What's Happening in Chemistry Circles

Issue #90 September 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


Ten of the twenty-six chemistry majors who received degrees at the May 12, 2001 commencement ceremony graduated with honors. This is about 38% of the chemistry graduates compared to a University average of about 14% graduating with honors.

Three students graduated summa cum laude (GPR > 3.9). They were: Timmy A. Kovoor (B.A.), Ellaine A. Lloren (B.A.) and Sean N. Liddick (B.S.).

Aurelie L. Buckelew (B.A.), Charles W. Hamilton (B.S.), Reagan R. Hughes (B.S.) and (B.S.) Elise L. Waltman (B.S.) graduated magna cum laude (GPR 3.70-3.899). Ruben D. Salinas (B.A.), Beverly G. Johnson (B.S.) and David A. Trueba (B.S.) all graduated cum laude (GPR 3.50-3.699).

Rachel I. McConnell (B.S.), Ellaine A. Lloren (B.A.) and Ruben D. Salinas (B.A.)were recognized with University Honors which certifies that they completed at least 36 hours of honors courses with a cumulative GPR of at least 3.4. Lloren was also recognized as a Foundation Honors graduate which meant she took at least one honors course in each core curriculum area. McConnell received a second degree in biochemistry and genetics. Reagan R. Hughes (B.S.) and Sean N. Liddick (B.S.) were recognized as participants in the University Undergraduate Research Fellows program. Hughes received an award for having the best honors thesis and for making the best oral presentation of the thesis. Hughes worked with Dr. David Bergbreiter and Liddick worked with Dr. Sherry Yennello.

The complete list of May 2001 graduates follows:

B.A. - Jennifer E. Barker, Adam J. Bartells, Aurelie L. Buckelew, Shailendra Das, Amy R. Fowler, Timmy A. Kovoor, Ellaine A. Lloren, Erin F. Mangan, and Ruben D. Salinas.

B.S. - Leah M. Arrigo, Sara Balderas, Earl A. Bates III, Gabriela I. Cardenas, Erin C. Cockrell, Veronica K. Franz, Charles W. Hamilton, Reagan R. Hughes, Beverly G. Johnson, Sean N. Liddick, Rachel I. McConnell, Ryan E. Murphy, Thomas J. Pisklak, Amanda C. Reynolds, David A. Trueba, Vanessa L. Walters, and Elise L. Waltman.


Five students completed their undergraduate degree programs in chemistry and received their diplomas at the August 11, 2001 commencement ceremony. They were:

B.A. - Kristin N. Morgan and Gerardo L. Robles

B.S. - Blake A. McElmurry, Adam D. Nabors and Marcia A. Urbanosky


Marinette Jones, junior chemistry major, had a summer internship with ExxonMobil at the Beaumont Polyethylene Plant (BPEP). She worked in the Quality Control Laboratory under the senior chemist there. There were 17 other co-op and interns at the 5 Beaumont Area plants but she was the only chemistry major and was the first chemist intern ExxonMobil has had in their program.


Ernie Maynard (B.S. 1995) received his Ph.D. in chemistry from Texas A&M University on August 11, 2001. He conducted his research, "Kinetics and Mechanism of Acetyl-CoA Synthase, a CO-Channeling Enzyme," under the direction of Dr. Paul Lindahl. Ernie has accepted a postdoctoral position at Johns Hopkins University. His wife, Dawn, also received her Ph.D. in chemistry from Texas A&M that same day. She completed her research under the direction of Dr. Gyula Vigh. Dawn had previously been a participant in the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates program at A&M before entering the graduate program here.

Reginald Tennyson (B.S. 1997) received his Master of Science degree in chemistry from Texas A&M University on August 11, 2001. He is employed at Texas Biotechnology Corporation in Houston. His research supervisor was Dr. Daniel Romo (B.A. 1986).

Christine Mullen (B.S. in Chemistry and in Biochemistry, 1994) officially received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of San Diego on June 16, 2001.

Thomas Pisklak (B.S. 2001) has entered the doctorate of chemistry program at the University of Texas-Dallas.

Lawrence Coleman (B.S. 1996) will be attending Texas Christian University this fall as a participant in the professional MBA program.

Ignacio Hernandez, Jr (B.S.1997) was married to Carey Lynn Frawley on June 30, 2001 in Houston.

