What=s Happening in Chemistry Circles

Issue #71

November 12, 1998

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

written by Dr. John L. Hogg


The Department of Chemistry at Texas A&M University hosted between 300 - 500 students, parents and teachers at a National Chemistry Week Open House on Saturday October 31, 1998 from 10 A.M. to 3 P.M. About 80 volunteers which included Chemistry faculty (18), graduate students (~15), post-doctorals (2), undergraduate chemistry majors(~20), high school AP chemistry students (~5) and staff members (~15) were involved in the various presentations and hands-on activities. About $1800 worth of materials from the National Chemistry Week office was purchased by the local ACS section for distribution to visitors. In addition, Dr. Hogg purchased another $800 worth of materials from his special University Professorship of Undergraduate Teaching Excellence Account for distribution. There were Chemistry Road Show Performances at 10 A.M. and 1:00 P.M. given by Drs. Hogg and Peck and several assistant. Research Lab Tours and Cyclotron tours were enjoyed by hundreds of visitors. Demonstrations and hands-on activity sessions in the labs for children and adults alike ran continuously, from 10:15 A.M. until 1:45 P.M. Drs. Elizabeth and Manny Soriaga gave three presentations on AThe Making of Multi-Media Chemistry Presentation.@ There were also presentations on AArchaeological Chemistry and Cave Painting@ by Dr. Rowe. Dr. Reibenspies allowed students to build gum-drop molecular models of compounds they manipulated on Silicon Graphics Computers in the Molecular Modeling Lab.

Invitations to the event were mailed to about 150 area high schools and the high school chemistry teachers of all freshman chemistry majors were invited. The event was covered in a University press release, in an announcement on the TAMU Community Calendar and in the local newspaper Community Calendar. It was also featured on a local TV show AHomefront News@. A very detailed post-event story appeared in the local newspaper the next day and in the student newspaper, The Battalion, the next week. Pictorial coverage was good and the event was also covered by the local TV station on their evening news.

The hands-on activities were coordinated by Drs. Gopalakrishnan, Tiner and K-Kennicutt with volunteers from the student affiliate ACS section, the local AP high school chemistry class and volunteers from two sophomore organic chemistry classes. These were walk-in activities which ran from 10:15 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. The students made polyurethane foam, slime and did the chromatography demonstration with the color markers provided by the local ACS section and Dr. Hogg. In addition, the students were given the opportunity to have their fingernails polished with UV-sensitive nail polished purchased by Dr. Hogg and they were provided some UV sensitive plastic beads to take home. A UV-light was used to demonstrate the color changes of the beads and fingernail polish to the less adventurous. Dr. Macfarlane entertain pre-K-4th graders with his laser demonstration titled ABuzzy Bee: Three Dangers of the Magical Queen." Dr. Macfarlane=s research group presented an on-going skit on "Cardiovascular Chemistry" with a "patient, doctor, chemist, simulated blood draw and analysis with equipment to illustrate the relationships between tax money used to support academic research and medicine. Visitors served as "patients. Computer modeling of molecules such as DNA was enjoyed as a hands-on activity using laptop computers. This was coordinated by Dr. Harding. John Blackadar checked the metal content of various items of jewelry supplied by the visitors using x-ray fluorescence.

The Chemistry Road Show featured fires, explosions, weird polymers, super cold materials and other amazing things but all demonstrations were followed with a discussion of chemistry behind the demonstration. Interactive questioning with audience members was rewarded with the distribution of 40 of the hologram lollipops. These two shows were attended by about 400 people including adults from the local community.

Eight different research labs opened their doors with tours as did the Cyclotron. Tours were led by undergraduate chemistry majors beginning in groups of about 10 people at 10:15, 11:15, 12:15, 1:15 and 2:15. Sophisticated instrumentation was featured as were demonstrations of fundamental chemical laboratory techniques and demonstrations illustrating the interface between biology and chemistry. About 120 people toured the Cyclotron in three separate tours. This activity was hosted by Dr. Natowitz.

This is the most complete list I can come up with as far as students, faculty, staff, postdocs who helped out in one way or another with National Chemistry Week Open House. I apologize to anyone who volunteered but whose name I do not have.

Undergraduate Chemistry Majors: Jennifer Drost, Melissa Supak, Angie Clinkenbeard, Darrell Poppe, Peter Duong, Johanna Mullen, Erin Witt, Shelly Roper, Rachel McConnell, Jay Horn, Julie Orf, Elise Waltman, Kelly McGonigle, Lauren LaChance, Keli Chiasson, Brandon Posvar, Gottfried Schroeder and Celeste Davis.

Graduate Students: Shawn Schiller, Zhi Lai, Kevin White, Alex Sokolowski, John Blackadar, Layle Watkins, Anna Melnichinko, Anne Liu, Julie Pasos, Brian Hoskin, Zachlyn Thompson, Yeon Su Park, Xiaole Chen, Phil Osburn, Kurt Kiewal.

Post-Docs: Steve Cockrill and Todd St. Clair.

Staff: Marylin Warren, Judy Ludwig, Julie Wilson, Judy Knoblock, Monica Gonzales, Gloria Avila, Joe Reibenspies, Lloyd Sumner, Terry Gruber, David Danzeiser, Ron Carter, Curtis Lee, Melvin Williams and Justin McKown.

Faculty: Gabbai, Harding, Goodman,  Kennicutt, Macfarlane, Watson, Crooks, Vigh, Natowitz, Cremer, E. Soriaga, M. Soriaga, M. Rowe, G. Sulikowski, Peck, Tiner, and Gopalakrishnan.

There were also student volunteers from the First Year Chemistry Program: Chris Burnett and Michelle McNeil.

