What’s Happening in Chemistry Circles

Issue #128

January 26, 2007

         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


            Fourteen undergraduate chemistry majors received degrees at the December 15, 2006 commencement ceremony.

            B.A. degrees were awarded to: Anita Bayer, Judy Dominguez, Rachael Fraser, Jim Gattoc, Matthew Russell, and Lauren Sprouse.

            B.S. degree recipients were: Megan Arnold, James Bondi, Jorja Duffin, Trevor Ewers, Mark Gallagher, Dominique Galvan, Michael Linder, Jr., and Faber McMullen IV.

            Students graduating with honors were: Jorja Duffin (summa cum laude), Dominique Galvan (magna cum laude) and Trevor Ewers (cum laude).


            The 2007-08 undergraduate catalog (#130) will reveal some significant changes in the B.S. and B.A. degree plans for undergraduate chemistry majors. Currently enrolled chemistry majors will, in some cases be affected by these changes in that they will have to adapt to the restructuring and renumbering of the physical chemistry lectures and labs. Also changing will be the timing of certain laboratory course offerings. Students will need to pay particular attention to the following changes as they plan the remainder of the courses in order to prevent unnecessary delays in progress toward their degrees due to poor planning.

            The biggest change students will notice in Catalog #130 is a reduction in the number of hours required for the B.S. and B.A. degrees in chemistry from the current 128 semester credit hours to 120 semester credit hours in each case. This change was made, in both cases, by reducing the number of free, undirected electives by 8 semester credit hours. This reduction in total hours required for the degree is being implemented in all College of Science degrees and, pretty much, University wide based on a mandate from the Texas legislature. This particular reduction will not affect currently enrolled students as they remain under the catalog which they are currently following.

            The second major change, which will affect currently enrolled students, involves the restructuring of the standard physical chemistry course sequence, currently Chemistry 323 and 324, so that the microscopic picture (i.e. quantum mechanics and spectroscopy) is taught first. This will be followed by the macroscopic treatment (heat capacity, entropy, and the equations of state). This is being done by changing the course numbers and the order in which these courses will be taken.

            New course numbers (Chemistry 327 and 328) will replace, respectively, Chemistry 323 and 324. The course numbers have been changed primarily to avoid degree audit problems.

            Chemistry 327 (Physical Chemistry I) will basically reproduce the content of the current Chemistry 324. The course description will read as follows: An introduction to quantum mechanics, exactly solvable model problems; many electron systems and approximate methods; chemical bonding and the electronic structure of molecules; rotational, vibrational, and electronic spectroscopy; molecular symmetry.

            Chemistry 328 (Physical Chemistry II) will basically reproduce the content of the current Chemistry 323. The course description will read as follows: A rigorous treatment of first, second, and third laws of thermodynamics; applications to gases (both ideal and real), liquids, solutions and phase equilibria; statistical thermodynamics; kinetic theory of gases; introduction to chemical kinetics.

            The degree plans would have both B.S. and B.A. students taking Physical Chemistry I (Chem 327) in the first semester of the junior year to be followed by the Physical Chemistry Lab I (Chem 325) in the following semester. Both B.S. and B.A. students would then take Physical Chemistry II (Chem 328) in the second semester of the junior year to be followed by the Physical Chemistry Lab II (Chem 326) for B.A. chemistry majors or Experimental Physical Chemistry II (Chem 334) for B.S. majors in the first semester of the senior year.

            Under the new degree plan, B.S. chemistry majors (who must take Chemistry 362) would take that in the second semester of the sophomore year to be followed by the Chemistry 433 Advanced Inorganic Lab in the first semester of the junior year (note this change in semesters of offering of Chemistry 362 and 433). Chemistry 415 will still be taken in the fall semester of the senior year but B.S. students will take the laboratory in the spring semester of the senior year (note this change in semesters of offering of Chemistry 434). Both B.S. and B.A. students would be expected to normally take Chemistry 315 in the fall semester of the junior year under the new plan.

