepmann, has received a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Ford Foundation Fellowship.

This prestigious fellowship honors about 20 post-doctorates nationwide annually. Honorees are selected for their superior academic achievement; their promise for continuing achievement as scholars and teachers; connection with under-represented groups in the sciences; and quality of their research.

Mona is an outstanding scholar and researcher, and is also legally blind. She majored in chemistry and Middle Eastern studies as an undergraduate at Wellesley College. She conducted research throughout her undergraduate program, including four summers conducting computational research as part of the National Science Foundation’s Research for Undergraduates program. While at Wellesley, she received a one-year research fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. This grant enabled her to work with Professor Mala Radhakrishnan after graduation. She spent that year researching the promiscuity and specificity of the trypsin/bovine pancreatic trypsin inhibitor (BPTI) system.

She obtained her doctorate in 2015 from the University of Florida, Gainesville, under the tutelage of Professor Kenneth M. Merz Jr. Mona studied Helicobacter pylori urease using molecular dynamics, with a goal of identifying novel inhibitors for the enzyme.

At the University of Minnesota, Siepmann leads a statistical mechanics research group specializing in particle-based computer simulation. He is also director of the Department of Energy-funded Nanoporous Materials Genome Center (NMGC), focusing on discovering and exploring microporous and mesoporous materials, which are important to energy technologies.

The goals of Mona’s research projects, which are supported through National Science Foundation grants, are to understand and predict phase behavior and spatial distribution of complex molecules in microheterogeneous environments.

The Ford Foundation Fellowship will provide a generous stipend for one academic year, and the University will continue to provide benefits and disability resources.

To read more about this amazing chemist, visit the Department of Chemistry website. You can also visit her website at