Chemistry Faculty

Full-Time Faculty

Associated Faculty

Dr. Rajesh Sunasee

Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Organic Chemistry, Materials Chemistry, Nanotechnology

Rajesh Sunasee received his B.Sc. (Hons) in Chemistry with Business Management with first class honors in 2003 from the University of Mauritius, located on the tropical island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. He moved to Canada in 2004 to pursue his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry under the supervision of Prof. Clive at the University of Alberta. In 2010, he was awarded an NSERC industrial post-doctoral fellowship (IRDF) to join the medicinal laboratory of Prof. Deslongchamps at OmegaChem Inc. in Quebec, where he was involved in the design and synthesis of a library of steroids for nuclear receptors. He subsequently undertook a second post-doctoral stint in the biomaterials engineering group of Prof. Narain, under co-supervision of Prof. Thundat, where he was introduced to the wonderful field of nanotechnology.

Prior to joining SUNY Plattsburgh in 2013, Sunasee served as assistant professor in chemistry at Brandon University (2011–2012) and Cape Breton University (2012–2013) on limited term appointments, and as a visiting scientist (summer 2013) at the National Institute for Nanotechnology (Alberta) of the National Research Council of Canada. His current research interests combine aspects of organic chemistry and nanotechnology (nanochemistry), where the focus is on synthesis of organic molecules and surface modification of nanoparticles (cellulose nanocrystals) for biomedical applications. In his spare times, he enjoys mingling with the undergraduate chemistry society, traveling and playing soccer.


  • Ph.D. in Chemistry, University of Alberta, Canada (2009)
  • B.Sc (Hons) in Chemistry with Business Management, University of Mauritius (2003)

Post-Doctoral Appointments

  • NSERC IRDF Post-doctoral Fellow, OmegaChem Inc., Quebec, Canada (2009–2010; Area: Organic/Medicinal Chemistry)
  • Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada (2011; Area: Materials Chemistry/Nanotechnology)

Professional Appointments

  • Assistant Professor in Chemistry, Cape Breton University, Canada (2012–2013)
  • Assistant Professor in Chemistry, Brandon University, Canada (2011–2012)
  • Visiting Scientist, National Institute of Nanotechnology (NINT), National Research Council, Alberta, Canada (summer 2012)
  • Chemistry Term Instructor, Alberta College, MacEwan University, Canada (2008–2009)
  • Educational Officer in Chemistry, Mauritius (2003–2004)

Awards & Honors

  • NSERC Industrial Research & Development Fellowship (IRDF), Post-doctoral Fellowship, OmegaChem. Inc.
  • Graduate Student Teaching Assistant Award, University of Alberta
  • Graduate Student Teaching Award, University of Alberta
  • GSA Professional and Development Award, University of Alberta
  • J. Gordin Kaplan Travel Award, University of Alberta
  • Graduate Research & Teaching Assistantship Award, University of Alberta
  • B.Sc (Hons) First Class Honors, University of Mauritius
  • EPZ Undergraduate Scholarship Award, University of Mauritius

Teaching Area (Organic Chemistry)

  • Courses taught: Org. Chem. I & II, Intermediate Org. Chem. III, Industrial Chem. IV Advanced Org. Chem. IV, Natural Product Synthesis
  • Currently teaching: Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry

Research Areas (Organic/Materials Chemistry, Nanotechnology)

  • Development of new reaction methodology and synthesis of biologically important natural products
  • Surface modification of cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) for biomedical applications

