What’s Happening in Chemistry Circles

Issue #115 March 1, 2005


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

written by Dr. John L. Hogg


            Chemistry 362 (Descriptive Inorganic Chemistry) will be taught for the first time in the fall of 2005. This new inorganic course, which will be the required inorganic course for the B.S. degree, is being placed in the B.S. curriculum in the first semester of the junior year. It could, in principle, be taken earlier since the only prerequisites for the course are Chemistry 102 or 104. Chemistry 462 (Inorganic Chemistry) will remain on the books as an advanced chemistry elective to be taught on a to-be-decided basis. Thus, students who have not already taken Chemistry 462 and the laboratory (Chemistry 433) and are planning to graduate in the 2005-2006 academic year should register for Chemistry 362 this fall and take Chemistry 433 lab in the spring of 2006. You may see the details of the changes in the B.S. degree plan when the 2005-2006 undergraduate catalog comes out this summer. However, the most significant changes involve moving Chemistry 315 (Quantitative Analysis) to the second semester of the sophomore year and moving Chemistry 323 (Physical Chemistry I) and 324 (Physical Chemistry II) to the first and second semesters of the junior year, respectively. This allows the placement of Chemistry 362 int the first semester of the junior year. Chemistry 433 (Adv. Inorganic Lab) has now been moved to the second semester of the junior year. A copy of the new degree plan will be provided to anyone who stops by Room 104 and requests it.

                     The course description for Chemistry 362 is as follows: Introduction to inorganic chemistry with a focus on descriptive inorganic chemistry, bonding theories both in inorganic molecules and in the solid state, redox chemistry, descriptive main group and transition metal chemistry, ligand field theory, molecular magnetism and electronic spectra in transition metal complexes.


            Chemistry 481 (Seminar) has received approval to be taught as a W-course beginning with the fall 2005 semester. Since all chemistry majors (BS and BA) are required to take this course, it was felt that this was the most appropriate course for W-designation. Students entering A&M in the fall 2004 semester and later will be required to take at least one writing-intensive course (W-course) in their major in order to satisfy graduation requirements.

            Dr. Francois Gabbai and the rest of the chemistry undergraduate curriculum committee have been working on this for quite a while. The tentative syllabus and course objectives as put forth in the proposal for the course follow here:

Course objectives:

            This writing intensive seminar course is designed to complement standard course work in chemistry and will provide instruction in (1) chemical literature and information retrieval, (2) developing effective written and oral communications. Students enrolled in this course will learn how to:

(1)       search the primary scientific literature using a variety of tools

(2)       carefully read, analyze and critique scientific research papers

(3)       integrate information from the primary scientific literature into papers and presentations

(4)       prepare presentation materials with an emphasis on content and visual aid quality

(5)       deliver accurate, concise, and clear oral presentations

(6)       write essay and literature reports

            This course is a writing-intensive ("W") course and is dedicated to improving the students’ writing skills as well as to providing an opportunity for chemistry majors to master the writing most commonly associated with chemistry. In order to achieve these goals, writing instruction will be provided for essay and paper writing as well as for the preparation of a Power Point presentation. In turn, the students’ writing abilities will be evaluated on the basis of the Power Point presentation (written content, organization, logic, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of scientific literature) as well as on the basis of their essays and papers.

Assignments will consist of the following:

Essay: In the essay (500 words), the students should identify a potential presentation topic and rationalize or justify the basis of their selection by explaining:

·   Why the topic is interesting?

·   What chemical knowledge is being developed?

·   What chemical problems are being challenged?

·   What positions have been adopted by the community regarding the topic?

·   What questions have been answered or what discoveries have been made?


A first draft of the paper will be due on a date to be decided.

Presentation: Once a topic has been selected, the student will be asked to prepare a 20-minute oral presentation. While alternative programs exist, the use of Power Point is encouraged. The presentation grade will be established according to the following criteria:

·   Scientific content: level, depth and scope

·   Written content: organization, language, logic

·   Organization and clarity of the presentation

·   Quality of the visual aids

·   Knowledge of the subject and integration of the chemical principals

·   Ability to handle questions


      Papers: This paper (1500 words) should seek to expand on the topic selected for the oral presentation. It should emphasize the scientific aspects of the topic as well as the logic associated with the research developments. A first draft of the paper will be due in the middle of the semester on due date. The final version will be due toward the end of the semester on due date.


Peer Review: The students will write two short reports (200 words) in which they will be asked to evaluate the quality of two presentations given by their peers. In particular, the students will be asked to comment on the strength and weaknesses of the presentations. Clarity, content, depth, and organization are some of the key criteria.


      Four full class periods will be devoted exclusively to writing instruction as described below:


      W-instruction 1. On the first day of class, samples of acceptable and unacceptable papers or essays will be given to the students for analysis. The students will be asked to read the samples and analyze them. The contrast between the positive and negative aspects of each sample will be discussed during the following class period.


