What’s Happening in Chemistry Circles

Issue #106 November 4, 2003


[a publication of the Department of Chemistry at Texas A&M University]

written by Dr. John L. Hogg


             Dr. Arthur E. Martell, distinguished professor emeritus of chemistry, died Wednesday, October 15, just three days before his 87th birthday. Dr. Martell came to Texas A&M University in 1966 and was given a mandate to bring the chemistry department into national prominence. He certainly succeeded in doing that by luring many established and well known chemists to A&M and by hiring many young assistant professors in a relatively short period. He served as Department Head until 1980 when he stepped down to devote full time to his research program, which he had maintained at a high level of productivity even while focusing his efforts on building a first-rate chemistry department. His research in coordination chemistry was internationally recognized. Dr. Martell retired a couple of years ago but continued to be active in research when his failing health would allow it.

            Many chemistry majors have been honored over the years to receive IUCCP-A.E. Martell Undergraduate Chemistry Scholarships, named in his honor. Room 100 in the chemistry building was christened the A.E. Martell Lecture Hall a few years ago in his honor.

            Dr. Martell’s memory was honored with a memorial service on October 18 at the All Faith’s Chapel on campus. He is survived by his wife Mary, eight children and thirteen grandchildren.


            Several former students have volunteered their time to return to College Station recently to speak to the undergraduate chemistry majors in the Horizons in Chemistry (Chem 100) course. Stuart Gregory (B.S. 1994) gave a very interesting presentation on the pharmaceutical industry and drug synthesis from his perspective in Discovery Chemistry Research at Eli Lilly and Company on October 9. On October 23, Vanessa Walters (B.S. 2001), criminalist with Texas Department of Public Safety Laboratory in McAllen, and Melissa (Supak) Valadez (B.S. 2000), criminalist in the trace evidence section of the Texas Department of Public Safety Headquarters Lab in Austin, gave a fascinating, if occasionally gory, joint presentation of their adventures in combating crime. Both presentations drew additional undergraduate chemistry majors not enrolled in the class. Students who were unable to attend the presentations but would like to get in touch with any of these people should contact Dr. Hogg.

            Dr. Shelley Lenamond (B.S. 1998) will speak to the Chemistry 100 class about her adventures in becoming a doctor on Thursday, November 6. She may even show pictures of her baby. You may contact Shelley at: shellenamond@hotmail.com

            Marc Wilson (B.S. 2002) has sent a postcard from Stanford to say that things are going well. He is taking two courses and teaching an unknowns identification lab. Marc’s e-mail address is: skidmarc@stanford.edu.

            Dr. Niki Zacharias (B.S. 1997) sent the following e-mail recently to announce the receipt of her Ph.D. from Cal Tech. “I thought you would like to know that I finally defended my dissertation last Friday (Sept. 26th). Everything went fine. I have a little bit more paperwork to fill out and I still have to submit the final form of my dissertation, but everyone is now calling me doctor. So, I guess I have finally gotten my Ph.D. from Caltech. I will be starting work Monday at Neurion Pharmaceuticals here in Pasadena. That's all the news I have. I hope the new school year is progressing well.” Congratulations, Niki! Friends may e-mail Niki at: niki@its.caltech.edu

            Margaret Haring (B.S. 2002) and her husband, Tom Fackler, announced the birth of their son with the following e-mail. “Tom and I wanted to let you all know that our son, Ptolemy Anawin Fackler, was born last Saturday, September 27. He weighed 6 pounds and 3.5 ounces. We came home from the hospital last Monday (Elizah's birthday) and are all doing well. We have put together a photo album with pictures from Ptolemy's first couple of days and of Elizah's recent activities. Here is the web address: https://webspace.utexas.edu/mfackler/www/photoalbum“ You may e-mail your congratulations to Margaret and Tom at: margaret_haring@yahoo.com Congratulations, Margaret and Tom.

