What's Happening in Chemistry Circles

Issue #89 May 1, 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


Leah M. Arrigo and Sean N. Liddick were honored as recipients of the ninth annual Celanese Excellence Awards on April 18, 2001. The dinner honoring these students was hosted by Celanese, represented by Paul Torrance of the Corpus Christi Technical Center and Jill Sayers, Acrylates Manager at the Clear Lake Plant. The after dinner speaker was Roger Farr, former director of the Corpus Christi Technical Center and now Vice President of Excellence in Dallas.

Each recipient received a $500 check and will have their name inscribed on a nameplate on a departmental plaque which hangs in the Chemistry Building. The awards recognize outstanding academic and extracurricular activities by senior undergraduate chemistry majors. Identical awards were presented to three chemistry graduate students and five chemical engineering students at the dinner held in the Clayton Williams Alumni Center. Also recognized at the event were Anna Allred, Travis Gilbreath and Sarah Holt, each of whom currently holds an A.E. Martell-IUCCP Undergraduate Chemistry Scholarship sponsored by Celanese.

Both Leah and Sean have been conducting research under the direction of Dr. Sherry Yennello at the Cyclotron Institute for several semesters. Leah spent the summer of 1998 at Los Alamos National Laboratory conducting research and the summer of 2000 at the Actinide Science Summer School at Lawrence Livermore National Labs. Sean spent the summer of 2000 at Dow Chemical in Freeport. Sean has garnered recognition as the outstanding freshman, sophomore, junior and senior in the chemistry department.

Both Leah and Sean have been very active in the ACS student affiliate chapter and both have received recognition for their research presentations at the Baylor Undergraduate Research Conference. Leah will enter the graduate chemistry program at the University of Missouri at Columbia this fall to study nuclear chemistry and Sean will enter the graduate chemistry program at Michigan State University to do the same. Both will receive their B.S. degrees at the May 12, 2001 commencement ceremony.

Congratulations Leah and Sean.


Gabriela Cardenas and Reagan Hughes, senior B.S. chemistry majors graduating in May 2001, have been selected by a committee of faculty members to receive the inaugural Abbott Undergraduate Research Awards. Each will receive a check for $500 from funds provided by Abbott Laboratories. The awards are for outstanding accomplishment in organic chemistry research.

Gabriela Cardenas has conducted her research with Dr. Daniel Romo, associate professor of chemistry. She worked with a graduate student to develop a single-pot method for the synthesis of cyclic imines bearing -quaternary carbons. This structural motif is found in a family of novel marine toxins. Her contributions led to her inclusion as a co-author on a paper that recently appeared in Organic Letters (2001, 3, 751-7540). Gabriela will enter the doctoral of pharmacy program at the University of Texas in Austin this fall. In addition, she has been very active in student organizations, especially the Laredo Hometown Club, and has been a student worker in the organic chemistry stockroom and prep room.

Reagan Hughes has conducted her research with Professor David Bergbreiter as a participant in the Undergraduate Research Fellows Program coordinated by the Honor Program Office. Her research in polymer chemistry has resulted in a new synthesis of homopolymers of the active ester N-acryloxysuccinimide. She then used this polymer synthesis to prepare a library of polymers whose phase selective solubility she then tested. Dr. Bergbreiter has indicated that she will be a co-author on a planned scientific publication. Reagan has made presentations of her research results at the ACS meeting in San Diego and at the University Fellows Program. She has been a teaching assistant in the freshman and organic laboratory programs and plans to ultimately pursue a teaching career. She has received several awards and scholarships and has been very active in Upstream, a Christian youth organization. She will move to Hilton Head, South Carolina upon graduation to become a youth director.

Congratulations, Gabriela and Reagan.


The outstanding undergraduate chemistry majors were honored at the ACS Student Affiliate banquet held on Friday, April 27 in the Koldus Building on the A&M campus. ACS Student Affiliate President Rachel McConnell was the mistress of ceremonies at the banquet which attracted about 60 undergraduates, parents, faculty and friends.

