What’s Happening in Chemistry Circles

Issue #132

October 4, 2007


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

written by Dr. John L. Hogg



            Dr. Carol (Cross) Wise (B.S. 1985) stopped by for a very brief visit on October 1. She was in town planning a spring 2008 meeting in College Station for the Texas Genetics Society, a group for which she is president. Carol is currently teaching and doing research with the Seay Center for Musculoskeletal Research at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas and with UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. She is the director for molecular genetics at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children and Assistant Professor for Orthopaedic Surgery at UTSMCD. She received her Ph.D. in biochemistry from UT Southwestern Medical School in 1991. Her thesis title was: “Structural and Functional Studies of the Yeast Mitochondrial RNase P RNA”. She reluctantly provided the following information about her recent success in research.


            A press release from Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children on April 26, 2007 announced that Dr. Cross led a 10-year study that identified the first gene - CHD7 - associated with idiopathic scoliosis, the most common spinal deformity in children. Idiopathic scoliosis has no known cause or cure. It affects 2-3% of school age children in the United States and costs several billion dollars in surgical treatment each year. You may read the complete press release at the following site by clicking on the What’s Happening section and then clicking on the appropriate story. http://www.tsrhc.org/ 



            The annual Chemistry Open House is scheduled from 9:45 am - 3 pm on Saturday, October 20th 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-2007.html



            For the second year in a row, the demand for teaching assistants 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 24 undergraduates selected to teach in the program this semester, half are chemistry majors with the rest coming from a variety of science departments across campus. Undergraduate chemistry students serving in teaching positions this fall are: Bryan Carroll, Rebekah Condit, Shyreen Dulanya, Daniel Hitchcock, Melinda Luetke, Trevor Makal, Clayton Mercer, David Moore, Howard Price, Gregory Rivera, Sandani Samnarjeewa, and Thu Ha Truong. 






            Eric Hendrickson (B.S. 2005) and Carlie (Stephens) Hendrickson (B.A. 2005) spoke to the Horizons in Chemistry class (Chem 100) on September13 about their respective careers with GE Water & Process Technologies and as a high school chemistry teacher. More recently, Dr. Marie Mullen (B.S. in biology and B.A. in chemistry, 1991) spoke about her career in emergency medicine and her research on sepsis at the University of Massachusetts in Worcester. Other speakers scheduled later in the semester are listed below: Anyone interested in these presentations is invited to attend (Thursdays at 3:45 p.m. in Room 2102).


Oct. 4 - Ben Cieslinski (B.S. 1998) with the Bureau of Air Quality Control for the city of Houston.


Oct. 11 - Erin (Witt) Hooks (B.S. 2000) will reprise her presentation from last year and talk about her experiences at a nuclear power plant, with the Texas DPS, and her present position with Thermo Fisher in Austin.


Oct. 18 - Sarah (Holt) Rodriguez (B.A. 2003) will tell about her recent completion of the PharmD degree.


November 8 - Dr. Valerie Meyers (B.A. 2000) will talk about her experiences with the Texas Division of Environmental Quality.


November 15 - Dr. Holly Gaede, senior lecturer in chemistry, will discuss undergraduate research opportunities.




            Judy (Dominiguez) Herrera (B.A. 2006) sent a short note recently to say that she had gotten married in January and is currently employed at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.


            Caroline Marie Barondeau arrived at 1:43 pm on August 2, 2007 (3 weeks early). She weighed in at 6 lbs., 11 ounces, and was 19 inches long. Proud parents are Dr. David Barondeau (Ph.D. 1996) and Dr. Christine Mullen (B.S. 1994). David is an assistant professor of chemistry at TAMU and Christine was a lecturer in chemistry during the 2006-2007 academic year. She is taking the fall semester off to be with her new daughter.


            Susan Hernandez (B.A. 2005) wrote to say that she used her chemistry degree (biological chemistry track) and experience gained in working in a Vet school lab working with mice to land a job at Lexicon Pharmaceuticals (formerly Lexicon Genetics) in The Woodlands, TX. She was in their Target Validation group in the Neurology department studying animal behavior with various assays. She worked there for a year and then moved to Austin. She currently works for a fast-growing company called PharmaForm, LLC which is owned by the international Akela Pharma. She reports that she loves her job and Austin. You may contact Susan at: psyc0bebe1@hotmail.com 


            David Trueba (B.S 2001) and Stephen Kerlegon (B.S. 2006), both with Celanese , spoke to the ACS Student Affiliate Chapter on September 20. Celanese provided pizza and soft drinks for the meeting. David is a lead recruiter with Celanese and will be back on campus recruiting on October 9. You may contact David at David.Trueba@celanese.com 








            Nine undergraduate chemistry majors received $1000 IUCCP-A.E. Martell Undergraduate Chemistry Scholarships for the 2007-08 academic year. This scholarship program, as reported in Orbitals last year, is being discontinued but the department is still honoring past commitments to previous scholarship recipients. Those receiving awards this year are: Rebekah Condit, Alfredo Echeverria, Amelia Freeman, Cory Henson, Scott Johnsgard, Melinda Luetke, Joshua Owen, Randall Suders, and Johnathan Williams.  





            James Delfeld, Ashlee Jahnke, Sandani Samarajeewa and Thu Ha Truong have each been awarded Dow Aggies Scholarships in the amount of $1500 for the 2007-2008 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.





            Four undergraduate chemistry majors were recognized with scholarships from the Hach Scientific Foundation of Loveland, Colorado for the 2007-2008 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: Whitney Becker, Sallie Finklea, Megan Stussi, and Crystal Young.