            Trevor Clayton (B.A. 2002) got hitched (Congratulations!) and sent the following e-mail to announce that and let us know that he is doing well in medical school. “I love getting the emails from you stating new Orbitals are ready to view. Sorry I haven't been in contact since graduating, but school is fast and challenging. Things are going good. I'm now deep into the second year of medical school here in San Antonio. It's very exciting as we are actually learning real medicine. :-) Right now we are studying everything that deals with the renal system. It's very exciting to actually use my chemistry knowledge as we discuss acid-base disorders. As I said earlier, school is flying and the next thing I know I will be into my third year where we learn to apply textbook medicine to real patients with real problems. This past December, I married my Aggie sweetheart, Michelle Courtney. We are both adjusting to San Antonio, marriage, and medical school. This past weekend, we came up to College Station to watch the Pitt vs. A&M game. It was neat getting to see campus and how much its changed in a year and a half. Made me realize how much I enjoyed my experiences and my desire to continue the activities of the Corps and Fightin Texas Aggie Band. Well, the medical school Gods are calling me back to the books, so I'll let you go.” Trevor may be contacted at: Trevor02@sbcglobal.net.

            Michael Irwin (B.A. 2002) sent the following, slightly edited, e-mail, to let us know of his exploits in Japan. “It feels good to be an alum, but I'm certainly ready to go back to school. I haven't decided where yet, but when I commit, I will let you know. What I have decided is I hate the private sector, and I never want a "real" job. Dojindo is great, the people are great and I like Japan, but working in industry is incredibly boring and unnecessarily ridged. Even though academia is more work and less money, the flexibility and the liberties one has much outweigh the cons. I've had lots of fun traveling and sight-seeing. I've learned the language (at least working on it) a bit, and I have adapted to the food and culture. Japan is really cramped, more than I thought, and the food is not good. It's too different from ours, but once you get used to it, I have found many things I really, really like (tempura, udon, sushi). Sushi in America is not sushi, it's a forgery. I hope this finds you well and your semester is going well. Oh, and the geishas say hi ;) Matane, Hogg-san!” You may contact Michael at: irwin@tamu.edu

            Dr. Theresa Harper (B.S. 1993), who I haven’t seen since an ACS trip to Anaheim several years ago, contacted me with the following e-mail recently. She is a Senior Staff Scientist at Quantum Dot Corporation. “It’s been a long time since I last saw you at an ACS meeting so I thought I should drop you a line. I'm still doing chemistry although it moves a little more to the biological side each year. I find that particularly humorous as I didn't even take biochemistry as an undergraduate. I'm working at my third biotech start-up here in the bay area. You can now find me at Quantum Dot Corporation (www.qdots.com) where I am part of the group that develops biological conjugates of quantum dots for assays. I am still married (Allan Farrow, '93) and have 3 Pharaoh Hounds (two from College Station). My work email is tharper@qdots.com and my non-changing email is theresafharper@yahoo.com. If you are ever in the area let me know and we'll go have dinner. Cheers.”

            Amelia Hessheimer (B.S. 2003) is loving medical school at Vanderbilt according to the following e-mail. “I think this is the first time I've actually had a few free minutes (where I don't feel guilty taking the time) to send an email in about three months. I'm in Nashville now, at Vanderbilt. San Francisco put me on the eternal waiting list, but I'm not bitter to be here at all. Med school is a lot of work, though. Everyone tells you how hard it's going to be, but you're so preoccupied with the getting in that you don't really think too much beforehand about what it's actually going to be like when you're in. I think Vanderbilt is pretty traditional compared to most other med schools these days - still have class from 8 to 5 (and only did away with Saturday classes a couple of years ago), whereas most other schools only have you in class a total of three or four hours a day (if that). The bulk of my time is spent studying gross anatomy - reading, dissecting, etc. To tell you the truth, I enjoy anatomy a lot more than I thought I would. It's not as "mentally stimulating" as, say, determining the flux through an ellipsoid. And maybe I'm a sick, sick individual, but opening up someone's intestines and cutting off her leg to look at vessels and nerves is actually pretty cool (for lack of a better word). I'm also trying to work it out so that I can go abroad this summer. One of my professors of anatomy is helping to establish a medical school in Nepal, and I approached him about the possibility of students getting the University to fund a trip for them to tag along. Apparently a couple kids almost went last year. But then there was this whole SARS debacle (I didn't know that directly affected Nepal...), and they didn't end up going. From they way my professor described it, the summer would involve teaching anatomy for a while in the morning and then actually going to the wards of a hospital to see patients. He said a lot of what you see in the hospital there you would never encounter in a lifetime working in the U.S. I don't know the likelihood that I'll get to go to Nepal, but the prospect is very exciting nonetheless. I'll keep you posted if anything pans out. Anyway, enough lazing around writing emails. The pelvis calls me.. Cheers, Amelia” Contact Amelia at: hessheimer@hotmail.com

