What's Happening in Chemistry Circles

Issue #116 April 6, 2005


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

written by Dr. John L. Hogg


            Erin Witt (B.S. 2000) and EJ have purchased an 1850's farm house in upstate New York and are in the process of doing lots of home repairs. For those of you who don't know, EJ is not another one of Erin's parakeets. I think the relationship must be pretty serious since they've bought a house together and sent me a postcard from Hawaii. You may send home repair hints and/or money to Erin and EJ at: bonfire00@yahoo.com

            Rachel McConnell (B.S. 2001) provided the following exciting news in an e-mail in mid-March. "Hi, Dr. Hogg. It's been forever since I've emailed you. How are things in Aggieland? I just wanted to tell you that I got engaged this past Saturday. His name is Phillip and he is class of '99, but a business major, although I don't hold that against him. :) I'm also graduating from medical school and will be doing my residency in pediatrics at UTMB. That's the only exciting news I have. Talk to you later." Rachel graduates from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston School of Medicine on June 4, 2005. Congratulations, Rachel!

            John Steinbach (B.S. 1989) sent the following information about a change of position and location recently. "Just wanted to let you know that I was traded to the Dow Chemical Co for two rookie chemists and a 1st round draft choice for the 2006 recruiting season. Seriously, I transferred to the Celanese Clear Lake Plant in June 2003 to be the production engineer for the two Acrylic Acid units. In February 2004, Dow purchased those assets along with the Acrylates Business from Celanese and on February 2nd, I became a Dow employee. I am now a Run Plant Engineer in the same area for Dow. It probably hurts your feelings that I work more as an engineer than a chemist. However, rest assured that it was the outstanding education that I received that allowed me to cross over without much formal training. Also, I still tinker in the lab whenever I get the opportunity. Please add me back to the Orbitals distribution list. My new e-mail address is jsteinbach@dow.com. If you see Dr. Bergbreiter, tell him that I said hello."


            Eric Bowers (B.S. 2000) provided some chemistry humor (see below) and the following e-mail recently. "I graduated from UT law school, got married, had a kid (girl) and am working for Thompson Coe in Dallas as a civil defense attorney. I don't get to use my chemistry much, but I still appreciate chemistry-related humor :) Hope everything's well in Aggieland. I'll bring the family by to meet you next time I make it down there." Congratulations to Eric and his new family. You may contact Eric at: ebowers@thompsoncoe.com Eric's humor contribution follows: A major research institution has recently announced the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element has been named "GOVERNMENTIUM." Governmentium has 1 Neutron, 12 assistant Neutrons, 75 deputy Neutrons, & 11 assistant deputy Neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by forces called Morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called Peons. Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected, as it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A minute amount of Governmentium causes one reaction to take over four days to complete, when it would normally take less than a second. Governmentium has a normal 1/2-life of 4 years; it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant Neutrons and deputy Neutrons exchange places. In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more Morons to become Neutrons, forming Isodopes. This characteristic of Moron-promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever Morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as "Critical Morass." When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium-an element which radiates just as much energy, since it has 1/2 as many Peons but twice as many Morons." 

            Thomas (Tommy) Miller (B.S. 2000) will wed Nicola Wilkins on August 6, 2005 at Sint-Jan-Evangelist Church in Tervuren, Belgium. You may send congratulations to Tommy and Nicola at: thomas_f_miller_iii@yahoo.com

            Charles Austin Cropper (B.A. 1999) and Lisa Palacheck will be married on June 4, 2005 at Sacred Heart Church in Galveston. I do not have an e-mail address but you may send congratulations to Austin and Lisa at the following address:

            Austin Cropper

            Building One

            Suite 102

            3300 North A Street

            Midland, TX 79705

            Haley Hagg (B.S. 2003) provided the following news in response to a request from me for information about her recent good fortune. She is in graduate school at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "So here's the scoop. In May I am getting my Master of Science degree in Biomedical Science with an emphasis in Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. Then in June I will be starting the Ph.D. program in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of North Texas. I just found out that I was awarded a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (worth a stipend of $30,000/yr plus tuition). So the Department of Defense will be funding me for three years of graduate work (provided my grades are acceptable!). I'm pretty excited about getting funded, and about moving back to the Lone Star State. And on Monday, I found out I was awarded an Academic Achievement Scholarship from UNT, as well. So the last week has been a good one. I think that's it for now. I should be visiting College Station some time this summer, so hopefully I'll see you before too long." Friends may contact Haley at: hagg.haley@mayo.edu


            Stephanie Wetch, sophomore chemistry major, was one of only ten Texas A&M University students chosen to participate in the Doha/College Station Leadership Program over spring break. The group traveled to Doha, Qatar over spring break. They spent 5 day in Doha with a one night layover in London. They had a firsthand opportunity to compare very different cultures and mingle with a group of students from TAMUQ who visited College Station after the group returned. Ask Stephanie to see her photos. They were amazing.