Dr. John Hogg coordinated the event.



Senior chemistry major Chip Kent received the John Beckham Award as the outstanding senior in the College of Science at the College of Science Faculty meeting on October 9. He received a plaque and a check for $1000 in recognition of his accomplishments. He immediately left this meeting to participate in the 1998 Collegiate Nationals for Olympic-style weightlifting in Shreveport, Louisiana where he placed 4th in the 94 kg class with the following lifts:

Snatch 87.5 kg

Clean + Jerk 122.5 kg

Total 210 kg

He totaled the same weight as the 3rd place winner, but he weighted 2kg less than Chip so he placed above him. Brains and brawn do so to be very compatible in Chip=s case.



Mr. Stuart Gregory, an organic chemist in Discovery Chemistry Research at Lilly Research Laboratories in Indianapolis, Indiana spoke on AThe Pharmaceutical Battle Against Microbial Drug Resistance@ at the ACS Student Affiliate meeting on November 5. Stuart received his B.S. degree in chemistry at Texas A&M University in 1994. This was an excellent talk although the scientific implications of his talk are quite frightening.



Preregistration for the spring 1999 semester for Honors students and student workers has begun and registration by classification starts with seniors on November 15 at 10 p.m. Please check the class schedule booklets, which are now available, for complete registration instructions. Chemistry majors who plan to take either Chemistry 114 or 234 and who do not automatically qualify for honors registration must obtain a special permission slip from Dr. Hogg and present it to the Honor's Program Office in Room 101 Academic Building to register for these courses. Non-qualifying students may only do this during their normal registration period.

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 but 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. Singleton or the honor=s section taught by Dr. Bergbreiter unless they have my written permission to do otherwise.



There are some very general questions that come up frequently that I can address here. Please stop by our offices for individual counseling, however, if there is any doubt about what you need to do.

In general, I would suggest you repeat any math or chemistry course in which you make a D in the first semester of a two-semester sequence. This usually indicates that you are not well prepared for the next semester and are setting yourself up for failure. You should, of course, consult with your instructor for his/her opinion. Every situation is somewhat unique but don't mislead yourself into thinking you're likely to do better in the second semester unless there is very real evidence to support this. This advice clearly may apply to courses other than math and chemistry.

Students who are not doing particularly well in Chemistry 103 or 103H may, after consultation with their instructor and with my written authorization, choose to switch to the 102 sequence or from the honor's sequence to the non-honors sequence.

I want you to succeed in the best major for you. If that is chemistry, that's great, but if it is not chemistry then we need to decide where you will find success and see that you get on the right track as soon as possible. What are the signs that you are in the wrong major? There may be many and this is best discussed in a personal advising session. Please come in to discuss this, especially if you are not doing well in one or more chemistry or math classes. Even that is not always a sign that you are in the wrong major. Students who fail to register for appropriate courses for their major will have registration blocks placed on their registration and will be unable o alter or carry out subsequent registration until these blocks are removed. When in doubt, check in advance.


Professors Cremer and Gabbai are interested in finding some undergraduate chemistry majors to work in their labs. Contact them for a discussion at 862-1200 or 862-2070, respectively, if you are interested. You can check out some details of their research by consulting the Chemistry Department home page at www.chem.tamu.edu.

The folder for Undergraduate Summer Research and scholarship opportunities has been started and you may come by Room 104 and look through it.



We have applications and information about this scholarship program for both undergraduates and graduate students who are African-American. Undergraduate applicants must have a cumulative GPR of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale to be eligible.



The Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, chaired by Dr. Marvin Rowe, is currently looking at re-ordering the suggested sequence of some of the courses in the B.S. and B.A. chemistry degree plans listed in the current catalog. Input from undergraduate chemistry majors is desired. In particular, give us your feedback about the timing in which you normally take the math, physics, physical chemistry, and advanced electives compared to when they are actually listed in the degree plans. We have the feeling that many (most?) do not take these courses at the specific times they are listed in the degree plans and we=d like to have your suggestions on ways to improve the schedule to make it more realistic for entering students. Please respond in person, in writing or by e-mail to Dr. Hogg and/or Dr. Rowe as soon as possible. Your considered opinions will be greatly appreciated by the committee. We are interested in the opinions of students of all levels from freshmen to seniors but we NEED your input about this or other curricular matters that concern you.

One of the things currently under consideration is to move Chemistry 462 (Advanced Inorganic) to the fall semester and require students to complete the lecture class before enrolling for the laboratory (Chem 433). This would probably necessitate moving one (or more) of the other chemistry courses (e.g. Chem 446) to the spring semester. How would you feel about this?



Graduation for undergraduates and graduate students in the College of Science has been set for Friday, December 18 at 2 p.m. This is not the typical time that students in the College of Science have graduated so please take note.



We now have a complete list of all the minors being offered by the various Colleges and Departments at Texas A&M University. Stop by for a copy and remember that students who wish to obtain a minor or who are required to have a minor (B.A. majors) must now have the written approval of the department offering the minor with a complete list of all courses that are required for the minor signed by a representative of that department. Not all colleges or departments are offering minors and there have been some significant changes in the requirements for minors in a number of departments.


The Student Affiliate Chapter of the ACS section is still selling raffle tickets for 2 round trip tickets to anywhere in the continental United States and the Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada and Mexico compliments of American Airlines. The tickets are $1 each or six for $5. Contact Dr. Hogg=s office for additional information. The drawing will be held on December 3, 1998.




I mistakenly listed Melissa Supak as secretary of the Student Affiliate ACS organization last year in the previous issue of Orbitals. Melissa was historian and Shelley Lenamond was secretary. Sorry for the error.