Drs. Hogg and Tiner were assisted by Dr. Emile Schweikert, head of chemistry as they presented the awards for outstanding accomplishment by undergraduate chemistry majors. The money for these awards came from the Department of Chemistry and the Texas A&M Section of the American Chemical Society. Recipients were selected by the members of the Department's Undergraduate Awards Committee. Congratulations to these outstanding students!

Chemistry Department Outstanding Undergraduate Award ($200 and a certificate) - Given to the outstanding senior.

Sean N. Liddick


Chemistry Department Achievement Awards ($50 and a certificate) - Given to a few outstanding junior and senior chemistry majors based on GPR and other factors.

Seniors (4th Year Students)

Aurelie L. Buckelew, Charles W. Hamilton, Reagan R. Hughes, Beverly G. Johnson, Timmy A Kovoor,  Ellaine A. Lloren, Ruben D. Salinas, David A. Trueba, and Elise L. Waltman

Juniors (3rd Year Students)

Trevor L. Clayton, Gera B. Geeslin, Erin N. Guidry, Stephen E. Hansen, Margaret T. Haring, Joshua W. Osbun, and   Brandon H. Posvar

Outstanding Chemistry Majors in Sophomore Organic ($50 and a certificate): Four outstanding students were chosen for this award. They are:

Amelia J. Hessheimer, Sarah M. Holt, Martin T. Paukert, and Marc D. Wilson

Merck Index Award (a copy of the Merck Index presented by Merck) - Given to a graduating senior planning to attend medical school, vet school or dental school.

Amy R. Fowler

CRC Outstanding Chemistry Majors in the 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 are:

Caraleigh N. Buxie, Nicholas P. Levitt, and Creshaun R. Zewalk

Hugh McLean Jr. Award ($200) - Given to a graduating senior who has shown outstanding dedication, perseverance and desire in pursuit of the degree.

Beverly G. Johnson

ACS Leadership Award ($100 check presented by the local ACS section) - Recognition for outstanding contributions to the local ACS section and student affiliate chapter.

Rachel I. McConnell

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

Margaret T. Haring

This year's ACS student affiliate officers and committee chairs have done an outstanding job with the organization. The 2000-2001 officers and chairs were: Rachel McConnell, president; Danny Salinas, vice-president; Leah Whiteker, treasurer; Amy Fowler, secretary; Johanna Mullen, historian; Leah Arrigo academic and web page chair; Sean Liddick, ACS trip chair; Vanessa Walters, community projects chair; Lucas Smith, social chair; and Charles Hamilton, synthesis chair.

Officers for 2001-2001, announced at the banquet, will be: Leah Whiteker, president; Johanna Mullen, vice-president; Christina Thompson, treasurer; Lucas Smith, secretary; and Emily Squibb, historian. Dr. Tammy Tiner, associate undergraduate advisor, will serve as the organization's advisor and will be joined by Marylin Warren as the co-advisor.


Erin Docking and Erin Guidry, both junior chemistry majors, will spend the summer working at Dow Chemical in Freeport. Aaron Justice, another junior chemistry major, will spend the fall semester working at Dow as well.

Charles Hamilton, senior B.S. chemistry major, will enter the graduate program in chemistry at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology this fall to study inorganic chemistry.


Lori Fuller (B.S. 2000) has accepted a position as a forensic chemist with Armstrong Forensic Laboratory in Arlington.

Gabriella Guzzio (B.A. 1997) was in town last week and dropped by the Undergraduate Advising Office for a visit. She is still employed at Nalco Exxon.


In Issue #88 of Orbitals, I mentioned several Aggie connections featured in the special March 26, 2001 issue of Chemical and Engineering News. However, I failed to notice another one. Dr. Brooke Small (B.S. 1994) is prominently pictured in an ad for CPChem on page 92 of that issue. Brooke pointed out that his Aggie ring is clearly visible in the picture.


The IUCCP - A.E. Martell Undergraduate Chemistry Scholarships have been increased from $500 per year to $1000 per year effective with the fall 2001 semester. This measure was approved by the members of the IUCCP board at its April meeting. The total number of these scholarships to be awarded was increased from twenty to thirty and the restriction that they be limited only to students in the first two years of study at A&M was removed.

