Hi, I’m Chriss McDonald, Professor of Chemistry at Lycoming College. I hope this newsletter finds you well. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to put one of these together. Other writing projects (grant proposals, papers, lab manuals, class supplements….) have taken precedence over the last 24 months, but I’ve got a window, so I’ve cranked this out. As I’ve mentioned before, the goal for this newsletter is to keep people updated on what is going on around here, show off some faces and events, and just basically keep in touch. As I heard recently, when you go to college, you may only be there four years (hopefully) but you start a relationship for life.
Since I last wrote we’ve acquired two new instruments. Just recently we’ve gotten an Ocean Optics UV-vis probe instrument. Jeremy and I are using it to characterize complexes of SmI2 and a new anionic phosphoramide ligand that the CEM research group has developed. The funds for this came from a PRF grant and the college is kicking in some. We’ve used the David Franz Instrument Endowed Fund to purchase a Shimadzu HPLC and a new/better autosampler for the GCMS.
We’ve also introduced one new course. It’s a distribution course that Holly teaches called “Chemistry of Food and Cooking”. It went over pretty well.
New Ocean Optics UV-vis(2012) in action - SmI2/ 4DPMPA-
New Shimadzu HPLC(2011)
Over the past two year we’ve had several students conduct research within the department. Holly Bendorf had three different students work for her over the past two summers. Katie (KT) Wellmon worked both summers while Caitlin DeAngelo worked there Summer 2011 and Laura Anderson in Summer 2012. Kyle Ruhl (Kruhl) worked with them in May 2011 before heading off to Colorado State and grad school. They were funded by Holly’s PRF grant. They’ve made significant progress on the cyclization of allyl amines onto aldehydes via coordinatively unsaturated rhodium complexes. Holly and coworkers published a paper last year on their progress, very nice.
Jeremy Ramsey had Elisabeth (Lis) Feld and then Allyson (Ally, everyone has a shortened version of their name it seems) Marianelli work for him, mainly in the area of modifying glassy carbon electodes with diazonium cation-derived layers.
Charles Mahler had Rory McAtee work for him during the Summer of 2012. They focused on the 31P NMR studies of iron phosphine complexes, looking for correlations with previously determined physical and spectroscopic properties of these species. Charles has been a member of the $4.5 million dollar “Pennsylvania Three (PA 3) Region Math and Science Partnership” since December 2010. This B federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education, involves faculty from Lycoming College, Immaculata University, The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, and Bucknell University and aims to improve teaching of science and math at public schools. Participants spend three days each summer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and attend a week-long Summer Institute at Immaculata University taught by six science faculty (including Mahler) and six math faculty from the participating college and universities. There are also monthly sessions where the science and math faculty meet with local teachers.
Charles was also part of the PA 3 Partnership which received one of eight “NASA Summer of Innovation” grants awarded nationwide. The $750,000 grant funds four years of summer programs in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math for students in Pennsylvania, and began in 2011. In conjunction with these two grants Mahler attended a NASA GLOBE (Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment) program at the NASA IV and V center in West Virginia, and is now a certified GLOBE instructor. GLOBE is a worldwide hands-on, primary and secondary school-based science and education program.
I had Dave Sampsell work with me the last two summers and Laura (Double Duty) Anderson lent a hand as well. We are progressing nicely on our work involving
Young Dave Sampsell ran his 100th rxn so he gets a cake!
Old Dave Sampsell, One of the few to run 200, more cake!
the activation of SmI2 with anionic phosphoramides. As a matter of fact, a paper regarding this work is being written this semester. Four Lycochem alums (Ahren Green, Joe Keane, Dan Dirocco, and Kyle Ruhl) are actually looking it over for us before we submit. A really nice thing, they continue to make a contribution to Lycoming chemistry after they have graduated. I was also fortunate enough to receive a PRF grant that will fund students over the next three summers. This continues an excellent trend by the department of acquiring outside funding to support our summer research efforts.
Students present their work at the Intercollegiate Student Chemists (ISC) and Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences at UMBC most years.
The ugliest rxn I've ever seen (I blame Sampsell)
KRuhl at 100+ and lusting for cake
A semi-willing participant in Dr. Bendorf's food chemistry course, Spring 2012
The colored utensils of Advanced Organic Chemistry, Fall 2012
One of the things I really appreciate about teaching at Lycoming is how well we get to know our students. I teach stuff from the 100 to 400 levels. By the time students are Juniors and Seniors we know each other pretty well. In 400 level courses such as Spectroscopy and Advanced Organic, I fell like we are just “hanging out” in a very structured way. The atmosphere is both loosey-goosey (where about anything might be said) but also we are very serious about gaining knowledge about chemistry (count me in on that too). I know the other chem faculty feel the same way.
We’ve begun to be more intentional about having “events” for our current students. We now schedule four each year. We have advising/informational events for both Freshman (the Freshman Confabulation) and Sophomores (the Sophomore Sitdown) as well as a sporty event each semester. The last couple of years we’ve done Whiffleball in the Fall and Volleyball in the Spring.
Allison Marianelli is making a diazonium salt
Bendorf on the "mound", Whifflepalooza 2011
As can be seen below we continue to have the Chemistree Party with all of the traditional activities and goodies. I remember going to a Chemistree party my first year at Lyco in December 1987. Who knows how long it had been going on at that point. It is a really nice tradition!
Getting ready for Chemistry Carols
Graduation is always a special time. Lycoming has planted flora very strategically over the years. As graduation rolls around the Quad blossoms spectacularly. As long as we have sun and keep our allergic responses in check, graduation is a fine event.
Graduation May 2011, Way2Go Kate Williamson, Sam Smith, Frank Lettieri, Rob Beamon, Jen Adams and the seductive Kyle Ruhl!
Graduation May 2012, Congrats to Phil Cook, Lis Feld, Lauren Bottorf (and the other grads)! Rob, Jen, and Jordan can't stay away.