What’s Happening in Chemistry Circles

Issue #114 January 24, 2005

         web address: http://www.chem.tamu.edu/ugrad/

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

written by Dr. John L. Hogg


            Ten undergraduate chemistry majors received degrees at the December 17, 2004 commencement ceremony.

            B.A. degrees were awarded to: Quinn S. Lung, Roxanna M. Schaffino, and Kim M. Tran.

            B.S. degree recipients were: Timothy I. Allen, Natalie J. Bell, Christoper E. Dilley, Adam B. King, Nicholas P. Levitt, Brent C. Norris, and Eleanor L. Pate.

            Brent Norris graduated cum laude and Eleanor Pate graduated magna cum laude.




            May 2005 degree candidates must apply for graduation online by January 28, 2005. The web site is: http://degreeapp.tamu.edu


            Six additional chemistry majors were recognized with $500 IUCCP-A.E. Martell Undergraduate Chemistry Scholarships for the spring 2005 semester based on a combination of their fall grades and advanced classification in the program. The students and the sponsoring IUCCP company are: Kelly Glass (E.I. DuPont de Nemours), Amanda Higginbotham (E.I. DuPont de Nemours), Stephen Kerlegon (Dow Chemical U.S.A.), Michael Sarahan (Gradipore, Ltd), James Tyler (E.I. DuPont de Nemours), and John Zablocki (Sasol North America).



            Alan Maschek (B.S. 1999) has entered the graduate chemistry program at the University of South Florida. You may contact Alan at:a_maschek@yahoo.com


            Thai Ho (B.A. 1998) sent the following e-mail back in November with details of his exploits in the MD/PhD program at Baylor College of Medicine. “Dear Dr. Hogg, I hope things are going well for you. Chris Loo mentioned to me that he recently went back to Texas A&M to visit you. I recently received permission to write my thesis so that I can return to medical school and graduate in 2006. I think I will be first to graduate from my MD/PhD class so my total time spent for both degrees will be 8 years. I am happily married for the past year to a psychiatrist (who ironically was my MD/PhD classmate) and I have two cats (even though I am allergic to cats). Larry Medina (B.S. 1998) returned to school to get a MBA from UT in Austin. Roberto Rodriguez (B.A. 1998) is still teaching in El Paso (and is also getting a masters) and he visits me in Houston at least once a year. I am still tracked for an academic career (even after 8 years in school); I will probably apply for internal medicine residencies that combine clinical training with post-doc training. My wife and I are excitedly watching the election results (we voted for different! candidates so essentially our votes cancelled each other, but at least we voted). Based on Orbitals, it looks like the Chemistry program has become stronger since I went through it. MD/PhD programs seem to really love Chemistry majors. I think the new trend in biological research is to work hand in hand with chemists (look at UCSD and Scripps). Unfortunately at Baylor, we don't have many chemists around so we have to go to Rice for organic chemists. Wherever I train next I think I will really look hard for a strong Chemistry department. Keep up the good work.” You may contact Thai at: th692353@bcm.tmc.edu


            Valerie Meyers (B.A. 2000) became Dr. Valerie Meyers on Wednesday, November 3, 2004 after completing her thesis defense. Her Ph.D. in pathology was completed at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Congratulations Valerie! Friends may contact Valerie at: agbonfire00@yahoo.com

            Matt Rowan (B.S. 2004) has updated me in November on his travails Washington where he is pursuing a graduate degree in forensic science at George Washington University. I hope he won’t mind me sharing this with you. “Dr. Hogg- Thought I would send you a quick note and give you an update on how things are going up here in Washington, D.C. My wife Cynthia (BS ECON '04) and I went through an Aggie realtor and are renting a place in Falls Church, VA (no doubt paying three times as much as we would in College Station) . We are only about two miles from the subway system into downtown D.C. Cynthia got a job with Booz Allen Hamilton, a financial consulting company, and works in McLean, VA, which is about a 20 minute drive. School is going well for me, we finished up our midterms and are nearing the end of the first semester already. I managed to get a GTA position teaching freshman chemistry labs at The Catholic University of America in NE D.C. (they have an agreement to borrow MFS students from GWU because they no longer have a graduate chemistry program). The pay and the tuition credits are great, especially when tuition here is ~$1000/credit hour. I have decided to switch from Forensic Chemist ry to Forensic Toxicology, but am still leaving drug chemistry open as a contingency plan. Toxicology is an extremely small field, and the job openings are spread all over the country, so who knows where we'll be in another two years. Hope all is still well in College Station; we will be coming back to west TX for Thanksgiving and College Station for Christmas. Thanks again for all you've done for me, and please let me know if anyone wants some advice on the application process for forensics.” Matt may be contacted at: mattrow@gwu.edu

