What’s Happening in Chemistry Circles

Issue #130

April 30, 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

Texas A&M Distinguished Chemist Dr. A. Ian Scott Passed Away April 18, 2007

             Dr. A. Ian Scott, the pioneering Texas A&M University chemist who discovered how bacteria produce vitamin B12 and other insights that helped revolutionize organic and natural product chemistry, died Wednesday (April 18) of an apparent heart attack, according to his family. He was 79.

            Private burial arrangements are pending for the eminent chemist, who came to Texas A&M in 1977 and was named a distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry in 1981. As holder of the Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry and as the D.H.R. Barton Professor of Chemistry, he achieved worldwide renown for his work with vitamin B12, the essential life pigments chlorophyll and heme, the cancer drug taxol and other antibiotics that fundamentally impacted the field of biosynthetic investigation.
            During Scott's 30-year Texas A&M career, he made tremendous scientific contributions, both to the University and to the international chemistry community, said Dr. H. Joseph Newton, dean of the College of Science.
"Texas A&M has lost an extraordinary chemist and gentleman," Newton added. "We have been very fortunate to have him in our midst. He will be greatly missed."
            Scott also served as director of the Texas A&M Center for Biological Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and was a member of the Chemistry/Biology Interface Training Program.
            Dr. Frank M. Raushel, Davidson Professor of Science at Texas A&M and a colleague in the Department of Chemistry, described Scott as "a scholar of extraordinary achievement" who pushed all sorts of envelopes, groundbreaking and otherwise.
            "Professor Scott will be best remembered for his outstanding contributions toward the elucidation of the biosynthetic pathway for the assembly of vitamin B12," Raushel said. "The Scott laboratory was one of the pioneers in the application of nuclear magnetic resonance methods to identify natural products and also follow chemical events in living cells. I shall never forget his attempt to obtain the NMR spectrum of a typical Texas cockroach."
            In 1994 the A. Ian Scott Endowed Lectureship was established at Texas A&M in Scott's honor to provide funds for an annual lecture by a renowned chemist or biochemist that broadened educational opportunities for students in bio-organic chemistry.
            "Ian Scott has made numerous contributions to bio-organic chemistry, and his published papers and invited lectures have contributed greatly to our efforts to build a nationally and internationally recognized chemistry program here at Texas A&M University," said Dr. David H. Russell, Applied Biosystems/MDS Sciex Professor of Mass Spectrometry in Chemistry and head of the Department of Chemistry. "He was also a wonderful person, possessed a great sense of humor and was truly a gentleman."
            A decorated researcher and scholar, Scott's many awards include the Queen's Royal Medal from the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2001), the Davy Medal (2001) and Bakerian Lectureship (1996) from the Royal Society of London, the Corday-Morgan (1964) and Natural Products (1996) Awards from the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Tetrahedron Prize and Medal for Creativity in Organic Chemistry (1995) and the Robert A. Welch Award in Chemistry (2000).
            Most recently, Scott was honored with the American Chemical Society's 2003 Nakanishi Prize for his successful efforts to replicate the vitamin B12 creation process in a test tube. In 2002 he was named Distinguished Texas Scientist of the Year by the Texas Academy of Science.
            Born and educated in Glasgow, Scotland, Scott received his doctorate from Glasgow University in 1952 and previously occupied chairs of chemistry at the University of British Columbia, the University of Sussex and Yale University before coming to Texas A&M. In addition, he received honorary degrees from the University of Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris and the Universidade de Coimbra in Portugal.
            A Fellow of The Royal Societies of London, Edinburgh and Chemistry as well as the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Scott is a member of the European Academy of Arts, Sciences and Humanities. He has authored three books, 26 chapters in books, nearly 450 journal articles and one patent.
            Scott is survived by his wife of 57 years, Elizabeth Scott, of College Station; a son and daughter-in-law, Will and Cabrina Scott, also of College Station; a daughter and son-in-law, Ann and David Ryder, of Southlake, Texas; and six grandchildren.
            Scott's life will be celebrated next month in a public memorial service scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, May 12, at Christ United Methodist Church, located at 4203 State Highway 6 South, College Station, Texas 77845.
In lieu of flowers or other offerings, the Scott family has requested that donations be made to the A. Ian Scott Endowed Scholarship to support students pursuing degrees in chemistry in care of the Texas A&M Foundation, 401 George Bush Drive, College Station, Texas 77840-2811. Cards, letters and other written forms of condolences also may be addressed to the A. Ian Scott Family in care of the Department of Chemistry, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-3255.


