Thursday, December 14, 2017

Alumna Earns Doctoral Degree

2010 chemistry graduate Bonnie Huge just successfully defended her doctoroal dissertation Preparative Capillary Zone Electrophoresis as the final step to her Ph.D. in chemistry. Here she is pictured with her mentor and colleagues just after her defense. She has been researching in Dr. Norman Dovichi's group in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame doing a mixture of analytical and physical chemistry. After graduation Dr. Bonnie Huge will continue working with Dovichi (pictured far right) but her days as a student are over; this time she will be a postdoctoral researcher guiding new graduate students. Congratulations on the fruits of your hard work. Our department is extremely proud and happy to have you close by.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Chemistry Appreciation Luncheon

On Friday, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry hosted a luncheon to thank students for their service to the university and the department.  From left to right in the photograph are Pierre N’Guetta (research), Dr. Shahir Rizk, David Aupperle (research & tutor), Maggie Fink (research & work-study), Abigail Praklet (research), Joey Williamson (research), Dr. Gretchen Anderson, Evan Bickel (work-study), and Dr. Gopee Sreenilayam. There are at least five ways students can serve the department and university (see below) and students don't have to be a chemistry or biochemistry major to serve.
Tutoring: The Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) provides tutors to students taking freshman and sophomore chemistry courses. The chemistry tutors operate on the fourth floor of the library and typically provide help for a wide range of courses.
Supplemental Instruction: ACE also employs students to provide intensive support for a particular course by offering weekly group review or question-answer sessions. These students typically sit in on the course they are helping with to better understand the teacher's unique perspective and offer more detailed support than a general tutor.
Research: Several students help professors conduct research projects during the semester. This activity requires a bit of dedication because such positions are usually unpaid and the pressures of homework and exams in one's classes can severely limit a student's time in the research laboratory. However, research experience is a great line on one's resume when applying to graduate school or an industrial position after graduation.
Work-Study Positions: Instructors sometimes seek help in handling large classes or intensive laboratories and have been known to hire students to help grade quizzes or prepare reagents for experiments. Sometimes there are opportunities for webpage support/development, designing laboratory floor plans, or even help with chemical inventory.
LSAMP: Professor Grace Muna is one of the coordinators of a program (Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation) designed to engage minority students in STEM research, tutoring, and outreach to local schools.  This is a relatively new program to IU South Bend that began just this spring.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Student Outreach for National Chemistry Week

Students from the IU South Bend Biology and Chemistry Club kicked off National Chemistry Week (October 22-28) with a program at the River Park Public Library on Saturday October 21. The theme for National Chemistry Week this year was chosen by the American Chemical Society to be Geochemistry. This was a good choice because we all know that "Chemistry Rocks!". At the library, our college students helped children explore the chemistry of rocks and minerals with hands-on ACS-approved experiments and demonstrations. Thanks to the club and its dedicated members for providing this opportunity to the community.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Students present at LSMCE conference

Analytical chemist Grace Muna accompanied three students to the 5th annual 2017 Louis Stokes Midwest Center of Excellence (LSMCE) Conference this October where she served as one of the judges for the student poster competition. Physics major E-Lexus Thornton (shown presenting his poster, above left) and Biology major Keon Jones (with Muna, above right) showcased their summer work under the LSAMP program at IU South Bend. Award-winning biochemistry major Michele Costantino also attended the conference to present her summer work under an REU at IUPUI. Presenting at a conference is a great way to end a project, like icing on a cake, but can also be a great way to start new beginnings by making contact with students and faculty from other institutes. Special thanks are due to these three students for representing IU South Bend and showing the Midwest states what quality students our campus has. Abstracts of the students' posters are given below.