            Shona (Burkes) Brisco (B.S. 2003) is still working with URS Corporation in Austin, analyzing and monitoring volatile organic carbons. Shona was married on September 4. She and her husband, Charles, have purchased a home in Austin. Belated congratulations, Shona and Charles. Friends may e-mail congratulations to: Shona_Briscoe@urscorp.com


            Nicholas Levitt (B.S. 2004) started graduate school this spring at A&M in the Atmospheric Sciences Department. He is working in in Dr. Renyi Zhang's research group studying chemical and physical properties of aerosols as well as kinetics and mechanism of gas-phase and heterogeneous reactions. His e-mail address is: nlevitt45@yahoo.com


            Tanya (Tryon) Jensen (B.S. ) has accepted a postion teaching IPC and chemistry at Pearland High School. Her e-mail is: tanyajensen@earthlink.net

              Roxanna Schaffino (B.A. 2004) has begun teaching high school chemistry at Harlingen High School South in Harlingen, TX and reports that she loves it. You may e-mail her at: schaffino@neo.tamu.edu

            Aurelie Buckelew (B.S. 2001) has recently completed her M.S. degree in chemistry at Texas A&M University under the direction of Dr. Victoria DeRose.

            Gottfried Schroeder (B.S. 2002) and his wife, Sara, stopped by for a visit on November 24. Gottfried is currently in his third year of graduate school at the University of North Carolina where he works with Dr. Richard Wolfenden. 

            Dr. Kim Defriend (B.S. 1998) was prominently featured in a September 6, 2004 story in the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper regarding her work with aerogels at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She is reported to be one of the “rising young stars” in this area. A copy of the article is on display outside Room 104 Chemistry. Congratulations Kim. You may inquire about the chemistry of aerogels at: kimberlydefriend@yahoo.com

            The Christmas card received from Lindy (Sparks) Stoll (B.S. 1994) and her family prominently featured her three sons, Joe, Tyler and Michel. Lindy and Ben still live in Louisville, KY and may be contacted at: bdstoll@bellsouth.net 

            Dr. Eddie Moler (B.S. 1994) sent a Christmas card with a great photo of his wife (Jane), 3-year old daughter (Elizabeth) and 2-year old son (Joey). Eddie seems to have either shaved his head or lost all of his hair but his wife and kids look great. Sorry for the shot, Eddie. Eddie wished me luck on my retirement. Maybe he knows something I don’t since I’m still coming to work every day. If they’ve retired me, I wish someone would let me know. Eddie and his family still live in the San Francisco Bay area and may be contacted at: Eddie_Moler@cc.chiron.com

            Dr. Phil Huskey (B.S. and family visited in the Hogg home over the Christmas holidays. Phil and Sue have two wonderful children, a 14-year old and a junior in college. I’m sorry to say that I forgot their names, but remember that I’m getting old. Phil is chair of the chemistry department at Rutgers University at Newark. You may contact him at: huskey@newark.rutgers.edu


            Michael Sarahan, senior chemistry major, recently attended the Sigma Xi Student Research Conference in Montreal, Canada in the fall 2004 semester Six Aggies presented posters and three of the six received awards. Michael claimed the top prize (a certificate and cash award) in his category, physics and astronomy-centered interdisciplinary research. He presented his research on pulse shape discrimination that he has done at the Cyclotron with Dr. Sherry Yennello.


Career Fair

            Alisha Roach (B.S. 2004) will be at the Engineering & Science Career Fair at Reed Arena on Tues., Jan. 25 with the PPG Recruiter, Mr. Howard Duhon. If you have any B.S. students that may be interested in a career in industry, please tell them to drop by the Career Fair and we will be more than happy to talk with them. Also, Mr. Duhon will be interviewing on March 2 & 3 at Texas A&M, so if you have students that can not make it to the Career Fair, you can have them send their resume to me or to Mr. Duhon at hduhon@ppg.com. Alisha is a chemist with PPG Industries and may be contacted at: aroach@ppg.com



            Pfizer, Inc. has issued an invitation for us to participate in the Pfizer Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship Program in Synthetic Organic Chemistry. Students who propose to engage in synthetic organic chemistry research project during the summer between their junior and senior years are eligible for consideration. We may nominate up to two students for fellowships for the summer of 2005. Each award will total $5000 ($4000 as a direct stipend to the student and $1000 to the department or mentor for expenses in support of the research.