            As I indicated, these changes will require some careful planning on your part (and the part of the advisors) to make sure things progress smoothly for you. For instance, students who take Chemistry 323 this spring or summer would be allowed to take the new Chemistry 327 course to complete their physical chemistry lecture requirement.

            In general, the plan would be to offer Chemistry 327 and 328 each semester and summer as has been done in the past with Chemistry 323 and 324.

            The last change planned is for Chemistry 234 (taken by all chemistry majors) to become a University W-course in the near future. Students entering under Catalog #130 will be required to complete two separate W-courses in their major in order to meet graduation requirements.

            Copies of the degree plans as they will appear in the new catalog this summer will be posted on bulletin boards outside the undergraduate advising office (Room 104 Chemistry) and on the bulletin boards outside Room 2104 and in the undergraduate lounge in the very near future so that you may inspect them. As always, please consult the undergraduate chemistry advisors about these changes.


            Although this is highly unlikely to affect currently enrolled undergraduate chemistry majors, Chemistry 101 and 102 will be changed this fall to separate the lecture course (3 credits) from the laboratory course (1 credit). Students will enroll in Chemistry 101 (3 credits) and 111(1 credit) followed by Chemistry 102 (3 credits) and Chemistry 112 (1 credit). Separate grades will be reported and entered on the transcript for the lecture and laboratory courses. Students failing the lecture portion of the course but passing the lab, or vice versa, would not repeat both in a subsequent semester.


            Dr. Wayne Couch (B.S. 1990) stopped by for a brief visit on November 13. He was in town for the Nebraska football game over the weekend. He is still practicing medicine in Wyoming. Wayne and his wife have four children. You may contact Wayne at: waynecouch@hotmail.com

            Dr. Kimberly DeFriend (B.A. 1998) spoke to the Chemistry 100 class on November 16. Kim’s official title is now Project Leader for Target Fabrication and Materials Science Secondary Certification and ICF Program Element. She oversees aerogel R&D and target fabrication at Los Alamos National Laboratory for the ICF (inertial confinement fusion energy) program. You may e-mail Kim at: kimberlydefriend@yahoo.com

            Angie Wacker (B.A. 1999) spoke to the Chemistry 100 class on November 9 about her exploits at the DEA lab in Dallas where she continues to work. Angie and her friend Mike Walker spent a couple of days in town and attended the Nebraska football game. You may e-mail Angie at: texasaggie99@hotmail.com

            Anna (Schell) Leggett (B.S. 2005) is currently in the forensic science program at Sam Houston State University and sent the following e-mail in response to a query about the program from one of our current students. “I just sent Stephanie an email about the Forensics program. It's been going pretty well and I should graduate next August after I complete an internship in the summer. Right now, I think I will probably go in

to Toxicology and maybe work for a medical examiner. I'm considering getting a PhD (eventually) but I want to work for a while first and make sure that Toxicology is really what I want to do. I've also had the opportunity to work as an assistant for one of the forensic science professors. We are conducting a census of all of the nation's publicly funded crime labs to get information on workload, funding, and case backlog in these labs. It's not something I ever thought I would do but it has actually been really interesting. I've really enjoyed seeing more of the criminal justice/law side of things along with the science. I hope everything is going well with you. Friends may contact Anna at: annak8@gmail.com

            Charles Hamilton (B.S. 2001) sent a note from Boston and MIT a while back. As always, I assume he won’t mind me sharing the details with you. “Hi Dr. Hogg, how are things at A&M? I really miss it out there. Luckily, I get regular updates from my little sister Helen (a freshman chem major). She tells me that she really enjoys your Chem 100 class. I'm not sure if you remember, but my year was the year where we blew up an enormous amount of nitrogen triiodide (I think it was that). That was a pretty cool explosion. As for my update, I'm almost done with grad school. I'm hammering out my thesis and getting some last minute experiments done. I'm setting a defense date sometime in late December. After I graduate, I'm going to start a post-doc at Los Alamos National Lab, still working in inorganic chemistry. It looks like I will be doing main-group chemistry instead of the transition-metal coordination chemistry I have been doing. I'll miss Boston, but I am looking forward to living out in New Mexico (and being closer to Texas). I really enjoy getting the Orbitals updates. It’s great to hear how well everyone is doing. When I get some time off, I'll make the trek down to College Station to pop in and say "howdy" to everyone. If anyone wants to get in touch with me, they can e-mail me at chamilto@mit.edu or chawhamilton@gmail.com”

