What's Happening in Chemistry Circles

Issue #91 October 2, 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



Word has just been received that the Texas A&M Student Affiliate Chapter of the American Chemical Society has been recognized as a Outstanding chapter for its activities conducted during the 2000-2001 academic year. Based on the review of the annual reports submitted by the chapters, the Society Committee on Education selected only 24 outstanding chapters from over 900 national chapters in the U.S and Puerto Rico. The chapter continues to excel and is to be congratulated for their efforts.

Last year's chapter leadership was supplied by the following officers:

President -Rachel McConnell

Vice-President - Danny Salinas

Secretary - Leah Whiteker

Treasurer - Amy Fowler

Historian - Johanna Mullen

Advisors - Dr. Tammy Tiner

Ms. Marylin Warren


Under an expanded program agreed to by the member companies of the Texas A&M Industry-University Cooperative Chemistry Program, thirty undergraduate chemistry majors have been awarded $1000 IUCCP-A.E. Martell Undergraduate Chemistry Scholarships for the 2001-02 academic year. The funds for these scholarships are provided by contributions from the members and associate members of the Industry University Cooperative Chemistry Program and this marks the first year the awards have been increased in number, twenty to thirty, and amount, $500 to $1000. The department and the students gratefully acknowledge this support. A goal of the program is to be able to provide a $1000 scholarship to all chemistry majors who do not have other major scholarships and who maintain a GPR of around 3.25 or greater. We are not quite there yet and our ability to do this will, of course, depend on the total number of undergraduate chemistry majors and the continued support of our industrial sponsors. The scholarship recipients are listed below with the eight first-year students marked with an asterisk.

Member Companies and Recipients

BASF Corporation: Collin Beatty*, Oakley Davis, and Gottfried Schroeder

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharm., Inc.: Laura Bourque*, Suzanne Fry, and Amber Jensen

Celanese, Ltd.: Jamie Cardin*, Travis Gilbreath, and Sarah Holt

Dow Chemical U.S.A.: Veronica Garza*, Gera Geeslin, and Adam King

Glaxo-SmithKline: Jamie Gudgel*, Alisha Roach, and William Loesch

3M Center: Nolan Griggs, Brooke Harstad, and Jennifer McBee*

Shell Chemical Company: Melinda Ledwig, Melissa McCreary*, and Scott Peterson

The Procter and Gamble Company: Michael Gustavson, Bradley McGrath*, and Eleanor Pate

Associate Member Companies

Abbott Laboratories: Jared Hudson, Bradley Rowland, and Emily Squibb

Rohm and Haas Company: Stephen Hansen, Thomas Smith, and Claudia Wayland


Erin Docking, Erin Guidry, Jason Stephenson and Marc Wilson have each been awarded $1500 Dow Aggies Scholarships for the 2001-2002 academic year. All are U4 chemistry majors. The award is presented in recognition of their outstanding academic performance with funds provided by Former Students who are now employed by The Dow Chemical Company. These scholarships were announced by Dr. Kenneth Poenisch, Associate Dean for Student Affairs in the College of Science.


Freshman chemistry major Cameron Hall has been awarded the inaugural Fred and Mary Sicilio Chemistry Scholarship of $2000 for the 2001-2002 academic year. Dr. W. R. (Bill) Howell and his wife Cindy endowed the scholarship in the spring of 2001 in the name of former A&M professor Dr. Fred Sicilio and his wife Mary. 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 named a Distinguished Graduate of the College of Science in 2001.

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.

Cameron was chosen for the award based on her outstanding high school record and the fact that she plays the bagpipes had nothing to do with her selection. Cameron was recently treated to dinner by the Howells but the Sicilio's health precluded their joining the group.


Marissa Mathes, junior chemistry major, and Ester Garner, senior chemistry major, were each awarded a George C. Bauer Scholarship for the 2001-2002 academic year. These scholarships honor Professor Bauer, a former chemistry faculty member and outstanding teacher and recognizes both students' outstanding academic records and perseverance and hard work in pursuit of their degrees. Awards are normally in the range of $500 - $1000.


Hiral Shah, senior chemistry major, has once again been selected to receive the Sharon Merritt Birtcher Endowed Scholarship for the 2001-2002 academic year. This $1500 scholarship honors former student, Sharon Merritt (B.A. 1989), and is presented to a chemistry major planning to pursue a teaching career. Hiral is currently serving as the SI leader in the sophomore organic class for chemistry majors this year as she did last year. She will be doing her student teaching in the spring 2002 semester.


In order to encourage attendance and participation by undergraduates at the ACS National Meeting in Orlando next Spring, the TAMU Local ACS Section will again provide financial support for students to attend this meeting. Any undergraduate student who is a member of the local ACS Student Affiliate Chapter (SAC) will receive $50 in financial assistance to attend the meeting. Each undergraduate who presents a research poster at the meeting will receive an additional $50 in financial assistance, irrespective of whether he/she is a member of SAC. Thus, a student who is a member of SAC and presents a research poster at the meeting is eligible for a total of $100 in financial assistance.


