What’s Happening in Chemistry Circles

Issue #119 October 3, 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



            First it was Katrina then it was Rita. Hopefully there won’t be anymore hurricanes to write about for a long time. Both storms certainly had an impact on many associated, in one way or another, with Texas A&M. Although the threat of Hurricane Rita prompted the rescheduling of an Aggie football game to a Thursday night, College Station ultimately received no direct damage, not even a single drop of rain, from the storm. However, many in Texas, Louisiana and beyond were not so lucky and they continue to struggle to recover from the devastation of two hurricanes in such a short period of time. As you would hope, many Aggies participated in all types of relief efforts and the local campus played a major role in providing shelter for those displaced by the storms. As the recovery of the hard hit areas will be a long term process, I urge you to continue to give what you can to assist those whose lives have been so devastatingly impacted by these disasters.



            Thirty undergraduate chemistry majors received $1000 IUCCP-A.E. Martell Undergraduate Chemistry Scholarships for the 2005-06 academic year. The funds for these scholarships are provided by contributions from the members and associate members of the Industry University Cooperative Chemistry Program. The department and the students gratefully acknowledge this support. The scholarship recipients and company sponsors are listed below with the first-year students marked with an asterisk.

              BASF Corporation (Allie Carpenter*, Amelia Freeman, Scott Johnsgard, Jeffrey Karnes, and Katrina Palmieri); Celanese, Ltd. Alfredo Echeverria, Ashlee Jahnke, Andrew Shuff and Stephanie Wetch); Dow Chemical U.S.A. (Angelica Cantillo, William Foley, Megan Stussi, Randall Suders*, and Katrina Trapp*); E.I. DuPont de Nemours (Rebecca Condit, Stephanie Houlgrave, Devang Patel*, and Sarah Swingle); Sasol North America (Dominique Galvan, Hannah Malcolm, Matthew Raiford*, and Meghan Stroh); Shell Chemical Company (Nathaniel Davenport*, Cory Henson, Melinda Luetke and Johnathan Williams); Abbott Laboratories (Omid Noormohammadi and Rachel Wooley); Eisai Research Institute (Diseye Komonibo and Joshua Owen)


            Trevor Ewers, Nicholas Grizzle and Blake Yarbrough have each been awarded Dow Aggies Scholarships in the amount of $1500 for the 2005-2006 academic year. The award is presented in recognition of their outstanding academic performance with funds provided by former students who are now employed by The Dow Chemical Company.


            Eight undergraduate chemistry majors were recognized with scholarships from the Hach Scientific Foundation of Loveland, Colorado for the 2005-2006 academic year. Students were selected based on scholarship, character, cooperation and aspiration to make a contribution to the teaching profession. A 3.00 GPR and full-time student status were additional requirements. Students receiving $6000 scholarships are: Claire Borne, Tabitha Chandler, Brian Cole, Jenna Nelson, Lauren Nieto and Carissa Smith. Nieto and Chandler are juniors and the rest are seniors. Two other seniors, Traci Germer and Anton Truong, received partial scholarships for the fall 2005 semesters. Both are doing their student teaching this semester. Germer is at A&M Consolidated High School in College Station and Truong is at Taylor High School in Katy. All of these scholarship recipients plan to pursue careers as high school chemistry teachers.


            Several additional chemistry scholarships were awarded this fall. These 2005-06 scholarships honor former students and or chemistry faculty.

 Hoa Chau, senior chemistry major, received the $2000 Eileen and Harry Lewis Scholarship.

 Nicholas Huggins, senior chemistry major, received the $2000 Herman Liebhafsky Scholarship.

 Brentley Smith, senior chemistry and philosophy major, received the $2000 Minoru Tsutsui Memorial Scholarship.


 Lucki Quirindongo, junior chemistry major, received the Sharon Merritt Birtcher Scholarship for a student pursuing teacher certification.

 Robert Harwell and Angela Jones, junior chemistry majors, each received a George C. Bauer Scholarship of $800-$1000.



            Anton Truong, senior chemistry major, sent the following note recently. “I am student teaching at Taylor High School in Katy. I'm teaching 5 periods of Chemistry with a great teacher Mrs. Micek - a 2000 grad from A&M. Megan McAndrew (BA 2005) is also student teaching here, actually right next door to me.


            Daniel Marek (B.S. 2003) is still teaching and provided the following information recently. “I just wanted to give you all my new e-mail address (dan.marek@comcast.net). I’ve been off the grid for 2 months now, but we’ve finally got internet and such up and running in the new apartment. If you’ve sent me anything terribly important and/or funny since July 1, you may want to resend it. I started my new job at Creekview High School in Carrolton three weeks ago and thus far I love my new job. I hope all of you are doing well. Dan”

            Candis (Darr) Taylor (B.S. 1996) was married recently and provided the following new e-mail address: candis.taylor@comcast.net That is all the details I have but congratulations, Candis.