Michele Costantino (Poster #55)
The effect of ionic solutions on surface potential of lipid membranes

Cellular membranes provide a barrier between two environments and are composed of a variety of lipid molecules. The composition of the membrane determines its function and as such can be influenced by ions and molecules in the surrounding environment. Amongst the factors affected is the electric charge and the surface potential (zeta potential) of the membrane. The mechanism by which the zeta potential of membranes is affected by water soluble ions and molecules involves, not only the net electrical charge, but also a physical property called electrical polarizability. In the lab, we use a method by which electrical polarizability is determined from measurements of index of refraction and mass density as a function of solute concentration. This research will provide understanding in how polarizability of a molecule affects a cellular membrane by observing the zeta potential of a lipid vesicle at varying concentrations of one molecule in solution. The dioleoylphosphatidylserine (DOPS) lipid was utilized, which contains two monounsaturated hydrocarbon chains with eighteen carbons each and a negatively charged head group that consists of both an amine and carboxylic acid. The results showed that while the vesicles maintained approximately a -60 mV charge in water, addition of ions altered the zeta potential in the positive direction as the concentration increased. However, this trend does not immediately appear upon adding ions, instead the charge fluctuates at lower concentrations. The trend has been observed in both divalent chlorides and adenosine triphosphate solutions. Future research will focus on other divalent chlorides—including magnesium, manganese, and cobalt—as well as organic phosphates and phospholipids with different head groups such as dilauroylphosphatidylcholine (DLPC), a neutral lipid. This research will help us to further understand how molecules and ions in the surrounding environments affect cellular membranes in regards to zeta potential, size, and formation of multilamellar vesicles (MLVs). Funding: National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Award #1659688

Keon Jones (Poster #82)
A sensitive electrochemical method to determine lead in water and soil

Lead is one of the most toxic heavy metal in the environment. Its presence is due to human activities notably, lead in gasoline, lead-based paint, lead-containing pesticides, lead in ammunition and sinkers, and incinerator ash or water from lead pipes. Lead poisoning can cause a number of adverse human health effects but it’s particularly detrimental to the neurological development of growing children. Therefore, frequent testing and precise monitoring of Pb in soil and water is important to assess and control lead contamination. We hereby report on developing a stripping voltammetric method using glassy carbon electrodes modified with bismuth nanoparticles (GC-BiNPs) to detect lead in drinking water and soil. Voltammetric stripping measurements have historically utilized mercury in the forms of hanging mercury drop and mercury film electrode to measure heavy metal ions. This is mainly because clean surfaces can be easily be regenerated with a new mercury drop. However, because of mercury toxicity and risks associated with its disposal its use as an electrode material for stripping measurements is severely restricted. We’re utilizing the unique properties of bismuth such as its ability to form alloys with different metals, to develop a sensitive method to detect lead. Preliminary results show that using GC-BiNPs we can detect low levels of lead down to 1 parts per billion in water. The research findings on the stripping voltammetric method development will be presented. Funding: LSAMP; SMART ; IUSB

E-Lexus Thornton (Poster #119)
Modification of the microchannel plate (MCP) detectors in the recoil mass separator St. George

The Recoil Mass Separator St George in Notre Dame’s Nuclear Science Laboratory (NSL) is being used for the study of low level (α,γ) reactions using inverse kinematics to better understand the helium burning processes in a star. ST GEORGE has two MCP detectors that amplify and multiply electrons into electrical pulses that can be seen on an oscilloscope. To make the MCP detectors display a better pulse, and to make the MCP detectors conveniently easy to remove from the mass separator, we decided to modify the makeup of both MCP detectors and add two delay boards and a basic circuit board to both MCP detectors. The Autodesk Inventor software was used for the drawing process and the circuit board was designed by hand. The process and/or results of the modifications and new additions will be described. Funding: NSF Grant PHY-0959816

Friday, October 13, 2017

ChemOffice Professional Comes to IU South Bend

The software suite ChemOffice Profesional is now available to IU South Bend faculty and staff. It can be downloaded and installed on personal computers from IUware. It houses an array of software, but most interesting to students will be the components ChemDraw and Chem3D.