Shawn Breitenbach (B.A. 1996) sent the following e-mail a few weeks ago. "You know, it is hard for me to realize that I actually graduated almost 6 years ago. So how are things going up there in College Station? I figure things are moving as fast as always. I was actually down this past weekend for the game, which was quite a sight. I know, with everything going on, the A&M spirit not only thrives in A&M, but also in America. I have been lucky enough to only miss 8 home games since 1992. I guess you can say I am a big Aggie. Here in Houston, I am also an officer of a club called the Howdy Club. We raise money to give students scholarships each year. This past year we gave 20 students 1000K each. We also set up a permanent Endowment, in the Clubs name, which we will be donating 5K for this, for the next 5 years. Anyway, it is very gratifying & we have a good time. We raise the money through monthly happy hours, having around 600+ people show up, and special events (Aggie Night at the Astros Game, Domino Tournament, Guadeloupe Trip, Fun Run, etc). There is really nothing better than the Aggie Spirit, no matter how far away from Aggieland you are. Friends may contact Shawn at: Shawn.Breitenbach@daniel.com

James Machac (B.A. 1994) and his wife, Sharon, are the proud parents of a lil' Aggie. Levi Kyle Machac was born in Austin, Texas on May 22,2001. James reports that "it is a life altering experience, but it is AWESOME." Congratulations may be sent to James and Sharon at: James_Machac@huntsman.com

Adam Bartells (B.A. 2001) is teaching high school chemistry and physics (grades 10-12) at Colleyville Heritage High School in the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District. According to a recent e-mail, "I love teaching, though it is extremely hard work and very tiring. We just finished our first six-week term. I'm starting to get more comfortable with all of it. Having a mastery of the subject certainly makes things better (at least for Chemistry). I am also teaching Physics, which isn't bad yet." Friends may contact Adam at: adam.bartells@gcisd.net

Vanessa Walters (B.S. 2001) sent the following comments recently via e-mail. "I thought I would give you an update on my life so far. I have been working in a contract position for Atofina Petrochemical for the past two months. I am currently filling out a form for a background investigation in which I was wondering if it was okay if I used you as a reference. If everything comes out good, which it should, then I will be offered a position as a criminalist with the DPS and will eventually be stationed in McAllen.

On another subject Gordon decided not to attend A&M after being offered a chance to play baseball for UTD. Thank you for talking to him while we were there this summer. Lets see what other news do I have. I am now among the American working class with a car payment as well. I totaled my car last month but luckily walked away with minor cuts and burns, so I now have a truck in which people will hopefully see me and not turn left in my path. Well I guess that should catch you up." Vanessa may be e-mailed at: vanessa_l_walters@hotmail.com


The Undergraduate University Writing Center (UWC), opened on Monday, September 17. The UWC, funded by an $8 student fee, is open to all undergraduate students. Undergraduate students may drop by or call 458-1455 to make appointments. Writing consultants will be available to help with any writing problem, from planning or narrowing a topic, to punctuation or documentation. All writing consultants have experience in teaching writing and are committed to helping students become independent writers. The UWC also sponsors an "on-line" writing center, accessible at http://uwc.tamu.edu/.

An important function of the UWC will include supporting faculty who include writing in their courses. In particular, the UWC hopes to be a resource for faculty developing writing intensive ("W") courses. To that end, a web site for faculty is now in the first stages of development; in addition, plans are underway to offer workshops in conjunction with Evans Library and the Center for Teaching Excellence.

The UWC stresses students taking responsibility for their own learning. UWC policy states that visits are strictly on a voluntary basis. The Center's hours and phone number are: Undergraduate University Writing Center

Room 1.210B

Evans Library (phone 458-1455)

Mon-Thurs 10 am - 10 pm; Friday 10 am - 2 pm http://uwc.tamu.edu


The TAMU Career Center is presenting a program on "Applying to Graduate School" at 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday, October 9 in Room 111 Koldus.


Applications for Who's Who at Texas A&M University are now available in Room 104 Chemistry. Student applicants must have completed 95 credits or more by September 2001 with at least 30 taken at TAMU. An overall GPR of 2.5 or greater is required. The deadline for application is 5 p.m., Friday, October 19. You may get additional information at www.whoswho@stuact.tamu.edu

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

It seems somehow wrong to publish this issue of Orbitals without acknowledging the tragedy of September 11. So, in that vein, here is the comment I made to my Chemistry 106 class the day following the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  

"I have tried for almost 24 hours to think of something profound to say at the beginning of class. I will only say that racial, religious, political and ideological fanaticism is never an acceptable solution to solving problems. Education which leads to understanding and tolerance of personal, racial, political, religious and ideological differences is the only hope that we, the human species, can survive. As we will see in this class, there are far too many problems that are common to all mankind to create such enormous conflicts over differences of personal belief. Never forget that."