            David Trueba (B.S. 2001) and Oakley (Davis) Cortez (B.S. 2002) spoke to the Horizons in Chemistry class (Chem 100) on recently about career opportunities in the chemical industry. They are both with Celanese but David has moved to Dallas recently. Oakley recently got married (congratulations, Oakley) but still lives in Corpus Christi. Contact them at the following addresses is you want to get in touch. david.trueba@celanese.com and Oakley.Davis@celanese.com

            Heather (Hautala) Normand (B.A. 1999) sent the following e-mail with some news of another former student as well as news of her recent promotion. “Hi Dr. Hogg, Thanks for working so hard to update us all on what is going on. I wanted to let you know that we hired Colin Evett ( B.S. 2005) as a result of the job openings you circulated around for me a couple of months ago. He is now working for OI Analytical as an Inside Sales Support Representative here in College Station and is responsible for supporting three different territories across the US in sales of our chemical analysis systems. He started working for us July 18th and is doing a fabulous job . We also interviewed Chassity Allen (B.S. 2003) and were prepared to make her an offer, however she had already accepted another position in Houston. Also, I have just been promoted from Inside Sales Manager to a newly created position within OI Analytical, Customer Care Manager. My responsibilities include monitoring the technical and sales support that our customers receive and evaluating our internal processes to make sure we are providing exemplary service to our customers. This has been a great opportunity for me to have an impact on the direction of OI Analytical as we continue to grow as a corporation. Do you publish the Orbitals newsletter on a monthly basis? We are always looking for individuals with chemistry degrees and I could send you a list of any open positions every month so you can include them in your newsletter. Thank again for facilitating the Chemistry Aggie Network. You may contact Heather at hnormand@oico.com

            Marinette (Jones) Martin (B.A. 2003) announced her marriage in a recent e-mail. “Hey Dr. Hogg I thought I would update you on me. I am got married Sept 24, 2005 in Austin, TX to Anthony Martin. Anthony is a class of 2004 English major graduating in December 2005. We are expecting a baby girl in February! Amy McMahon (B.A. 2003) was my maid of honor. She is employed at PharmaForm in Austin. Shona (Burkes) Brisco (B.S. 2003) was also in attendance. She is employed at URS Corporation in Austin. I am still at working as a chemist at Allergan in Waco.” Send your congratulations to Marinette at marinettejones@yahoo.com

            David (Chip) Kent and his wife, Brooke, have announced the birth of their daughter, Elizabeth Jade, on July 6, 2005. You may offer congratulations to them at: drkent@lanl.gov

            Tammie (Tuggle )Warren (B.S. 2000) also announced a new addition to her family recently with the following e-mail. “Dr. Hogg, Hi! I just saw the new Orbitals newsletter, and was surprised to see my name! I was going to email sooner, but two kids keep me pretty busy most of the time. My husband received orders to move to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio this past April, so we packed up, and moved back to Texas. It is great to be back home. We bought a house, and shortly after moving in, we had our second child, Cole Robert Warren. Luke is happy to have a little brother, but give it time, I am sure he will change his mind in a few years! I am a stay at home mom, and loving it. I hope to make it to Aggieland soon and stop by for a visit. I hope all is well, and look forward to the next Orbitals!Contact Tammie at: fruityfriends@yahoo.com

            Jerry Smith (B.A. 1999) is looking for an Aggie chemistry and sent the following recently. “Hope all is well in Aggieland and Hurricane Rita did not cause to much damage. I don't know if you remember me or not. I was a chemistry major that graduate in 1999. I am mainly writing to check in and see how things are. I am doing great. I am still living in Dallas and working for Air Liquide for going on six years now. Who would have though they would keep me this long? Also, I will have a job opening in my group in the next couple of months. I thought would touch base with you and see if any students soon to graduate would be interested. The job would be a chemist position working in an analytical laboratory in Dallas. If anyone is interested, feel free to give them my email address. I hope to here from you soon.” Contact Jerry at: JerryW.Smith@airliquide.com

            Melissa Loontjer (B.S. May 2005) is working at URS Corporation in Austin. You may e-mail her at: melissa_loontjer@urscorp.com

            Randall Moon (B.A. 1986) called recently to discuss a new automatic pipet system that he has developed and then sent the partially edited e-mail that follows. “Good to visit with you last week and to hear that the number of undergrad chem majors is growing. My chemistry degree has served me well. I have developed an automated pipet; patent applications are pending with the USPTO. It completely automates the measurement of titratable acidity in beverages; it does the sample prep: degas by sparging and warming, it pipets the sample delivering a repeatable volume to the titration vessel, titrates and calculates the results.” He is seeking support in helping promote the device. Randall may be contacted at: moon@idealinstrumentsinc.com

            Peter Duong (B.S. 2000) is still teaching high school chemistry at Kempner High School in Sugarland. Friends may e-mail Peter at the following address:


            Dr. Eric Simanek, associate professor of chemistry, was recognized with an Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching at the College of Science faculty meeting on September 20. Congratulations, Dr. Simanek.