Celeste Davis (B.A in chemistry and in English, 2000) has accepted a position with Bromely Communications in San Antonio. She is an Assistant Media Planner for the account Office of National Drug Control Policy. Her e-mail is: celestualstarz@yahoo.com

Julie Orf (B.S. 2000) has joined the research group of Dr. Hawthorne at UCLA and reports that she is enjoying graduate school. She taught an organic chemistry discussion section this past summer. Julie stopped by for a very short visit in early August. Julie's e-mail is: jorf@chem.ucla.edu

Annie Thai (B.S. 1998) has just been promoted to Chemist III at Baker Petrolite in Sugarland. Annie's e-mail is: annie.thai@bakerpetrolite.com

Melissa Supak (B.S. 2000), a student in the graduate program in forensic science at The University of Alabama at Birmingham, sent the following e-mail (edited) recently. "It was good to hear from you. My first year of graduate school has gone very well. One year down. Currently I am taking a drug analysis class and am doing research with one of the professors in the department. We are getting ready to start a study on possible external contamination that may affect a certain brand of sweat patch. The sweat patch is designed to test parolees and recovering addicts for drug use through collection of their sweat. Right now we are writing a proposal to get approval for the human study. I'll be doing an internship this fall in Houston. I'll be working at the DPS Crime Lab in Houston at Hwy. 290 and Elridge in both the drug chemistry division and the trace evidence group." Melissa's e-mail is: chemvix@hotmail.com

Valerie Meyers (B.A. 2000), a graduate student in pathology at the University of Alabama in Birmingham sent the following details of her past year in an e-mail (edited) this summer. "Things are going very well for me. I finished up classes at the beginning of June. Just working in the lab now--trying to figure out some computer programming/data acquisition and engineering I haven't been exposed to before. I'll be working on designing a new hardware system for protein crystallography in microgravity--not exactly chemistry related. We have a shuttle launch on the 7th of August. I'm so excited--I get to go down and help load the protein samples. We have to turn over the hardware 36 hours prior to launch, so we'll have a couple of days to goof off before it actually goes up. We have VIP seats for the launch and an invitation to the briefings prior to--should be a blast! (tee hee) Classes will start again before I know it, but you're right, the worst is certainly over! If I can just make it through qualifying exams this time next year, I'm home free! " Valerie's e-mail is: agbonfire00@yahoo.com

Thai Ho (B.A. 1998), a student in the Medical Scientist Training Program at Baylor College of Medicine, sent a couple of lengthy e-mails (edited) with details of his adventures in medical school/graduate school. He reported that three of the twelve students in the program were chemistry majors as undergraduates. He also provided quite a bit of information about some other former students. He wrote: "I am sorry I haven't talked to you for a long time. I have finished 2 years of medical school and I am currently in my first year of graduate school. I am currently working on elucidating the mechanisms of nuclear import (same topic as my undergraduate thesis). Surprisingly, one of the compounds I synthesized had biological activity (so all that Pfizer money wasn't a total waste). I am still working with Dr. Standaert and I am currently screening a custom peptide library for inhibition of nuclear import. I am currently on vacation because Baylor was flooded and my lab lost power to the freezers. Luckily, I managed to save a couple things by sticking some reagents in my freezer at home. I was talking to Vic Seghers (B.A. in chemistry and in history, 1993) the other day and we realized that you have trained at least three MSTP students at Baylor (Vic Seghers, Christopher Loo [B.S. 2000] and me). Vic is entering a residency at UC-San Diego in interventional radiology. So far I am interested in Internal Medicine, but things can change. I see Larry Medina (B.S., 1998) a lot since he works for Eisai in Pasadena. He still asks me about organic chemistry although I have forgotten quite a bit. I went to Roberto Rodriguez's (B.A., 1998) wedding last year in El Paso and he is currently teaching high school chemistry. He is really proud of his AP class because they placed second in a chemistry olympiad (I told him that his class must be really smart considering their teacher). Roberto has put on quite a bit of weight now so he doesn't look like a stick anymore. Last time I saw Jose Quintana (B.S. 1999) he was in College Station and he looked thinner (it is almost like Jose transferred a couple pounds to Robert). Roberto is coming to Houston to visit so we may swing by College Station; do you still eat at McDonald's? I still talk to Bobby Delafield (B.S. 1998); he is at UT-Dallas working on superconducting polymers. I am planning to find a residency out of state to make myself competitive for a tenure-track position somewhere in Texas. If all things go well, then I can publish a paper by the end of the year (unfortunately second author), but I hope to be on a first-author paper within the next two years using the data from this peptide screen. I hope things are going well for you. I still read the online orbitals even though I graduated two years. You still continue to bitch about the registration guidelines. Every student seems to have a thick skull about registering. In fact the secretary for the cell biology program here often sends me personalized e-mails about classes because I have become so apathetic about taking more classes. Thanks for pushing me and the other chemistry students to do our best." Thai's e-mail address is: th692353@bcm.tmc.edu

Roberto Rodriguez (B.A. 1998) did stop by for a quick visit after visiting with Thai Ho in Houston and, sure enough, he caught up with me at McDonalds. I was able to meet Roberto's wife and hear briefly of his exploits as a high school teacher. His e-mail is: R_RDGZ@hotmail.com

Eric Bowers (B.S. 2000) provided the following information in June about his year since graduation. "Since it has been one year since I graduated, I wanted to bring you up to date on my activities. I miss you guys! Well, here it is...

