Saturday, October 31, 2015

Community Outreach for National Chemistry Week

In celebration of National Chemistry Week (Oct 18-24) and Mole Day (October 23), the Biology-Chemistry Club of IU South Bend hosted hands-on activities for kids on the theme "Chemistry Colors Our World!".  More than twice as many children as last year came to the River Park Public Library last Saturday to try their hand at making an Alka-Seltzer lava lamp, marker chromatography, micelles with food coloring and soap, Gobstopper dye separation, and learned about the many colors in leaves. They left with a bag of colorful treat bags to try some of the experiments at home. Our college students deserve a special "thank-you" for their efforts to reach the future science students that will one day study at IU and many other campuses. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Students Flock to Rizk's Lab

Professor Shahir Rizk, our new biochemist, has been teaching for just over two months and hasn't yet finished setting up his laboratory for research. Nevertheless, he has already attracted two students to his research group.  Sophomore chemistry major  Riley Bigelow (left) and senior biochemistry major Kourtney Kemmerling (right) are shown here trying out their new pipettes and personal protection equipment - a must for any laboratory. To support his research, Rizk is bringing in several new pieces of equipment such as a nanodrop UV-visible spectrometer (for spectral analysis of very small samples), an incubator for growing cells (from which to harvest enzymes and other protein), and a cooled table-top centrifuge (to help in the actual harvesting). 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Are Your Grades Dropping? Help is Available!

There are just seven weeks left in this Fall semester.  To make sure you get the most from your courses, please be aware of all the opportunities for help.  Here are some:
(1) Your instructor's office hours.
      After-hour appointments may be possible.
(2) Tutoring at ACE's Learning Center in the administration building.
(3) SI sessions often available once a week for freshman courses.
      Consult your professor for details.
(4) ACE's "Study Smarter" sessions are available.
(5) Form a study group with classmates - two heads are better than one.
      But stay on task and don't let it degenerate into a social event.
Additionally, the library is now hosting a Monday evening (6:00 to 8:00) chemistry tutor in the Dorene Dwyer Hammes Media Commons and CafĂ© area. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

2015 Nobel Prize Winners

The winners of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry were recently announced. Three men shared the prize this year and they were all biochemists who explored how enzymes help to repair damaged DNA. An article describing their achievements can be viewed at the website for Chemical and Engineering News (C&EN). The image above highlights the history of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and shows how many awards have been given in each area of chemistry. It also lists each prize winner and the reason for the award.  Click here for the full image at C&EN.  How many scientists have won the prize twice? How many women prize winners can you find? How many minority prize winners have there been? In what year will you win?

Monday, September 28, 2015

New York Times Spots Alumna

Alumna Celeste Warrell (Biochemistry, 2011) was a star student at IU South Bend winning several awards and engaging in undergraduate research.  She then earned a masters degree in biochemistry in 2013 from Michigan State University in the lab of Professor Rober Hausinger.  But the call to science could not compete with a higher calling that she heard and Warrell joined the Sisters of St. Francis (of Perpetual Adoration) right here in South Bend.  New York Times photographer, Damon Winter, caught her on film (third from the left) as she waited for a chance to see the Pope during his visit to Philadelphia.

Monday, September 21, 2015

NSF Fellowship Winners are Honored

On September 10, two alumni from our department were honored at a gala with three other students for winning the very prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships. Pictured third from the left is Ashley Tong [Compton] (Biochemistry, 2014) who won her award as a graduating senior at IU South Bend.  Ashley went straight to MIT to research proteins of the photosynthetic pathway of purple bacteria with Professor Gabriela Schlau-Cohen using ultrafast spectroscopy.  The day after the gala, Ashley gave a wonderful presentation on her work to the students of our department.

Third from the right is Bonnie Huge [Jaskowski] (Chemistry, 2010) who worked as a research assistant at the University of Notre Dame for a few years before starting her graduate work. Bonnie researches with Professor Norman Dovichi in Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry developing instrumentation.  Our department is extremely proud of Ashley and Bonnie and wish them great success in their research and studies.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Biochemistry Program Grows with Professor Rizk

The department eagerly welcomes its newest full-time tenure-track member: Assistant Professor Shahir Rizk. In fact, we welcome him back, because Rizk graduated from IU South Bend in 2000 with a B.S. in Biology. Rizk later received his PhD in Biochemistry from Duke University in 2006 for his thesis on rational design of biosensors and multi-sensor arrays.

Once the long, but necessary, period of education and training had ended, Rizk served as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health at the University of Chicago in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology where he worked on engineering antibodies and drug delivery in cancer. In 2012, he joined the faculty at the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame as a Research Assistant Professor and Director of External Programs at the Boler-Parseghian Center for Rare and Neglected Diseases. Rizk’s collaborations at the University of Notre Dame allowed him to apply his work in antibody engineering to study the pathogens that cause malaria and Ebola.

Rizk's research program at IU lies in the area of protein engineering, specifically the design of new antibodies that can recognize different conformations of the same protein. His seminar on this subject during his interview last year impressed both students and faculty. He is also working to develop biosensors for environmental pollutants. If Rizk has some free time, he might continue some of his non-academic interests such as painting and music; he plays both guitar and bass.

Rizk's position is the first [necessary] duplication in the department. For years we have had a single professor for the various sub-disciplines, but our growing biochemistry program demands more than one biochemist. We are very excited for this new addition to our faculty and are confident that Rizk will have an outstanding inaugural year.  Welcome "home" Rizk.