2017 National Chemistry Week: Chemistry Rocks!

This week, October 22nd -28th, the American Chemical Society will be celebrating the 30th Anniversary of National Chemistry Week. The goal of National Chemistry Week is to promote the value of chemistry in everyday life. ACS members and science enthusiasts are encouraged to spread awareness of chemistry by organizing events for ACS local sections, schools, businesses, and the general community.

In 1987, former ACS President Dr. George Pimentel organized a national event to celebrate the impact of chemistry. This single day of celebrating science evolved into an annual week-longevent where the scientific community engages in education and outreach. The events of the week are accompanied by the publication of Celebrating Chemistry, a booklet designed to engage and educate children in the basic principles of chemistry and to inspire the next generation of future scientists.

The theme of National Chemistry Week for 2017 is “Chemistry Rocks!”, which focuses on geochemistry. Topics include the chemistry of salt, the types of rock within the Earth’s crust, and the difference between a rock, a mineral, and a gemstone. Some activities in Celebrating Chemistry include growing crystals from Epsom salt and testing mud samples for clay content.

Previous topics of National Chemistry Week include “Solving Mysteries Through Chemistry”, “Chemistry Colors Our World”, “The Sweet Side of Chemistry—Candy”, and “Energy: Now and Forever”. Next year, events will focus around outer space in “Chemistry Out of this World”.

To spark widespread interest and appreciation for chemistry is a goal also shared with our graduate student social and service organization, Pi Alpha Chemical Society (PACS). On Thursday, October 26th, PACS and Graduation Generation, a collaborative family-school-university-community partnership, will host an outreach event at Toomer Elementary School involving 20-minute science demonstrations for kids in third through fifth grade. In addition, ChEmory, our undergraduate chemistry club will host a series of events in honor of National Chemistry Week including an alumni career seminar, science demonstrations, and periodic table cupcake baking!

Outreach opportunities like those presented by PACS, ChEmory, and National Chemistry Week give us the chance to share our love of chemistry and science with the community. Through education and outreach, we can cultivate an appreciation for chemistry and inspire the next generation to become as passionate as we are.

Interested in learning more about National Chemistry Week? Check out the ACS website! If you are interested in getting involved with the PACS outreach event, contact Elaine Liu.

 

ChEmory events this week:

Tuesday, October 24th

Demo Show: 6:30-7:30 pm at Memorial Student Center E208

            Wednesday, October 25th

ChEmory at Wonderful: 12-2 pm in Asbury Circle

Periodic Table Cupcake Baking: 7-8 pm in the LSM Kitchen

            Thursday, October 26th

Periodic Table Cupcake Decorating: 7-8 pm in the LSM Kitchen

Applying to Graduate School 101: A Letter from the Director of Graduate Studies

Director of Graduate Studies Susanna Widicus Weaver gives a research seminar to new graduate students in August 2017.
Director of Graduate Studies Susanna Widicus Weaver gives a research seminar to new graduate students in August 2017.

This Fall, we are publishing a special series of blog posts about applying to graduate school–at Emory and in general. Our goal is to demystify the application process and help applicants feel confident as they seek a home for their graduate studies. This post is the first in the series, a letter from our Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Susanna Widicus Weaver.

orange line

Susanna Widicus Weaver. Photo by Jessica Lily Photography.
Susanna Widicus Weaver. Photo by Jessica Lily Photography for Work+Play.

Dear Applicants to the Emory Chemistry Graduate Program,

As Director of Graduate Studies, I want to welcome you as you begin a truly fantastic journey on the path to becoming a scientist. Applying to graduate school is an important step in your journey, and I hope that our Emory Chemistry community can help guide you along this career path. This is a special year for me to lead our admissions team as I recently started my own journey by taking on the role of Director of Graduate Studies. I look forward to getting to know each of you via your applications and am committed to building a great graduate class for entry in Fall 2018.

It is an exciting time in our Department as many changes are taking place. In 2015, we moved in to a new, beautiful addition to Atwood Hall, giving us room to grow our research capabilities and expand our teaching endeavors. This new space inspired the reform of our teaching mission, and we are implementing “Chemistry Unbound” this fall. This full revision and rebranding of our undergraduate chemistry curriculum opens up new opportunities for graduate students to become involved in our teaching mission. Additionally, we are aggressively hiring faculty members who, through both research and teaching, offer innovative pathways into a deeper understanding of Chemistry. Lastly, we always strive to disseminate our science through an active outreach program that seeks to inspire and engage our community.

