Dr. Maris Cinelli is a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Northern Michigan University this fall. A Marquette native, Dr. Cinelli was raised in an NMU family -- where everyone worked at or attended NMU! She herself graduated from NMU with her Bachelor of Science degree (Biology/Physiology, Chemistry minor) in 2006. She received her Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry from Purdue University in 2011, where she studied semi-synthetic derivatives of anti-cancer alkaloids in the group of Prof. Mark Cushman. Following completion of her degree, she was a Ruth S. Kirchstein NIH Post-Doctoral Fellow at Northwestern University (Prof. R. B. Silverman). After researching new Parkinson’s drugs for over four years, she returned to her home state, and slowly also became an analytical chemist while working in the department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Michigan State University (laboratory of Prof. A. Daniel Jones).
Dr. Cinelli’s research at NMU, which builds on her training as a medicinal and analytical chemist, uses mass spectrometry to profile plant metabolites and discover new natural products that can then be isolated and potentially elaborated into drug candidates. She is especially interested in alkaloids, which have been prized for centuries for their diverse medicinal uses. A long-time research mentor, she is passionate about working with and helping students, and she is excited to join the Medicinal Plant Chemistry program and cultivate both plants – and enthusiasm for science -- in her classroom and laboratory. Twenty-one years after she was a new NMU freshman in Weston Hall for the first time, Dr. Cinelli is quite literally “taking her science and going home!”