What’s Happening in Chemistry Circles

Issue #124

May 8, 2006


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

written by Dr. John L. Hogg


            Several undergraduate chemistry majors were honored at the ACS Student Affiliate banquet held on Friday, April 28 in the Garden Room at the Student Recreation Center on campus. The banquet, arranged by Trevor Ewers, president of the ACS Student Affiliate Chapter, on behalf of the Chemistry Department and the Student Affiliate Chapter, was attended by about 50 students, faculty, and staff members.

            Dr. Hogg and Dr. Tiner presented the awards for outstanding accomplishments by undergraduate chemistry majors. They were joined by Dr. Emile Schweikert, Head of Chemistry, in congratulating the students as they received their awards. The money for these awards came from the Department of Chemistry, the Texas A&M Section of the American Chemical Society. Recipients of all awards were selected by the members of the Chemistry Department’s Undergraduate Awards Committee. Congratulations to these outstanding students! None of the recipients of the outstanding undergraduate award or the chemistry department achievement awards has less than a 3.9 GPR!

            Chemistry Department Outstanding Undergraduate Awards ($200 and a certificate) - Given to two outstanding seniors this year.

             Jorja L. Duffin and Casseday P. Richers

            Chemistry Department Achievement Awards ($50 and a certificate) - Given to a few outstanding junior and senior chemistry majors based on GPR and other factors. Students selected were:

            Seniors -          Brian J. Cole, Adam Dao, Ann H. Henderson, Nicholas G. Huggins, and David M. Pyle

            Juniors -          Kelly M. Martinez, Joshua L. Owen, and Stephanie J. Wetch

            Outstanding Chemistry Majors in Sophomore Organic ($50 and a certificate): The four students from the majors and honors sections chosen to share this award were:


Catherine E. Baxter, Alfredo E. Echeverria, Jeffrey M. Karnes, and Benjamin Naberhaus

            Merck Index Award (a copy of the Merck Index presented by Merck, $50 and a departmental certificate) - Given to a graduating senior planning to attend professional school.

            Sheena S. Ellis

            CRC Outstanding Chemistry Majors in General Chemistry (a copy of the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics presented by CRC, a $25 check and a departmental certificate) Two students were chosen to receive this award. They were:

            James H. Delfeld and Randall D. Suders


            Hugh McLean Jr. Award ($200) - Given to a graduating senior who has shown outstanding dedication, perseverance and desire in pursuit of the degree. The student selected for this award this year was:


Angelica V. Cantillo

         Outstanding Analytical Chemistry Student ($50 check and a journal subscription) - The award for outstanding accomplishment in Chemistry 415/434 went to:

            Nicholas G. Huggins

            ACS Leadership Award ($100) - The award for outstanding leadership in the student ACS chapter went to:

            Trevor D. Ewers



            ACS student affiliate chapter officers and committee chairs for 2006-2007 year were announced at the banquet. They will be: Katie Regan (President), Erin Cochran (Vice-President), Trevor Ewers (Treasurer), Nicole Honesty (Secretary), Breanna Jatzlau (Historian), Nicole Pearsall (Fund-raising Chair), William Foley (Academic Chair), Lauren Sprouse (Social Chair), Matt Keyser (Risk Management Chair) and Sarah Stranahan (Website Chair). Dr. Tammy Tiner, associate undergraduate advisor, and Marylin Warren will serve as the co-advisors.


            Dr. David Bergbreiter, Eppright Professor of Undergraduate Teaching Excellence and Professor of Chemistry, was recently honored once again for his outstanding teaching. Dr. Bergbreiter has been informed that he has been selected as one of two professors at Texas A&M University to receive the Presidential Professor of Teaching Excellence Award presented each spring by President Robert Gates. He was a runner-up for the award last year. He will receive a cash award of $25,000 and will be recognized at the University graduation ceremony in which College of Science students graduate on May 12. Dr. Bergbreiter was nominated for this honor by the Chemistry Department and then was chosen as the sole College of Science nominee for the University-wide competition. Dr. Bergbreiter has been a faculty member at A&M for thirty-two years and has received many awards for teaching, including Association of Former Students Faculty Distinguished Achievement Awards in Teaching at the college-level and at the university level in the past. Congratulations Dr. Bergbreiter on a well-deserved award.