            Michael Sarahan, who will complete his B.S. this semester, has accepted a chemist position with PPG Industries in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He will join them this summer.

            Jen Goss, who will complete her B.S. this semester, will enter the graduate chemistry program at Boston University this fall.

            Jess Miller, who will complete his B.S. in chemistry and a B.S. degree in biology this semester, was commissioned on March 23 as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Medical Department. The ceremony took place on the front steps of the Chemistry Building in glorious weather. Army Colonel Jake Betty, Deputy Commandant of the Cadet Corps, presided over the ceremony. Jess will start medical school at UT-Houston in August, where he is in the process of purchasing his first home. After medical school and residency, Jess will be assigned to the 5th Medical Brigade for four years. He plans to specialize in emergency medicine or general surgery. Congratulations, Jess.



            We have around 30 undergraduate chemistry majors scheduled to graduate this May. It would be nice to include the post-graduation plans of as many as possible in the May issue of Orbitals. That means that you need to send me the information in the near future. Get the hint?


            In recognition of the recently approved flat tuition policy, it is likely that many continuing undergraduate students will desire to take additional courses this Fall. In response to this anticipated demand, the colleges have attempted to estimate the increase in demand for seats.

            As we begin the pre-registration process for the Fall semester, continuing undergraduate students are asked to enroll for courses that they anticipate actually taking in the Fall. Students are asked to please refrain from over- or under-registering for courses. Accurate pre-registration behaviors on the part of students will permit colleges and departments to make adjustments as necessary to accommodate additional demands.

              Access to web registration for all currently enrolled (Spring '05) undergraduate students will be discontinued at 5 p.m. Friday, May 20 and will be reinstated at 5 p.m. Friday, August 19. Continuing undergraduate students should make every effort to resolve registration issues prior to May 20. Students needing to drop, add, or register between May 20 and August 19 due to extraordinary circumstances must see their academic advisors.

            Access to web registration for graduate students will be available throughout the summer. However, no graduate students will be allowed to register themselves for undergraduate courses during the May 20-Aug.19 period.     


            Pre-registration begins April 14. You will find the class schedule information and information about when your registration time will be sent to you by accessing the following web site: http://myrecord.tamu.edu. You may also find the information at the Registrar's web site (http://www.tamu.edu/admissions/records/index.html) by clicking on Course Offered in the middle column of the page.

            Just as for last fall's registration, students must register using the Internet. You will be assigned a registration start time and have 48 hours from that start time to complete registration. The start times are totally random within a certain classification. Information about this may be found at: http://register.tamu.edu/ 

            Chemistry majors must take the special section of Chemistry 227 (Organic Chemistry I) taught by Dr. Hogg or the honor's section taught by Dr. Harding unless they have permission from Dr. Tiner or Dr. Hogg to do otherwise. You should register for the laboratory for chemistry majors (Chem 231) when you take Chemistry 227.

            To remind you once again, 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 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. See your degree plans in the catalog.

            Students should substitute Chemistry 362 for the required Chemistry 462 course. As indicated in the previous issue of Orbitals, this course does not require completion of physical chemistry as a prerequisite and can be taken by juniors.


            Both summer and fall registration may be completed during this time. You may wish to schedule an appointment to talk with Dr. Tiner or Dr. Hogg well in advance of that date to avoid the rush.  


            College of Science undergraduate degree candidates for the spring semester will receive their diplomas at the ceremony on Friday, May 13 at 7 p.m. More details about graduation may be found at: http://graduation.tamu.edu/ceremon.shtml


            Jennifer L. McBee (B.S. 2004) is listed as a co-author on the following publication from Dr. Abe Clearfield's group. Jennifer is in the Ph.D. program at the University of California at Berkeley.

            Deyuan Kong, Jennifer L. McBee, and Abraham Clearfield, "Crystal Engineered Acid-Base Complexes with 2D and 3D Hydrogen Bonding Systems Using a Bisphosphonic Acid as the Building Block," Crystal Growth & Design

(2005), 5(2), 643-649.