            Dr. Larry Peck, professor of chemistry and director of the first-year chemistry program at Texas A&M University, was recently informed of two major honors coming his way. The first is the Skoog Cup Award sponsored by the Howard Hughes Foundation in recognition of outstanding contributions to science education. This award is presented by the Science Teacher's Association of Texas at the annual Conference for the Advancement of Science Teachers (CAST) to an individual in higher education who has made career-long contributions to science education at local, state, and national levels. The second award to be presented to Dr. Peck is the Southwest Regional ACS Award. This award is presented each year at the Southwest Regional ACS meeting to an individual from the Southwestern states in recognition of contributions to the advancement of chemistry, chemical engineering, chemical education, or the profession in general. You may wish to send congratulations to Dr. Peck for these well-deserved honors at: peck@mail.chem.tamu.edu


            The annual Chemistry Open House is scheduled from 9:45 am - 3 pm on Saturday, October 22nd in celebration of National Chemistry Week. There will be lots of hands-on activities throughout the day as well as demonstrations and exhibits from other science departments. There will be three Chemistry Road Shows presented by John Hogg at 10am, 12 noon and 2pm with drawings for Chemistry and Science stuff after each show. Now that Dr. Hogg is a licensed flame effects operator in the state of Texas, the restrictions placed on the shows last year by a strict interpretation of Texas law will not be a problem. There will also be goodie bags for the first 700 people. You may find additional information at: http://www.chem.tamu.edu/class/fyp/ncw/ncw-2005.html

            Dr. Wendy Keeney-Kennicutt is looking for people to help out at the reception area, give tours, run booths of fun, work on hands-on demos, etc. E-mail Dr. Kennicutt if you would like to volunteer to help out. Her e-mail is: kennicutt@mail.chem.tamu.edu



            The Office of Undergraduate Research is pleased to announce the launching of a new web page http://ugr.tamu.edu in which a wide variety of undergraduate research opportunities are advertised. Secondly, we would like to draw your attention to the Undergraduate Research Scholars program. This program offers special recognition to students who complete an independent research project (with or without course credit), write a thesis suitable for publication in a professional journal, and present the results of their research in a public forum. The normal application deadline for qualified students will be in the spring of their junior year, but in this inaugural year we are accepting applications from seniors already involved in independent research until October 7. Please encourage qualified students to apply. Application instructions and program requirements can be found at the UGR website http://ugr.tamu.edu. Finally, the UGR website also allows individual faculty members to publicize undergraduate research openings. Faculty members wishing to post such opportunities on the UGR web site may complete the electronic form at: http://ugr.tamu.edu/faculty/research_opportunities/ and send it by e- mail to ugr@tamu.edu. The information will be posted under Texas A&M Opportunities/Research Opportunities by Discipline at the following web site: http://ugr.tamu.edu/opportunities/college. Questions or suggestions about these resources may be directed to Dr. Robert C. Webb, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Research at Bwebb@vprmail.tamu.edu or 845-8585. Dr. Robert C. Webb, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Research, 318B Jack K. Williams Administration Building, College Station, TX 77843-1112; (979) 845-8585; ugr@tamu.edu


            Several former students are scheduled to speak to the Chemistry 100 class throughout the rest of the semester. The class meets on Thursdays from 3:55-4:45 p.m. in Room 100 chemistry. This is a great opportunity to hear these former students give their insights about what it is like out there in “the real world.” Everyone is welcome to attend these presentations.

            In addition to David Trueba and Oakley (Davis) Cortez, who have already spoken to the class, the following speakers are scheduled:

            October 6 - Sarah Holt (B.A. 2003) will give students some insight into what its like in Pharmacy School at the University of Texas.

            October 13 - Melissa (Supak) Valadez (B.S. 2000) will discuss her career as a forensic chemist with the Texas Department of Public Safety Headquarters Crime Lab in Austin.

            October 27 - Eric Bowers (B.S. 2000) will tell what it’s like to be an attorney at Thompson, Coe, Cousins, and Irons, LLP with a degree in chemistry.

            November 3 - Leah Whiteker (B.S. 2002) will discuss her adventures with the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command.