            Drs. Kim R. Dunbar and F. Albert Cotton, were honored at the University-wide awards ceremony with Association of Former Students Graduate Mentoring Awards on May 2, 2006. This newly established award recognizes outstanding contributions to the education and mentoring of graduate students. Dr. Dunbar, Davidson Professor in Science and Professor of Chemistry, was one of two recipients of the award in this inaugural year. She was nominated for the award by the Graduate Student Association at Texas A&M University. President Gates also chose to recognize Dr. Cotton, W.T. Doherty-Welch Foundation Chair and Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, with a special award in this area in recognition of the fact that his suggestion led to the establishment of the award and his mentoring of over 100 Ph.D. students in his 34 years at Texas A&M. Congratulations to both Dr. Dunbar and Dr. Cotton.




            Six graduating chemistry majors have been invited to join Phi Beta Kappa, the most prestigious academic honor society in the United States. Those so honored were: Brentley J. Smith, Casseday Paul Richers, Brian James Cole, Ann Holland Henderson, Nicholas Gray Huggins, Adam Hien-Minh Dao and Nicholas Anthony Grizzle. Congratulations for a job well done. 






            Anyone who has worked in the Chemistry department any length of time knows Judy Ludwig, or do they? In July of 2006, Judy will have been with the university for 34 years. Her title is Payroll Services Supervisor for Chemistry. She is a very private person who never toots her own horn, but what do others say?

            According to Ron Carter, Assistant Department Head and Judy’s supervisor, “she is level-headed, extremely competent and has a keen sense of humor. She handles payroll for over 600 people and is a benchmark for efficiency”. Judy frequently speaks at seminars and workshops. Her work supports the needs of undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, staff and visiting scholars.

            When Dr. Michael Rosynek, Associate Department Head, was asked about Judy he said, “Her work affects the entire department of human resources. She maintains the budget from which people are paid. She is even-tempered and unflappable,” Rosynek also says that Judy is an invaluable employee, whose contributions assist him in making critical decisions.

            Judy believes that the best thing that ever happened to her was securing a position at TAMU. She acknowledges her parents for instilling in her the importance of good work ethics and she gets personal gratification from doing a job well. Judy has been a woman’s advocate for over 27 years. She has held various offices with the American Business Woman’s Association which helps in professional development and providing scholarships for women. Another interest of hers is the American Heart Association where she helps to educate woman on pertinent health issues.

            Judy embodies the qualities of a true Aggie. It is exhibited through her poise and grace under pressure. She has maintained a standard of excellence that is an example for us all.

by Sarahlilly Hicks





            Meghann Smith has accepted a Research Associate job with SABIC Americas, Inc. in Sugarland, TX. She will complete her B.A. in chemistry this semester.

            A.J. Echeverria, sophomore chemistry major, just recently received word that he has been accepted into the M.D. Anderson Summer Research program.


            Matt Rowan (B.S. 2004) has written with the following good news. “Dr. Hogg- As an update for you and the news letter, I have passed my comprehensive exam and will graduate with a Master of Forensic Sciences with a concentration in Forensic Toxicology from The George Washington University later this month. After that, my wife and I will be moving back to Texas, where I will start a PhD in Pharmacology at The University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio. Thank you again for all of your help.” Congratulations, Matt. Friends may e-mail Matt at: mrowan@hotmail.com


            Laura Bourque (B.S. 2004) took time away from her studies recently to send the following e-mail. “Hi Dr. Hogg! After every issue of Orbitals I vow that I will write you, but something always seems to come up. But seeing so many of my fellow classmates write in updates, I feel the pressure to send mine as well. I guess the real reason I'm finding time to write you is that I have advancement to candidacy exams coming up in a month and I'm procrastinating on my original proposal idea :) I am finishing up my second year as a PhD student at University of California, Irvine. I love living in Orange County. The weather is awesome and the Pacific Ocean is less than 5 minutes away from my house! So those are the positives; the negatives are that grad school keeps me pretty busy so I don't get to enjoy the outdoors as often as I would like to. Though, I have found time to go camping in Sequoia National Park, skiing at Big Bear, and multiple visits to Disneyland. I have found a good group of transplanted Aggies to hang out with and we make California seem a little more like Texas.

              I was so surprised to hear about the explosion, especially since it was right down the hall from where I did research for a year in Dr. Romo's lab. I'm glad everything turned out okay. I was talking to some of my lab mates about it and we were discussing not two weeks before how those giant nitrogen Dewars are bombs waiting to explode. Do you know when you'll get to move back into your office? I hope its sometime soon for your sanity's sake!

