What’s Happening in Chemistry Circles

Issue #107

January 26, 2004


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

written by Dr. John L. Hogg


            Sixteen undergraduate chemistry majors received degrees at the December 20, 2003 commencement ceremony.

            B.A. degrees were awarded to: Nnenna Agba, Ronaldo Cavazos, Gina Cortez, Lindsey Fuller, Patrick Kennedy, Matthew Marstaller, Bryan Osborne, Richard Rodriguez and Lauren Six.

            B.S. degree recipients were: Charles Branham, Shona Burkes, Nathan Gaubert, Kasey Johnston, Scott Pickens and Jennifer Putsche.



            Seven additional chemistry majors were recognized with $500 IUCCP-A.E. Martell Undergraduate Chemistry Scholarships for the spring 2004 semester based on their fall grades. The students and the sponsoring IUCCP company are: Trevor Ewers (BASF Corporation), Lauren Sprouse (BASF Corporation), Kirti Gandhi (Celanese, Ltd.), Eric Hendrickson (Sasol North America), James Adams (The Procter and Gamble Company), Bryan Cole (Abbott Laboratories), and Nicholas Grizzle (Abbott Laboratories). Ewers, Sprouse, Gandhi, and Adams are first-year students, Grizzle and Cole are second-year students. Hendrickson is a third-year student.


            Dan Marek (B.S. 2003) has accepted a position teaching physics in Corsicana.

            Lindy (Sparks) Stoll (B.S. 1994) and her husband, Ben, sent a cute Christmas card with pictures of their 14-month old twin boys (Joseph and Tyler) wearing Santa hats and playing in the snow. She reports that she is still staying home and enjoying her boys.

            Eddie Moler (B.S. 1989) and his wife Jane sent a card with a picture of children Elizabeth (2.5 years) and Joey (11 months) in front of the Christmas tree.

            Ben Cieslinski (B.S. 1998) sent an e-mail back in November after failing to make touch with me when he visited the campus as part of the National Chemistry Week activities. This was the first time in about 15 years that I’ve not participated as I was out of town for a wedding. Here is the gist of that letter. Howdy Dr. Hogg. I drove down to the Chemistry Open House this past weekend. I volunteered for a few "Career Days" around town, and I needed to steal some ideas. I was a bit shocked that you weren't performing the road show. Who else but you could set off the fire alarms so eloquently?! Even without you, the presentation went really well, and to a packed house!! I couldn't believe the number of people that showed up; standing room only!

            Tell your students that I was very impressed with their demonstrations in the classrooms. They handled those kids really well and should be very proud. It was also a great idea to include the physics department. They put on some great experiments (kudos to whoever built the rail gun). And a big thanks to Dr. Keeney-Kennicutt for putting on a superb program (although I was a little disappointed I didn't get a door prize).Hey, next time the chemistry club sells T-shirts, tell them to make a few 3XLS so I can replace mine. It's gotten smaller, a LOT smaller.

              Everything is going fine over here in Austin. I've been promoted to VOC Analytical Supervisor at STL Austin. Me, in management... scary. I still analyze ambient air samples using GC/MS, and am currently developing an automated GC/MS system for analyzing source level samples. 

            Hope you and the wife are doing well... and say hi to Marilyn for me. Sincerely, Ben Cieslinski”

            Friends may contact Ben at: bcieslinski@stl-inc.com

            Erin Witt (B.S. 2000) sent an e-mail with quite a bit of news about former students back in November. Here is the part I can print. “Dr. Hogg,

so much has NOT happened since I e-mailed you last. Not much going on here in NY, except that it's

freakishly cold already. I am now officially a Northerner... I bought a pair of ice skates today. I now have a second job at a resort called Mohonk Mountain House. I am currently leading trail rides on horseback, but that will be over with next weekend and I'll start working at the ice skating rink. I will get to see my family for Thanksgiving and most of my friends. Here's a scary thought... Julie, Valerie, Melissa and I will be traveling to Las Vegas in Jan and spending a long weekend together. All of us in Vegas!! Hope all is well with your family. Miss you, Erin.

            Nolan Griggs (B.A.2003) wrote of his adventures in graduate school in late November. “Dr. Hogg, I just thought I’d e-mail you to see how things were going and to tell you how things are going up here in Boulder, Colorado. My classes are going great up here. This semester I took the first semester of Organic Synthesis, which is pretty rigorous, but I am finding a way to stay at around the top two or so in the class. I am also taking Phys-org, as well as a class on NMR, which is VERY in-depth. I have also passed all (4) of my cumes so far, so I have only 2 to go for that requirement. The incoming organic class up here is very competitive with about 15-20 of us competing for around 3 different professor's labs, each of which are only accepting two or three students. The way they do it up here is they leave it up to us the first semester to go and talk to ~4 or so profs, rank them on preference, and then they choose based on class performance, interest, etc. I have recently been accepted to Andrew Phillips's lab, which is a synthetic methods/ total synthesis group. Andy is a very motivated, hard working researcher, and demands the same from us, which is a plus, because I will probably leave here knowing a great deal more than some of the more "relaxed" groups. He is not tenured, but has just received quite a few grants, and should be tenured within the next few years, hopefully (for security reasons). I strongly believe that in the next five years his group will be one of the best groups to be in at CU. I also wanted to let you know how spoiled I was at A&M. Here, I share a fume hood with two other people, and I do not have a desk due to space issues. I have been told this is around the norm nation wide, and I just find that funny. It seems like A&M is in so much better shape than this place whether it’s a money issue or just the way they like it. I hope things are going good for you. I read the last issue of orbitals, and got Marc Wilson's e-mail. It sounds like he is doing very well up in Stanford. I would love to hear back from you and see how things are going in Aggieland. Best wishes from up here in the snowy Rockies. Sincerely, Nolan” You may contact Nolan at: Griggsn@colorado.edu.