Undergraduate Thesis Supervision

  • Grafting of nanocrystalline cellulose surface with cationic polymers: synthesis, characterization and surface properties. Kendra Campbell, 2013, Cape Breton University, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Selected Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Hemraz, U. D. & Sunasee, R. (2013). Functionalization of Nanocrystalline Cellulose Surfaces. In S. E. Lyshevski (Ed.), Dekker Encyclopedia of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (3rd. ed.) . United States: CRC Press. (Invited encyclopedia chapter).
  • Sunasee, R. & Narain, R. (2013). Glycopolymers and glyconanoparticles in biomolecular recognition processes and vaccines development. Macromolecular Bioscience, 13, 9–27.
  • Sunasee, R., Wattanaarsakit, P., Ahmed, M., Lollmahomed, F. & Narain, R. (2012). Biodegradable and non-toxic cationic nanogels as non-viral gene delivery systems. Bioconjugate Chemistry, 23, 1925–1933.
  • Bhuchar, N., Sunasee, R., Ishihara, K., Thundat, T., & Narain, R. (2012) Degradable thermo- responsive nanogels for proteins encapsulation and controlled release. Bioconjugate Chemistry, 23, 75–83.
  • Sunasee, R. & Clive, D. L. J. (2010). A new method for desymmetrization of 1,4-cyclohexadienones by radical cyclization: Synthesis of optically pure δ-lactones” Chem. Commun., 46, 701–703.
  • Sunasee, R. & Clive, D. L. J. (2008). A route to 1,4-disubstituted aromatics and its application to the synthesis of the antibiotic, culpin. Journal of Organic Chemistry, 73, 8016–8020.
  • Clive, D. L. J., Sunasee, R. & Chen, Z. (2008). Formal radical closure onto aromatic rings–a general route to carbocycles. Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry, 6, 2434–2441.
  • Clive, D.L.J. & Sunasee, R. (2007) Formation of benzo-fused carbocycles by formal radical cyclization onto an aromatic ring. Organic Letters, 9, 2677–2680.
  • Laulloo, S. J., Khodabocus, A., Hemraz, U. D. & Sunasee, R. (2007). Use of di-tert-butyl-dicarbonate both as a protecting and activating group in the synthesis of dipeptides. Synthetic Communications, 37, 4191–4197.

Selected Invited Lectures/Conference Presentations

  • Sunasee, R. (2013). Nanocrystalline cellulose: A small material with a big future. Lecture, Cape Breton University Research Week, Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada.
  • Campbell, K.; Hemraz, U. D.; Sunasee, R.* (2013). Synthesis & Characterization of Cationic Nanocrystalline Cellulose for Gene Delivery Applications. Poster, Cape Breton University Research Week, Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada.
  • Sunasee, R. (2012). Engineered Nanoparticles for protein, drug and gene delivery. Lecture, Brandon University Science Seminar Series, Brandon, Manitoba, Canada.
  • Sunasee, R. (2012). Careers in Chemistry: Academia and Industry. Undergraduate invited lecture, Careers in Chemistry Night, Brandon University, Brandon, Manitoba, Canada.
  • Sunasee, R.(2012). Drugs: From Organic Synthesis to targeted delivery. Lecture, Rowan University, New Jersey, USA.
  • Sunasee, R., Wattanaarsakit, P., Narain, R. (2011). Dextran-based copolymers for targeted gene delivery to Hep G2 cells. Poster, National Carbohydrate Symposium, Banff, Canada.
  • Sunasee, R. (2010). Synthesis of carbocycles, substituted aromatic compounds, chiral lactones and library of steroids. Lecture, University of Sherbrooke, QC, Canada.
  • Sunasee, R. (2009). Formation of carbocycles, synthesis of benzene derivatives and synthetic studies towards Sorbicillactone A. Lecture, Gilead Sciences, AB, Canada.

Current Internal/External Research Collaborators:

  • Dr. Karina Ckless, Department of Chemistry, State University of New York College at Plattsburgh, N.Y., USA
  • Dr. Ravin Narain, Department of Chemical & Materials Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada
  • Dr. Yaman Boluk, Nanofibre Chair in Forest Products, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering & National Institute for Nanotechnology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

Faculty Website

Contact Rajesh Sunasee

Office: Hudson Hall 223
Phone: (518) 564-2703