What's Happening in Chemistry Circles

Issue #87 February 21 , 2001

web address: http://www.chem.tamu.edu/ugrad/ugradinf.html

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

written by Dr. John L. Hogg


    Late last summer a prospective student and her parents visited my office as part of the usual routine of selecting a college. Since she was coming from an international school in Norway, she proffered a letter of recommendation that her high school chemistry teacher in Norway had written for her to take wherever she decided to visit. When I came to the bottom of the very nice letter, I noticed it had been written by T.A. Hennard. The name intrigued me and I was quickly able to ascertain that this was the same Tommie (that's how I knew him) Hennard who'd received a B.A. degree in chemistry from A&M in 1991.

    Now the last I'd heard from Tommie was when I learned he'd left the big city of Mineral Wells to move to Montana. Being more than slightly interested in finding out how he'd ended up in Norway, I eventually was able to contact someone at the International School of Stavanger, Norway via the Internet. This contact responded to me and forwarded my inquiry to Tommie who had, by then, moved to Caracas, Venezuela. Tommie and I quickly established contact and what follows is the e-mail T.A. (I know he prefers that moniker now) sent.

    "I was very surprised to hear from you. It is indeed a small world is it not? I don't know if you recall, but I decided at the very end of my time at A&M to pursue alternative certification and a teaching certificate. I have since parlayed that into a career that I really enjoy. I spent two years in Mineral Wells, TX then moved to Corvallis, MT, which is just south of Missoula. I spent three years there before moving on to Stavanger, Norway. I saw that you had exchanged e-mails with my former director Linda Duevel. After four years in Norway, I moved this year to Caracas, Venezuela. Along the line I've taught just about every chemistry syllabus there is in the English-speaking world, picked up an MS from Montana State University in Science Education, played a lot of music and had a great time. I've also been fortunate to have had a small part in helping create some budding chemists and biochemists. It seems that every year for the past 7 years or so at least one of my students has decided to pursue a degree in one of those two fields. I really get a kick out of that.

    Believe it or not, you pop up in my classes now and then, as do some of your colleagues. You show up in two main forms--one of which was a sign in your office and the other a piece of yellow paper you gave us in first year organic. The sign read, "Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine." I actually understand that now. The yellow paper was the "Parable of the Pebbles." I use it often. Dr. Irgolic shows up in balloon sculptures for p-orbitals and VSEPR shapes. Dr. Natowitz rears his head each time we discuss the vast gap between everyday conception and the idea of the quantum and all through thermochemistry.

    I feel fortunate to have received the schooling that I did at A&M and also fortunate to have sent so many students back there. I realize now, as a teacher, how rare are the opportunities to find out "what happened" or what kind of impact that you made. I appreciate your patience and good advice, and I hope that all my college-bound students find advisors as good as you."

T.A. Hennard

    It was truly a pleasure to be able to establish this contact with T.A. Such feedback is one of the best things about teaching. I'm sure that T.A. would love to hear from old friends. His e-mail address is:  t_a_h_3@hotmail.com


    Roxanne Clardy (B.S. 1997) sent a more detailed e-mail recently with the following information. "I am writing this from Illinois as a displaced Texan. I accepted a position as an Operations Supervisor for Kraft Foods in Champaign Illinois right before Christmas. The move was fast and crazy, but I think that Scott and I are pretty much settled in now. I am only in training now, but so far I love my job. I am going to be supervising about 50 employees and they seem really nice, although I haven't had to do anything to 'upset them yet' (edited for a general audience). Really the company seems focused and based in its employees. They push ideas from the guys on the floor and are very in to developing their people. I think that Scott and I may head up to northern California in a couple of years. There is a plant up there that I think that I would like to go and work in. Well, everything is good but the weather here seems more crazy than Texas; we have had everything from -3 to 60 and everything from rain to snow. We'll see what's next and the damn wind never stops!! Scott starts his job with Enterprise on the 19th he will be in a management training program so I think that everything is working out for him as well. Hope everyone is doing well! I would love to hear how you all are." Roxanne's e-mail address is: scottandroxanne@excite.com

    Dr. Christopher Govea (B.A. 1995) sent an e-mail recently while he was on-call at Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston and had a few minutes to write and say hello. I wrote back and asked him to describe what he'd done since leaving A&M and here is his slightly edited response. "As you probably know, I went to Baylor College of Medicine after leaving A & M and graduated in 1999. I chose to do diagnostic radiology (a 5 year residency) at Baylor, so I have been here since I graduated. I finished my intern year in July 2000, and I have been doing radiology since then. It's early yet, but I think I am probably going to do a fellowship in either body imaging or neuroradiology.