            Several additional chemistry scholarships were awarded this fall. These 2007-08 scholarships honor former students and or chemistry faculty.


            Kathryn Webb, sophomore chemistry major, received the $2000 Eileen and Harry Lewis Scholarship.


            Alexander Pemba, senior chemistry major, received the $2000 Herman Liebhafsky Scholarship.


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


            Andrew Lindsey, senior chemistry major, received the $2000 Sharon Merritt Birtcher Scholarship for a student pursuing teacher certification.


            Clayton Mercer and Omobolanle Gbadamosi, junior chemistry majors, each received a George C. Bauer Scholarship of $800-$1000 but Omobolanle eventually had to decline the scholarship since she left TAMU to enter pharmacy school this fall.




            One of your classmates dropped by my office last Friday afternoon to ask me why she had not been given more information about the services offered by the TAMU Career Center. She had taken the initiative to check out their services on her own as she was looking for a summer internship and was surprised to find out that there were several companies interviewing specifically for chemistry interns. I had to confess that I had not advertised the Career Center as much as I had in the past for a variety of reasons. Historically, I used to write these long diatribes in Orbitals (one is reproduced at the bottom of this article.) encourage chemistry majors to sign up with the Center to interview for permanent positions and internships. To be honest, over the years chemistry majors have been less than responsible about taking advantage of the Career Center interviews and I stopped doing the yearly admonishments. Here are some of the reasons I routinely heard from students as excuses for not interviewing.

1. There is a $50 per semester fee.
2. There aren't enough companies interviewing for permanent jobs or internships to justify the fee.
3. I don't have time to get my resume and everything together in time to interview.
4. I'm not going to begin looking for a job until after I graduate.
5. I"m just a freshman (sophomore, etc) and it's too early to begin this process.
6. I'm going to medical school (or vet school, dental school, graduate school, etc) so it's a waste of my time to interview.
7. I'm going to wait until the spring semester to

8. I'm not sure what I'm going to do next summer or after I graduate.
9. I don't have a resume and don't know what I'd put on one anyway.
10. I'm just going to concentrate on school and not worry about a job yet.
11. I'm independently wealthy and won't ever have to work for a living.
12. I'm pretty sure someone will just knock on my door one day and offer me a great job.

            Anyway, I then would routinely get calls from recruiters saying no one had signed up to interview and they felt as if it was a waste of time to come here. "What's the problem?" they'd say. "Don't you have anyone graduating or wanting an internship?" It was often quite embarrassing to have to deal with the lack of response by chemistry majors when confronted by these recruiters. They just didn't understand why the students were so lackadaisical.

To try to combat the lack of response by chemistry students, some companies started recruiting directly in the Chemistry Department without going through the career center and this led to lots of hard feelings between the Career Center and the Chemistry Department. Some companies will still come directly to the Chemistry Department to recruit but many (most?) prefer to go through the Career Center.

As e-mail notification has become more predominant, I have found myself sending out more direct Neo e-mails to the Chemistry major's list-serve when I receive information about jobs, internships, etc. and not including them directly in Orbitals, which is published only monthly. I assume that, provided the information, you are taking advantage of these opportunities. However, I now realize that is not the case and that I have been remiss in not being more encouraging about the Career Center.

So, toward that end. please go immediately to the Career Center web site:

Once there, you may Register. After that, click on the Undergrads tab at the top of the home page to get started. At the Getting Started page (READ THIS PAGE), click on My Major in the upper left corner of the page and then click College of Science followed by Chemistry. This will bring you to a page where you can find the Campus Recruiting Schedule for employers seeking chemistry majors for full time and internship positions. Many deadlines have already passed.

            The College of Science coordinator at the Career Center is Ms. Marylin Yeager. Her contact information is:                        
            Phone: (979) 845-5139
            Fax: (979) 845-2979
            209 Koldus Building
            1233 TAMU
            College Station, TX 77843-1233



            List of Seniors: A list of students who will graduate between now and August 2003 is being compiled. This list is frequently requested by companies that hire chemists and graduate and professional schools and we want to include your name on this list as a service to you. However, we must have your current address, degree (with minor if applicable), home address, phone number, graduation date and a brief description of you future plans for inclusion on the list. Only students who complete the form available in my office (Room 104) and return it by Wednesday, September 11 at noon will be included on the list. We will not have time to try and track you down and solicit this information in any other way. As always, I will be very reluctant to write letters of recommendation for any senior chemistry major who fails to take advantage of this opportunity for any reason. "I know I'm going to medical school, etc." is not an acceptable reason for failing to do this.

Interviews: Many of the companies will be interviewing in the Chemistry Department without going through the Career Center so it is especially important that Ms. Warren has all of your information available in order to contact you about those companies. You should also sign up at the Career Center (formerly the Placement Center) in Room 209 Koldus Building as soon as possible for fall interviews. Check out their website at:
http://careercenter.tamu.edu to find information on full-time jobs and internships. Do not wait another minute to do this. The bid deadline for some of the companies interviewing chemists is very early in September. Do not be reluctant to interview. Be aggressive and take advantage of every opportunity. I do not want to get a call from the placement center saying that "company X" is interviewing chemists but that no one has signed up to interview with them. This happens almost every semester and there is no excuse for it. To repeat, I will not write letters of recommendation for any senior chemistry major who fails to take advantage of this opportunity for any reason. "I know I'm going to medical school, graduate school, etc." is not an acceptable reason for failing to do this. You might change your mind or your circumstances might change. You should be honest with the employers but the experience of interviewing will be very good for you.




            Graduate and undergraduate students in the College of Science will participate in the fall commencement ceremonies on Friday, December 14th at 2 p.m. in Reed Area.