I started working for the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) last May (2000) in Dallas as a Technical Resource Specialist. I found out about the open position from Marco Ramirez's letter in Orbitals last year. My job is to see customer requests (member and non-member) through to resolution. Our members include electric power utilities worldwide, and their employees contact us when they need technical information. I find out what type of information they are seeking and pick through EPRI's product database and tech staff directories to try to locate something or someone that will help them. And man, have I learned a lot about electric power! In fact, we were just written up in an 8-page article in Wired Magazine that talks about the imminent change in the power industry. You can read it at http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/9.07/juice.html

I had originally planned to spend the summer in South America bettering my Spanish, but EPRI needed me right away. As added incentive to start immediately, my supervisors agreed to send me on a Spanish immersion course in the fall. I spent the entire month of November at a language school called ILISA in Costa Rica. What a terrific experience! I had lessons for 4 hours per day with 1 or 2 Swiss classmates. I got to hike through the rain forests, look into volcanoes, play in waterfalls, and go on wildlife river tours. I even went whitewater rafting with Mariamalia Araya (Miguel's sister), who's a conservationist in the Sarapiquíí Rain Forest. Some EPRI engineers worked on a partial discharge monitor and an impulse generator at a hydroelectric plant in the Orosi River Valley, and I had the opportunity to observe them for 3 days. My host family cared for me like one of their own. My host mother cooked delicious meals for me, and my host father took me on trips to visit his extended family. I can honestly say that November 2000 was the "funest" month of my whole life! After leaving Costa Rica, EPRI flew me down to Buenos Aires, Argentina to help run our booth at the 2000 International Electrical Market Expo. My Spanish skills were improved even more as I explained EPRI's business to Latin American power industry representatives. The Argentine Secretary of Energy gave a speech at the Expo. We had to work until 9:00 p.m. everyday, but hitting the town afterward made it fun, too. BA has some INCREDIBLE Italian restaurants. After working there for a week, I flew to Cóórdoba, Argentina to visit some family friends. Didn't do much there, but I got to relax and visit just the same. I returned to Dallas rejuvenated and ready to re-assume my desk job. Earlier this year I applied to 5 law schools and got accepted to 3. Thank you, Dr. Hogg, for writing a letter of recommendation for me. I will be attending the UT School of Law in Austin beginning the last week in August. My sister works in Austin, and we've already moved most of our stuff to our new apartment. Oaxaca, Mexico will be my home for the month of July while I take more Spanish classes. As you may have predicted, my legal interests are leaning toward international and intellectual property law. I hope you are both doing well. Please drop me a message when you have time." Eric's e-mail address is: ebowers@wtez.com

Summer Nichter, nee Alexander, (B.S. 1997) and Ryan Nichter (B.A. 1996) announce the birth of future Aggie Kyle Kent Nichter on May 9, 2001. He was 7 lbs 10 oz and 20 1/4 in long at birth but is growing quickly. At his two month appointment he was already 14 lbs and 24 in long. They figure that he will be a member of the Class of '23 (no pressure).

Kelly Fox (B.S. 1998) has accepted a new position as an account executive with Pace Analytical. Pace Analytical is an environmental laboratory located in Clear Lake. Pace has seven labs located around the United States. They provide the routine analyses to test for EPA regulation compliance, but also have "Science Solutions" and "Field Services" divisions. The "Science Solutions" division supports clients with internal lab operations assessment, contract operations, and consulting services. The "Field Services" division provides sample collection, mobile labs, and on-site testing

Dr. Michael Lacey (B.S. 1996) received his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Illinois in mid-June and has started a job with ExxonMobil in Baton Rouge. His Ph.D. advisor was Dr. Jonathan V. Sweedler and the title of his dissertation was "Nanoliter-Volume NMR for Mass-Limited Analyses and Capillary Separations." Michael's e-mail address is: melacey@yahoo.com

Carrie (LaRue) Willis (B.S. 1997) has accepted a position as a chemistry teacher at Willis High School. She will be teaching both regular and AP-chemistry. Carrie's e-mail address is: SouthernScribe@hotmail.com


Scientific publications which include A&M undergraduate chemistry majors as co-authors were collected and posted over the summer. Check them out on the bulletin boards just down the hall from Room 104 and on the board in the foyer of the 1986-chemistry wing. Will yours be next?


All undergraduate chemistry majors are encouraged to attend the first meeting of the student affiliate chapter of the American Chemical Society on Thursday, September 6 at 6:30 p.m. in Room 2102.


List of Seniors: A list of students who will graduate between now and August 2002 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 Monday, September 10 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.

