What’s Happening in Chemistry Circles

Issue #126

October 5, 2006


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

written by Dr. John L. Hogg



            Dr. Christine (Mullen) Barondeau (B.S. degrees in chemistry and in biochemistry in 1994) and her husband, Dr. David Barondeau (Ph.D. 1996) have returned to Texas A&M University as faculty members. Christine had been teaching at the University of San Diego since receiving her Ph.D. from the University of California at San Diego in 2000. She joins the faculty as a lecturer this fall and is currently teaching Chemistry 222. David had been doing postdoctoral research at the Scripps Institute in San Diego and joins the faculty as an assistant professor of chemistry. We welcome both of these former students back to Texas A&M University.




            Thirteen undergraduate chemistry majors received $1000 IUCCP-A.E. Martell Undergraduate Chemistry Scholarships for the 2006-07 academic year. The number of scholarships awarded is down considerably from the thirty scholarships per year awarded in recent years due to funding problems. These scholarships have, in the past, been funded by contributions from the members and associate members of the Industry University Cooperative Chemistry Program. However, this scholarship program may not be continued in future years due to funding problems. Many of the continuing students who had previously held IUCCP-A.E. Martell scholarships were moved to other scholarships in order to honor commitments made to continue scholarship support based on satisfactory academic performance. The scholarship recipients and company sponsors are listed below with the first-year students marked with an asterisk.


              BASF Corporation (Amelia Freeman and Scott Johnsgard); Celanese, Ltd. (Alfredo Echeverria, Andrew Shuff and Stephanie Wetch); Dow Chemical U.S.A. (Randall Suders); E.I. DuPont de Nemours (Rebekah Condit and Stephanie Houlgrave); Shell Chemical Company (Cory Henson, Melinda Luetke and Johnathan Williams); Eisai Research Institute (Diseye Komonibo and Joshua Owen).






            Trevor Ewers, William Foley, Ashlee Jahnke, and Meghan Stroh have each been awarded Dow Aggies Scholarships in the amount of $1500 for the 2006-2007 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.





            Six undergraduate chemistry majors were recognized with scholarships from the Hach Scientific Foundation of Loveland, Colorado for the 2006-2007 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: James English, Sallie Finklea, William Fortin, Lauren Nieto, Tabitha Roybal and Megan Stussi.






            Several additional chemistry scholarships were awarded this fall. These 2006-07 scholarships honor former students and or chemistry faculty.


            Dominique Galvan, senior chemistry major, received the $2000 Eileen and Harry Lewis Scholarship.


            Sarah Swingle, senior chemistry major, received the $2000 Herman Liebhafsky Scholarship.


            Jeffrey Karnes, junior chemistry major, received the $2000 Minoru Tsutsui Memorial Scholarship.


            Robert Hakari, junior chemistry major, received the $2000 Sharon Merritt Birtcher Scholarship for a student pursuing teacher certification.


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





            Jess Miller (B.S. degrees in chemistry and in biology in 2005) stopped by for a visit on Friday, September 29. Jess is currently in his second year of medical school at UT-Houston.


            Melissa (Supak) Valadez (B.S. 2000) is featured in a chapter on Forensic Chemistry in a supplemental chapter available with The World of Chemistry Essentials textbook co-authored by Dr. Hogg. The segment is titled “Meet A Forensic Scientist: An Interview With Melissa Valadez” and discusses her career as a forensic chemist working in the trace evidence section of the headquarters lab of the Texas Department of Public Safety in Austin. Melissa also has a Master of Science in Forensic Sciences (MSFS) from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Melissa has, on several occasions, spoken about her career to the chemistry majors in the Chem 100 class at Texas A&M University.

            Rene Aguiluz (B.S. 1997) sent the following, slightly edited e-mail recently “Dr.. Hogg, I ran across your name today and thought I would drop you a line to get you caught up on my goings on and to see how you are doing. I hope that things are well with you and that you are now back in your old office.


            I am doing great. I am working in the IT consulting industry still. I’ve been working in that field for about 8 years now. I worked about 5 years at Accenture, 1-ish at Chevron-Phillips Chemical, and I’ve been with EAG Services for a little over a year and a half. I really do like the work and it is quite challenging. At EAG, we specialize in the upstream oil and gas market. What we primarily do is software selections, perform new software implementations, and data conversions. We have found a nice niche in the market because very few consulting companies really understand the oil and gas industry. It’s also a good time for us since the oil companies have a lot of cash on hand thanks to the crude prices recently.

            On the home front, I have a wonderful daughter named Michelle. She is now a little over 3 and a half and she is the joy of my life. She is so brilliant and wonderful. (I may be a little biased - but only a little.) To illustrate her brilliance, recently I was working with a client in Denver and I called her up as I do everyday. I told her that I was in a city named Denver in a state called Colorado. Immediately she asked me, “Can you see the Rocky Mountains?” I was flabbergasted. Of course, I told her that I could and after I hung up the phone, I took a picture for her.

