What’s Happening in Chemistry Circles

Issue #97 September 1, 2002


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

written by Dr. John L. Hogg


           Thirteen of the twenty-seven chemistry majors who received degrees at the May 10, 2002 commencement ceremony graduated with honors. This is 48% of the chemistry graduates compared to a University average of about 15% graduating with honors. Actually, the number would have been higher except that one student who compiled a 4.00 GPR at A&M didn’t have the 75 hours of credit at A&M necessary to be considered for honors. Inclusion of this student would have brought the number to fourteen or 52%!


            Two students graduated summa cum laude (GPR > 3.9). They were: Brandon Posvar (B.A.), and Margaret Haring (B.S.).

            Trevor Clayton (B.A.), Gera Geeslin (B.A.), Erin Guidry (B.S.), Stephen Hansen (B.S.), Josh Osbun (B.A.), Bradley Rowland (B.S.), Gottfried Schroeder (B.S.), and Alex Zemkoski (B.A.) graduated magna cum laude (GPR 3.70-3.899).

             Melinda Ledwig (B.A.), Hiral Shah (B.A.), Thomas Smith III (B.S.), Leah Whiteker (B.S.) and Melissa Wierzbicki (B.S.) all graduated cum laude (GPR 3.50-3.699).

            Two students received more than one degree. Josh Osbun also received a B.A. in English and Alex Zemkoski also received a B.S. in economics. Melissa Wierzbicki had earlier (August 2001) received a B.S. in chemical engineering.

            The complete list of May 2002 graduates follows:

            B.A. -Trevor L. Clayton, Gera B. Geeslin, Brandi H. Kelley, Aaron J. Kirschbaum, Melanie L. Ledwig, Melinda L. Ledwig, William R. Loesch, Joshua W. Osbun, Brandon H. Posvar, Hiral K. Shah, and Alex G. Zemkoski.

            B.S. - Erin C. Docking, Erin N. Guidry, Stephen E. Hansen, Margaret T. Haring, Jared L. Hudson, Melissa E. Laningham, Sarah R. McBee, Bradley A. Rowland, Rachel E. Salazar, Gottfried K. Schroeder, Thomas H. Smith III, Bonnie M. Stephens, Jason J. Stephenson, Samuel J. Stratton, Leah B. Whiteker, and Melissa A. Wierzbicki.


            Five students completed their undergraduate degree programs in chemistry and received their diplomas at the August 17, 2002 commencement ceremony. They were:


            B.S. - Esther M. Garner

            B.A. - Amanda S. Hawthorne, Martin T. Paukert, Jared N. Teslow, and Shanda M. Thompson.

            Martin Paukert graduated summa cum laude and with University Honors which means he completed 36 hours of Honors course work. Esther Garner also received a B.S. in food science and technology.




            Kristi (Denton) Nance (B.A. 2000) has accepted a position with at Andrews High School (near Odessa) to teach chemistry, physics and integrated physical science. She stopped by for a visit over the summer before leaving for west Texas. Friends may contact her by e-mail at: kdenton99@hotmail.com


            Tuan Nguyen (B.A. 1998) stopped by for a short visit in early August. He is well along in medical school and is currently in Temple.


            Ruben Garnica (B.S. 1997) and his girlfriend stopped in to visit in July. Ruben is nearing the completion, possibly in September of this year, of his Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of California at Irvine. His research has focused on the role of nitrogen-containing compounds such as nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, and nitrous oxide in regulating the composition and reactivity of our atmosphere. Ruben may be contacted at: rgarnica@uci.edu

            Dr. Andrew Green (B.A. 1995) will be beginning his practice of chiropractic medicine in Bryan shortly.

            Dr. Carol (Cross) Wise (B.S. 1985) is the Director of Molecular Genetics at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. She reports that, in addition to taking care of her two children and husband, her group recently cloned a gene for a form of arthritis in children known as PAPA syndrome. They are now pursuing the pathogenesis of that disease and are also chasing various other genes. They have a summer program for undergraduates and I’ve requested that she send some information about it. You may contact her at: Carol.Wise@UTSouthwestern.edu


            Dr. Kim DeFriend (B.S. 1998) received her Ph.D. in chemistry from Rice University and is now working at Los Alamos National Labs as a postdoctoral associate. She is living in Sante Fe. Some of her Ph.D. research is featured on the cover of the July 15,2002 issue of the Journal of Materials Science.


            Thai Ho (B.A. 1998) wrote in mid-May to say that he still reads Orbitals and to send condolences about my accident last spring. He recently submitted a paper that was accepted by the Journal of Cell Biology. Thai is in the MD/Ph.D. program at Baylor College of Medicine. He said that he recently switched research projects to working on the mechanism behind myotonic dystrophy, a form of muscular dystrophy He said he still has many, many more years until he graduates, but that he enjoy living in poverty while his medical school classmates go on to graduate and make real salaries. He said his goal is to graduate from school before he is 30. Thai may be reached at: th692353@bcm.tmc.edu


            Peter Duong (B.S. 2000) has accepted a position to teach chemistry and biology at Sommerville High School this fall.