(Reprinted from the Department of Chemistry web site: www.tamu.edu)


            Six chemistry majors have been invited to join Phi Beta Kappa, the most prestigious academic honor society in the United States. Those so honored were seniors Sarah Swingle, Frances Varner and Stephanie Wetch and juniors Kelly Martinez, Joshua Owen, and Johnathan Williams. Congratulations for a job well done.       


            LeAnthony Holliness, who will receive his B.S in biomedical sciences and his B.A. in chemistry in May, has accepted a research chemist position with Proctor and Gamble in Cincinnati.

            Bethany Archer, junior chemistry major, has been accepted to the Feik School of Pharmacy at the University of the Incarnate Word. She will begin classes in the four year Doctor of Pharmacy Program in August of 2007.

            Katie Regan, who will receive her B.S. in chemistry in May, will begin graduate school at Rice University this fall to pursue her Ph.D. in chemistry.

            Kelly Wagner, junior chemistry major, has been accepted to participate in the Summer Training Among Research Scientists (STARS) Program at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Ft. Worth this summer. 

            Josh Owen, senior chemistry major, had his proposal, Inhibitor Studies on Mycobacterium tuberculosis Malate Synthase, approved for participation in Honors Research Fellows for the 2007-2008 school year. He will be working in Dr. James C. Sacchettini's lab in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics. He will be working on a drug discovery project where, by virtual screening, he will design inhibitors for the active site of the essential enzyme malate synthase in M. tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis. He also recently competed in the Texas A&M University Student Research Week with a poster of some of his current research in Dr. Sacchettini's lab on a nitrogen regulator protein, GlnB. He placed first in his group in the competition.

            Stephanie Houlgrave, who will receive her B.A. degree in chemistry this May, has been admitted into the George Washington University Forensic Science Graduate Program and the Sam Houston State University FS Graduate Program. She has decided to attend GWU.

            Sarah Swingle and Sarah Stranahan, also graduating in May with their B.S. degrees, will enter the Ph.D. program in chemistry at the University of Texas.

            Erin Cochran, another May 2007 B.S. degree recipient, is getting married the week after graduation and then going to Bermuda for her honeymoon. Her soon-to-be husband will go off to his training schools with all the new Army 2nd Lieutenants and they will then be stationed at Ft. Carson, Colorado in Colorado Springs sometime in November.

            Michael Grubb, senior chemistry major, has co-authored a publication “Application of the accelerated molecular dynamics simulations to the folding of a small protein” with Lijiang Yang, and Yi Qin Gao in the J. Chem. Phys. 126, 125102 (2007)

            Mallory Gessner, sophomore chemistry major, will leave A&M to enter Pharmacy School at the University of Houston this fall.

            Matthew Jungman, senior chemistry major, has accepted an internship this summer with Sasol, based in Lake Charles, LA. He will be working with primary alcohols and ethoxylates, which are polymers made from ethylene glycol.

            Scott Johnsgard, senior chemistry major, has accepted an internship with Celanese in Bay City, TX for the summer.

            Will Foley, a May 2007 B.S. chemistry graduate, will enter the Ph.D. program in chemistry at Texas A&M University.

            Stephanie Wetch, another May 2007 B.A. graduate, will enter medical school at UTMB this fall after getting married on May 19.

            Robert Mitchell, who will complete his B.S. degree in May, will enter the graduate program in chemistry at The University of Florida to pursue his Ph.D.

            Nicole Honesty, B.S. degree candidate this May, has decided to enter graduate school at the University of Illinois.


            David Pyle, who will be getting a B.A. in chemistry and a B.S. in psychology, will be joining the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at UT Southwestern Medical School. The MSTP is an 8 year dual degree program resulting in an MD and a PhD.


            Charity (Cross) Nowlan (B.S. 2004) has written to say that after her husband Dan received his Ph.D. in 2005 from A&M they we moved to the Twin Cities area in Minnesota so that he could complete his post doc studies at the University of Minnesota. In October Dan took a job with a small company north of the cities. He now works on a biodiesel project and he synthesizes molecules for chiral chromatography columns. Charity took a job with an environmental testing firm (PACE Analytical Services). The company is the third largest in the industry in the nation. She runs a GC and tests for components of gasoline. She reports that their most exciting news is that they are expecting their first child this fall. Although they are very happy with where life has taken the so far they miss Texas A&M a lot more than either of them realized we would. You may contact them at: charitynowlan@yahoo.com

            Dr. Thomas (Tommy) Miller (B.S. 2000) has decided to accept a faculty position as an assistant professor in the Chemistry Department at The California Institute of Technology in June 2008 after finishing his postdoctoral stint. Currently, Tommy may be contacted at: tfmiller@calmail.berkeley.edu

            James Bondi, B.S. 2006, will enter the Ph.D. program in chemistry at Pennsylvania State University. One of our former students, Dr. Michael Green (B.S. in chemistry and B.S. in physics) is a professor in the same department.