            Tammi (Tuggle) Warren (B.S. 2000) wanted to share some good news about her husband and baby recently. “Here is last weeks picture of Luke, he was trying on his Halloween costume for his nana and poppa. He was 8 months old last week! My how time flies! He is pulling up and walking along the furniture, and speed crawling now. He is ready to start walking, and frequently lets go of the furniture to try to walk, I am sure it is only a matter of time now...We have finished our time in Mississippi, Mike was awarded the Distinguished Graduate award, and also, the Highest GPA award. He finished up on Friday, and made it back home to VA on Saturday. He is glad to be back, and we are excited to be going back to see our friends. Hope everyone is well, and we have enjoyed seeing everyone we have gotten to see, and hopefully we can see many more of you before we leave TX!” Contact Tammie at: fruittyfriends@yahoo.com

             I know he wasn’t a chemistry major but many of you took organic with Nathan Loo so here is his report from Korea. “Hi, Dr. Hogg! Anh nyung ha sum nee kka? aka. How are you doing? I am in Korea studying abroad for the Fall 2003 semester. Things here are great and I love it here. So far I've been here over two months and I couldn't be happier with myself for coming to Korea. I am taking some Korean reading, writing, and conversation classes, but those are going quite slow. The writing is really easy but getting the grammar and creating phrases is a bit more difficult. Korea is extremely pretty. My school is in the countryside, so in some places around it you can smell cow manure. You have to go out by bus or train to nearby big cities to see real Korean life. So far I've gotten to go to Bo Susng (south west part of Korea) to the nok cha (green tea) fields which were so beautiful. I've been to Seoul twice and went mountain climbing with a big group of Korean students. I'm so accustomed to Texas that I was surprised to see little five year old girls climb faster than me. Life here is relaxing, food here is very spicy as everything is bright red in color. I lost weight here just because everything is so spicy that I have to eat so slowly. Koreans also eat things that would be shocking in the United States. I ate pig lungs, soon dae (the Korean sausage), and liver. The pig lungs and liver didn’t suit me too well but I tried it. Also, I had cooked sea slugs and bundaegee (cooked butterfly cocoons). I didn't like those too much. I live with 7 other Korean roommates in a small room, but I'm having a great time getting to know at least 100 other Korean students and 46 other international students from all around the world, including Poland, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. I hope that everything is going well at A&M and that you are doing well in health and happiness! Best wishes, Nathan” Contact Nathan at: nhhl135@hotmail.com

            Thomas Pisklak (B.S. 2001) wrote to say that he received his Master's in August from UTD under the direction of Kenneth J. Balkus, Jr. The title of his thesis was "The Preparation of Zeolite Thin Films via Pulsed Laser Deposition." He will continue on in the same group for his Ph.D. Congratulations, Thomas. You may contact him at: tpisklak@lycos.com