ChemDraw allows users to draw high-quality two-dimensional molecular structures in skeletal form. It can compute simple properties such as molecular mass and elemental composition, but also has a wide range of stored information about existing compounds such as their melting and boiling points. ChemDraw can also determine the IUPAC name of compounds (see below left - please click on photo for higher resolution) and likewise produce the structure given the name. It can even predict NMR spectra for compounds (see below right  - please click on photo for higher resolution), which will surely aid students of organic chemistry to test their ability to interpret and predict NMR spectra.
Chem3D allows a two-dimensional structure from ChemDraw to be visualized and manipulated in three dimensions.  Bond lengths and bond angles are predicted based on average empirical data, but better estimates of these properties and many others can be obtained from built-in molecular modelling capabilities. Chem3D even interfaces with quantum mechanical software to allow Hartree-Fock and density functional calculations. We interfaced with GAMESS to produce the image above of one of two HOMO for benzene. (Paradox = How can you have two HOMOs?)

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Nanotechnology - Size Matters!

Last week the First Year Seminar students in Dr. Anderson's CHEM-N 190 Nanotechnology: Size Matters class made solar cells from raspberry juice and titanium dioxide on a semiconductive glass surface. This is an example of Dye Sensitized Solar Cells which are at the cutting edge of thin film solar photovoltaic technology. With two-inch square panels, students cranked out a satisfying 0.3 volts per panel (see bottom left picture)!  It helped that the day happened to be mostly sunny. With this experience making solar cells, they should be well-informed for this week's field trip to Inovateus Solar.  Anderson's course is the second course offered at IU South Bend to focus on nanotechnology to support the new nanotechnology tracks offered for certain STEM majors.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Student Spotlight

Michele Costantino is a senior biochemistry major who has returned to school after obtaining a BA in graphic design from our partner campus in Bloomington. Like many of our students, she works part-time, but she does so teaching courses in graphic design as an adjunct instructor at Ivy Tech Community College! Her prior academic experience and maturity has surely given her an advantage in pursuing her second degree, but there can be  no doubt that raw ability is also powering her excellent performance. 
In the spring semester, Costantino earned an honorable mention at the IU South Bend Undergraduate Research Performance for her oral presentation Reversible Self-Assembly Using Protein Conformational Changes on her research last summer with Professor Rizk that was supported by an IU South Bend SMART grant.  Also last spring, she was awarded an honorable mention in the national Barry Goldwater Scholarship Program. She is the second student at IU South Bend to have won such an honor. By the end of the spring semester she had also acquired two more honors: the Bender Scholarship Award and an undergraduate summer research fellowship. The Bender Scholarship Award honors students who have demonstrated multidisciplinary activities, community involvement, and leadership - in addition to high academic performance. Her summer research at IUPUI's Integrated Nanosystems Development Institute (INDI) was sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
At IUPUI, Costantino worked with Dr. Horia Petrache in the biophysics department. Dr. Petrache’s work focuses on the effects of organic molecules on lipid membranes. Over the ten weeks of research, Costantino calculated the polarizability (the susceptibility to change of a molecule's dipole moment) by measuring the density, refractive index, and concentration of analyte solutions. In addition to these calculations, she used dynamic light scattering to measure the size of lipid vesicles and the surface charge of the vesicles in solution. While the program spanned only ten weeks, Costantino’s research was part of a larger project studying the relationship between organic molecules, such as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and lipid membranes. Dr. Petrache’s lab continues to study these interactions using 2D NMR and x-ray diffraction and plans to present these findings at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society in San Francisco this February. Outside of her research, Costantino was also able to speak to researchers working the Big G project studying gravity and work with students in the program who intend to patent their work.
This fall, Costantino will apply to graduate schools to study protein engineering. Her summer research will help her stand out from the crowd by showing her ability to work on interdisciplinary projects. In addition, it will further her graduate studies, giving her experience in biophysics that could not otherwise be obtained in a standard undergraduate curriculum. Costantino gained not only experience and education, but she maintains contact with the other REU students and will see them again at this year’s Louis Stokes Midwest Center of Excellence 2017 Annual Conference in October where she will present her summer's work. 
If you are interested in a PAID summer research program like this one please contact a faculty member as soon as possible to identify suitable programs and to prepare a competitive application.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Welcome Professor Gopeekrishnan Sreenilayam