            Other than that, things are good for me. Our research group is running low on funding, so I'm having to teach a lot, but in the course of all this, I have found that I truly enjoy teaching and cannot wait to come back to Texas and teach! I wanted to thank you so much for being such a great organic professor. I learned so much from not only in the subject, but how to convey it to others. I hope I am a third as effective in my discussion sections are you were in lecture.

            Feel free to post all of the previous paragraphs into Orbitals, but I wanted to thank you especially for your advice on graduate school. I remember you recommending a student who was attending grad school at Stanford for some advice. This was the better than any advice you could give me. I just wanted extend my utmost thanks because I am truly happy here in Irvine and I know that this was the best place for me to continue my career. Irvine is a very relaxed atmosphere where good science gets done, and I don't know that I would have ended up here with your help. I hope to one day be able to affect students in the many ways that you not only affected me, but the hundreds of other chemistry majors that pass through your office everyday.

            I hope all is well with you! I haven't been back to Aggieland since I graduated, but I hope to get back for a football game this year, so hopefully I can stop by and say hello!” You may e-mail Laura at: lbourque@gmail.com


            Erin (Witt) Hook (B.S. 2000) and her husband, E.J. Hook visited town recently to attend Muster and to show E.J. the sights in College Station. They spent some time visiting in the Chemistry Department, went out to lunch with John and Janet Hogg, and enjoyed an afternoon visit in the Hogg home. Erin is enjoying her work as a forensic scientist in Laredo and E.J. is adjusting to life in the southwest after their move from New York. Friends may e-mail the couple at: bonfire00@yahoo.com


              Samuel Stratton (B.S. 2002) wrote recently with some news about his job and some job opportunities for chemistry majors. “Hello, Dr. Hogg, How are you? I know it's been a while since you heard from me (BS 2002). Not long after graduation I was hired at Economy Polymers and Chemicals here in Houston, where I am currently employed. We are a small company that has been growing very quickly for a couple of years now. We primarily make fracturing fluids for the oil field. I work in the lab where I am the QC manager and I also perform quite a bit of research under the supervision of my boss

            I wanted to let you know that we currently have an opening in the lab. We are looking for someone who either has a BA or a BS in chemistry. Someone who has recently graduated would be perfect for this job, as we will train them. In the next year or so, we will be building a new lab, and since we are a small company that is growing very quickly, the new hire will have a good opportunity to advance within the company.

            I hope everything is going well for you. I know this is a busy time of year for you. How many chemistry majors are graduating this year? Well, please let some of the soon to be graduates know about this, or someone else who you think would be a good fit. If anyone has any questions about this job, they can also email me directly if, they'd like, at the email address below. I appreciate your help.”

Samuel J. Stratton
Quality Control Division

Economy Polymers & Chemicals
435 E. Anderson Rd.
Houston, TX 77047
Ph: 713-723-8416
Fax: 713-723-1845



            Erin Donahoe (B.S. 2005) wrote to share the following good news. “Dr. Hogg. Howdy! There have been some awesome things happening in my life and I thought I'd let you know about them. I received my letter of acceptance to the A&M Kingsville Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy and will be attending there in the fall. Also, this past Saturday, my boyfriend (Robby Williamson) of 4.5 years proposed under the century tree. The wedding will hopefully be sometime in July. Hope all is well on your end! Take good care of Leslie Hawkins!” Congratulations may be sent to Erin at: edonahoe2@hotmail.com

            Erin Ressler (B.S. in psychology in1999 but started out as a chemistry major) recently informed me of the following. “Howdy. I was just reading through the April Orbitals and decided I should update you with my education plans. I have been accepted to the PharmD program at University of Houston starting in August! I'm in the class of 2010, which makes me feel a little old since I was so used to being the class of 1999. I wanted to thank you again for helping me with the recommendation letters to both U of H and U.T. I'm sure that your letters went a long way towards my acceptance. I hope your semester has gone well and everything is back to normal in the Chemistry building. Thank you again.” Friends who remember Erin’s day as a chemistry major may contact her at: erinmressler@sbcglobal.net


              Emily (Squibb) Duff (B.S. 2002) just revealed the following via an e-mail. “I realize I never updated you on this. I married Joe Duff (originally of Boone, IA) on May 1, 2005 in Pflugerville, TX. He's also a chemist and a twin! I'm still working at Celanese in Houston, but I transferred to the R&D department about six months after hiring on. I worked on vinyl acetate catalysts for a year and a half before being transferred to my current position, conducting research with polyvinyl alcohol and polyvinyl alcohol based emulsions. Hope you're doing well!” You may send belated congratulations to the couple at: duffea@gmail.com