The Graduate program is at the heart of our Department, and our success in these endeavors depends on its students. Graduate students participate in our teaching mission by serving as undergraduate teaching assistants, aid in outreach activities to engage the community in our work, and contribute to the research endeavor via their own independent research. To join our Department as a graduate student is to fully immerse yourself in the world of Chemistry.

Emory Chemistry has a wonderful team in place to help you on your journey.

  • If you have questions about the application process or our outreach activities, please contact Kira Walsh, our Outreach Coordinator.
  • If you have questions about our graduate program, please email gradchem [at] emory [dot] edu; this will connect you with our entire admissions team, including Graduate Coordinator Ana Maria Velez, Kira Walsh, and our faculty Graduate Committee.
  • If you have questions about research, please contact any research-active faculty member in this Department. (At this link, you can also see a list of faculty accepting students in Fall 2018.)
  • If you have questions about our teaching mission, please contact Dr. Douglas Mulford, Director of Undergraduate Studies.
  • And if you have general questions about our Department or our Graduate Program, please contact me or Dr. Stefan Lutz, our Department Chair.

I wish you all the best as you begin your Chemistry journey.

Sincerely,

Dr. Widicus Weaver

Director of Graduate Studies

orange line

Ready to apply? Visit chemistry.emory.edu/apply! Applications received before October 31st will receive an automatic waiver of the application fee (scores and letters may arrive later.) The final deadline is January 1st.

Congratulations, Dr. Wallace Derricotte!

Wallace Derricotte with Francesco Evangelista following his defense.
Wallace Derricotte with Francesco Evangelista following his defense.

Wallace Derricotte successfully defended his dissertation, “Development and Applications of Orthogonality Constrained Density Functional Theory for the Accurate Simulation of X-Ray Absorption Spectroscopy,” on Wednesday, June 28th, 2017. His committee was led by Dr. Francesco Evangelista with Dr. Joel Bowman and Dr. Susanna Widicus Weaver as additional members.

During his time at Emory, Wallace was an Emerson Fellowship recipient as well as a 2014 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Recipient. Up next, Wallace will join the chemistry faculty at Morehouse College as a Tenure-Track Assistant Professor.

Congratulations, Wallace!

Previously:

Congratulations, Dr. Eric Andreansky!

Eric Andreansky successfully defended his dissertation, “Synthetic Studies Toward Methanoquinolizidine-Containing Akuammiline Alkaloids ” on Wednesday, April 26th, 2017. Eric’s committee was led by Simon Blakey with Frank McDonald and Lanny Liebeskind as additional members.

Eric was a Laney Graduate School Woodruff Scholar. He was also a service instructor for the Emory NMR Research Center and interned for a year with the Emory Office of Technology Transfer. Eric was also a member of the first Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) cohort, a National Institute of Health-funded graduate training program run jointly with Emory and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Eric plans to pursue a career in patent law.

Congratulations, Eric!

Congratulations, Dr. Michael Sullivan!

Michael Neal Sullivan successfully defended his dissertation, “Electronic Spectroscopy of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and Group IIA Metallic Oxides ” on Monday, April 10th, 2017. Michael’s committee was led by Michael C. Heaven with Tim Lian and Susanna Widicus Weaver as additional members.

During his time at Emory, Michael received the 2012 Outstanding TA Award for his work in physical chemistry lab. He also completed two internships (summer 2013 and 2014) at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in Albuquerque, NM. 

Next up, Michael will start a postdoctoral position with Dr. Lei Zhu at the New York Dept. of Health, Wadsworth Center in Albany, NY at the end of June.

Congratulations, Michael!

We’re Hiring: Graduate Program Coordinator

Graduate students at an outreach event at Fernbank Museum. Photo provided by Pi Alpha Chemical Society.
Graduate students at an outreach event at Fernbank Museum. Photo provided by Pi Alpha Chemical Society.

The Department of Chemistry is seeking a graduate program coordinator for the Department of Chemistry.  To apply, please visit the Emory Careers portal. The position number is 71103BR.