Our department gladly welcomes Professor Gopeekrishnan Sreenilayam as a one-year visiting professor to teach our sophomore organic chemistry sequence. He earned his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Iowa in 2011. While Sreenilayam is no greenhorn at teaching, having served as an adjunct lecturer position at the College at Brockport (State University of New York), he brings to us vast research experience from postdoctoral fellowships at both Temple University and the University of Rochester. Sreenilayam’s most recent work investigates an unusual type of organic synthesis where rather than make use of typical organic reagents, he and his colleagues rely on a biochemical approach in which they use the heme center of hemoglobin essentially as a chiral complex ion to catalyze organic reactions to produce chiral products. We have only one concern regarding Sreenilayam: will he be able to refill that bowl of candy on his desk fast enough to accommodate the horde of organic students that will be visiting him? 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Solar Eclipse on the First Day of Class

There was a great turnout at IU South Bend for the solar eclipse.  Even though there was only 87% occlusion at South Bend, it was still a memorable sight. Gretchen Anderson's freshman nanotechnology class made pinhole viewers which were quite a popular way to indirectly view the eclipse to avoid eye injuries. But even more impressive were the thousands of pinhole viewers made by light filtering through the trees (bottom left). Even colanders (bottom right) and kitchen strainers were used to view the eclipse. Special thanks to the Physics Club and the Department of Physics and Astronomy for setting up telescopes and to-scale models. And don't worry if you missed the eclipse because you'll get another chance in 2024 which should be even more impressive with almost 97% occlusion!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Anderson and Feighery take on new roles

While it may seem like there is a power struggle in the department, that couldn't be further from the truth; Professors Anderson and Feighery both personify collegiality and have taken up the role of chair when it was necessary to do so. But now Anderson has once again taken the helm of the ship that is called the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry - and based on her previous tenure as department chair we know she won't be sitting down on the job.  And to top it off, Anderson will also chair the search committee this fall for our new organic chemist.  On the other hand, Feighery, who was chair, has moved his office from Northside Hall to Weikamp so he can better serve the campus in his new position as Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  Fortunately, Feighery will continue teaching as our department's inorganic chemist.   We wish success for both Anderson and Feighery in their new roles.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

LSAMP at South Bend

The Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) is an NSF-funded initiative designed to increase the number of under-represented minorities (URM) in the STEM workforce. IU South Bend began participating in this program for the first time this spring with college students visiting local high school classes to speak about their academic experiences and hopefully attract potential future students. This summer then saw two students engage in research: biology major Keon Jones (left) working with chemistry professor Grace Muna to coat electrodes with nanoparticles to improve electrochemical detection of lead in water and soil; and physics student E-Lexus Thornton (right) researching nuclear reactions with physics professor Jerry Hinnefeld.

Visitation of high schools is planned to continue this fall. Additionally the university will recruit advanced URM students to provide peer-mentoring and tutoring to beginning URM in STEM disciplines. As the university begins the search for next summer's LSAMP research scholars, both Thornton and Jones plan to present this summer's research results at the Louis Stokes Midwest Center for Excellence annual conference in Indianapolis.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Outreach of the Biology and Chemistry Club

This evening the IU South Bend Biology and Chemistry Club reached out to the community at the River Park Library at the northeast corner of the campus.  Our students helped over 100 children make bags of ice cream.  Both children and students were then entertained by the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man (an aspiring biochemistry major) who swung by later in the evening.  We are thankful that our students are willing to devote their time and energy to the community to inspire children who may one day take their place as students at IU South Bend.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Summer research in the Muna lab

Professor Muna's first team consists of Chemistry majors David Aupperle and Joseph Williamson. They are working jointly to study the effect of self assembled monolayers (SAMs) of thiol molecules on gold electrodes modified with electrodeposited palladium nanoparticles (PdNPs). Their goal is to investigate whether the presence of SAMs improves the electrochemical behavior of gold electrodes modified with PdNPs by enhancing the analytical signal during the electrocatalytic oxidation of steroid hormones.