              Candis (Darr) Taylor (B.S. 1996) sent an e-mail back in October but, as I’m getting slower and slower about getting Orbitals out, details are just now appearing in this fine publication. “Hello, Dr. Hogg, I hope you're doing well. I need to update my email with you. Since Time Warner bought Comcast, I have a new email address, candis.taylor@tx.rr.com, although I will still receive my Comcast email for another year. Anyway, I was down in September for my 10 year reunion and just loved seeing College Station again (although a lot has changed!) We saw the Aggies beat Louisiana Tech, although we had to wait an hour for the game to start because of the rain and lightening. It was worth it though just to see the Aggies play and the Aggie Band! But a little scary up that high with all the lightning! I brought my husband and he fell in love with A&M, so I'm sure we'll be back soon. Anyway, hope you're doing good and we'll talk to you soon.”

              Here is another belated e-mail from Richard Hammitt (B.S. 1995). Dr. Hogg, you may not remember me, but I received a B.S. in Chemistry at A&M in 1995. I came across the Orbitals newsletters, and it was really nice to hear about what the other old ags are doing and what's going on in the department. If you would put this e-mail address on your list for sending out the Orbitals newsletter I'd appreciate it. In case anyone else wants to hear about me since I dropped off the face of the earth after I graduated, my wife (Ann) and I have been married for 9 years and we have a one year old daughter (Emily). I worked in industry for several years after I graduated from A&M, but went back to graduate school to earn a M.S. in Chemistry on 2004. I am currently working on my Ph.D. under Dr. Thummel at the University of Houston, and hope to graduate this next year. Thanks again for the Orbitals newsletter!” Friends may contact Richard at: r.hammitt@sbcglobal.net

            Angelica (Canaille) Glover (B.S. 2006) is, as the name implies now married. Here is a recent e-mail from her. “ Dear Dr. Hogg: Howdy! I wanted to drop a line to tell you about my life in the real world. I am now married, so I'm no longer Angelica Canaille but Angelica Glover; the wedding was beautiful and the honeymoon to St. Lucia was wonderful. I have gotten a new position as a chemist I at the Dept. of Health, so I'm still working at the same place, but as an actual chemist. I'll start on the 1st of the year, and will be working in the radiochemistry section of the Department. They test things such as drinking water, soil, vegetation, and air for radioactive materials. It's something I have never done before, so it would be nice to learn something new. Well, I better get back to work! Have a good day and I hope to hear from you soon.” You may contact Angelica at: angelica_vca1@yahoo.com

            Haley (Hagg) Lobland (B.S. 2003) sent some pictures of her, her husband and new daughter (Taylor Eve) at Christmas. Very cute. They are posted outside my office. You may send Haley a request for your very own picture at: texasinline@gmail.com

            Brian Munson (B.S. 1997) has established contact recently with some very interesting details of his life for the past few years. He has given me permission to share this. “Dr. Hogg: I realized it has been many years since I gave you an update, so I figured it’s about time. I just separated from the Active Duty US Air Force (yes, my discharge was honorable), where I had been for over five years and attained the rank of Captain. I decided to join back in 2001, just after I spoke with you last. Following Officer Training School at Maxwell AFB, AL, my first assignment was with the National Air & Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH. While stationed there, I was primarily involved with technical intelligence data analysis obtained on foreign weapon systems. I was specifically tasked with data analysis from space-based non-imaging infrared collection systems.

            While stationed in Ohio, I had the opportunity to deploy to Baghdad, Iraq in spring 2004, just about a year after we invaded. While there, I served as a foreign weapon threat expert, which means I knew all the technical details of how certain weapons performed (what they could and couldn’t do).

