What’s Happening in Chemistry Circles

Issue #98 October 1, 2002


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

written by Dr. John L. Hogg


              Sixteen upper-level undergraduate chemistry majors are serving as teaching assistants in either the general chemistry or organic chemistry laboratory programs this fall. The students are: Charles Branham, Nolan Griggs, Michael Gustavson, Brooke Harstad, Amelia Hessheimer, Sarah Holt, Michael Irwin, Kasey Johnston, Aaron Justice, Marti Kubena, Shanique Leonard, Amy McMahon, Scott Peterson, Richard Rodriguez, Adam Rowland, and Claudia Wayland.



            Amelia Hessheimer, senior chemistry major, was presented the John B. Beckham Award in Science at the College of Science Faculty meeting on September 25, 2002. She received a $1000 check and a medallion. The award is presented to the outstanding senior in the College of Science based on leadership and academic achievement. Amelia has received a number of awards, including a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and a Presidents Endowed Scholarship . She was selected the Phi Kappa Phi College of Science Outstanding Junior and is active in several student organizations. She has spent one summer as a participant in the TAMU Public Policy Internship Program and spent the first seven months of 2002 studying in Spain. She has co-authored two scientific publications under the direction Dr. Abraham Clearfield and plans to attend medical school. Leigh Cobbs, senior mathematics major, was also honored with a Beckham Award. The awards were presented by Dr. Ken Poenisch, Associate Dean for Student Affairs in the College of Science.


            Tuan Nguyen is currently a 4th year med student at Texas A&M and is on one of his away rotations in general surgery at Wake Forest University. His interest is in neurosurgery, therefore he has plans to visit Oregon HSU and LSU-New Orleans to evaluate the residency programs there. He said he is having a great time here in North Carolina. For those that have not seen Wake Forest or the School of Medicine here, he would highly recommend it. The city is beautiful and there are lots of things to do in Winston-Salem.


            Christopher Loo (B.S. 2000) is now in his 3rd year as an MD/PhD at Baylor College of Medicine. This past year, he was on clinical rotations (so far, he’s finished OB/GYN, Neurology, and Medicine), spending all my time between the hospitals/school/and home. He recently took the USMLE Step 1 and then spent a month vacationing in Japan visiting a couple of friends. He is also now a first year graduate student at Rice in the Department of Bioengineering. He is trying to decide on a research advisor and thinks he’s narrowed it down to a project involving designing optical systems that can detect certain biochemical signatures, so called "molecular markers", from early precancerous cells as an alternative to conventional diagnostic procedures. There's also an interesting project that uses nanotechnology where gold atoms are applied to specific polymers. These polymers are then injected into animals, and are targeted to the specific tumor. These animals then undergo MRI, which causes the release of heat from the gold particles, basically reducing/eliminating the original tumor. He said he the profs are great, the students are really nice and everyone is very helpful. After his PhD, he'll go back to Baylor and finish the rest of his clinical rotations. The MD/PhD program at Baylor is structured so that students do 1 1/2 years of basic sciences, then do 6 months of clinical rotations, go to graduate school, and then go back and finish their rotations. After medical school, he said he is leaning towards either some specialty in surgery (plastics, orthopedics, or otolaryngology) or medicine (endocrinology, pulmonary medicine or hematology/oncology), depending on his PhD research.


            Brett Thompson (B.S. 1994 and B.S. in BIMS in 1989) sent an e-mail to say he has not lost my "spirit for Aggieland." Brett is working at Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in New Jersey and points out that they have a strong current presence in Europe with an increasingly strong presence in the US. They manufacture Allegra, Lovenox and Taxotere (oncology). He has been with them since leaving A&M. Aventis is the former Hoechst Roussel Pharmaceuticals and then Hoechst Marion Roussel - upon merging with Marion Merrill Dow. He was hired from Hoechst directly through the A&M Career Center in 1994. He has held a variety of positions but now works in Regulatory Affairs. He plans to also pursue an MBA in the near future.


