Monday, July 21, 2014

New Course: N190 Crime Scene Science

In the past our department's contributions to the general education curriculum were limited mainly to environmental, health, and nutritional aspects of chemistry. No longer. This summer Professor Jake Plummer is teaching a brand new course to showcase the scientific analysis made famous in television shows like CSI. Plummer is pulling out all the stops and not limiting his course to chemical applications because, as he states: "...forensic science is a multidisciplinary science, [so] we will cover concepts from physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics."  His course includes a laboratory component where students get an introduction to exciting field topics such as fingerprinting and blood splatter analysis.  The photograph below shows Plummer ready to strike a "blood"-soaked sponge to create a splatter for analysis.  Our department is very excited about this new course and we can only guess that the students are rather excited as well.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Michiana Chemistry - Distillation Done Tastefully

Last weekend several IU South Bend scientists went on a field trip to view chemistry in action. After sampling the chemical fermentation products of several Michigan breweries, the intrepid explorers stopped by the Journeyman's Distillery in Three Oaks, MI. There, they saw industrial strength distillation in action. Shown here is a large distillation column. The group was gratified to see metric units being used throughout. The temperature of the vapor at the top of this column was a steady 80 degrees Celsius. The group confirmed through taste testing that the aging of whiskey in barrels affects the final attributes of the distillate.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thirty Years of Service from Connie Fox

Just a few weeks ago, Ms. Connie Fox was honored for her thirty years of service at IU South Bend.  She is responsible for nearly all of the chemicals and equipment used in our student laboratories and is director of the freshman labs. Though the freshman students receive different leadership in the lecture courses from fall to spring semesters, she is the rock in the laboratory courses, giving the prelab lectures both semesters and teaching lab sections as well. Fox remembers well what it is like to be a student at IU South Bend because this is where she earned her undergraduate chemistry degree before heading to Northwestern for graduate study.  As retirement looms in the future, it seems unlikely that we will be graced with another thirty years of service from Fox, but we will enjoy every year that she gives to our department.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Awards and Graduates

Once again it is time to say goodbye to another group of excellent students. This year our department awarded 2 chemistry (BS) and 6 biochemistry (BS) degrees. Some will continue their study of chemistry or biochemistry in graduate school, some will enter new fields of study such as pharmacy, and still others will bravely head into the workforce. We also want to recognize those students who were awarded departmental scholarships or awards this year. 

Zeider Excellence in Biochemistry Scholarship
   Jose Zelaya
Chemical Rubber Company Chemistry Achievement Award
   Anthony Sergio
Joseph H. Ross Seminar Award
   Ashley Compton (graduating)
Student Excellence Award in Biochemistry
   Ashley Compton (graduating)
Student Excellence Award in Chemistry
   Rachel Warrell (graduating)
Undergraduate Award in Organic Chemistry
   Rachel Warrell (graduating)

Additionally, biochemistry major Krista Schilling won the merit-based Gerkin Scholarship for next fall from our own College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Congratulations to you all for your excellent performance and have a wonderful summer!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Periodic Table for the Dinner Table

There are many different ways to present the periodic table and a quick image search on the internet or a look at the Wikipedia article Alternative Periodic Tables reveals many. But most scientists probably prefer an edible version like this one baked by biochemistry major (and soon to be graduate) Ashley Compton. Though her creation is quite impressive, the faculty feel obligated to make two remarks:

(1) The chocolate chip cookies suggest Ashley's preference for the plum-pudding model of the atom over the nuclear model. We will continue to support the latter model until we see more evidence - such as a plum pudding version of the periodic table.  

(2) Most of the elements are not radioactive, and yet, Ashley's cookies all disappeared rather quickly!

Our department actually hosts a number of cooks and this is not the first time an edible periodic table has crossed our path. Just yesterday, Professor Anderson baked rectangular cookies decorated as electrophoresis gels (below) and biochemistry student Jaq Miller (also graduating soon) routinely brings baked goods to share.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

More postgraduate plans

Graduates from our department certainly aren't limited in their career options. While many pursue advanced study in the field of chemistry or biochemistry (see link here), others students have different plans. Medical school and immediate employment are some of the more common pursuits, but this year Michelle Ross (left) and Joshua Strychalski (right) show us two more options.

Michelle Ross already has a job. She has been working since 2007 at DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc.,  (a Johnson & Johnson Company) in Warsaw where they test and manufacture artificial joints. Ross has been taking chemistry classes part-time to earn her B.S. Chemistry degree for which she will be promoted from Assistant Scientist to Scientist. In this semester's senior seminar capstone course, Ross showcased her specialized knowledge of the chemistry of artificial joints and made it clear that her promotion is well deserved.

Joshua Strychalski was the winner of last year's first Brian A. Zeider Excellence in Biochemistry Scholarship.  He has been working at Meijer's in-store pharmacy while finishing up his coursework and this year he graduates with a B.S. Biochemistry degree. He has already been accepted to Butler University's Doctor of Pharmacy program where he has another four years of study to complete. Fortunately his biochemistry degree makes him well prepared and we are confident he will succeed.

Good luck to both of you and to all our 2014 graduates!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Associate Faculty Honored for Five Years of Service

Last week, three of our associate faculty were honored for having taught for five years. These are David Alonso (below), Earl Hansen (above right), and Michael Nolt (above left). Alonso earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Notre Dame in 1993 and was teaching full-time at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan when he first agreed to help us out with our organic chemistry laboratories. Earl Hansen received his PhD. in 1968 from Michigan State University, has over thirty years of experience in industrial environmental chemistry, and has chaired national conferences. Hansen is a regular instructor of general chemistry laboratories and also helps with the freshman lecture course for science majors. Michael Nolt earned a M.Ed. from Lehigh University in 2001 and has been teaching high school chemistry in Goshen Community Schools for the past 13 years.  He routinely teaches one of our natural world chemistry courses as part of IU's general education suite of courses.  Here's what Alonso has to say about teaching here:

"I enjoy teaching at IUSB because of the strong chemistry program.  The program is exceptional and is designed to give students the hands on experiences necessary to enter the workforce or participate in advanced studies. The students are dedicated and have a strong desire not only to learn the theory presented in lectures, but also its application in the laboratory.  It has truly been a pleasure to teach at IUSB over the past few years."
And it has been a pleasure working with these three gentlemen. We truly appreciate their expertise and the rigorous instruction they provide. It is our hope that they will remain as associate faculty for many years to come. Thank you for your efforts!