Phoebe Zito

Assistant Professor


Phoebe is a first generation college graduate from Largo, Florida. After receiving her B.S. in Chemistry from the University of South Florida, she worked in industry for four years as an Associate Chemist for a pharmaceutical production company. She relocated to New Orleans and went on to complete her Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry at the University of New Orleans (UNO) under Matthew A. Tarr. After earning her doctorate degree, Phoebe worked as a Visiting Professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio in the Chemistry department. She served two years as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant under Christopher Hendrickson in the Ion Cyclotron Resonance Program at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.  In the end, Phoebe could no longer resist being away from New Orleans and ended up back at UNO in August 2017 working as a Research Faculty in the Department of Chemistry. Phoebe started as an Assistant Professor at the University of New Orleans Department of Chemistry in August 2019.

Deja Hebert

Graduate Student, Ph.D.

Deja Hebert enjoying life in New Orleans

Deja is a chemist currently working on her PhD in analytical chemistry. She graduated from Louisiana State University in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry where she did research for one year in surface science, specifically studying the characterization of gold nanoparticles encapsulated with porphyrins. Deja was born in North Carolina but eventually moved to Louisiana where she was raised to enjoy and love the Cajun culture. In August 2019 she entered the PhD program at the University of New Orleans where she joined the Zito lab.  Here, she began enchaining her analytical capabilities by being a member of the Chemical Analysis and Mass Spectrometry (CAMS) facility.  Deja assists scientists and junior faculty throughout Southeast Louisiana by building methods and running environmental samples using CAMS advanced analytical instrumentation.  Her first project is to quantify neonicotinoids in the complex water samples. She is utilizing liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry to develop a method to separate, detect and quantify them in complex mixtures. Along with research, Deja also enjoys teaching and building relationships with undergraduates to spread her passion for Chemistry.

Yanila Ortiz

Graduate Student, Ph.D.

Yanila presenting her work as an undergraduate student at the UNO Chemistry poster competition. She won second place overall in her division.

Originally from Puerto Rico, Yanila is studying chemistry at the University of New Orleans (UNO). She joined the Zito group in Spring 2020 as an undergraduate researcher and worked on targeted analyses of persistent organic pollutants in fish tissue. She will continue her career path in the Zito lab starting this fall as a PhD student. Yanila’s love for science for started when she was a young girl. Her uncle would include her in chemistry experiments in his backyard, which fueled her curiosity about the world. She came to UNO as an exchange student, where she found great research opportunities, and ultimately decided to transfer her credits to stay in Louisiana. She has experience with materials chemistry and is now interested in learning techniques and instruments related to analytical chemistry. When Yanila is not in the lab or studying for classes, she loves to spend time outdoors and eating the delicious New Orleans cuisine.

Megan Keen

Undergraduate Student, Tolmas Scholar

Megan working hard in the lab on her undergraduate research project.

Megan was born in Covington, Louisiana and was enrolled at Louisiana State University before transferring to the University of New Orleans for a more education focused school experience.  She is pursuing a Bachelors’ degree in chemistry with a concentration in forensics.  She has always had a deep appreciation for science which stems back to when she was in grade school.  Her research in the Zito lab is based on complex analytical separations of dissolved organic matter.

Indhira Orellana

Undergraduate Student

Indhira Orellana

Indhira Orellana is an American Honduran senior at the University of New Orleans. She is majoring in Biology and Chemistry with a minor in Spanish. Her interest in science began with curiosity at a young age, she even examined a fish she placed on her bed with a magnifying glass! She is continuing to flex her undergraduate analytical muscles researching neonicotinoids insecticides in the Mississippi River. Her long-term goal is to obtain a PhD in Chemistry. When she is not in school, Indhira enjoys outdoor activities and cooking. She is passionate about education like her mother. She tutors kids in Math and Science. She’s fluent in Spanish.

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