What's Happening in Chemistry Circles

Issue #92 November 12, 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


The 14th annual National Chemistry Week Open House was held on Saturday, November 10 and was probably the largest in several years. Dr. Wendy L. Keeney-Kennicutt once again organized quite an extravaganza that featured a variety of tours, demos and hands-on activities for students and their parents and teachers. The first Chemistry Road Show drew a standing room only audience estimated at around 400 while the second show later in the afternoon attracted about 200-250. KAMU-TV brought three cameras to record the first show which will be broadcast at a later date after some editing. It is likely that copies of this will be made available for sale. About 650 tickets for dozens of door prizes of a chemical nature were distributed. There were hands-on activity tables set up by students from the Departments of Oceanography, Chemical Engineering, Geology, and Biochemistry in addition to several activities staffed by students enrolled in the Chemistry 116 laboratory. Tours of the Cyclotron and GERG were provided to interested participants and ACS student affiliate members provided tours of chemistry labs. Quite a few graduate students in chemistry provided activities associated with their particular area of research. Financial and moral support for the event was provided by the Texas A&M sections of the American Chemical Society (Dr. Michael Rosynek, chair) and the Department of Chemistry. A great big thanks goes out to all the staff, graduate and undergraduate students, and faculty who donated lots of time to make this such a successful event. I've not included names here because I'd surely miss someone but you did make a difference and your help was greatly appreciated. The entire Bryan-College Station area and many surrounding schools and towns were represented by attendees.


Ben Cienslinski (B.S. 1998) sent along the following e-mail after he received the October 2001 issue of Orbitals. Sorry for the oversight Ben.

"After reading the Orbitals newsletter for over three years now, I realized that I have never been mentioned. I hope this little update stops the trend. If you remember, I started out working for Radian International in their Organic Prep lab, but multiple sales and mergers later, I now work for Severn Trent Laboratories (STL) in Austin. Same building, we just went through about five different name changes. I'm now the primary analyst in the Volatile Organic Compounds lab. I analyze ambient air samples using cryogenic pre-concentration and low level GC/MS. We're one of only a handful of labs in the country that do this kind of work. It's demanding work with lots of stress, but really enjoyable. And I also grew up. I bought my first house at the end of last year in Pflugerville, a little town that borders Austin. Having a house built is not something for the meek. If I never go through that process again, I'll die a happy man. Although I do like the feeling of waking up early on a Saturday morning and cutting the grass, planting bushes, fixing the drain, etc. Just so I can spend the late afternoon relaxing on the back patio while grilling steaks... ahhh... Well, I just wanted to give you a little insight into what I've been doing. Here's news on some other Aggies you might remember. Lorraine Lyman (B.A. 1997) left the chromatography lab here over a year ago to pursue a PhD at LSU. Also, Valerie Murray (B.S. 1997) left the semivolatiles lab to get a masters degree in Chemical Hygene at University of Houston. Ben may be contacted at: bcieslinski@stl-inc.com

Roxanne Clardy (B.S. 1997) recently sent an e-mail to say that she and Scott are now officially engaged and that the wedding is set for September 7, 2002. Congratulations may be sent to Roxanne at: scottandroxanne1@home.com

Dr. Jim Snow (B.S. 1982) has announced his move to Belgium with the following e-mail. "I have accepted a position at IMEC in Leuven, Belgium. IMEC is home of the largest microelectronics research institute in Europe. I will move over on November 16th and start work on the 19th. Melody and the girls will join me at the end of December.

My work address will be:

IMEC vzw

Kapeldreef 75

B-3001 Leuven

Phone: +32 (0)16/28.12.11

Our home address (after December 1) will be:

M. et Mme Jim SNOW
rue du Lambais 76
1390 Grez-Doiceau


Charles Hamilton (B.S. 2001) reports the following from Boston and MIT.

"Hi Dr. Hogg, How is everyone at Texas A&M? I'm really enjoying myself at MIT. Boston is such a great city, and there is never a lack of things to do here. When I'm not studying, I spend my time checking out Boston's thriving music scene. Right now I'm trying to start a rock band made entirely of Inorganic grad students so I can contribute my bit to the whole scene here.

I just joined a research group. I'm going to be working under Prof. Joseph Sadighi who is one of the newer professors here. I will be part of his first group of students, and will be thrust into the exciting world of organometallic chemistry. Classes are great. I'm taking organometallics with Prof. Richard Schrock, bioinorganic with Prof. Steve Lippard, and my group theory class is co-taught with Prof. Kit Cummins and Prof. Alan Davison. I am also teaching the lab for non-chemistry majors, and it is very different than the equivalent class at A&M.

It's great to hear so many good things about the Texas A&M chemistry department here. Whether it's in lecture, our text, or seminar, I can feel proud that I came from a school which has so many talented faculty members. I was nervous when I first arrived here because talking to other students, many of them have taken more grad courses and seemed to be better prepared than I am. However, once classes began, I found that I am as well prepared, and in most cases better prepared, than my fellow classmates (so I have the faculty at A&M to thank for that).

I hope everything is going well there, and I hope to here from you soon."

Sincerely, Charles Hamilton chawhamilton@hotmail.com

305 Memorial Dr. 318 A

Cambridge, Ma 02139

Shawn Kucera (B.A. 200) is off to a good start at Penn State and sent the following e-mail.