            In closing, I hope you will report in Orbitals that you heard from me and that I am doing great. I am working at a fabulous company in Houston and have a wonderful daughter. Furthermore, my life is getting better all the time. This is my work email, but the better place to reach me is aguiluz97@gmail.com . Take Care. Rene”



            Dr. Stephen Jeffrey (B.S. 2000, Ph.D. 2006) sent the following recently. “Hey Dr. Hogg,

I know you'll probably put this in Orbitals, but I thought I'd drop you a quick line. After graduation, I took a couple of months off and started working for Heraeus Metal Processing in Santa Fe Springs, CA (just outside of LA) in August. Heraeus is a world leader in precious metals (Au, Pt, Rh, Pd, Ir, Ag, Os, Re). Here we recycle and refine these catalytic materials as well as develop new inorganic/organometallic compounds. It's odd to see a Brinks truck pull up to a chemical plant. After being here a few weeks, my boss dropped 600 troy ounces of Rh that was out of spec in my lap. In short, that's a $3 million dollar problem that costs the company $1100 a day. No pressure, right?!

            Life in the OC, (Huntington Beach a.k.a. Surf City USA) is nice, although the people lack the southern hospitality I have grown accustomed to, but overall, things are nice here. I feel I made a good decision. It's cool to visit the places you see on TV and movies. For instance, I went to Hollywood last Friday to be on a taping of the Jimmy Kimmel Live Show. I was in the second row, but only the back of my head was on TV. I ended up meeting Lionel Richie afterwards. I'd say it was a worthwhile trip.


            Well I need to go now, my Rh awaits. Best wishes. Steve.” Friends may contact Steve at: stephen.jeffery@heraeus.com



            Rachel (Chanis) Salazar (B.S. 2002) wrote recently to announce the birth of a new son. “Hi Dr. Hogg, I have news to share with you. We have a new baby boy in our family! Miguel Tomás Salazar was born September 21 at 8:04 am. He weighed 8 lb. 10 oz. and was 20 ½ “ long. He has black hair and dark eyes. He is happy and healthy and very cute. I’m doing good as well. I’ve meant to write and give you an update on what I’ve been doing, but I keep forgetting. After being in and out of work, I am currently out of work. I’m a stay-at-home mom and I’m loving it! I’m becoming the stereotypical “soccer mom”, but I think it’s great that I’m able to do it. Well, that’s the quick version of what’s happening. I’ll try to stop by your office next time I’m in College Station (should be in November). Rachel Salazar” Friends may send congratulations to Rachel and her husband at: aggieredhead@hotmail.com


            Matt Rowan (B.S. 2004) wrote to bring us up to date on his pursuit of higher education. Here is a slightly edited version of his recent e-mail. “Dr. Hogg. Sorry I haven't been in touch with you yet. I meant to send you an e-mail this week anyway, as my wife and I were in College Station last weekend for the football game and saw you in the "Spirit" ad. Now I can tell everyone I know a celebrity personally!

              Everything is going well for me here in San Antonio. I finished up my Master's in May at George Washington University and stayed in DC for a few months to make the move easier on my wife. We moved to San Antonio around the first of July, and my program started around the first of September, so needless to say the short vacation was welcomed. Our primary job this semester is to focus on our classes; in the spring we will do our first lab rotation, with another one over the summer. The second year is spent somewhat on continued research, but the focus is primarily on passing the comprehensive/qualifying exam.

After that, I believe we have a few classes to take, but the rest of the time will be spent in the lab. I haven't yet decided who I want to do rotations or have as my eventual mentor, but I have it narrowed down to a few that are doing work on drugs of abuse.

            Work continues to go well for my wife, and she keeps getting promotions and raises like they're going out of style. I keep thinking by the time I finish the program she'll be CEO and then maybe I won't have to work, but I don't think I could talk her into it. The stipend here is reasonable, especially considering tuition is only ~$100/hr as compared to GWU's ~$1000/hr.

            I would be more than happy to help any student that I can with any and all questions forensics. My degree was a Master of Forensic Sciences (MFS) with a concentration in Forensic Toxicology. Even though my area of concentration was in Toxicology, we were required to take several general courses and so I got to know most of the faculty there. Since we lived there for two years I have some understanding of the area and a general feel for the strength of comparable programs in the US (You remember I applied to ~8 different places). Feel free to pass along my contact info; school's not too busy yet, but e-mail is probably the best place to start these days (never know where I'll be or when).