Program Coordinator-Emory College: Chemistry

831010:ECAS: Chemistry

71103BR

Job Description

PREFERRED QUALIFICATIONS

Experience with the following:

  • Student orientation
  • Student advising
  • Grad course scheduling
  • Course registration
  • Student payroll – coordinate for Department and RAS financial offices
  • Teaching Assistant placement
  • Research rotation placement and mentor choice
  • Student awards and recognition
  • Maintaining records of student progress
  • Annual reports
  • Career placement for internal assessments
  • Program grant applications

FORMAL JOB DESCRIPTION

  • Primary duties are organizing, coordinating, and planning operational facets of a program and its related activities which include, but are not limited to the following: establishing long-term operational objectives, researching factors that may impact the success of the program, and working with individuals or groups to research and document program requirements in order to provide appropriate input into the development of strategic plans.
  • Develops work plans to accomplish program goals and objectives and monitors progress toward their achievement.
  • Conducts research and gathers information to develop various publications.
  • Develops promotional materials which may include content for reports, briefings, newsletters, grants or other written information related to the program.
  • Assists in developing and coordinating program-related conferences, conventions, or meetings.
  • Monitors expenditures and may participate in the budget planning process and prepare financial reports.
  • May assist in identifying funding resources and developing fund-raising strategies and initiatives.
  • Prepares operational and statistical reports.
  • Conducts training, represents the program at meetings and conferences, and networks with affiliated groups.
  • May supervise assigned project staff, interns and/or volunteers.
  • Performs related responsibilities as required.
  • This is not an administrative support position.

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS

Bachelor’s degree in a field related to the program and two years of related experience, or an equivalent combination of education, training and experience.

Operating Unit/Division

Emory College

Full/Part Time

Full-Time

Regular/Temporary

Regular

Minimum Hourly Rate $

19.086538

Midpoint Hourly Rate $

25.576923

Minimum Annual Rate $

39700

Midpoint Annual Rate $

53200

This position involves:

Not Applicable

Congratulations, Dr. Marika Wieliczko!

Marika Wieliczko defended her thesis, “Innocent and Non-innocent Countercation Interactions in Transition Metal Oxidation Catalysts” on Wednesday, April 5th, 2017. Marika’s thesis committed was led by Craig L. Hill with Cora MacBeth and Brian Dyer as additional members.

During her time at Emory, Marika was a founding member of SciComm, the graduate student science communications group. She was also an organizing member of the recent “Sickle & Flow” benefit concert that raised money for research into sickle cell disease.

Following graduation, Marika will be based in Washington, D.C. where she has a position in editorial development for the Royal Society of Chemistry in North America. Specifically, she will be working with the inorganic, nano, materials, and chemical engineering as well as general chemistry journals. 

Congratulations, Marika!

Previously:

Chemistry Graduate Students Raise Awareness with Sickle and Flow Concert

Chemistry Graduate Students Welcome Carl Lineberger for the First Chemmy Seminar

W. Carl Lineberger

On Wednesday, February 8th, the graduate students of the Department of Chemistry will welcome W. Carl Lineberger, E. U. Condon Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of Colorado, Boulder, for the first-ever Chemmy Award Seminar. Dr. Lineberger is a recent winner of the NAS Award in the Chemical Sciences, a member of the National Science Board and the National Research Council Laboratory Assessments Board as well as a fellow of JILA and a member of the editorial board of Chemical Physics Letters. His Wednesday seminar is entitled “Once Upon Anion: A Tale of Photodetachment.”

The “Chemmys” are a seminar program developed and hosted by graduate students in the department. The aim of the seminars is to allow students to recognize scientists who they feel are doing the most exciting work in the field from year to year. In addition, the Chemmys give students an opportunity for professional development, interacting with top scientists from outside Emory to develop a visit schedule and discuss current research.

In its inaugural year, chemistry graduate students will welcome four Chemmy speakers. In addition to Dr. Lineberger, they are Daniel Nocera (Harvard), Ruben Abagyan (UCSD), and Alex Dunn (Stanford). The recipients were chosen through a nomination and voting progress open to all graduate students.

Asked why made time for the Chemmy visit, Dr. Lineberger said: “The answer is a simple truth which is likely shared by 95% (or more) of your seminar visitors. You have to look very hard to find a faculty member who does not respond favorably to flattery, and there is nothing more flattering than having a collection of students contact you asking you to speak! Now you know that you are speaking to an audience that really matters, and they invited you. This is simply too appealing an invitation to be able to decline, unless finding a suitable date is impossible!”

When he isn’t adventuring as the first-ever Chemmy Awardee, Dr. Lineberger sometimes spends time at the South Pole! He is pictured here with France Cordova, then an NSB Colleague and now the Director of the NSF.

Amanda Dermer (Heaven Group) spearheaded the development of the Chemmy program. “The goal of the Chemmys is to encourage more students to participate and have a say in deciding on some of the seminar speakers who speak to the chemistry department,” she says. “I am very appreciative of the department’s support in the new student-hosted speaker program!” Anthony Sementilli (Lynn Group) the current Outreach Coordinator for the Pi Alpha Chemical Society was also key in bringing the new seminars from idea to reality.