            Dr. Kimberly Defriend (B.A. 1998) and her husband are expecting their first child in June. She reports that the “morning sickness” has dissipated now but that it was not a pleasant experience. They have recently moved from Santa Fe to Los Alamos to be closer to their work. You may contact them at: kimberlydefriend@yahoo.com 

            Lauren Sprouse (B.A. 2006) wrote to say that she has been working full time as a chemist for the Geochemical and Environmental Research Group here in College Station. In the fall, she will be moving to Temple where she has accepted a high school science position teaching chemistry, biology and anatomy and physiology. After teaching for awhile she plans to go to law school. You may contact Lauren at: laurensprouse@neo.tamu.edu


            Several undergraduate chemistry majors were honored at the ACS Student Affiliate picnic held on Saturday, April 28 in at the home of Janet and John Hogg. The even, arranged by Katie Regan, president of the ACS Student Affiliate Chapter, on behalf of the Chemistry Department and the Student Affiliate Chapter, was attended by about 60 students, faculty, and staff members.

            Dr. Hogg and Dr. Tiner presented the awards for outstanding accomplishments by undergraduate chemistry majors. The money for these awards came from the Department of Chemistry, the Texas A&M Section of the American Chemical Society, and Dr. Hogg’s Thaman Professorship Account. Recipients of all awards were selected by the members of the Chemistry Department’s Undergraduate Awards Committee. Congratulations to these outstanding students!

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

             Stephanie J. Wetch and Sarah F. Swingle

            Chemistry Department Achievement Awards ($50 and a certificate) - Given to a few outstanding junior (60-94 credits) and senior 95 or more credits) chemistry majors based on GPR and other factors. Students selected were: 


            Seniors -         Benjamin D. Naberhaus, Amelia W. Freeman, Ashlee Jahnke, Kelly M. Martinez, Joshua L. Owen, Thu H. Truong, and Francis L. Varner

            Juniors -          Catherine E. Baxter, Bryan J. Carroll, Rebekah A. Condit, Jeffrey Karnes, Kelly G. Wagner, and Johnathan F. Williams

            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:


Justin A. Law, Kevin W. Scott, and Alexander D. Todd

            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.

            Stephanie J. Wetch

            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) Three students were chosen to receive this award. They were:

            Kaitlin M. Burke, Kayla M. Lammert, and Andrew J. Tindall

            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:


Kimberly J. Nash

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

            Ashlee J. Jahnke

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

            William Foley

            Hypercube Scholar Award (Hyperchem Software and a certificate) - Given to a student showing exceptional promise of a research career in academia or industry and likelihood of pursuing a Ph.D. in chemistry.

            Nicole R. Honesty


            ACS student affiliate chapter officers and committee chairs for 2007-2008 year were announced at the picnic. They will be: James Cantu (President), Corbin Gatlin (Vice-President), Sandani Samarajeewa (Treasurer), Hannah Werner (Secretary), Jessica Hemann (Historian), Hiren Bhakta and Amelia Freeman (Academic Chairs), Helen Hamilton (Community Service and Social Chair), and Kevin Wayne Scott (Website Chair). Dr. Tammy Tiner, associate undergraduate advisor, and Marylin Warren will serve as the co-advisors.


            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 2007-2008 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 2007-08 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 2007 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.


            Dr. John Fackler, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, of Toxicology and of Materials Science and Engineering will be receiving the Association of Former Students Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in Research on May 1, 2007. Dr. Fackler has been conducting research in inorganic chemistry at Texas A&M University since 1983. He served as the Dean of the College of Science for many years. He continues to be active in teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses while conducting his research program.

            Dr. John Hogg , Thaman Professor of Undergraduate Teaching Excellence and Professor of Chemistry, was informed in a phone call from President Eddie J. Davis on April 27 that he has been selected as one of two professors to receive the Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence Award presented each spring at Texas A&M . This will make the fifth year these awards, initiated by former President Robert Gates, will be awarded. 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 11. Dr. Hogg 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. Hogg has received three Association of Former Students Awards for Teaching and one for Student Relationships. You may recall that Dr. David Bergbreiter, Eppright Professor of Undergraduate Teaching Excellence and a Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence received this same award last year. College of Science faculty have received three of the ten awards presented thus far. Dr. Bill Bassichis in physics was honored with the award in the inaugural year.