            I'll keep you updated on my progress here, and do a better job keeping in touch in general. Take care, Matt Rowan, MFS” Matt is now a Ph.D. student in pharmacology at The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. You may contact him at: mrowan@hotmail.com


            Angela Hoover (B.S. 2006) wrote to tell me about some positions available with Halliburton. Here is her e-mail. “Hi Dr Hogg. I just wanted to let you know, so you could let all the chem. majors know, that Halliburton is hiring for the May class. They would be doing the same thing I am doing. Basically they would be in training for 6 mo then be moved to a different location to begin field work. They have positions in TX- Odessa/Midland, Senora, Kilgore, GOM, NM- Artesia, Hobbs, CA- Bakersfield, LA-Bossier City. There are more, but those are the ones I know off the top of my head. There are different sections of Halliburton engineers there is what I am doing, Frac. They also have Logging, cementing, and a couple others. The benefits are amazing…401K, full med, dental, vision, also an additional retirement and some other perks. The engineers get a company car after the first year, along with a raise of up to 10%. During the training there are 2 bonuses, and a completion bonus totaling 10K. The starting salary is $4200/mo. I believe the only requirements are a B.S. with a GPA of 2.0 or greater. If anyone has any questions they are welcome to contact me at my email or my cell. If anyone would like to submit a resume they can send it to me and I will pass it along to my boss and the head of the HR dept, with a recommendation. Angela.” You may contact Angela at: angela.hoover@halliburton.com





            Dominique Galvan and Tabitha Roybal, both senior chemistry majors, were selected to attend the Proctor and Gamble Research and Development Colloquium in Cincinnati on October 8-10. This is an all expense paid trip to learn about career opportunities at Proctor and Gamble and in the chemistry field in general.


            Lauren Spencer, senior, spent the summer doing research on fabricating ZnO nanowires for use in photovoltaic cells at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. One goal of the research would be the use of such cells during long-duration space flights.


            Stephanie Houlgrave, senior, spent the summer at the FBI’s Houston field office as a participant in the Federal Bureau of Investigation Summer Internship Program. Stephanie has provided some information about this program and notes that students interested in such an internship must contact Carol Albrecht, the Texas A&M Internship Coorinator, at 979-862-4689 or carolja@tamu.edu as soon as possible. Applicants must be juniors, seniors or graduate students, must have a 3.0 or higher GPR and must successfully complete a drug test, polygraph examination and a background investigation by the FBI





            For the first time in many years, the demand for teaching assistant to staff the freshman chemistry labs exceeded the supply of available chemistry graduate students so several upper-level undergraduate chemistry majors were recruited for these positions. Of the 36 undergraduates selected to teach in the program this semester, 19 are chemistry majors with the rest coming from a variety of science and education departments across campus. Undergraduate chemistry students serving in teaching positions this fall are: Megan Arnold, James Bondi, Bryan Carroll, Jorja Duffin, William Foley, Daniel Hitchcock, Ashlee Jahnke, Scott Johnsgard, Danielle Maisto, Trevor Makal, Larry May, Kimberly Nash, Nicole Pearsall, David Pyle, Lauren Sprouse, Sarah Stranahan, Sarah Swingle, and Johnathan Williams.






            David Trueba (B.S. 2001), Stephen Kerlegon (B.S. 2006) and Mary Ellen Passarelli (M.S. 2001) spoke to the Horizons in Chemistry class (Chem 100) on September 21 about career opportunities in the chemical industry. Other former students scheduled to speak to this class later in the semester are listed below: Anyone interested in these presentations is invited to attend (Thursdays at 3:45 p.m. in Room 2104).


Oct. 19 - Dr. Christopher Govea (B.A. 1995) from the Baylor College of Medicine will discuss medical school and his career in radiology.


Oct. 26 - Erin (Witt) Hooks (B.S. 2000) will speak about her experiences working in a nuclear power plant and, more recently, with a Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab.


Nov. 10 - Angie Wacker (B.A. 1999) will discuss her career at the Drug Enforcement Administration Regional Crime Lab in Dallas.


November 16 - Dr. Kimberly Defriend (B.A. 1998) will discuss her career at Los Alamos National Laboratory working with aerogels.





            The annual Chemistry Open House is scheduled from 9:45 am - 3 pm on Saturday, October 28th 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. You may find additional information at the following web site or you may contact Dr. Wendy Keeney-Kennicutt, the event organizer: http://www.chem.tamu.edu/class/fyp/ncw/ncw-2006.html


            Last year’s event was chosen by the American Chemical Society as the most outstanding on-going National Chemistry Week event in the country for 2005! Dr. Keeney-Kennicutt was presented with a Chemluminary Award by Anne Nalley, the President of the ACS, at the recent national American Chemical Society meeting in San Francisco in August. Congratulations go out to Dr. Keeney-Kennicutt for her efforts in organizing such a successful event.


            Dr. 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





            Graduate and undergraduate students in the College of Science will participate in the fall commencement ceremonies on Friday, December 15 at 9 a.m. in Reed Area.





            I have been asked, on behalf of the Chemistry Department’s Internal Awards Committee chairman, Dr. Rand Watson, to solicit your suggestions for chemistry faculty who would be worthy of nominations for teaching awards. If you have a suggestion, please send the name (and a short note explaining why you think the person deserves nomination) to me and/or Dr. Watson or other members of the committee: Drs. Laane, Rosynek, Vigh, and Yennello. You, or a group of students, may send these by e-mail or bring them in person if you like. Nominations are welcome anytime but nominations by the end of October are strongly encouraged. We are often asked for such nominations and your input in helping us identify truly outstanding teachers in chemistry would be greatly appreciated. All it takes is one suggestion for a person to be considered for a formal nomination. Thanks for your help.