            Following my three-year tour in Ohio, I was then stationed at Buckley AFB, CO. While there, I was involved in real-time direction/operation of national space systems. As required by this position, I was living the operations lifestyle of four-days-on, four-days-off, and alternating between day and night 12-hour shifts. While I greatly miss the job and all the excitement that went along with it, I am very glad to be sleeping at night again.

            Unfortunately, I can’t pass on too many details of my Air Force career since just about everything I did was classified. Also, I don’t want to bore you with too many unsolicited details.

            My wife Christie (BS Zoology ’97) and I moved back home to Texas last December. I am currently employed with Baker Petrolite (a Baker Hughes company) in the Houston area as a Finished Fuel Additives Chemist. I primarily work with diesel fuel and am involved with both lubricity and cold flow improvement products.

            On a personal note, my wife and I have two daughters. Stephanie is six years old and in first grade, and Kimberly is three years old. We are very happy to be back in south Texas around all of our family. I hope this message finds you well. Please feel free to call on me if I can ever be of any assistance.” You may contact Brian at: brian.munson@bakerpetrolite.com

            An Internet search recently allowed me to locate Dr. Greg York (B.S. 1983; MD. 1997). I tracked him down at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore where he works at the R.A. Cowley Shock Trauma Center. We spoke at length on the telephone. Greg is now married with kids and is Trauma/Critical Care Surgeon and Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery. He has a very impressive resume. He is still in the Air Force and has risen to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He was a pilot in Operation Desert Shield/Storm in the late 80's - early 90's before coming back to A&M for his medical degree. Greg was in the Corps at A&M and was President of the Chemistry Club for one year. Friends may contact Greg at: gyork@unm.edu

                Breaking News! Melissa (Supak) Valadez (B.S. 2000) announced that she and her husband, Steve, are expecting a baby at the end of June. She also reported that she is currently in Canada for the for a month for a training program. The RCMP keeps a paint database that allows forensic labs across the world access to automotive paint information. “If we get enough paint left at a scene or on a victim from a hit and run case, we can analyze the layers on FTIR and then run the information through the database to come up with a list of possible makes and models to aid in the search. The first part of my trip will be extensive training in the use of the database and the second part of the trip will be actually assisting in entering paint information to the database. I’ll get to do a little touring while in Edmonton also (if I can survive the extreme cold!). I hope to also get down to Calgary one weekend.” You may recall that Melissa is a forensic scientist at the Texas Department of Public Safety Lab in Austin. You may send congratulations to the couple at: Melissa.Valadez@txdps.state.tx.us

            Marinette (Jones) Martin (B.A 2003) has recently (December 18) accepted a new position with Ambion, Inc. in Austin. Ambion is an Applied Biosystems business (newly acquired) and she is working for the Global Chemical Compliance and Risk Management (CCRM) department as a Hazard Communications Specialist. Primarily. She works on updating and eventually authoring MSDSs in addition to determining proper shipping of their products. You may send birthday congratulations to Marinette’s daughter, who turned 1 on January 23, to : martin_marinette@yahoo.com

            Sondra Steele (B.S. 2005) will finish her graduate degree in forensic sciences at George Washington University in May. She hopes to stop by A&M when she attends the AAFS convention in San Antonio from February 19-25. You may e-mail her at: ssteele@gwu.edu 


            James Machac (B.A. 1994) is still at Huntsman where he is employed as a marketing manager for a number of markets including OilField. He recently ran into an old classmate, Thomas Welton (B.S. 1994), at Halliburton. Contact James at: James_Machac@huntsman.com


            Angel Hoover (B.S. 2006) has moved to BJ Services. She reports on her new job. It is still an oil company and the pay is the same, but I am working in a lab vs. being a field engineer, and I get to live in Houston. I do mostly acid digestions on scale sent in from pipelines, like the Trans-Alaskan. Then I run a series of analytical tests to determine what compound is left after the digestion is complete, usually its magnetite, sometimes ferrite. I am really enjoying it, not to mention I am working normal hours instead of waking up at 1 a.m. to be at the yard by 2:30 a.m. As a recent grad it was hard to stomach waking up for work before the bars close.” Anglea’s contact information is: Angel.Hoover@bjservices.com