    I don't know if you are aware of this, but our department has several A & M chemistry grads (3 total including myself). Jose Watson(B.A. 1989 and M.S. 1992) is graduating this year and has accepted a job in private practice. Jennifer (Newcomb) Cranny (B.A 1991), Dr. Martin Newcomb's daughter, will be doing a fellowship in interventional radiology at Emory next year. [Dr. Newcomb is a former A&M Chemistry faculty member.] I'll talk more later." Christopher has provided the following e-mail addresses if you want to contact him. cgovea@bcm.tmc.edu; cgovea@houston.rr.com; christophergovea@hotmail.com

    Nathan Lett (B.S. 2000) has written with the following information about his post-graduation life. "Just thought I'd drop you a line to let you know what's been going on since graduation. I did find a job with Westport Technology Center International here in Houston. Westport is Halliburton Chemical's in-house analytical division. I've been doing a lot of GC, GC/MS and HPLC work since I got here, mainly on crude oil and gas samples sent to us from around the world from onshore and offshore oil wells. There is still a fair amount of wet chemistry involved, especially in the preparation of the crude oil for testing, mainly lots of extractions. I actually am enjoying the opportunity to learn about the analytical side of chemistry and I think that this job will be a good springboard perhaps into bigger and better things down the road. I miss my organic a little, but I'm having fun playing with all the toys here in the lab. Hopefully all is going well this semester. Give my regards to Dr. Sulikowski and his group. Talk to you soon." Nathan's e-mail address is: nathan.lett@westport1.com

    Chip Kent (B.A. 1999), currently a graduate student in the chemistry program at Cal Tech, just competed in the collegiate nationals weightlifting meet on February 9-11. He made all three attempts at the snatch (100 kg, 105 kg, and 110 kg) and two of his three attempts on the clean and jerk (145 kg and 152.5 kg; missed 160 kg) giving him a total of 262.5 kg and third place finish.

    I have reestablished contact with Rebecca Strnad (B.S. 1986) thanks to Dr. Lynda Yang (B.S. 1988). Rebecca wrote with details of her "life after A&M" and has given permission to share the slightly edited information with you so here goes. "I cannot believe that I will be (number deleted to protect the innocent) years old this spring. I went to vet school in Missouri. I graduated 4th in my class of 63 - damn equine clinic rotation dropped me from 1st to 4th. Oh well, such is life. After I graduated in '95, I did a small animal internship at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine '95-'96. I had desires to go further and do a residency to get board certified in small animal surgery, but I did not get a residency. At that point in my life, I moved to the Boston area with my significant other who was soon to be my husband. So, I only applied to Tufts Vet school for the residency and didn't match. Currently, I do substitute work at clinics in the area. I'm doing this right now because it's the best money making option to practice vet med and still have a life outside of veterinary medicine. I have no regrets that I didn't do a residency. I met my husband while I was a student at Missouri. He was doing a small animal residency in surgery. Well, I'm married to him now. He is a specialist in orthopedic and soft tissue surgery, i.e., "boarded", "diplomate" whatever. He and a partner (who specializes in emergency and critical care medicine) have a referral practice in the area. They plan to hire an internist. The oncology group from Angell Memorial (kind of similar to A&M's vet school) will join the practice in the summer.

    Before I started doing substitute work, or as they call it here, "relief vet," I considered going back to research. I did do research for two summers at vet school. I worked with a Dr. Wade Welshons studying the estrogen receptor. I love the concept of receptors on or in cells. But, I decided to give this a try since I would miss helping the animals. I enjoy felines more, but currently do both feline and canine medicine. I don't care for surgery anymore. I do have a special interest in dentistry.

    How am I dealing with Southern New England? Not very well. The winters suck. We have had at least 18-20 inches of snow in our yard now for at least 3 months. I am so sick of snow. This southern girl wasn't made for these winters." Friends may contact Rebecca (Strnad) Huss at BTHuss@cs.com


    The TAMU Health Science Center College of Medicine in College Station is hosting an Open House on Saturday, March 24 from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Preregistration is encouraged. Registration is free. Call 979-845-7743 or visit the web site below for more details. http://medicine.tamu.edu/student affairs A complete schedule of events is posted outside Room 104 Chemistry.


    Timmy Kovoor, senior chemistry major, has been admitted to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. He will enter the program this fall.

    Amy Fowler, senior chemistry major, has been admitted to medical school at Texas Tech University for the fall term.

    Shailendra Das, senior chemistry major, will join Ellaine Lloren, also a senior chemistry major, at Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Ft. Worth this fall.

    Danny Salinas, senior chemistry major, will enter medical school at UT-San Antonio this fall.


    Amelia J. Hessheimer, junior chemistry major, has been selected as the outstanding junior in the College of Science. She will now compete with students from other colleges within the university for the designation of Outstanding Junior at Texas A&M. This program is sponsored by Phi Kappa Phi, a national interdisciplinary honor society, and is coordinated through the academic deans in each college. She will receive $250 and a plaque for this honor and will compete for a $1000 award to be announced at a reception on April 27. Amelia is a President's Endowed Scholarship recipient from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is already the co-author on one scientific publication concerning research she has conducted in the laboratory of Dr. Abe Clearfield.


    Ten B.A. chemistry majors and eighteen B.S. chemistry majors are scheduled to receive their degrees at the May 2001 Commencement ceremonies.


    Carmella Magliocchi, a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Tim Hughbanks, is seeking an undergraduate interested in research in inorganic chemistry. Please contact her in Room 354 Chemistry (phone 845-4732) or at: magliocchi@mail.chem.tamu.edu

    We have lots of information about summer undergraduate research programs around the United States. Please stop by and review these opportunities. Most of the deadlines for application are rapidly approaching. In most cases, research experience at another university may be transferred to TAMU to fulfill part or all of your undergraduate research requirement.