What’s Happening in Chemistry Circles

Issue #133

November 5, 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



            Christina Matz, B.A. chemistry major, was one of two Texas A&M University students recently nominated for the Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships, the two most prestigious and highly coveted academic scholarships available in the United States.    Christina is majoring in chemistry with a minor in business administration. She is on course to graduate magna cum laude and has conducted undergraduate research in nocturnal atmospheric chemistry and served as a laboratory assistant at Texas A&Ms Research and Extension Center in Dallas. In addition, she has studied international business and culture at Oxford University under George Bowen. She is a member of the national champion Texas A&M equestrian team and serves as the teams representative to the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. Also, she has served as a volunteer with Aggie Athletes Involved, Aggie Leaders of Tomorrow and Helping One Student to Succeed.

            According to information provided in the press release, if selected as a Rhodes or Marshall Scholar, Christina says she will study for a masters degrees in financial economics and management research at Oxford. After completing her studies in the United Kingdom, Christina says she plans to study for a Ph.D. in chemistry before entering private industry and serving as a bridge between the worlds of business and scientific research.

To be eligible to apply for these scholarships, students must be graduating seniors or recent graduates and be nominated by the university. Hundreds of students from across the United States apply each year; of the approximately 900 students who apply each year, only 32 are selected for the Rhodes, whereas only 40 of the approximately 1,000 who apply for the Marshall were selected.

Rhodes Scholarships, the oldest international fellowships, were initiated after the death of Cecil Rhodes in 1902 to bring outstanding students from many countries around the world to the University of Oxford.

Marshall Scholarships began in 1953 as a gesture of thanks from the British Government for the U.S. assistance in rebuilding Europe after World War II. According to the Marshall Scholarship Foundation, as future leaders, Marshall Scholars are expected to strengthen the enduring relationship between the British and American peoples, their governments and their institutions. Marshall Scholars are talented, independent and wide-ranging, and their time as Scholars enhances their intellectual and personal growth. Their direct engagement with Britain through its best academic programs contributes to their ultimate personal success.

            Texas A&M has produced seven Rhodes Scholars and four Aggies have become Marshall Scholars. Thomas F. Miller III (B.S. in chemistry and math with a physics minor in 2000) was the first A&M student to ever receive the British Marshall Scholarship.

(Source: Texas A&M News and Information Service)





            Two senior chemistry majors were selected to receive the John B. Beckham Award in the College of Science on Wednesday, October 17. This award is the highest student award offered to students in the College of Science and recognizes achievement, integrity, leadership and significant involvement in the “other” education. Alfredo (A.J.) Echeverria

and Cory Henson each received a check for $1000 and a medallion. This was the first time that both recipients of the two awards were from the same department. Both students have cumulative GPRs greater than 3.6.

            A.J. is a senior B.S. chemistry major with a minor in biochemistry. In addition to an outstanding academic record, A.J. has done research at M.D. Anderson in the summer of 2006 as part of their College Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) Program, and has worked under the direction of Dr. Sherry Yennello at the Cyclotron for about a year and a half. He is currently doing undergraduate research as part of the TAMU Undergraduate Honors Research Fellows Program with Dr. Jeffrey Cirillo in the Department of Microbial and Molecular Pathogenesis at the TAMU Health Science Center. These academic pursuits are complemented by a variety of other extracurricular activities.

            Cory is a senior B.A. chemistry major with a theatre minor. He has been involved with Fish Camp as a counselor in 2005 and 2006 and as a co-chair for 2007. He has also been active in a mentoring organization known as GUIDE as a team leader (2005-06), chair (2006-07) and as a mentor (2007-08).. On top of these major responsibilities, Mr. Henson has done volunteer work with some community organizations and shadowed physicians. He is an active member of Aggie Players and regularly acts in local productions, and is a member of Aggie ALLIES.


            Join me in congratulating A.J. and Cory on their accomplishments and award. Both students plan to enter medical school upon completion of their degrees in May 2008.




            Drs. Michael Rosynek and James Pennington received college-level Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Awards for Teaching at the College of Science Faculty-Staff Meeting and Awards Presentation on October 17.