The second group in the Muna lab teams up Chemistry major Abigail Praklet with Biology major Keon Jones. Together they are trying to develope a sensitive and stable electrochemical method to detect lead in both water and soil samples using glassy carbon and screen-printed carbon electrodes modified with bismuth nanoparticles. The developed method will be tested by determining the levels of lead in local samples. Abigail is the fourth student in our department to be awarded a SMART grant this summer. Keon is the recipient of an LSAMP Summer Research Fellowship.

Summer research in the Anderson laboratory

Biochemistry major Victor Gutierrez-Schultz is continuing work on an ongoing project to clone the genes for the enzyme arsenite oxidase into E. coli, and induce these bacteria into making the enzyme in an environmentally friendly manner. This enzyme has the potential to be used in water purification methods to remove arsenic from groundwater. The original host, Alcaligenes faecalis, makes the arsenite oxidase enzyme only when the growth medium contains the arsenite so that growing A. faecalis to isolate the enzyme generates many 55 gallon drums of arsenic-containing toxic waste. By transferring the genes into E. coli, Victor will induce expression of the protein IPTG, a non-toxic inducer of the lac operon. Previous attempts at cloning the arsenite oxidase genes into E. coli generated new mutations, which could affect the structure and activity of the enzyme. Victor is repairing the introduced mutations through site-specific mutagenesis. Subsequent experiments will aim to find the best conditions for inducing enzyme synthesis, correctly folding the two subunits of the enzyme, and properly inserting the [3F-4S] cluster, the molybdopterin cofactor, and the [2Fe-2S] Rieske center into the enzyme. Congratulations to Victor for being awarded a SMART grant to support his summer research with Dr. Anderson.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Summer research in the Rizk lab

It is crowded in the Rizk lab this summer as three award-winning students work side-by-side with each other and Professor Rizk. While relatively new to the department (he joined in 2015), Rizk was quick to start a research program that attracted several undergraduate students.

Biochemistry major Maggie Fink (left) was awarded the Carolyn & Lawrence Garber Summer Research Scholarship. Her project focuses on using protein engineering tools to generate molecules that self-assemble in a reversible manner. The aim is to find a set of mutant proteins based on the bacterial maltose binding protein that can form large structures when the sugar maltose is added, and then disassemble when the sugar is removed. The project will explore the ability of protein engineering tools to develop dynamic nano-structures based on biological molecules for a number of applications that include drug delivery and biosensing.
Another biochemistry major, Mary Sobieralski (second from the left), received a SMART grant for the summer to work on developing engineered proteins known as antibody fragments (Fabs) that can modulate the activity of human enzymes. She is focusing on trying to identify Fabs that can reverse the effects of deleterious mutations in the enzyme cystathionine beta synthase (CBS), which lead to a condition known as homocysteinuria. This disease causes problems with vision as well as heart disease due to the inability of the body to metabolize derivatives of the amino acids cysteine and methionine. Mary will attempt to examine the factors needed to rescue the function of CBS mutants as a first step in addressing homocysteinuria and other so-called enzyme deficiencies.
Biology major Pierre N'Guetta (right) is continuing his project from last summer on developing biosensors for glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide RoundUp. Pierre began the project last summer in the Rizk lab, then during the fall of 2016, students enrolled in the CHEM-C 486 biochemistry lab tested some of the reagents he generated last summer. Pierre hopes to wrap up the project by characterizing a number of biosensors for glyphosate that change their fluorescence profile when exposed to the substance. He is also working on enhancing the sensitivity of the sensors to enable detention of small amounts of glyphosate in the environment. Like Mary, Pierre was also awarded a SMART grant for this summer.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Biochemistry Alumni at Montana State University

IU South Bend biochemistry 2014 graduates Angela Patterson (left) and Jac Miller (middle) independently landed at Montana State University to pursue their graduate studies. Jac followed the footsteps of Dr. Gretchen Anderson and studied enzymes involved in nitrogen fixation with Dr. John Peters. Jac earned her Master’s degree in Biochemistry and is now teaching, doing research, and bringing up her baby daughter Adelaide (in the carriage!) and her horse. Angela is an expert in mass spectroscopy and metabolomics working with Prof. Brian Bothner. She will most likely finish her Ph.D. in 2019. Gretchen Anderson (right) had a chance to catch up with both alumni as well as Dr. Jennifer DuBois, formerly at Notre Dame, and with whom Anderson spent a sabbatical leave in 2008.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Professor Muna is "Getting the Lead Out"!

