Nick Riley

Analytical Chemistry Graduate Student

hailing from

Louisville, KY

Undergraduate

Double-majored in chemistry and psychology at the University of South Carolina, with minors in criminology and neuroscience.

Undergrad and Research Experience

I double-majored in chemistry and psychology at the University of South Carolina, with minors in criminology and neuroscience. I stitched these areas together because I wanted to go into forensics science. (Like many young viewers, I grew up thinking CSI was the coolest thing.) I started doing forensics research in an analytical chemistry lab at Carolina, which introduced me to many analytical techniques. I soon realized I was most interested in the technology/instrumentation we used in that lab, and it was the mass spectrometry that I became fascinated with there that started me down the path I’m on now.

“The grad students in the group were engaged and happy and welcoming when I met them – and the research is exciting and high caliber.”

Why University of Wisconsin and the Coon lab?

I applied to schools strong in mass spectrometry, and ultimately decided on Madison partly because it seemed to have a good mix of strong research and happy grad students. There’s a lot of culture for young people to be active and engaged in, from outdoors and sports to art to beer festivals. The culture pushes you to be a citizen as well as a grad student, and I think that balance helps make grad school productive and enjoyable.

Professor Coon was most on my radar when applying to UW—I knew that he’d be the first person who I’d try to work for if I came here. I was really interested in instrumentation, and the Coon lab had made its name in that, though it’s now known for doing both instrumentation and application. The grad students in the group were engaged and happy and welcoming when I met them – and the research is exciting and high caliber.

Currently Working On

Most of my projects have an instrumentation focus, and they’re largely about developing technologies around electron-transfer dissociation. I have my hands in everything the lab does in relation to ETD and negative ETD (NETD), and I work on both fundamental aspects of ion-ion reactions and application of these methods to characterize proteins and post-translational modifications. Current focuses of my work include protein phosphorylation and glycosylation. These are biologically relevant PTMs that can present certain analytical challenges that ETD and NETD can help address.

Earn your Ph.D. with us

The Coon Group is always on the lookout for new members.  Professor Coon accepts students from several UW-Madison doctoral programs including Chemistry, the Integrated Program in Biochemistry (IPiB), and Cellular & Molecular Pathology.