            Omar Torres (B.S. 1998) visited us in July. He was back in Houston for a short while before returning to Los Angeles. He continues to teach high school at Immaculate Heart High School after receiving his M.S. in inorganic chemistry from UCLA in 2000. He brought along some very impressive materials he had prepared for his students. It is obvious that he is teaching his chemistry courses at a very high level. Omar still plans to enter law school after teaching for a couple more years. You can check out some of Omar’s materials (including notes and tests) at his web site where you can also find his e-mail address: http://www.immaculateheart.org/otorres/


            Janet and I had the pleasure of visiting with two former students in London while we vacationed there this summer. One day we were treated to a trip to Warwick Castle and Stratford-on-Avon by Dr. Lynda Yang (B.S. 1988). She was kind enough to pick us up at our hotel and drive us to see lots of wonderful places and treat us to a traditional fish and chips dinner in a local neighborhood pub near where she lived in London. Lynda is spending a year working at the Royal National Orthopedic Hospital in London, which we also toured, before she will return to the University of Michigan where she join the faculty with both research and clinical duties. She is broadening her training as a neurosurgeon with the orthopedic work in London and we had some very interesting conversations since she had been doing some surgeries just like the one I had after breaking my arm in March. Friends may contact Lynda at: ljsyang@umich.edu    


            We were also fortunate enough to be able to meet Tommy Miller (B.S. in chemistry and math, 2000) and his girlfriend (Nicola) at the British Museum one day. Tommy is still studying for a Ph.D. in theoretical chemistry at the University of London where he is a British Marshall Scholar. He has been working in the financial district in London, however, over the summer applying some of his considerable mathematics skills to financial problems. He and his girlfriend are still doing competitive ballroom dancing. You may reach Tommy by e-mail at: thomas_f_miller_iii@yahoo.com


            Dr. Jeffrey Riblet (B.A. 1983) is assistant professor of surgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia where he has a busy general surgery and trauma practice. He contacted me recently via e-mail to reminisce about old times. Jeff actually did undergraduate research in my group back when I was still active in that arena. We also played some golf together. Jess and his wife, Val, have two kids ages 5 and 2. Donald is the old guy and Cameron the new kid. Jeff has also had a passion for flying airplanes for the last twelve years and has his own Piper Cherokee 235, a four place single engine plane that flies at 135 mph. He also holds a commercial instrument multi-engine rating and is working on qualifying for an airline transport pilot rating. He has flown DC-10, F-14 and E2C simulators with United Airlines. He’s even done some commercial work and, in fact was the co-pilot for the governor of Virginia on a recent trip. It sounds as if Jeff is a busy guy. Contact him by e-mail at (ribletjl@evms.edu) or check: http://www.evms.edu/services/doctors/Jeffrey_Riblet.html Also, check the material he has on the web for August-1999, December-2000 and February-2001 at: http://www.evms.edu/about/evms_rr/index.html


            David Trueba (B.S. 2001) and his wife Michelle announced the birth of a daughter, Emma Elizabeth, on March 17, 2002. Belated congratulations to David and Michelle. 


            Charles Penaloza (B.S. 2000) is employed with Omega Point Laboratories, Inc. as a field chemist. Friends may contact him at: apenaloza@opl.com


            Esther Garner (B.S 2002) recently became Ester Garner Smith as a result of getting married. I don’t know any more details. She has accepted a position with Lynntech in College Station. Congratulations on the marriage may be sent to Esther at: esther_marie@yahoo.com


            Becky Lew became Becky (Lew) Nguyen in March. She is still working at NalcoExxon. You may contact her to congratulate her on her marriage at: luckybecky@houston.rr.com


            Dr. Edward Southern (B.A. 1982) stopped by for a very brief visit on August 30. Although I had not seen Ed for twenty years, he was easily recognizable even though his hair had a little gray in it. It was great to see him since I had totally lost track of him. Ed is now an orthopedic surgeon. He received his M..D. in 1988 from Baylor. He has quite an impressive resume, which may be viewed at www.memorialorthopaedics.com This is the web site for the practice he just left in Long Beach, California to take a position in Minnesota to make his wife, a native Minnesotan, happy. Friends may contact Ed at: EdwardSouthern@OSLMN.com