Professor Grace Muna (above) is finishing her research sabbatical at Notre Dame where she is teamed with Professor Marya Lieberman (below left). They've been working on ways to detect lead in paint samples.  The picture above is a screenshot from part two of a special news report from WSBT, channel 22.  The news report can be found online here at WSBT while two videos from the report can also be found on YouTube: Part 1 and Part 2 (features Muna).  This summer Muna returns to IU South Bend to continue her research with several undergraduate students.  Congratulations to Muna for making the news and contributing to such an important project. 

Awards and Graduates 2017

Another academic year ends as freshman become sophomores - and seniors become alumni.  We hope that the former group will have a wonder three years to come at IU South Bend, and that the latter group looks back on their time here with fondness always.  Our graduates are heading to industry, graduate school, and medical school.  They have worked hard and many of them have gathered awards and scholarships throughout their college career.  Listed below is a list of campus awards that our graduates and current students received this academic year. Congratulations to all of you for your effort and success.

Freshman Chemistry Achievement Award
  Sean Galvin
Student Excellence Award in Biochemistry
  Alexandra Hochstetler
Student Excellence Award in Chemistry
  Christopher Warkentin
Joseph H. Ross Seminar Award
   Michael Rauschenbach
Zeider Excellence in Biochemistry Scholarship
   Victor Gutierrez-Schultz
George V. Nazaroff Scholarhip
   Khai Pham
Carolyn & Lawrence Garber Summer Research Scholarship
   Maggie Fink
Bender Student Scholarship
   Michele Costantino

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Rizk Presents at Protein Folding Conference

Undergraduates Michele Costantino and Maggie Fink accompanied biochemistry professor Shahir Rizk to the 12th Annual Midwest Conference on Protein Folding, Assembly and Molecular Motion.  This conference is held every year at Notre Dame and attracts protein scientists from across the Midwest including Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa. Rizk presented work from his lab on engineered antibody fragments that can be used to modulate protein interactions in order to rescue the function of a mutant enzyme involved in cancer. The conference is a great opportunity for undergraduate students to see new areas of research and how science is communicated.

Anderson Teaches STEM at Starbase

Led by Dr. Gretchen Anderson, a class of about twenty at-risk students used their measuring and observational skills to determine just how much water a diaper can absorb. The answer is a lot more than you would think! But if there is salt in the water (normal saline concentrations) then the diapers are barely better than paper towels. Anderson helped students collect data and come to conclusions about the role of sodium ions and water in polyacrylate gels.
Special thanks to the staff and students at Starbase, a federal-sponsored program that promotes and offers education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics - the STEM subjects. Starbase provides 25 hours of curriculum over 5 weeks, with various schools rotating in and out of Starbase to spark interest in STEM education and careers. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

IU South Bend hosts the 2017 Chemistry Olympiad

The Chemistry Olympiad is a yearly event that begins at high schools throughout the country and ends in an international competition (this year in Thailand).  Each high school nominates just two students to send to a local college or university to compete further.  IU South Bend and Saint Mary's College alternate hosting the students; this year was our turn.  More information about the national competition can be found at the American Chemical Society while information about the international competition can be found elsewhere: ICHO website and the 2017 ICHO Competition in Thailand.