            Julie Orf (B.S. 2000) wrote to say that she plans to finish her Master’s degree in chemistry at UCLA in December before beginning to prepare for the oral exam leading to continuation for her Ph.D. I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing this but she is dating a Ph.D. candidate in biomedical engineering at UCLA. You may contact Julie at: jorf@chem.ucla.edu


            Sarah McBee (B.S. 2002) is enrolled at A&M-Corpus Christi taking classes for an M.S. in environmental science. She said her chemistry degree really prepared her well for that program. You may contact Sarah at: srmcbee@yahoo.com


            Leah Whiteker (B.S. 2002) sent along the following e-mail with details of her life after graduation. I don’t think she’ll mind me sharing her Naval exploits with you. “Well, I had a great time at OIS, which is in Newport, RI. I was in Class # 02050, Lima Company. I interviewed the first week for a Battalion leadership position, and was very lucky to be chosen for Battalion Adjutant. I was second in charge of the Battalion, which consisted of six companies for the first four weeks, and three companies for six weeks total. There were about 60 officers in each company. I got my own room with an ocean view and a nice breeze ( I think I was only 50 yards from the water). I had a big part in our Pass-in-Review. I got to give a lot of commands, use a sword, etc. It was definitely a great learning experience. I also got to do some traveling. I went and saw Charlie (Hamilton) in Boston over the 4th of July. I also took a Saturday trip to Plymouth Rock. I also visited Providence on several occasions. I left Newport on the 19th of July and got my apartment set up in Charleston on the 22nd and 23rd. I then took a couple of weeks leave and went back to Texas. I reported to NNPTC on the 9th of August. I have been working on my train up since I checked into the command. I will take 15 exams, give practice lectures, take oral boards, and go to instructor training for the next few months. I am scheduled to start teaching on November 18th. I am really enjoying everything so far. I am learning a lot of neat material. The command (there are bunch of us, a couple of thousand, staff and students) is going to do a half day of community service on September 11th. I think it is a really good way for the command to remember September 11th and do something productive for the community at the same time. I have made some awesome friends already. There are a couple of the single future instructors (the majority are married) that I hang out with on the weekend. We usually head downtown on Friday and Saturday nights. There are some nice restaurants and bars downtown. I am also looking into starting an MBA program in the Spring. Well, I hope this is what you were looking for. How are you doing? Is the semester off to a good start? Hope you have a fine Navy day!!” Leah

            Shawn Kucera (B.A. 2000) has returned to Texas after a year at Penn State and is in the Pharmaceutics Ph.D. track at U.T. working with Dr. James McGinity. He said the program is a mix of polymer science, materials science, physical chemistry, pharmaceutics and chemical engineering. You may contact Shawn at: shawnkucera@hotmail.com

            Vanessa Walters (B.S. 2001) stopped by for a very brief visit on September 30. She was on her way to attend a seminar on FTIR in Dallas. Vanessa is a criminalist in the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Laboratory in McAllen. You may e-mail her at: vanessa.walters@txdps.state.tx.us



            Word has just been received that the Texas A&M Student Affiliate Chapter of the American Chemical Society has once been recognized as a Outstanding chapter. Based on the review of the annual reports of activities for the 2001-2002 academic year submitted by the chapters, the Society Committee on Education selected 31outstanding chapters from over 9500 national chapters in the U.S and Puerto Rico. This is the second year in a row that the chapter has received this highest honor from the ACS. An additional 55 chapters were recognized as commendable with 71 chapters receiving honorable mention recogition.

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

            President -Leah Whiteker

            Vice-President - Johanna Mullen

            Secretary - Lucas Smith and Sarah McBee

            Treasurer - Christina Thompson

            Historian - Emily Squibb

Advisors - Dr. Tammy Tiner

                             Ms. Marylin Warren

            The chapter will be recognized at the 225th ACS National Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana on March 23, 2003.