This move represents part of an overall financial aid plan formulated by Dr. Schweikert, head of chemistry, and Drs. Hogg and Tiner for undergraduate chemistry majors. The two main goals are: (1) For upperclassmen - provide at least $1000 per year in financial assistance to all chemistry majors who have at least a 3.25 GPR and no other major scholarships. (2) Entering freshmen - Provide at least $1000 per year in financial assistance to all new majors who have at least a 1250 SAT score and rank in the top 15% of their graduating class.

This financial assistance might come in several different forms depending on the source of the funds. It is anticipated that about half of the thirty IUCCP - A.E. Martell scholarships would be awarded to entering freshmen chemistry majors who did not receive major University scholarships such as PES, Lechner, PAA, etc. The remaining IUCCP - A.E. Martell scholarships would then be used for continuing students in the program who had previously held these scholarships during their freshman year.

Additional scholarships to be offered primarily to upperclassmen without other major scholarships would be Robert A. Welch Scholarships provided by individual faculty members from their Welch research grants. At the present time, about a dozen faculty have agreed, in principle, to offer such scholarships but approval for this plan is needed from the Robert A. Welch Foundation before it can be put in place. Students receiving these competitive scholarships would have an association with the research group offering the scholarship in most cases.

We also plan to offer selected chemistry majors the opportunity to serve as Supplemental Instructors (SI's) in undergraduate classes for which they would receive $1150 per semester.

We typically utilize about 12-15 senior or junior chemistry majors as TA's in undergraduate labs and plan to continue this effort. Undergraduate students TA's receive $400 per month for teaching one undergraduate laboratory section.

We plan to initiate a ChemMentors Program to assist entering freshmen. This is still in the planning stage but we hope to pay some (7-10) upperclassmen (sophomores and above) as student peer advisors for entering freshmen and as student workers in the undergraduate advising office.

There are some other valued sources of financial assistance for undergraduate chemistry majors. These include $1500 Dow Aggie Scholarships which are normally awarded to three or four outstanding junior or senior chemistry majors. These awards are funded by former students and Dow Chemical Company. In addition, the Celanese Excellence Awards of $500 each are given annually to senior (junior) chemistry majors who plan to enter graduate school. We hope that the inaugural Abbott Undergraduate Research Awards in Organic Chemistry will continue to be funded by Abbott Labs in years to come.

Lastly, we typically are able to recognize one or two junior or senior chemistry majors each year with George C. Bauer Scholarships of around $300-600 in honor of a former outstanding teacher in our department.

Our goal is to equitably spread this money around among the qualified recipients within the restrictions imposed by the scholarship and award donors. All undergraduate chemistry majors will be considered for all scholarships unless there is an announcement about a special application for an individual program. However, if you have above a 3.25 cumulative GPR or are a first-semester freshman with greater than 1250 on your SATs and rank in the top 15% of your graduating class, please see Dr. Hogg if you do not have other financial aid or scholarships amounting to $1000 per year.

Former students wishing to donate moneys to a special scholarship program may also contact Dr. Hogg.


Dr. W. R. (Bill) Howell and his wife Cindy have donated $20,000 to endow a scholarship in the name of former A&M professor Dr. Fred Sicilio and his wife Mary. The College of Science has matched this with a $20,000 contribution for a $40,000 endowment. Dr. Howell is currently the industrial liaison for the Department of Chemistry. He received both his B.A.(1969) and his Ph.D. (1972) from Texas A&M University and was a long time employee of Dow Chemical U.S.A. He was recently named a Distinguished Graduate of the College of Science.

Dr. Sicilio, professor emeritus of chemistry, who still resides in College Station, was a long-time member of the chemistry faculty at Texas A&M University and received the TAMU Association of Former Students Faculty Distinguished Achievement Award in Student Relationships upon his retirement in 1985. He joined the A&M faculty in 1961 and taught analytical chemistry in the department. He played many important roles in the department and served as the undergraduate advisor for, I believe, seventeen years immediately preceding his retirement. He and Mary were known for their generosity toward students and the Howells wanted to honor their dedication to students at A&M with this endowed scholarship. The award will be for $2000 per year but the inaugural recipient has not yet been chosen. It is anticipated that the scholarship will be used to attract bright undergraduate students to the chemistry program.