Laboratory supervisor Connie Fox and assistant Brenda Beatty were contacted ahead of time to order chemicals, prepare solutions, and set up instruments for today's competition.  The high school students spent the morning taking a written test and then after a break for lunch put all of their problem solving skills to work in the laboratory for chemical synthesis and analysis. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Associate Faculty are Honored for Service

Three of our associate faculty were honored yesterday in a reception for their years of service. Pat Boettcher (left) has taught general chemistry and organic chemistry laboratories for us for the past five years.  Both Pete McCasland (center) and Clark Hartford (right) have been with us for 15 years. McCasland and Hartford routinely teach freshman laboratory classes but have also taught lecture courses: both have taught the introductory course for health science majors and Hartford has, on occasion, taught the upper-level analytical chemistry and instrumental analysis lectures and laboratories.  We are very grateful to have these men - and all our other associate faculty - diligently and proficiently teaching for us. Without them, it would not be possible to offer as many courses as we do. The years of experience of our associate faculty, often in industry, nicely support and complement the more academic experience that the full-time faculty have.  We hope that they will continue to teach with us for many years to come.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Rizk Publishes in Scientific Reports

Professor Shahir Rizk recently published in Scientific Reports of the Nature Publishing Group. This effort began in a post-doctoral position at the University of Chicago and finished here at IU South Bend. As main author, Rizk collaborated with several researchers with connections to the University of Chicago, the New York University Langone Medical Center,  and the New York University School of Medicine - scientists that he continues to collaborate with.  Rizk explains the article's theme in the following paragraph, but you can read the abstract and full paper by clicking here.
Many diseases result from a mutation that causes an enzyme deficiency. This typically impairs the function of an essential enzyme, leading to disease manifestation. In many cases, the mutation impairs the ability of the enzyme to adopt the correct 3D structure required for proper function. This article addresses the question: How can we bring an enzyme that has been disrupted by mutation back to life? We focused on Isocitrate Dehydrogenase I, a metabolic enzyme that is mutated in a large percentage of individuals with brain tumors. The goal was to restore function to the mutant enzyme by trying to force it to adopt the correct 3D structure. We used a technique called phage display, which allowed us to engineer an antibody fragment that binds to the natural 3D structure of the enzyme. When added to the mutant enzyme, the engineered antibody fragment was able to restore natural function to the mutant enzyme. While this study was done in the test tube, it is a fist step in the design of "activator molecules" that can hopefully help restore function to a large number of mutant enzymes. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Work Study Positions

Pictured above are Biochemistry majors Victor Gutierrez-Schultz (left) and Khai Pham (right).  They are both working with Professor Anderson this semester to develop and trouble-shoot experiments for Anderson's upcoming freshman-level nanotechnology course CHEM-N 190 Natural World - Introduction to Nanochemistry.  Gutierrez was able to participate in this work as part of our Work Study Program which offers part-time employment to students who meet certain criteria and have completed a FAFSA form.  Working in your department not only provides a source of income, it also develops skills and knowledge relevant to your discipline.  If you are interested in a work study position, please contact a faculty member in your department - they may know of a position suitable to you.

Friday, April 7, 2017

2017 Undergraduate Research Conference

Last week the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry was represented by five students at the annual  IU South Bend Undergraduate Research Conference.  Biochemistry major Alexandra Hochstetler won the poster prize while Chemistry major David Aupperle received an honorable mention for his poster.  For the presentations, Biochemistry major Michele Costantino was awarded an honorable mention in the Natural Sciences category. Aupperle and Costantino both presented work done on campus with faculty from the department (Professors Muna and Rizk, respectively) while Hochstetler's research came from her summer experience at the IU School of Medicine.  David Aupperle (left) explains the how to best make a glassy carbon electrode below.

Also presenting were Biochemistry students Victor Gutierrez-Schultz and Khai Pham.  Gutierrez-Schultz had spent his last summer working on campus in Professor Anderson's laboratory while Pham spent her summer on an internship at Leco Corporation.  We are very proud of all our student researchers and are glad that they have had these opportunities to shine outside of the classroom.  Khai Pham (right) discusses gas chromatography and mass spectrometery in the picture below.

