Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Upcoming Online Course in Nanotechnology

This spring Professor Marmorino (top right) completed an 8-week course in distance education to prepare him for the development of our department's first online course: Nanotechnology.  We decided to go with the broader course nanotechnology rather than nanochemistry for many reasons, two of which are that (1) the field is so interdisciplinary that is hard to stick to just chemistry, and (2) this will be the only "nano" course at our campus so we wanted to give it a wider appeal.  The course will be offered this fall as a general education course (Natural World, N390) that simultaneously serves as a chemistry elective. Below is a tentative description of the course - tentative because Marmorino will spend the summer hashing out the details of topic spread and depth along with the method of delivery and evaluation.
Nanotechnology is the application of the science of small – small particles, but also small features on macroscopic objects. The size scale is so small that the atom must be constantly considered and the properties of bulk matter no longer apply. The course begins by developing an appreciation of the small scale and the implications this has on the variability of the properties of matter once thought to be constant for a given substance regardless of size. Students learn about naturally occurring nanoparticles and their impact in the natural word, but also consider the anthropogenic production of materials and the probing of their properties (mainly through various types of microscopy). Applications of nanomaterials to different disciplines are investigated with a focus on how the peculiar behavior of matter on the nanoscale allows technological advance. Selected topics may include air pollution, clouds, dust, DNA, proteins, micelles, drug delivery, buckyballs, nanotubes, surface tension, diffraction, scaling laws, quantum dots, wave-particle duality, compact discs, paint, and even Himalayan salt lamps.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Professor Anderson Wins Teaching Award


Our department is proud to announce that Professor Anderson was recently awarded a Trustee's Teaching Award for her sustained and consistent teaching excellence.  Especially impressive is that she was able to keep up her level of excellence while serving as department chair - a role which might have diverted the focus of lesser faculty.  Although we are proud, we are certainly not surprised; all the chemistry and biochemistry faculty recognize Anderson as a leader in education. If this one award does not convince you, then one need only consider the many other awards she was won for teaching and advising - and the many awards students have won to research with her as their mentor.  Congratulations Professor Anderson!

Friday, April 22, 2016

2016 Undergraduate Research Conference

Last Friday several students presented their work at our campus's annual Undergraduate Research Conference.  Biochemistry major, Khai Pham (top left), tied with another student for best presentation in the Natural Science Division with her poster presentation Comparison [of] Growth Rates in Cultured Malaria Parasites which described research she performed with colleagues at the Eck Institute for Global Health of the University of Notre Dame last summer. Chemistry major Chris Warkentin (top right) presented his summer research under a SMART grant with our analytical chemistry Professor Grace Muna entitled Preparation of Ni-Pd Modified Glassy Carbon Electrodes and their Characterization by Cyclic Voltammetry and won an honorable mention.  From last fall's biochemistry capstone laboratory course were biochemistry majors Krista Schilling (bottom left) and Andrea Vrydaghs (bottom right) presenting Developing a Biosensor for Glyphosate, the Active Ingredient in RoundUp which highlighted the results from a group of seven students under the guidance of biochemistry Professor Shahir Rizk.
Thanks go to Professors Grace Muna and Shahir Rizk as faculty organizers and also biochemistry major Riley Bigelow for their help to make the conference possible and run smoothly. And naturally we must thank the students presenters for their dedication to perform research as undergraduates and their courage to showcase their work to the students, faculty, and general public who attended the conference.

Student Photographs to Appear in Academic Bulletin

Look for these students from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the new edition of the IU South Bend Academic Bulletin.  Some of our students were chosen for this special photo shoot and we are pleased to have them advertise our programs and the university.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Judging at Local Science Fairs

The spring semester at IU South Bend offers a particular way for faculty and students to reach out to the community: science fairs.  This year the chemistry department was involved in three ways.  First Professor Doug McMillen let a Marian High School student work on a small project associated with McMillen's main research. The student explored the oxidation of alcohols with iodine and received an early introduction to FT-IR and NMR spectroscopy used to analyze the reaction products during their purification. Next, Professor Bill Feighery and biochemistry major Janae Lee helped judge the science fair projects of 6th and 8th grade students at St. Anthony de Padua School.  Janae Lee (left foreground) is shown in the picture above listening to a student's presentation with a fellow judge. Finally Professor Grace Muna served as judge at the Northern Indiana Regional Science and Engineering Fair held at Notre Dame's Stepan Center where each year the best projects of the local schools are displayed and judged at a higher level. While judging can sometimes be stressful and tedious when many projects must be viewed in a limited time, there is a great pleasure that comes from seeing children talk about science. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Guest Speakers in Senior Seminar

Our senior chemistry and biochemistry majors are once again preparing their formal capstone seminars. By choosing topics related to their future jobs, students use the senior seminar to provide closure of undergraduate work and also launch their careers.  Several guest speakers were invited to give tips on preparing student talks and review papers.
Two weeks ago,  Dr. Betty Lise Anderson (Professor of Electrical Engineering at The Ohio State University) provided invaluable information via her seminar, “Terrific Technical Talks” and fielded questions such as  “What happens if you run out of time before your last slide?” Her answer: “That means you didn’t practice your talk. Cut to the last slide." Anderson has been a guest speaker in this course for several years  - and many students have benefited from her advice.
This week, two alumni of the biochemistry program gave tips from the students' perspective: Calvin Streeter (Biochemistry, 2011) is in his second year of medical school at the Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Indianapolis, while Geoffrey Taghon (Biochemistry, 2015) won a research award last spring that led him to be coauthor of a biochemical research article published just last month (click here for the full story). Both students are previous winners of the Joseph H. Ross Seminar Prize awarded to the best seminar each year. Their take away lesson: start preparing early, use your coach, and practice your talk.


Calvin Streeter, is pictured above with Professor Gretchen Anderson, who has been teaching the seminar course for the past several years and has made plans to expand the course to allow it to satisfy general education requirements in the future. With 16 students in senior seminar (record breaking!), there will be a wide variety of topics, ranging from nanochemistry to medicinal chemistry to environmental chemistry. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Student Publishes Resarch on Ebola Virus

Last spring biochemistry major Geoffrey Taghon was awarded the campus' first RC MedReview Fellowship which enabled him to research last summer with  Dr. Robert Stahelin (of the Harper Cancer Research Institute) at the University of Notre Dame. Our department just received word that their work on the Ebola virus was published in the January issue of Nature's Scientific Reports. Taghon and his colleagues investigated one of the proteins produced by the virus; specifically they explored its binding to the cell membrane and its organization into a hexamer.  Taghon graduated last fall and is now in the process of applying to graduate school. Previously he had planned to attend medical school, but he enjoyed his summer research so much that he has decided to become a different type of doctor by earning a Ph.D.  This illustrates one of the many advantages of an undergraduate research experience: a glimpse into the career of a research scientist. His picture above was taken in the hallway at IU South Bend where research posters of other students are seen in the background.  Congratulations, Geoffrey, we are all very proud of you!