            I hope Garry (Smitty) Grubbs (B.S. 2006) won’t mind me sharing his good news with everyone. He sent the following recently. “Hello. I just wanted to inform you about what has been going on in my life since graduation in May 2006. Since then, I have been accepted and am attending graduate school in chemistry at the University of North Texas in Denton and am currently working on microwave spectroscopy with Dr. Stephen Cooke. I am really excited. I want to say thank you to everyone in the department for helping me get here. Since May of last year I have also had surgery to lose weight. I have, since June of last year lost about 110 lbs. I have very much changed my life. Thanks to everyone who has helped me out along the way. Tell the department hello for me and that I wish I were still able to see them often.
Thank you again.” Smitty’s contact information is:


            Dr. Carol (Cross) Wise (B.S. 1985) dropped me a note recently and sent a Christmas card with pictures of her two teenagers, Ben and Madeline. She and her family still live in Lewis, Texas. She is still the Director of Molecular Genetics at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. She reports that she may be coming back to College Station for a meeting of the Texas Genetics Society. Fortunately for me, she didn’t challenge me to another game of driveway basketball. We, along with a few other chemistry students, used to play basketball quite a bit but that was a long time ago. I still remember her elbowing me in the chest so hard I wanted to cry, however. If you’d like to challenge her, contact her at: Carol.Wise@UTSouthwestern.edu


            Oliver Robinson (B.A. 1997) and wife, Holly, announced the birth of their second son recently. James Leland Robinson was born January 8 at 8:05 a.m.. He weighed 8 lbs 4 oz and was 20 in long. He joins an older brother, Luke. Holly Houghtaling started out as a chemistry major but received her degree in biology. Pictures of Oliver, Holly and James Leland are posted on the bulletin board outside my office. Oliver has also just accepted a new position in Dallas with Trammell Crow to spearhead retail development in North Texas. He'll be commuting to Dallas until April or May, when his family will move north. He has worked for Trammell Crow in Houston for the past 3.5 years. His e-mail will remain: Orobinson@trammellcrow.com


            Angie Wacker (B.A. 1999) wrote to announce that she and Mike Walker are engaged to be married. You may recall from an earlier announcement in this issue of Orbitals that Mike was only a “friend” back in November when Angie came to make a presentation to the Chemistry 100 Class. Congratulations may be sent to Angie and Mike at: texasaggie99@hotmail.com


            Justin Amaro (B.A. 2004) wrote to say that, after a short stint in graduate school, he is now in Sarasota, Florida where he is in just his second semester at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine. You may e-mail Justin at: justin.amaro@lecom.edu

            Eric Hendrickson (B.S. 2005) stopped by the office for a brief visit on January 23. He was in town for a recruiting fair and brought by some information about some chemistry openings with his company. This has been sent out by e-mail earlier. He is still with GE Water and Process Technologies in The Woodlands. He said that his wife, Carlie (Stephens) Hendrickson (B.A. 2005) went though the alternative certification program and is now teaching high school chemistry. You may contact them at: eric.hendrickson@ge.com


            Jennifer Goss (B.S. 2005) sent a Christmas card to report that she is doing well in graduate school at Boston University. She is doing her research in the general area of organic chemistry but did not provide any details beyond that.

             A Christmas card with the entire family dressed in western attire was received from Dr. Eddie Moler (B.S. 1989). Eddie has started a new job with Tethys Bioscience in Walnut Creek, California. He and his wife have 2 kids, a boy and a girl.

            Lindy (Sparks) Stoll (B.S. 1994) sent a card with a picture of her three boys. Matt Rowan (B.S. 2004 ) sent a beautiful card with him and his wife Cynthia posing against a beautiful Texas Sunset.


            Blake Yarbrough (B.A 2006) and Amanda Sample plan to be married on April 21 in Lufkin, Texas.