Thursday, August 29, 2013

Students return from summer REUs

Biochemistry major Ashley Compton and chemistry major Rachel Warrell just completed their first off-campus REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates).  Both have had extensive research experience on-campus but this was their first experience researching elsewhere giving them several opportunities, three of which are:

    (1)  A very LARGE line on their resumes and graduate school applications
    (2)  Exposure to large research institutes with graduate programs
    (3)  Summer income

If you are interested in a summer REU please contact a chemistry or biochemistry professor as soon as possible. These programs are very competitive so good grades and on-campus research experience are recommended.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Tale of Two Sabbaticals

It was near this time last year when physical chemist Matt Marmorino (above left) began his Fall semester sabbatical to continue research in bounding the energies and other observables as well as learn some new material regarding quantum field theory in the hopes to extend his work to the relativistic realm. The first fruits of his work are just now appearing after first a semester of the work itself and then a semester of scientific review in the publication process. His manuscript in the Journal of Mathematical Chemistry compares two standard methods to find the lower bound of a system's ground-state energy and merges them into a single method to combine their advantages.

This Fall organic chemist Doug McMillen (above right) begins his research sabbatical. For the past several years McMillen has been filling voids in administration leaving him with less time for teaching and research. In Summer 2012 he resumed research by investigating new methods of oxidizing alcohols and other partially oxidized functional groups.  He plans to use his year-long sabbatical to complete and publish that work and start new work using elemental iodine to oxidize alcohols.  He also aims to develop collaborations and to prepare a research grant to support investigations of metal-catalyzed asymmetric oxidation of alkenes. We wish you a fruitful year, Professor McMillen.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ready to meet new students!

Today all of the department's full-time faculty marched over to the Student Activity Center to greet chemistry, biochemistry, and pre-med students at the New Student Induction Ceremony. Sporting our department tee-shirts (left to right) are Professors Matt Marmorino (physical chemist), Gretchen Anderson (biochemist and chairperson), Doug McMillen (organic chemist on sabbatical), and Jake Plummer (visiting organic chemist). Also attending, but not pictured, were Professors Grace Muna (analytical chemist) and Bill Feighery (inorganic chemist).  We are all looking forward to the start of a wonderful new academic year. Go chemistry!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Record enrollment

Enrollment in the science-majors freshman chemistry course Fundamentals of Chemistry I CHEM C105 is the highest it has ever been.  With still one week before class starts there are 147 students enrolled in the course.  This huge load of students requires seven discussion sections.  And for every student enrolled in C105 there is likely one enrolled in the companion laboratory course C125.  While we aren't sure why the number of students has been rising steadily each year, we are going to assume it is because of the excellent instruction offered by Bill Feighery and Connie Fox, head instructors for C105 and C125, respectively, and the many supporting instructors for the discussion and laboratory sections. Our department had planned to make use of the large lecture hall in the new Education and Arts Building (pictured above), but our class is too large even for it; so we remain in Northside 113, the only room large enough. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Welcome Professor Jake Plummer

Jake Plummer is our visiting professor of organic chemistry this year and will teach the lecture section and some laboratory sections this Fall and next Spring. Plummer earned a B.A. in Chemistry from Northwestern College (in Iowa) where he also picked up a B.A. in History and a minor in Religion. Plummer comes to us with several years of teaching experience from the Claremont Colleges (of California) and Greenville College (in Illinois).

Before obtaining his Ph.D. in Chemistry at Notre Dame in 2009 Plummer worked at Novartis Pharmaceuticals for eight months where he picked up valuable information about the industry side of chemistry.  Plummer also had a brief postdoctoral experience at Harvey Mudd College (in California).  In addition to his interests in history and religion as evidenced by his undergraduate record, Plummer is a martial arts aficionado and has studied almost as many fighting styles as there are functional groups in organic chemistry.  He also loves to spend time with his wife, newborn son, and two chihuahuas.  While Plummer is not new to Indiana we want to welcome him to IU South Bend and especially the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.