            Dr. Rosynek, who is also associate head of chemistry and the graduate advisor has been at Texas A&M since 1973. He has taught primarily honors general chemistry in recent years along with coordinating the honors lab. He also routinely teaches the Industrial Chemistry course (i.e. Chem 470) which he developed into a very popular elective course for chemistry and chemical engineering majors. In addition, he has taught Chemistry 101, 102, 323, 324, 325, 326, 481 as well as a graduate catalysis course over the years. One student letter included the following comment about Dr. Rosynek’s teaching. “Dr. Rosynek is an amazing professor and Chem 101 Honors is an amazing course. He takes his Honors course very seriously, but you will learn so much from him. In comparison to the regular CHEM 101 courses, you will learn so much more detail and depth that it is definitely worth it to take this course (even though this course is much harder than the regular courses). He also holds weekly review sessions that are very helpful to explain any homework questions that are challenging.”


    Dr. Vigh, professor of chemistry, was nominated for the award by graduate students in the Department of Chemistry. He holds the Gradipore Chair of Science in Chemistry. In addition to conducting a well-recognized research program in analytical and preparative chiral separations, Dr. Vigh is well known for giving enthusiastic and entertaining chemistry lectures at both the graduate and undergraduate level. One of the supporting letters contained the following quote "The interest that Dr. Vigh took in every student was coupled to an enthusiasm that cannot be matched! His enthusiasm for every topic and for the student’s development was contagious and every student would often strive to go beyond his expectations to participate in the class discussions and projects." Another added that "You cannot be bored, lost or uninterested in Dr. Vigh’s classroom."


            Dr. Pennington, senior lecturer in chemistry has become a mainstay of the sophomore organic chemistry program since coming to Texas A&M in 1998. He routinely teaches multiple sections of Chemistry 227 and 228 and supervises organic chemistry labs. He was, for many years, involved as a judge and/or coordinator for the regional science fair and always helps out with hands-on activities for National Chemistry Week. More recently, he has been joining Dr. Hogg in doing chemistry road shows in public schools. Students routinely comment on the amount of time that Dr. Pennington is willing to spend helping them. One student wrote “ Dr. Pennington is an awesome prof! You have to work very hard in his class but he makes o-chem seem more than just memorization. He wants everyone to learn, is very approachable, and loves teaching.” The student comments are certainly consistent with the fact that Dr. Pennington has been named an Aggie Access namesake and a Fish Camp namesake. Both honors are only bestowed upon faculty or staff held in the highest esteem by students.


           Please join me in congratulating these three gentlemen upon receipt of these well-deserved teaching awards. 



              The 20th Annual Chemistry Open House and Science, organized by Dr. Wendy Keeney-Kennicutt, associate director of the first-year chemistry program, was held on Saturday, October 20. An estimated 700-800 people attended the event which included three Chemistry Road Shows , lots of hands-on activities, tours and participation by students and faculty in several different departments. In addition to Chemistry Department faculty and staff, the ACS student affiliate chapter, Phi Lambda Upsilon, the College of Engineering Student Council, the Physics Department, the Biomedical Engineering Department, the TAMU student chapters of the Health Physics & the American Nuclear Societies, Blinn College, the students in Chemistry 116 labs, and even some local public school teachers made contributions to the event. Although the crowds seemed slightly smaller than in fall 2006, the event was still a success. Many students, staff and faculty members gave up a Saturday, or more time in many cases, to make the event a resounding success. Although a complete listing of participants and activities is difficult to compile, a reasonably complete list of organized activities along with the names of many of the participants may be found at: www.chem.tamu.edu/class/fyp/ncw/handout-2007.pdf

Apologies to contributors, especially student participants, whose names are missing.



            Pre-registration for the spring 2008 term is set to begin November 15 with Honors early registration. Each student will be assigned a registration start time and have 48 hours from that start time to complete registration. The start times are totally random within a certain classification. Classifications are based on the current semester and not on what your classification will be at the end of the semester. Enrolled students will receive a Neo e-mail notifying them of their start date and time. Check the following web site for additional information: http://register.tamu.edu

You may check the on-line schedule of courses at:



Chemistry majors will want to note the following.