              Lorraine Lyman (B.A. 1997) wrote of her adventures recently. I hope she’ll forgive me for printing this. I hope that all is well in College Station. I am doing fine in Pittsburgh just hanging out writing a research proposal for a bio-organic project that I will probably work on in the near future. I would like for you to pass along some info to TAMU students and anyone else you know especially if they will be at the ACS Spring National Meeting. I have organized a symposium sponsored by the Younger Chemists Committee (YCC), which I am a member of, and the Committee on Undergraduate Research (CUR) along with other divisions. The symposium is entitled Career Development for Chemists: Opportunities, Challenges, and Options. It will be on Monday morning, March 29, at 8:30 AM. I will e-mail you about the exact place when I get that info. It should be listed in the preliminary program in C&E News. This is the second program that I have helped to organize. The first one was Chemical Ethics in Today's Society at the Fall National Meeting earlier this year in New York. I had more help with the first one so this one is really my "baby". Everything is going well even though I was in a car wreck this morning. But hey, I have a hot date this evening (Who knows maybe we'll get into a little Nature and Science?!?!) The guys that I will be kickin it with are really hot. You might know them...JAC(S), P.NAS, and C.C. (AKA Journal of the American Chemical Society, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Chemical Communications)!! Please tell everyone that I said Happy Holidays.” Contact Lorraine at Carnegie Mellon via: lsl@andrew.cmu.edu

            Vanessa Walters (B.A. 2001) sent a long Christmas note before the holidays. She and Melissa (Supak ) Valadez (B.S. 2000) both visited the chemistry department in the fall term to make an incredibly interesting presentation about their jobs as forensic chemists to the Chemistry 100 (Horizons in Chemistry) class. Vanessa is a criminalist with the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab in McAllen and Melissa is a criminalist in the trace evidence section of the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab in Austin. You may reach them, if they don’t come to see you first, at vanessa.walters@txdps.state.tx.us and melissa.valadez@txdps.state.tx.us. Also visiting the Chemistry 100 class in the fall to make an excellent presentation about life in medical school and now as a physician was Dr. Shelley Lenamond (B.A. 1998) [e-mail: shellenamond@hotmail.com]. All three young women told some very interesting stories, most of which can’t be repeated here, and the class really benefitted from their personal revelations. Thanks to all of these former students for taking time from their busy lives to help us out with this class.

            Julie Orf (B.S. 2002) wrote just before the holidays. “Hi Dr. Hogg, Happy holidays! I hope everything is well for you and your family this Christmas. Everything is going well here, too. Final exams are over and the grading is all done, research is slow, but going (as expected I guess when you have to TA every quarter, unfortunately). I'm getting ready to go home to visit my family in Dallas, and then off to Jordan to visit Naser for two weeks.” You may e-mail Julie at: jorf@chem.ucla.edu

            T.A Hennard (B.A. 1991) sent the following web site for people interested in his exploits to check out. It looks as if T.A. and family are headed back to Norway. http://www.thehennards.com

            Tommy Miller (B.S. in chemistry and math, 2000) was in College Station shortly before Christmas and stopped by to visit. Tommy is still studying at Oxford University in England.

            Dr. Carol (Cross) Wise (B.S. 1985) sent a Christmas photo of her husband John and two kids, Ben and Madeline. When Carol was an undergraduate she and several other undergraduate chemistry majors used to come to my house to play basketball. That was a day or two ago. Carol still looks like she could play a mean game but I’m well beyond my basketball-playing days. Contact Carol at: cwise@mednet.swmed.edu

            Dr. Lynda Yang (B.S. sent the following e-mail recently. Makes you want to be a neurosurgeon, doesn’t it? “Dr. Hogg, With chief year meaning 110 hrs per week, I've been totally defunct with the holiday greetings, but I just wanted to drop a quick note to let you know that I hope you and Janet had a relaxing holiday and a

happy new year. As for me, things are pretty much as I told you last year. I've been hired as faculty, initially as "Lecturer" because I'm spending next year back in my old lab at Hopkins to get research data so that I can apply for grants, and I don't want the tenure "time clock" to start ticking until I am physically working at UMichigan. Then there is a clause for automatic "promotion" to Assistant Prof when I return. I will be doing general Neurosurgery with a focus on peripheral nerve surgery, with 50% research time and 50% clinical time. I'm so lucky things are working out so well, and so excited, but I've got to get through the rest of chief year first! Best wishes, Lynda “ You may contact Lynda at: ljsyang@med.umich.edu


            The Chemistry Department at Texas A&M University has received an invitation to participate in the Pfizer Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowships Program in Synthetic Organic Chemistry. We have been asked to nominate two students for fellowships for the summer of 2004. Participants will be selected by Pfizer based on the following criteria: demonstrated interest and talent in synthetic organic chemistry, merit and feasibility of the research project, commitment of the faculty mentor to support the student in the work, academic record of the student (particularly in organic chemistry and related sciences) and demonstrated importance of the award in facilitating the personal and career plans of the nominee.

            Additional information about the award ($4000 to the student and $100 to the mentor for supplies/expenses) may be obtained in Dr. Hogg’s office. The deadline for application is February 20, 2004. Please contact your research advisor if you are interested in applying for this program since he/she will be involved in preparing the application with you. 


            The undergraduate advising office has received quite a collection of announcements about summer research programs for undergraduates. Please stop Room 104 to check out the folder. Many of these programs have February 15 or earlier deadlines so don’t delay.