      W-instruction 2. The instructor will give both a “good” and a “bad” 10 minute presentation and will spend the rest of the class period contrasting the “good” from the “bad”. This exercise will focus on content organization, logic, and analysis of chemical data.


      W-instruction 3. This class period will be dedicated to providing feedback on the draft of the essay. The instructor will address the most general issues encountered in the various drafts. The instructor will also provide more personal feedback.


      W-instruction 4. This class period will be spent discussing the positive and negative aspects of the Power Point presentations. It will also be spent commenting on the draft version of the paper. The instructor will also address the most general issues encountered in the various presentations and drafts. The instructor will also provide more personal feedback to the entire class. 




      OLD AGS


                  Kim Tran (B.A. 2004) has accepted a position as a Technical Marketing Representative for Champion Technologies in Houston. She e-mailed to say that she loves her job, the people and atmosphere are great, and the job is just what she was looking for. Shw assists the global marketing group with the technical aspects of marketing. Kim said she’d be glad to talk with anyone or any group about careers in this area. Her e-mail address is: kim.tran@champ-tech.com


      Marinette Jones (B.A. 2003) has e-mailed to say that she was promoted to Senior Chemistry Lab Technician at Allergan, Inc. in Waco in December 2004. She is also taking some math classes at Baylor as a non-degree seeking student and is tutoring in the campus math lab. Friends may contact Marinette at: marinettejones@yahoo.com

      Marti (Sebesta) Kubena (B.S. 2004) and her husband announced the birth of Braden Edward Kubena recently. Braden was born on November 29, 2004 and weighed 8 pounds and 8 ounces. He was 21 inches long. Marti reported that baby and mom were doing fine. Friends may send congratulations Marti at the following address: martilachelle@hotmail.com.


      Marc Wilson (B.S. 2002) has decided to return to A&M in the fall of 2005 to enter the MBA program. He is currently continuing to work at a pharmacy and is taking some economics courses. Contact Marc at: urgoncraz@hotmailcom


      G. Stuart Gregory (B.S. 1994) and his wife, Kris, greeted the arrival of their second child on January 24, 2005. Kayla Nicole Gregory weighed in at 8 pounds and was just over 19 inches long. She joins a brother, Noah, who is 14 months old. Stuart is Assistant Senior Organic Chemist at Lilly Research Laboratories in Indianapolis, IN. You may send congratulations to Stuart at: GREGORY_G_STUART@Lilly.com





      There have been a few new publications with undergraduate chemistry majors as co-authors recently added to the list at our web site (http://www.chem.tamu.edu/ugrad/Undergrad%20Pubs.htm) Trevor Ewers, sophomore, and Kendall Fruchey, senior, have been doing research with Dr. Ray Schaak and Dr. Rand Watson, respectively. Their publications are listed here as well:


Sra, A.L.; Ewers, T.D.; Schaak, R.E. "Direct Solution Synthesis of Intermetallic AuCu and AuCu3 Nanocrystals and Nanowire Networks" Chem. Mater. 2005, 17, 758-766.


      Ewers, T.D.; Sra, A.K.; Norris, B.C.; Cable, R.E.; Cheng, C.-H.; Shantz, D.F.; Schaak, R.E. "Spontaneous Hierarchical Assembly of Rhodium Nanoparticles into Spherical Aggregates and Superlattices," Chem. Mater. 2005, 17, 514-520.

" Cross sections for charge change in argon and equilibrium charge states of 3.5 MeV/amu uranium ions passing through argon and carbon targets." A.N. Perumal, V. Horvat*, R.L. Watson, Y. Peng, K.S. Fruchey, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 227 (2005) 251-260.




      The College of Science scholarships web site is: http://www.science.tamu.edu/scholarships.asp#chem You may use this site to apply for the scholarships listed for undergraduate chemistry majors but you can rest assured that I will always send out an announcement about these or other scholarships for which I am soliciting applications. Many times the restrictions on the scholarships (e.g. the Hach Scholarships are for those people who plan to become high school chemistry teachers) allows me to contact a small group of individuals meeting the qualifications. However, this will allow us to make sure we don’t miss any qualified applicants.


      All currently enrolled undergraduate chemistry majors are routinely considered for the IUCCP-A.E. Martell scholarships at the end of each semester. Once grades are received, I go through the complete list of chemistry majors and pretty much award the available scholarships based on cumulative GPR to students who, in almost every case, do not already hold a major scholarship. I also evaluate the entering freshmen in much the same way to try and offer some of the IUCCP-A.E. Martell Scholarships to those highly qualified freshmen who did not receive major university scholarships. In the case of the entering freshmen, the evaluation is based largely, but not entirely, on SAT and high school rank. Career plans and math and science preparation are among other major factors considered. Our policy is to try to spread the scholarship money to as many deserving students as possible. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me in person, by phone or e-mail to inquire about these scholarships.