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!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Chemistry Student Showcased to Alumni

Last spring, chemistry major Chris Warkentin applied for the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program.  He did not win the award, but did receive an honorable mention for his achievements.  This is a first for our campus.  Later that semester he received a SMART grant to research with chemistry professor Grace Muna over the summer.  Now a year later, Chris plans to apply for the Goldwater Scholarship again.  Armed with more research, more awards, and more education, his chances are good and we hope for the best.  The full story about Chris' scholarship effort and research were highlighted in the 2015 Fall/Winter issue of alumni-reaching Foundations magazine, which is also the source of the picture above (unfortunately the current issue is not yet online - please click here for a temporary link). 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Carolyn & Lawrence Garber Summer Research Scholarship

Emeritus Professor Larry Garber and his wife Carolyn have generously established funding for students interested in summer research.  Garber was the inorganic chemist for many years before he was called to serve in administration (vice chancellor and dean were some of his titles).  He was a prominent voice in the department and is now making an impact even in retirement.  Because many IU South Bend students must juggle course work with part-time jobs to pay for school, research is often not an option. The summer research scholarship provided by the Garbers will change this.  The photograph above was taken from  the Fall/Winter 2015 issue of IU South Bend's Foundations publication where you can find more information about the Garbers and their scholarship (the previous issue, and perhaps soon, this one, can be found online  - please click here for a temporary link).  This scholarship is just one of several recent examples of the community giving back to IU South Bend: in 2015 RC MedReview Fellowship was established and in 2012  the Brian A. Zeider Excellence in Biochemistry Scholarship was first offered. Thank you very much, Larry and Carolyn, for the generous opportunity you have provided for our students. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

New Laboratory Equipment for the Biochemistry Program

Our newest addition, Biochemistry Professor Shahir Rizk, was given funds by the college to prepare his laboratory for research - and now his laboratory boasts some new additions.  Because Rizk works with proteins he must first grow cells which are the plantations from which he harvests his macromolecules.  These cells are grown in his MaxQ 4000 temperatuare-regulated shaker (top right).  He then applies high-g forces to suspensions of the broken cells in his Sorvall ST-8R cooled centrifuge (top left) to separate protein from nucleic acid and broken membrane.  Next Rizk can send his solutions through his AKTA Stat protein purification unit (bottom right) for further separation.  Finally he can analyze his purified protein with his new NanoDrop 2000 UV-visible spectrophotometer (bottom left) to quantitatively determine how much protein he ultimately collected.  This last instrument mimics the traditional spectrometers, but without the need for a cuvette and uses much less material - actually a microliter (not nano!) amount of solution.  All of the instruments are sold by Thermo Scientific except for the protein purification unit which is sold by General Electric.

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).