Chemistry Department Welcomes New Interim Chair

Interim Chair

Dr. Cherie Yestrebsky

The Department of Chemistry is welcoming a new Interim Chair, Dr. Cherie Yestrebsky. Dr. Yestrebsky is known for her research focusing on material development for environmental and defense department applications.

Dr. Kevin Belfield, previous chair of the department, has moved on to become the Dean of the College of Science and Liberal Arts at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Yestrebsky received her doctorate from USF in 1994, and started at UCF as an Assistant Professor in August 1996 after completing an NSF postdoctoral fellowship. She served as Associate Chair and Undergraduate Coordinator from 2005-2008. From 2003-2005 she was honored to serve as President of the Florida Academy of Sciences.

Since coming to UCF, she has developed a very active, externally funded research group in environmental chemistry. The major focus of their work is on environmental remediation and development of new materials and methods for reducing or cleaning up anthropogenic toxic materials in the environment.

“Our work has received awards including the NASA Government and Commercial Invention of the Year, Induction into the Space Technology Hall of Fame, Intel Environmental Laureate for the Tech Museum of Innovation, and the Federal Laboratory Consortium Award,” Yestrebsky said.

Her work is largely collaborative across disciplines and has included research groups within federal agencies as well as industry.

“Serving as Interim Chair is an honor and a great opportunity to interact with all faculty within the Chemistry Department and in other departments from the College,” she said. “As chair, you really get a more centralized view of what is going on in the department, how hard faculty are working to teach, bring in research funding, and develop or continue successful research and training in their laboratories.”

Her goals for her time as Interim Chair are to encourage and support the faculty and students of the department to continue in their successful work and to aim high for future projects. They will be hiring a much-needed environmental chemist in their first ever ‘cluster hire’ with the Biology Department and Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering.

“This is a very exciting time in the department with great opportunities for us to grow in many ways,” Yestrebsky said. “I’m looking forward to the journey!”

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