            Clinton Leysath (B.S. 1998; B.S. in BICH 1999) sent the following update recently. “Hey, Dr. Hogg! Just an update that I promised to send you. I am currently in my second year of the Cellular and Molecular Biology PhD program at the University of Texas-Austin. I am working in the combined laboratory of Brent Iverson and George Georgiou, doing antibody engineering. Specifically, my project deals with making high affinity humanized antibodies to the toxin proteins of anthrax, where the end result will be a putative antidote to late stage anthrax infections.For this project, I received a graduate fellowship from the Department of Homeland Security. Three years of support isn't a bad thing at all (my PI's are happy because they don't have to pay me), especially when it is above what I would be making here. They awarded about 50 fellowships and 50 undergraduate scholarships, and there were about 2500 applications for the whole program. I'll be going to Washington D.C. during the middle of November for an orientation, where we will meet with DHS scientists and policy makers, as well as a congressional delegation. We will get to discuss science as it relates to Homeland Security, and we will be networking with DHS scientists to determine where we will do our mandatory 8-10 week internships this summer. All in all, it should be fun. Well, that is what is going on here... I'll talk to you later! Clint.” Congratulations on the fellowship. Contact Clint at: cleysath@mail.utexas.edu


              The 16th Annual award-winning Chemistry Open House will be Saturday (Nov. 8) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the main Chemistry Building. The whole family can enjoy Chemistry Road Shows at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in Room 100. The shows will be done by Mary Ellen Passarelli (M.S. 2001) and Abbey Wooddell, a senior chemistry major. The shows feature fires, explosions, weird polymers and super cold materials among other things. Everyone who attends gets a "goodie" bag and there will be lots of door prizes. There will be a mini-Science Exploratorium with many different sciences, including chemistry, physics, meteorology and engineering, participating. More than 30 different science activities and lab tours are planned for kids of all ages. A poster contest for students K-12 with a deadline of Dec. 15 is also being held. The event has been organized by Dr. Wendy Keeney-Kennicutt, associate director of the first-year chemistry program. For more information, check out the following web site: http://www.chem.tamu.edu/class/fyp and go to National Chemistry Week.



            Carrie (LaRue) Willis (B.S. 1997) sent the following appeal for a chemistry teacher in Willis on November 4. “ Howdy! How are things in Aggieland? I hope things are going well. Stephen and I are doing really well; our son turns a year old tomorrow (!) so we've been running around trying to put together a birthday party for a child who has absolutely no idea what a birthday is. I have now officially joined the ranks of parents who lose grip with reality occasionally. But I love it! I'm well into my fifth year teaching now, and I still think it's the best thing I've ever done. I had three of my five kids who took the AP Chem test pass last year (that was a record for our school), including one who made a five, so I'm pretty proud of how our program here is developing.

               I'm writing because our school is in rather dire straits; our other chemistry teacher walked off the job on Friday and kind of left us in the lurch. We've got about 120 kids who need a chemistry teacher! I was hoping that if you had any students who were graduating in December and were at loose ends, they might be interested in teaching high school chemistry. We could fill the position with either a long-term sub or with an emergency-certified teacher -- a chemistry degree would qualify for emergency cert, so no education courses/experience would be necessary. I know it's a long shot, but I thought I'd let you know we were looking in case you knew any of your students might be interested. The school is Willis HS; it's about 50 miles north of Houston (about an hour or hour and fifteen minutes from College Station), and the position is teaching six chemistry classes in a seven-period day. If you happen to have anyone interested, then have them send me an email at this address (cwillis@willis.k12.tx.us) and I will put them in contact with the proper person. If not, then at least I tried! Thanks; have a great day!”


            Preregistration for the spring 2004 term is set to begin November 13. Each student is now given a registration start time and has 48 hours from that start time to complete registration. The start times are totally random within a certain classification. Classifications are based on the current semester and not on what your classification will be at the end of the semester. Students should have received a Neo e-mail notifying them of their start date and time by November 7. Check the following web site for additional information: http://register.tamu.edu/

            Here are some specific instructions for chemistry majors.

            Chemistry majors who plan to take Chem 234 and who do not automatically qualify for honors registration must see Dr. Hogg for registration in this course. He will compile a list of these students and the section in which they wish to be registered and enter them into the computer at the end of registration. Please see him or e-mail him on the day of your official registration.