Electrochemical Detection of Steroid Hormones

Reversible Self-Assembly Using Protein Conformational Changes

Developing a Non-enzymatic Decontamination Method of Arsenic

Role of AIMP1 in Pulmonary Morphogenesis

A Novel Benchtop Time of Flight GC/MS System For High Throughput Qualitative And Quantitative Analysis of Drugs of Abuse in Human Urine

In the photograph below we see Victor Gutierrez-Schultz stand by his work (in more ways than one) with arsenic oxidizing enzymes.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Rizk Offers Insight into Graduate School

Last week, Professor Rizk gave a presentation titled "So you wanna go to grad school, eh?" at the request of the TriBeta and Biology-Chemistry Clubs.  Some of the items he discussed were ...
  • Why you might want to go to graduate school.
  • What tests to take now to prepare for applications.
  • When and where you should apply.
  • The timeline of a typical program.
  • The master degree option.
  • You get paid - up to $30,000 per year at some schools!

If you missed this talk and are interested in graduate school, please contact any of your professors for more information (we've all attended - and graduated!).

Friday, January 6, 2017

Muna to Research at Notre Dame

This semester Professor Grace Muna is taking a research sabbatical to work in Professor Lieberman's group at University of Notre Dame to develop electrochemical paper-based analytical devices that screen pharmaceutical drugs as contaminants in water samples. Muna has successfully recruited and trained IU South Bend students in her laboratory over the years, but now she lends her experience to another laboratory where she can learn a few new skills as well.
Electrochemical detection for paper analytical devices is attractive because it offers excellent attributes such as high sensitivity and selectivity while providing low detection limits of the target analyte compared to colorimetric detection. Paper-based electrochemical detection also requires inexpensive instrumentation and portable hand-held potentiostats are commercially available for on-site measurements.  Both latter two features make these devices especially attractive in developing countries. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Anderson To Develop Nanochemistry Course

If you are looking for a class with Professor Gretchen Anderson this semester, then you will have to wait.  Anderson is taking a break from teaching this semester to design a new freshman level course: N190 Introduction to Nanochemistry.  This survey course will have a laboratory component and will be based on a highly successful course developed by Professor George Lisensky at Beloit College. While surveying the remarkable applications of nanochemistry in industry and medical research, students will synthesize their own solar cells (partially from raspberry juice and titanium dioxide), conductive thin films, gold and silver nanoparticles, and a variety of semiconductors. This course will be one of a trio of courses to constitute a Nanoscience concentration as part of Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Biology BS degrees:

    Introduction to Nanochemistry (under development - an N190 course)
    Nanotechnology (offered Fall 2016 for the first time - an N390 course)
    Nanobiomedicine (under development by the Biological Sciences)
The nanoscience concentrations in various departments are expected to better serve the campus by introducing current students to this relatively new field - but are also expected to help grow the university by attracting students that otherwise might leave the local area in search of instruction in nanoscience and nanotechnology. Two of the three courses are designated "Natural World" courses to satisfy general education requirements.
Pictured at the top of this post is an artist's rendition of single-walled carbon nanotubes.  Each is essentially a sheet of graphene (one-atom thick version of graphite) rolled into a tube. The image is taken from the front page of the Journal Nanomaterial Chemistry and Technology. These nanotubes are remarkable in many ways: stronger than steel and excellent conductors of heat - some of them are even excellent electrical conductors. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

McMillen Promoted to Associate Vice Chancellor

Organic chemist Doug McMillen has been promoted to Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. He starts his new position this Spring semester, but will continue to lecture organic chemistry this semester only.  In the photograph he is receiving congratulations from Dean Dunn of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
McMillen has been a vital part of our department for two decades as our only organic chemist and has dominated the instruction of our sophomore chemistry students.  But during the last decade he has taken on part-time administrative duties and assumed temporary roles as dean when vacancies required someone to step up and take charge.  While we are sad to see McMillen leave teaching for administration, that is only because we will lose a dedicated and experienced teacher; we are very happy that he has this opportunity to grow professionally within the university and serve our students in a new manner.  Congratulations and Happy New Year!