Degree Application Deadline: September is the deadline for filing an application for a degree for students graduating in the fall of 2001. You must stop by Room 105 Heaton Hall to file for a degree. If you have not had the diploma fee (option code 66) assessed to your tuition fees it will be assessed at that time.

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.

File Degree Plans: If you have not come into our office and had your degree plan typed up, signed and personally delivered it to the Dean's office in the College of Science you should do so immediately. This is the only way the registrar's office ultimately has of keeping track of the substitutions and changes in your degree plan. If you are planning to graduate in December, you should have already done this but many of you have not. If you plan to graduate in May or August of 2002 this should definitely be done by mid-semester this fall.

Going to Graduate School: If you have not already signed up to take the GRE you should do so immediately. We have the information booklets in our office.

NSF Graduate Fellowships: We will soon have information booklets about the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships in our office. If you are planning to enter graduate school you should consider applying for one of these. The deadline early November. The website is: http://www.orau.org/nsf/nsffel.htm


We have enrolled 53 freshman chemistry majors for the fall semester compared with 56 last year. The average SAT score of the group is 1185 with eleven students scoring above 1350. About 29 of the 53 students ranked in the top 10% of their high school graduating class. We wish you all the best of luck and are glad to have you in the program. The new students are:

Menda Baker Coleman High School Coleman TX
Collin Beatty Keller High School Keller TX
Kameron Bell Winnsboro High School Leesburg TX
Laura Bourque SFA High School Sugarland TX
Maxwell Branham Warren T White HS Dallas TX
Brad Cannon The Woodlands HS The Woodlands TX
Jamie Cardin RedWater High School Texarkana TX
Elizabeth Chilcoat Boerne High School Boerne TX
Tracy Cox Seguin High School Seguin TX
Charity Cross Bay City High School Bay City TX
Gina Dellavalle Coppell Sr. High School Coppell TX
Daniel Denissen Humble High School Humble TX
Anuradha Dhingra Mayde Creek High School Houston TX
Ashley Elizondo Boerne High School Fair Oaks Ranch TX
Colin Evett Grapevine High School Grapevine TX
Liliana Falcon Pasadena High School Pasadena TX
Matthew Falls Rockwall High School Rockwall TX
Cortney Fowler Forest High School Garland TX
Kendall Fruchey Tuloso-Midway HS Corpus Christi TX
Veronica Garza Tom Clark High School San Antonio TX
Diana Garza Zapata High School Zapata TX
Jennifer Goss The Woodlands HS The Woodlands TX
Jamie Gudgel Beavercreek HS Beavercreek OH
John Hahn Calhoun High School Victoria TX
Cameron Hall Highland Park HS Dallas TX
Melissa Harrison Center High School Center TX
Jennifer Heiner Little Cypress-Mauriceville HS Orange TX
Eric Hendrickson James Bowie High School Arlington TX
Jonathan Hernandez Texas City High School Texas City TX
Amanda Higginbotham Pearland High School Pearland TX
Michelle Katz Klein High School Spring TX
Benjamin Keller Boonsboro High School Sharpsburg MD
Martha LaRue St. Martin High School Ocean Springs MS
Ashley Leonard Granbury Sr. High School Granbury TX
Quinn Lung Sam Rayburn High School Pasadena TX
Jennifer McBee Langham Creek High School Houston TX
Melissa McCreary Jersey Village High School Jersey Village TX
James McGee Burleson High School Burleson TX
Bradley McGrath Westfield High School Houston TX
Jennifer McLemore Waxahachie High School Waxahachie TX
Jason Meyer Seventy-first Sr. High School Ft. Bragg NC
Megan Orton James W. Martin High School Arlington TX
Jesse Poucher McGregor High School McGregor TX
Jodi Ragland James Bowie High School Austin TX
Michelle Rico Alamo Heights High School San Antonio TX
LaShundra Rodgers Tatum High School Tatum TX
Michael Sarahan Strake Jesuit College Prep Houston TX
Carlie Stephens Rockwall High School Rockwall TX
Robert Thornton Kingwood High School Kingwood TX
Pablo Tovar Friendswood High School Friendswood TX
Suzanne Tran Eisenhower High School Houston TX
James Tyler Cy-Fair Senior High School Cypress TX
Christopher White Port Neches Grove High School Port Neches TX


Ten students transferred to Texas A&M University as chemistry majors this fall. Please make these people feel welcome into our program. They are:

Matt Barnett Blinn College

Trevor Bonser Texas Tech University

Justin Brown Abilene Christian University

Jonpaul Brune McLennan Community College

Justin Crockett University of Texas

Christopher Dilley Blinn College

Heather Hall Broome Community College in New York

Jesus Hernandez Odessa College

Megha Patel Brazosport College

Joshua Sanders Lamar University

SCIENCE CARTOONS - Check out the following: http://www.labinitio.com/