Friday, August 31, 2012

Who's New This Fall

Organic chemistry professor Doug McMillen continues to serve as interim dean for the School of Nursing this fall and will continue through the spring. Physical chemistry professor Matt Marmorino is on sabbatical. The freshman general chemistry class has grown from less than a hundred students several years ago to 140 students this semester.  How is the department coping with its temporary lack of instructors and increase in students?  

Department Chair Gretchen Anderson has spent seemingly countless hours working out options for us. For the physical chemistry students, she has arranged something very special: a live and interactive broadcast of the physical chemistry course at Bloomington's campus.  These students also participate in the discussion sections and can attend office hours in a way very much like a video conference.  This setup is attracting a lot of attention from administrators.

Anderson has also been arranging more traditional alternatives such as finding more instructors.  Biochemists Lance Hellman and Jill Voreis have both been recruited to teach CHEM C102 (freshman organic and biochemistry).  Lance Hellman graduated with his doctorate from the University of Kentucky and currently works as a post-doc in Professor Brian M. Baker's laboratory at the University of Notre Dame.  Jill Voreis finished her graduate research under Professor Holly V. Goodson at Notre Dame and she will be receiving her doctorate shortly.  Filling in for McMillen to teach the sophomore organic chemistry class is Professor Steven Warren who comes out of retirement from Andrews University (in Berrien Springs, MI) to bring us his many years of experience. Warren earned his Ph.D. from Arizona State University.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sabbatical for Professor Marmorino

As classes begin there is one professor who is not preparing a syllabus or marching off to meet a classroom of students.  It is a long-standing tradition that professors are periodically given rest from teaching in order to focus on their research.  Marmorino has begun his first research sabbatical and will resume teaching in the spring.

Marmorino's goals are two-fold.  The first is to continue his current research into upper and lower bounds to properties of atomic and molecular systems.  The main property of interest is the energy because differences in energy levels provide chemists with spectral lines or peaks with which to identify materials.  The second goal is to expand his research from non-relativistic treatment to incorporate relativistic effects.  This is very important because electrons, which essentially determine an atom's properties, move at speeds close to the speed of light.  Furthermore,  the spin of an electron is a natural consequence of relativistic theory.