            If you are such a student, please obtain the application form from Dr. Hogg in Room 104 as soon as possible. Both the student and faculty mentor must contribute to the application. If more than two students apply, the organic faculty will decide which two nominees to send forward. The deadline for receipt of the applications at Pfizer is February 18, 2005 so all completed applications must be returned to Dr. Hogg by February 14.



            The First-Year Grade Exclusion Rule described below was put into place at Texas A&M University on December 1, 2004.

1. A fully admitted, currently enrolled Texas A&M undergraduate student, who entered Texas A&M as “first time in college*” as defined by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board may elect to exclude from his/her undergraduate degree and cumulative GPR calculation grades of D, F, or U.

2. This exclusion shall be permitted for up to a maximum of three courses taken for credit at Texas A&M University.

3. This option may be exercised only for those courses taken at Texas A&M during the twelve month period beginning with the student’s initial enrollment at Texas A&M.

4. All courses chosen for first year grade exclusion shall remain on the official transcript and be designated on the transcript as excluded.

5. While the exclusion option may only be exercised for courses taken during the initial twelve month period, the decision to exclude a course grade from that period may be exercised at any time prior to applying for the baccalaureate degree.

6. Grades for courses in which the student was found to have committed academic dishonesty will not be excluded from the GPR calculation, regardless whether or not the student completed remediation.

7. A course for which the grade has been excluded will not be used to satisfy degree requirements unless it is repeated by the student for an acceptable grade.

8. Once a grade in a course has been excluded from the GPR calculation, a student will not later be permitted to have the exclusion removed or otherwise changed.

9. If a student chooses to exercise the first year grade exclusion, that option must be exercised before the official deadline, as indicated in the university calendar, for application for the baccalaureate degree in the student’s final semester.

10. First year grade exclusion cannot be invoked after a baccalaureate degree has been conferred upon the student.

11. A student choosing to exercise the first year grade exclusion option may only do so after conferring with the undergraduate dean (or designee) of his/her college.

12. Courses for which grades have been excluded will be counted as attempted hours when determining eligibility for tuition rebates, calculating excess credit hours, and determining third-time repeats.

13. First year grade exclusion will affect student classification if excluding a course lowers total completed hours below 95, 60, or 30 hours.

14. Courses for which grades have been excluded will not be taken into account when determining eligibility for a change of major, scholarships, or other achievement based awards.

15. Courses excluded under this policy are not excluded when determining whether a student is meeting satisfactory academic progress requirements (hours completed) for federal and state financial aid programs.

16. Students should be made aware that while excluded courses will not be factored into Texas A&M University GPR, employers, professional schools, and graduate schools may recalculate the GPR to include such grades.

17. University rules regarding Q-drops remain unaffected, but students should consult with their college’s undergraduate dean or his/her designee.


* First Time in College: An undergraduate, degree seeking, student who applied and enrolled in college for the first time regardless of whether the student has acquired college level credit through testing, advanced placement or summer enrollment. This field is used only the first semester of a student's enrollment at TAMU. From: Texas A&M University Office of Institutional Studies and Planning, Statistical Factbook (http://www.tamu.edu/opir)             


Note added by Dr. Hogg: This means you may choose to exclude up to three courses in which you made D’s or F’s if these courses were taken at A&M within the first 12 months after you enrolled in college, anywhere, for the first time. If an excluded course if required for your degree plan, you must repeat the course to receive credit for it


· First year grade exclusion will become available as an option for undergraduate students who meet the criteria and who are enrolled in the Spring 2005 semester and thereafter.

· No undergraduate student will be able to exercise the option prior to February 14, 2005.

· Beginning February 14 and continuing through February 28, 2005, only those seniors who meet the criteria and who have applied for May 2005 graduation will be permitted to exercise the first year grade exclusion option after conferring with their college’s undergraduate dean or his/her designee. (Seniors graduating in December 2004 will not be permitted to exercise first year grade exclusion.)

· After February 28, 2005, these seniors who have applied for a May 2005 graduation will no longer be permitted to exercise this option.

· In the semesters following Spring 2005, all graduating seniors who meet the criteria and who wish to exercise this option must do so prior to the deadline for applying for their degree.

· Beginning March 1, 2005 and continuing in subsequent semesters, all remaining undergraduate students who meet the criteria will be permitted to exercise the first year grade exclusion option after conferring with their college’s undergraduate dean or his/her designee.

· Students are directed to contact their academic advisor or the office of the undergraduate dean of his/her college to obtain the necessary form (available beginning February 1, 2005).


              The Teaching, Learning, and Culture Department will, starting spring semester 2005, require a 2.75 GPR for students changing their major into Interdisciplinary Studies - (EC-4; Middle School Math/Science; Middle School Language Arts/Social Studies)