            College of Science undergraduate degree candidates for the spring semester will receive their diplomas at the ceremony on Friday, May 12 at 9 a.m. Twenty eight chemistry majors are scheduled to receive degrees at this ceremony. There are 9 B.S. degree recipients and 19 B.A. degree recipients. Details about graduation may be found at: http//graduation.tamu.edu/ceremon.html



            The application forms for the George C. Bauer Scholarship(s) are now available, for chemistry majors only, in Room 104 Chemistry from Ms. Marylin Warren. The scholarship(s) (which could range up to $1500) are for the 2004-2005 academic year. The simple application is due by May 15 and the awards will be announced during the summer. Financial need is the main criterion for selection although academic performance is considered if financial need is equal. Chemistry majors who will be juniors or seniors during the 2004-05 academic year are eligible for the scholarships. The chemistry undergraduate awards committee will review the applications and make recommendations for the awards. We typically receive very few applications for these scholarships so I encourage you to apply. We have decided to wait until after spring 2004 grades are submitted to make the decisions.




            We will make the final decisions on several undergraduate chemistry scholarships once the spring semester final grades are received. Regardless of whether or not you applied for one of our scholarships by using the College of Science web site, all undergraduate chemistry majors will automatically be considered for these scholarships according to the policy outlined earlier and repeated here.

            Consistent with the specific scholarship guidelines we will evaluate all chemistry majors for all of these scholarships. All currently enrolled undergraduate chemistry majors are routinely considered for the chemistry department scholarships and the College of Science scholarships targeted to chemistry majors at the end of each semester. Once grades are received, I go through the complete list of chemistry majors and we award the available scholarships based on cumulative GPR to students who, in almost every case, do not already hold a major scholarship. If there are additional restrictions applicable to a given scholarship as there are for the Hach Scientific Foundation teacher scholarships, I will consider people who meet the criteria whether or not they have applied directly through the College of Science web site. In some cases, as has been done earlier for the Hach Scientific Foundation teacher scholarships, I may send out a general e-mail to all chemistry majors asking those who feel they meet the criteria to contact our office. 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 any of these scholarships. For scholarships where applications are required, please stop by Room 104 Chemistry to pick up the application from Dr. Hogg as soon as possible.


            Scholarships for which we will be making decisions soon include:


IUCCP-A.E. Martell Scholarships- outstanding chemistry majors of any classification.


Dow Aggies Scholarships - outstanding junior or senior chemistry majors.


George C. Bauer Scholarship is offered in honor of a former outstanding teacher in the department. Application required; financial need is a major factor; junior or senior chemistry major.


Sharon Merritt Birtcher Scholarship is for students planning to become teachers; must have so indicated to Dr. Hogg and provide evidence of pursuit of the plan.


Dr. Minoru Tsutsui Memorial Scholarship is a recently endowed scholarship in honor of a former chemistry faculty member. Given to a chemistry major who is a Texas resident and plans a career in industry; financial need and achievement considered; application required.


Dr. Herman A. Liebhafsky Scholarship is a recently endowed scholarship in honor of a former faculty member. Given to a chemistry major based on financial need and achievement; preference for someone from a “rural” Texas area; application required.


Eileen and Harry Lewis Scholarship is an endowed scholarship in honor of Eileen Lewis ‘65 and Harry (Hank) Lewis ‘65. Preference given to a female chemistry major based on financial need and not primarily academic achievement; application required.


Hach Scientific Foundation Scholarships for students planning to become teachers; must have so indicated to Dr. Hogg.


            In all cases, students will be provided with the address of the scholarship sponsor and asked to provide a written thank you note to the sponsor with a copy being forwarded to our office. Students who fail to provide the thank you notes will not be considered for future scholarships as per College of Science policy. All scholarships will be considered on a semester-by semester basis but the expectation is that students will hold the scholarship for at least one academic year, and in many cases for up to four, provided they meet the grade and other requirements and funding is available from the sponsoring source.





            See the information in the e-mail from Samuel Stratton about a position with:


Economy Polymers & Chemicals
435 E. Anderson Rd.
Houston, TX 77047
Ph: 713-723-8416
Fax: 713-723-1845