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!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

2014 Undergraduate Research Conference

This year marked another year of success for undergraduate research in our department.  Although Professor Grace Muna was one of the conference organizers, Gretchen Anderson moderated a set of oral presentations, and several faculty served as judges, it was our hardworking students who made it a success last Friday morning.  

Biochemistry majors Hala Sirhan and Nigel Guerra [both above left] presented a poster on the "Extraction of Steroid Hormones from Saint Joseph River Water for Analysis" detailing their contributions to Muna's extensive work on the subject. Ashley Compton [above right], another biochemistry major, posted her summer 2013 work titled "Investigating the Mechanism of Aldehyde-Deformylating Oxygenase for Hydrocarbon Production" completed at Penn State as part of an REU.

Also presenting posters were several students under the guidance of Anderson who focused themselves for many weeks on an original problem as part of their biochemistry laboratory class.  Biochemistry major Jac Miller [above left] went solo on a project for the "Recovery of Mutant IDH1 Activity through Synthetic Antigen Binders" while the multidisciplinary team of Preston Rose (biochemistry), Rachel Warrell (chemistry), and Amanda Warren (biology) [all above right] presented their collaboration on "Comparative Analysis of Cell Lysis Methods: Ultrasonification versus Chemical Detergents".

Congratulations to all the students for their hard work. Thank you for representing our department at this year's URC.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Alumnus Doug Sisk Wins Award

Dr. Doug Sisk was named the 2014 Local Section Outreach Volunteer of the Year for the St. Joseph Valley section of the American Chemical Society (ACS). Sisk graduated from IU South Bend in 1973 when the campus offered only a BA in chemistry. He furthered his studies at The George Washington University to earn a Ph.D. in psychology and now teaches chemistry at Marian High School. Sisk  has attended workshops and even secured a grant from the University of Notre Dame to continue to improve instruction and have a greater impact on his students. For the last ten years Sisk has headed the organization of the Chemistry Olympiad in the St. Joseph Valley and several schools have joined this program under his leadership.  Congratulations Dr. Sisk!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Preparing for graduate study

Applying to graduate school is a nerve-wracking endeavor with GRE tests to be taken, personal statements to be written, letters of recommendation to be requested, and then ... the waiting.  But it pays off once the acceptance letters start to roll in. Here we would like to highlight the success of our graduating class.  

Rachel Warrell will attend The Ohio State University to earn a Ph.D. in the chemistry.  She acquired a lot of research experience at IU South Bend with organic professors McMillen and Plummer, and even had an REU at Miami University (in Ohio), but Rachel says her main interest is materials chemistry.

Jaq Miller has decided to head to the cold northwest of Montana State University in search of a Ph.D. in biochemistry.  She has spent many hours in the lab of biochemist Anderson, but must have been inspired a bit by inorganic chemist Feighery because her interests are metallo-biochemistry.

Ashley Compton accepted an offer from MIT and plans to research for her Ph.D. in biochemistry with a focus on either metallo-biochemistry or physical biochemistry. Like the others, Ashley also had undergraduate research experience, working with Anderson on campus and earning an REU at Penn State University.

All three students have been offered extra support from the accepting universities besides traditional stipends, but it was just announced today the Ashley won the very prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program award that will (generously) support her for the first three years of her studies. Congratulations to all of you on your glorious entry to graduate school.