Tanei J. Ricks

Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry

(901) 678-4416
Faculty Picture


Tanei J. Ricks is an Assistant Professor at the University of Memphis. He is a classically trained synthetic organic chemist that frequently uses his skill set at the interface of chemistry and biology. Dr. Ricks received his B.S. degree in chemistry with a focus in biochemistry from Augusta State University, Augusta GA in 2012 completing undergraduate research projects with Dr. Thomas Crute and Dr. Christopher Bates. He obtained his Ph.D. degree in Organic Chemistry from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville (UTK), Knoxville TN in 2017 under the direction of Dr. Michael Best. He completed a postdoctoral research assistantship at the University of Memphis, Memphis TN in 2022 under the direction of Dr. Timothy Brewster. Throughout his decade of undergraduate and graduate research, he is an author on three scientific publications, an inaugural member of the Savannah River Scholars Program (SRSP) funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), UTK Chemistry Dupont Diversity Fellowship recipient, UTK Chemistry Outstanding Teaching Award recipient, and a former Program for Excellence and Equity in Research (PEER) fellow funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH). He has carried out research in synthesizing novel derivatives of a naturally occurring anticancer compound called persin, synthesizing azide tagged derivatives of myo-inositol for metabolic engineering, small molecule inhibitors of phosphatidylserine synthase, and novel ligands for directed C-H activation of small organic molecules. His current research interest lies in developing new first in class antifungal agents targeting the Inositol Phosphorylceramide (IPC) pathway.


  • BS in Chemistry with a focus in Biochemistry, Augusta State University, 2012
  • PhD in Organic Chemistry, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, 2017

Research Interests

Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Medicinal Chemistry