            Alan Maschek (B.S. 1999) touched base recently to say that he has accepted a position at UT southwestern as a research assistant in Dr. David Corey's lab where he will primarily be doing PNA and protease research. He said that I should include the details of his journey since graduation so that the students may see what all the possible options are after graduation. Here goes: OI Analytical 1.5 years; traveler Fiji, New Zealand; student ACC; Radio Shack employee; Las Cruces, NM musician bum and Sonic burger flipper; traveler Mexico, Belize; research assistant UT-Southwestern. For information about this career path you may contact Alan at: a_maschek@yahoo.com


            Roxanne Clardy (B.S. 1997) and Scott Davis were married in Jamaica recently. Congratulations! Friends may contact the newlyweds at: scottandroxanne2@insightbb.com


            Dr. Michael Green (B.S. 1992 in chemistry and in physics) has just accepted a position as an assistant professor of chemistry at Penn State University. Mike received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1998 under the direction of Dr. Jeremy Burdett and had been doing research with Dr. Harry Gray at Cal Tech for the last few years as an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow. Mike has done extraordinarily well after a less than stellar start at A&M as he will tell you. In fact, he and I joke that his is one of the stories I most often use to motivate students who start out poorly at A&M. Mike never gave up and look where he is now, a rising star in academia.. You may contact Mike at: mtg10@psu.edu            



            Quite a few additions or improvements have been made to the Texas A&M Chemistry Department web site over the summer by Ms. Warren and me. I encourage you to check them out by going to: www.chem.tamu.edu and then clicking on undergraduate program. Once at the site you will find the following additions:

  1. Employers of Chemistry Majors - this is a list of the companies, organizations, professional schools, and graduate schools attended by out chemistry graduates.

  2. Career Choices of Chemistry Majors - this is an edited list of material gleaned from Orbitals: What’s Happening in Chemistry Circles. It illustrates the diversity of careers chosen by our graduates.

  3. Association of Former Students Teaching, Research and Student Relationships Awards Received by Chemistry Faculty - this is a list of all chemistry faculty who have been recognized by the AFS for outstanding accomplishment in teaching (college-level and university-level), research and student relationships

   4. Undergraduate Publications - this is a chronological l ist of about 115 chemistry publications which include A&M undergrads as co-authors. Copies of most of these publications are posted on the bulletin boards outside Room 108 and 109 and in the glass display case in the lobby of the 1986 wing (outside Room 2104). If you become a co-author on a publication please make sure that our office is made aware of this to add to this list.



            Adam Rowland, junior chemistry major, spent the summer as a participant in the Arkansas-Oklahoma Center for Space and Planetary Sciences NSF-REU program. He worked with S.W.S. McKeever at Oklahoma State University on a project titled “Effects of Gamma Irradiation and Low Temperature Operation of InGaN Single Quantum Well Light Emitting Diodes.” 


            Two senior chemistry majors, Amelia Hessheimer and Brooke Harstad, spent the past semester/summer studying abroad. Brook spent her time at the University of Lancaster in the United Kingdom while Amelia studied at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Spain.





            Check the university web site at the following location for graduation details:



            Degree Application Deadline: September 13 is the deadline for filing an application for a degree for students graduating in the fall of 2002. This must now be done online at: http://degreeapp.tamu.edu Questions about degree audits may be addressed t the Degree Audit Office at 845-1089.


            List of Seniors: A list of students who will graduate between now and August 2003 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 Wednesday, September 11 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.


            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 2003 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 now 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




            Texas Scottish Right Hospital for Children is a non-profit pediatric hospital specializing in treatment of children's orthopedic, neuromuscular, and associated disorders. The hospital also sponsors a strong research program in both basic science and clinical applications relevant to disorders of interest. The TSRHC Summer Internship program was established to provide training in bioengineering, molecular biology, or genetics to students pursuing the fields of science or medicine. The program consists of 5 undergraduate positions available from June through August each summer.

For more information please contact Dr. Richard Browne, Administrative Director of Research, at 214-559-7870, or email him at: Richard.Browne@tsrh.org.


            We have enrolled 58 freshman chemistry majors for the fall semester compared with 53 last year. We also welcome five new transfer students. The average SAT score of the freshmen is 1172 with twelve students scoring above 1350. About 40 of the 58 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:


LAST   FIRST                            HIGH SCHOOL                                      CITY                              ST

Anzueto, Gabriel                              Tom Clark High School                   San Antonio                TX

Ball, Kendall                             Highland Park High School              Dallas                         TX

Baradhi, Shakeih                        Brazoswood High School               Lake Jackson              TX

Biles, Jessica                          A&M Consolidated High School       College Station           TX

Bollinger, Melinda                 Mary Carroll High School                  Corpus Christi            TX

Carter, Tiffany                        Cy-Fair Senior High School               Houston                      TX

Castillo,Erin                           Coronado High School                       El Paso                       TX