            All B.S. and B.A. chemistry majors must take Chemistry 234 (offered in both the fall and spring semesters now) after taking Chemistry 231 (or Chemistry 237 in some cases) but only B.S. students are required to take Chemistry 334 after taking Chemistry 325. B.A. majors take the sequence Chemistry 325/326 instead. Chemistry majors must take the special section of Chemistry 228 taught by Dr. Hogg or the honor’s section taught by Dr. Bergbreiter unless they have permission from Dr. Tiner or Dr. Hogg to do otherwise.

            Carefully check the degree plan requirements and core curriculum requirements in your particular catalog when planning your schedule. One of the things I’ve noticed recently is that many of you have not made sure that your high school foreign language credit and/or computer science credit has been noted at A&M. This means when you get ready to graduate you may be in for a real surprise and find out that you must take a year of a foreign language before you can graduate. This can easily be checked by us if you ask us to do it. As always, continue to call Ms. Warren at 845-0520 to schedule an advising appointment with Dr. Tiner or Dr. Hogg. Please do not send e-mails to schedule advising appointments.



            Students who plan to graduate in the spring 2004 semester enter the diploma fee when they register and then check the main A&M web site at the beginning of the spring semester to file their degree application online. 


            I was somewhat surprised during the past couple of weeks when some undergraduate chemistry majors indicated they did not know if they would be able to afford to go to graduate school to obtain their Ph.D. in chemistry. I had assumed that, by the time students became juniors or seniors in our program, they were aware that chemistry graduate students get paid to obtain their degrees. However, that must not be the case so here is an synopsis of the situation.

            Almost all graduate students in a major chemistry program will enter the program as half-time teaching assistants. This means they will typically teach some sections of an undergraduate laboratory or recitation section at the same time they are working on their degree in chemistry. For this, most programs will provide the student with a stipend, pay their tuition and fees and provide health insurance. For instance, at Texas A&M an entering graduate student in the chemistry program would receive a stipend of $1550 per month, have all of his/her tuition and fees paid and be provided health insurance. While some outstanding students are offered more lucrative deals or fellowships which might provide more money or a reduced teaching requirement, this is typical of what you could expect. Most graduate chemistry programs do their best to remain competitive in terms of the package offered to prospective graduate students.

If you’d like to discuss your future in graduate school at A&M or some other school, either I or Dr. Tiner or Ms. Julie Wilson in the graduate chemistry advising office would be glad to help you out. One thing you should understand is that not all disciplines provide stipends or other benefits for entering their graduate program. Some provide nothing at all but that is certainly not the case in a chemistry program.


            The ACS student affiliate chapter held their annual Halloween party at the Hogg home on October 30. About 30 students and their dates enjoyed hamburgers burned to a crisp by Dr. Hogg until others with more culinary talents took over the grill. Pumpkins were carved and apples were dunked before the costumes were judged and prizes awarded. As they say, a good time was had by all. 


            Advisors in the College of Science recently met with representatives from the Office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Programs and Academic Service to discuss the Public Policy Internship Program at A&M. I came away very impressed with the opportunities available for A&M science majors to spend a fall, spring or summer term in Washington or in Austin as a paid intern with agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the Office of Science and Technology, the CIA, FBI, DEA, EPA, the Homeland Security Office, Treasury Department, etc. There are ~100 or more paid internships available. Housing is provided and credit is awarded for the internships. In Washington, students stay in four three-bedroom apartments. Students must have more than 60 hours with a 3.0 or greater GPR to participate in the program but they may apply with only 45 hours completed. You should start applying now for internships in summer 2004. I encourage you to look into these opportunities. More information may be obtained at: http://www.tamu.edu/ppip 

            Information about internships in the Elanco Animal Health Summer Internship Program for students entering the junior or senior years or post-graduate study is available in Room 104 Chemistry. This is a division of Eli Lilly and Company. The deadline for application is March 1, 2004. You may also call Ms. Sonja Grinstead at 317-277-8337 for additional information or applications.


            College of Science students will graduate on Saturday morning, December 20 at 9 a.m. in Reed Arena.