             Because of anticipated crowding in the Chemistry 234 sections, we are encouraging B.A. chemistry majors especially to consider postponing their registration in Chemistry 234 until the fall semester. B.A. students have more schedule flexibility than B.S. students when it comes to labs so we are asking that this be done on a voluntary basis. If the labs are oversubscribed, it may be necessary for me to ask some B.A. students to delay their Chemistry 234 enrollment to allow B.S. students to take the course in the spring semester.


            All B.S. and B.A. chemistry majors must take Chemistry 234 (offered in both the fall and spring semesters now) after taking Chemistry 231 (or Chemistry 237 in some cases). Note that only B.S. students are required to take Chemistry 334 after taking Chemistry 325. B.A. majors take the sequence Chemistry 325/326 instead. Chemistry majors must take the special section of Chemistry 228 taught by Dr. Romo or the honor’s section taught by Dr. Hogg unless they have permission from Dr. Tiner or Dr. Hogg to do otherwise or are in the off-sequence version of these courses.


            Chemistry 362 (Descriptive Inorganic Chemistry) is now the required inorganic course for B.S. chemistry majors and may count as an advanced elective for B.A. chemistry majors. It is being offered in the spring 2008 semester and students are strongly encouraged to take this prior to taking Chemistry 433 lab, unless they are graduating in spring or summer 2008, in which case they may need to take these courses simultaneously. Industrial chemistry (Chem 47) is being offered in the spring 2008 term and may count as an advanced elective for B.S. or B.A. chemistry majors.


            Carefully check the degree plan requirements and core curriculum requirements in your particular catalog when planning your schedule. However, I continue to remind you that Chemistry 327 and Chemistry 328 have now replaced Chemistry 323 and 324. You may do a degree audit by going to:  (myrecord.tamu.edu )   Click on current students once you are there and then click on the degree audit request option. Please contact me if you have difficulty interpreting your degree audit. As always, continue to call Ms. Warren at 845-0520 to schedule an advising appointment with Dr. Tiner or Dr. Hogg. Please do not send e-mails to schedule advising appointments.




            Students who plan to graduate in the spring 2008 semester should enter the diploma fee when they register and then check the main A&M web site http://graduation.tamu.edu   at the beginning of the spring semester to file their degree application online. 




            Twelve Chemistry majors are scheduled to graduate on Friday morning, December 14 at 2 p.m. in Reed Arena along with other College of Science students. Check the following web site for more details at: http://graduation.tamu.edu




              Ben Cieslinski (B.S. 1998), Erin (Witt) Hooks (B.S. 2000) and Sarah (Holt) Rodriguez (B.A. 2003) spoke to the Chemistry 100 class on October 4, 11 and 18, respectively. Ben spoke about his position with the Houston Bureau of Air Quality Control while Erin spoke about her varied experiences in nuclear power and currently with Thermo Fisher. Sarah, who has recently completed her PharmD degree spoke about her duties as a clinical pharmacy resident with Methodist Hospital in Houston. Dr. Valerie Meyers will speak about her position with the Texas Division of Environmental Quality on November 8.


            Dr. Gottfried Schroeder (B.S. 2002) wrote recently to share the following news. “It's been a while since we've been in contact, but I wanted to let you know that my wife Sara and I are headed back to Texas! I completed my doctoral work here at the University of North Carolina with Richard Wolfenden in May and I am starting a post-doctoral position at UT-Austin this December. I will be working for Chris Whitman in the Medicinal Chemistry Department (Pharmacy School). Sara and I found a nice apartment in north Austin and we look forward to enjoying all the Texas food we missed so much (mmm brisket!). I'm sure we'll be in College Station sometime soon and we'll be sure to stop by. Sounds like you are keeping busy, hope everything is going well for you too.” Gottfried may, temporarily, be contacted at: gschroeder7@hotmail.com




            Undergraduate chemistry majors Scott Johnsgard, Shaelyn French, Nicole Pearsall, Raquel Allen and Trevor Makal served as student panelists in Chemistry 100 on October 25. This was a time for the freshman chemistry majors enrolled in the class to seek the wisdom of their peers. Thanks to these students for sharing their insights about chemistry, math, physics, professors and all things academic.