Cowart, Katherine                  Harker Heights High School              Harker Heights           TX

Dalrymple, Christopher          Flower Mound High School               Flower Mound            TX

Daniels, Shara                        Los Fresnos Sr. High School              Los Fresnos                TX

DeCock, Kelly                        Northside Hlth Careers High              San Antonio                TX

Delgado, Jose                         Sci & Eng School at Townview         Dallas                         TX

Ellis, Grant                             Klein Oak High School                      Spring                         TX

Ellis, Sheena                           Ellison High School                           Killeen                        TX

Farber, Rebecca                      Harvest Christian Academy               Keller                          TX

Garey, Joshua                         Hirschi High School                           Wichita Falls              TX

Gee, Chance                           Lumberton High School                     Lumberton                  TX

Gerren, Tiffany                       Thorndale High School                      Thorndale                   TX

Haley, Stacey                         North Shore High School                   Houston                      TX

Hampton, Emily                     First Baptist Academy                        Dallas                         TX

Harwell, Robert                      Edmond North High School               Edmond                      OK

Hawkins, Robert                     Monahans Senior High School           Monahans                   TX

Henderson, Ann                      C.E. Bird Magnet High School          Shreveport                  LA

Hoover, Angela                      Humble High School                          Humble                       TX

Horvat, Darijana                     A&M Consolidated High School       College Station           TX

Hovorak, Brian                       Brady High School                             Lohn                           TX

Jackson, Ashley                      Kilgore High School                          Kilgore                       TX

Jaggears, Christi                     Irving HighSchool                              Irving                          TX

Knippell, Katherine                Klein Oak High School                      Spring                         TX

Leggett, Tristan                      TX Acad. Math & Science                 Dallas                         TX

Malcolm, Hannah                   Lafayette High School                        Lafayette                     LA

McClelland, Christofe            Edinburg North High School              Edinburg                     TX

McInnis, Chance                    All Saints Episcopal School               Tyler                           TX

Minjares, Aaron                      Naaman Forest High School              Garland                       TX

Minnick, Andrew                   New Braunfels Senior High               New Braunfels            TX

Murphy, Mary                        St. Petersburg Sr High School            St. Petersburg             FL

Nash, Kimberly                      Jersey Village High School                Cypress                       TX

Nordt, Eric                              Needveille High School                     Needville                    TX

Olshavsky, Rebecca               Sharyland High School                       Mission                       TX

Osbun, Nathan                        Southside High School                       Fort Smith                  AR

Parketon, Sarah                      Fossil Ridge High School                   Fort Worth                  TX

Perez, Brian                            Del Rio High School                          Del Rio                       TX

Perkins, Joshua                       Antonian College Prep School           San Antonio                TX

Quirindongo, Lucki                Killeen High School                           Killeen                        TX

Rameriz, Debra                      Sharyland High School                       Mission                       TX

Richers, Casseday                  Bryan High School                             Bryan                          TX

Robinson, Jillian                     New Caney High School                    New Caney                 TX

Rodriguez, Mitcheal               Providence High School                     San Antonio                TX

Schell, Anna                           Bishop Lynch High School                Dallas                         TX

Smith, Dustin                         Robert L. Osborne High School         Austin                         TX

Snedecor, Kevin                     Angelton High School                        Angleton                     TX

Steffens, Karly                        Brady High School                             Brady                          TX

Stubbs, Shahira                       Mayde Creek High School                 Katy                            TX

Stum, Dustin                           Azle High School                               Azle                            TX

Van Hal, Michael                   Faith Christian School                        Roanoke                     TX

Wadera, Sheetal                      L.V. Hightower High School             Sugar Land                 TX

Walton, Katherine                  Cleburne High School                        Cleburne                     TX

Westerman, Alex                    Maize High School                             Wichita                       KS




Coffey, Charlotte                    University of Texas -Austin               San Antonio                TX

Gallagher, Kate                      Creighton University                          Omaha                        NE

Lynch, Shannon                      North Harris County College             Woodlands                 TX

Siraj, Ahmed                          Houston Community College             Houston                      TX

Stephens, Michael                  Millsaps College                                 Alvarado                     TX


            Drs. Miller, Watanabe and Yennello are looking for a few undergraduates interested in doing research in their labs. Interested students should contact them and may find out about their research at the chemistry web site where their phone numbers and e-mail addresses are also listed.


            Undergraduate chemistry majors who have not received general e-mails from me in the last couple of days should provide me with their current e-mail address ASAP so you may be added to the ChemMjrs e-mail list. You may do this simply by sending an e-mail to me and saying “add to the chemistry majors e-mail list.” We try to keep this updated but it is next to impossible. About 25 of the current e-mail addresses are no longer correct. If you know of a previous e-mail address that is no longer correct please let me know.