"How's everything at Texas A&M? Hope it's a little warmer down there than it is up here at PSU. Just wanted to shoot you an e-mail and let you know how things are going. We received our research advisor assignments yesterday. I'll be working for Dr. Ayusman Sen doing organometallic catalytic oxidation most likely, which is really nice because that's the guy I wanted to work for. There are 5 first years that didn't get assigned research advisors, so I'm considering myself lucky. Anyway, I know that you are probably fielding questions from some graduating seniors about grad schools. Tell them to check out Penn State. I like it up here so far.......we just need some more Aggies up here!

Well, I have a test tomorrow, so I had better get back to studying. Y'all take care down there."

Sincerely, Shawn (sak927@email.psu.edu )


Marc Wilson and Michael Irwin, both senior chemistry majors, presented the results of their undergraduate research Drs. North and Fackler, respectively at the Baylor Undergraduate Research Conference in October. Marc was awarded first place and Michael received the third place award. Both received cash prizes for their efforts. Congratulations guys!


Preregistration for the spring 2002 term is underway and, for the first time ever, students may either register using the Internet or by the usual telephone method. The procedure seems to be working pretty well with only a few glitches and the usual cases of abuse by students trying to "beat the system." Each student is now given a registration start time and has 48 hours from that start time to complete registration. The start times are totally random within a certain classification. Students may find their registration time by accessing Screens 801 or 803 on the BONFIRE system but they will also be notified by e-mail provided they have set up their NEO mail account through the University. Complete instructions for registration may be obtained by clicking on the HELP section at the following web site: http://register.tamu.edu

Chemistry majors who plan to take Chem 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 (or Chemistry 237 in some cases) 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. Hogg or the honor's section taught by Dr. Harding unless they have permission from Dr. Tiner or Dr. Hogg to do otherwise.

As always, call Ms. Warren at 845-0520 to schedule an advising appointment with Dr. Tiner or Dr. Hogg.


Several changes in the B.S. and B.A. degree plans are being proposed for the 2002-2003 undergraduate catalog. These have not yet cleared all of the bureaucratic hurdles to be included in the catalog but we are optimistic that they will.

For the B.S. degree, the CPSC 203 requirement will be eliminated and Math 308 will become an optional elective in a set of math/statistics courses that includes Math 304, 308, Stat 211 or other approved math or statistics courses. For the B.A. degree only, students will be allowed to take either Physics 201 and 202 or 218 and 208.

Several tracks (suggested elective courses) are proposed for both degrees. These include: a B.S. degree with a biological chemistry track, a B.S. degree with an environmental chemistry track, a B.A. degree with a biological chemistry track, a B.A. degree with an environmental chemistry track and a B.A. degree with a track in chemical education. B.A. chemistry majors who complete one (or more) of these tracks, each of which includes courses from several departments and colleges, would not have to obtain a traditional minor which includes courses from a single department. B.S. students, for whom a minor is not required anyhow, would merely select these track courses as electives. Details of these tracks will be provided, if approved, in the near future but interested students may stop by Room 104 for an inspection of the plan. The tracks must still clear several hurdles before they are entered into the catalog so students should be very cautious in their selection of courses for a minor until this approval is final.


We have begun to receive individual notices from schools about their NSF REU and related programs. Stop by Room 104 Chemistry to check these out. We've also received a 2002 Directory of Experience Opportunities from the American Chemical Society.

A complete listing of the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates summer programs in all disciplines may soon be found at the following web site:


The list usually includes over 50 chemistry sites as well as sites in atmospheric sciences, biological sciences, computer and information sciences and engineering, earth sciences, mathematics, physics, materials, astronomy, social, behavioral, and economic sciences. Complete contact information for all programs may be found at this site and most have on-line applications. If you are interested in a summer research program you should definitely check these out. Most offer stipends in the $3000-4000 range for a 10 week program. Many offer additional funds for travel and housing. The research credit earned at these institutions may, in most cases, be transferred to TAMU and applied to your degree plan in chemistry.


I have been asked to nominate two undergraduate chemistry majors for a summer internship at ExxonMobil Chemical Company in Baytown. Please provide me a copy of your resume by November 26 and I will select the two best and forward them. They are specifically interested in rising seniors for fall 2002 or students who will complete their degree this coming spring. In either case, they are only interested in people who plan to pursue a graduate degree in chemistry or a very closely related area.

As a separate program, ExxonMobil is trying to identify highly talented minority undergraduate chemistry majors, at any level, who may be interested in a summer experience with them. Please let me know if you'd like to be considered for this program as well.


The thought has occurred to me recently that maybe Orbitals is no longer needed in this day of instantaneous e-mail communication. Very often now I merely send out an e-mail to the chemistry majors when I become aware of some new information of interest to them relating to scholarships, job interviews, registration, etc. To repeat this in Orbitals at a later date seems somewhat unnecessary. However, the "Old Ags" news and other information is not the type of thing I'd normally send out directly via e-mail. Give me some feedback about your feelings for Orbitals. Do we still need it? I'm interested in hearing from current and former students, who may have an entirely different opinion. To those of you who may feel inclined to suggest two different versions, forget it. Writing one of these each month is enough. I love sharing the news of former students with you but I really would like to know how useful each group feels this information is.