            Twenty-nine undergraduate chemistry majors have been awarded $1000 IUCCP-A.E. Martell Undergraduate Chemistry Scholarships for the 2002-03 academic year. An additional 30th student was unable to enroll due to visa problems but we expect him in the spring. The funds for these scholarships are provided by contributions from the members and associate members of the Industry University Cooperative Chemistry Program. The department and the students gratefully acknowledge this support. The scholarship recipients and company sponsors are listed below with the first-year students marked with an asterisk.

BASF Corporation: Jessica Biles*, Oakley Davis, Eric Hendrickson

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharm., Inc.: Laura Bourque, Amber Jensen, Jess Miller

Celanese, Ltd.: Kelly DeCock*, Travis Gilbreath, Sarah Holt

Dow Chemical U.S.A.: Elizabeth Edwards, Adam King, Ashley Leonard

Glaxo-SmithKline: Gina Dellavalle, Alisha Roach, Hannah Malcolm*

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

            Shell Chemical Company: Scott Peterson, Michael Sarahan, Anna Schell*

The Procter and Gamble Company: Michael Gustavson, Jennifer Heiner, Eleanor Pate Associate Member Companies

Abbott Laboratories: Ashley Jackson*, Lauren Six, Emily Squibb

Rohm and Haas Company: Ashley Elizondo, Claudia Wayland



            Aaron Justice, Marissa Mathes, Christina Thompson and Marc Wilson have each been awarded Dow Aggies Scholarships ranging from $1000 - $1500 for the 2002-2003 academic year. All are senior 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.



            Sophomore chemistry major Cameron Hall was honored with her second year of support from the Fred and Mary Sicilio Chemistry Scholarship for the 2002-2003 academic year. This is a $2000 scholarship honoring former A&M professor Dr. Fred Sicilio and his wife Mary who still reside in College Station. Dr. Sicilio was the undergraduate advisor in chemistry for about 17 years immediately preceding his retirement.


        Marissa Mathes, senior chemistry major, and Daniel Denissen, sophomore chemistry major, were each awarded a $1000 George C. Bauer Scholarship for the 2002-2003 academic year. These scholarships honor Professor Bauer, a former chemistry faculty member and outstanding teacher.



       Three current or former undergraduate chemistry majors were recognized with scholarships from the Hach Scientific Foundation of Loveland, Colorado for the 2002-2003 academic year. Students were selected based on scholarship, character, cooperation and aspiration to make a contribution to the teaching profession. A 3.00 GPR and full-time student status were additional requirements. Melinda Ledwig, who received her B.A. in chemistry in May and is currently enrolled in the College of Education as a graduate student, received $4000. She is also teaching in Dime Box this year. Anita Patel, a senior chemistry major who is doing her student teaching this fall and will graduate in December, received $2000. Lauren Six, a senior chemistry major working on teacher certification, also received $4000.



       On November 1, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Callas will be hosting a get-together for prospective graduate students interested in obtaining a Ph.D. in organic chemistry or chemical biology. They will cover the cost of travel and lodging for students wishing to attend the program. Additional information, including all application materials, is available in Dr. Hogg’s office (Room 104).



            Dr.. Paul Pantano, one of the professors at UTD in charge of recruiting sent the following recently. “In the event that you have students interested in graduate chemistry studies in the Dallas area, I would just like to make you aware of the tremendous growth our department has experienced in the last two years. The details can be found at the following URLs; in brief, we have had a Nobel Laureate (Alan MacDiarmid) join our department, we have started a new NanoTech Institute, we have changed our doctoral degree to a Ph.D., and the Welch Foundation has granted us another endowed chair. I thank you in advance for thinking about us during the course of your advising duties and I encourage you to call upon me if there is anything I can do for you and your department.



http://www.utdallas.edu/utdgeneral/news/chemistryphd.html http://www.utdallas.edu/utdgeneral/news/2ndchemchair.html



            I was honored to receive an Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching at the College of Science faculty meeting on September 25. Some of you may have played a role by writing letters of recommendation and I want you to know how much I value this honor and appreciate your efforts. Thanks for everything.