Continuing the theme of student involvement, Mallory Theis (Heaven Group), the current president of PACS, designed the glass Chemmy Award that will be presented to Chemmy speakers. “We expect it to become a coveted item in the field of chemistry!” says Outreach and Seminar Coordinator Kira Walsh.

As part of catering to student interests, Dr. Lineberger will focus a portion of his seminar on explaining the fundamentals of his research program in a graduate-level overview. In addition, he looks forward to meeting with students to talk research. “I feel that I am coming to Emory to see students, much more than faculty,” says Dr. Lineberger. “While I have many friends on the faculty, I would be extremely pleased and flattered to spend the time at Emory meeting with students individually or in larger groups and speaking about anything from science, to science policy, or to choosing a career.

Dr. Lineberger’s seminar will take place at 2:00pm in Atwood 360 and will be followed by a reception.

Research Spotlight: Analytical Chemistry Out of the Lab and Into the WaterHub

Students in their laboratory safety gear outside the WaterHub.
Students in their laboratory safety gear outside the WaterHub.

By: Laura Briggs (EC ’19)

Sometimes, being in an academic lab setting can feel a bit pointless. Instructors and TAs are there to help you every step of the way, procedures are laid out for you step-by-step, and everyone pretty much knows what the “right” result should be. I understand that this method helps you learn techniques and reinforce concepts, but it definitely isn’t what I’ve experienced in a real research setting.

Dr. Jeremy Weaver’s analytical chemistry lab has been a fun and fulfilling change of scenery from step-by-step lab work. Our class visited the WaterHub with sample collection bottles and got a hands-on look at the real science that goes on there (I talk more about the WaterHub experience here). Then, we took the samples back into the lab to do some real research.

Dr. Weaver famously says that analytical chemistry is the class where data accuracy and precision matter the most. But for the WaterHub project, he took a more open-ended approach. He didn’t give us a procedure to follow; instead, we spent a week scouring the Internet and the scientific literature to figure out what to do. And when we asked if a certain procedure would work, Dr. Weaver encouraged us to go for it, give it a shot, and see what happened.

Using the techniques we learned in lab, including gas chromatography, titrations, and spectrophotometry, we determined (somewhat successfully) the phosphate and aluminum concentrations of the water, along with “water hardness” – a fancy term for the concentrations of calcium, magnesium, and a few other ions in a water sample. These are values that water quality testers would measure during a routine check of water quality.

Of course, without a surefire procedure to follow, it took a couple of tries to work out the kinks. My portion of the project was to determine the phosphate concentration of the WaterHub samples using UV/Vis spectrometry. The concept behind this technique is simple – you add an agent to your sample that creates a color change, and the degree to which the color appears corresponds to the concentration of the sample. The first time I added my coloring agent to each sample, absolutely nothing happened – even when I knew that there was a ton of phosphate in the sample!

The process of research, as we learned, is full of troubleshooting and setbacks. But eventually, I found the amount of phosphate in the WaterHub water! Boy, did I feel accomplished because I found the procedure and performed the experiments myself. Even in an academic lab setting, it is possible to conduct real research, answer real questions, and engage with the Emory community on a larger level. Dr. Weaver’s WaterHub project brought the esoteric techniques of quantitative analytical chemistry and gave them new life through a real-life application.

orange line

Laura BriggsLaura Briggs is a sophomore majoring in chemistry and dance. Laura is a Woodruff Scholar and the Vice President of the Emory Swing Dance Club. She is also a member of the Emory Dance Company and hosts a weekly, science-themed radio show. Laura is a research assistant in the Weinert lab, where she studies really cool bacteria that attack potatoes. Laura plans to pursue either a Ph.D. in biochemistry or a master’s in science writing.

To learn more about the WaterHub, check out this link from Campus Services!

http://www.campserv.emory.edu/fm/energy_utilities/water-hub/

Congratulations, Dr. Christian Wallen!

Christian WallenChristian Wallen successfully defended his thesis, “The Coordination Chemistry of Hydrogen Peroxide” on Monday, December 5th, 2016. Christian’s thesis committed was led by Chris Scarborough with Lanny Liebeskind and Simon Blakey as additional members.

During his time at Emory, Christian received the Osborne R. Quayle Advanced/Senior Student Award (2016) and Outstanding TA Award for Organic Chemistry Laboratories (2014). Next up, he plans to work as a postdoctoral scholar with John Berry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Congratulations, Christian!