News and Events
Temitope Nathan named 2015 Outstanding Organic Chemistry Undergraduate

March 26, 2015 - ​The Chemistry & Biochemistry Department at CMU is proud to announce that Temitope Nathan has been named the 2015 Outstanding Organic Chemistry Undergraduate.

Temitope, who comes to CMU from Lagos, Nigeria, is a biochemistry major/mathematics minor, and plans on becoming a medical scientist. 

When asked what his most notable Organic moment or success was, he said, "finally purifying 22mg of a Tre-DNP compound after working on its synthesis for about a month."

Temitope was chosen as the 2015 Outstanding Organic Chemistry Undergraduate based on his performance in the classroom, in the research lab, and for his potential in organic chemistry.

Please help us congratulate Temitope on his outstanding work.  ​


....................................................................................................................................................................

Amanda Clark ('15) Takes Home Outstanding Biochemist Award

March 23, 2015 - The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry recently announced that Amanda Clark (’15) took home this year’s award for Outstanding Biochemist.  After graduation Amanda, who plans to pursue a Ph.D. and conduct research on cancer treatments, will be the first CMU Chemistry graduate to continue their education at Harvard.
 

....................................................................................................................................................................

Chemistry Professor Receives This Year's Student Choice Award.

March 4, 2015 - It is our great pleasure to announce that Chemistry Professor, Dr. Matt O'Dell, has been chosen as this year's recipient of CMU's Student Choice Award. 

Each year, the Excellence in Teaching Committee student members ask the student body to nominate professors they feel are worthy of the Student Choice Award.  Students are asked to nominate a professor they feel is knowledgeable in their subject, a positive role model, excellent at engaging students, accessible, respectful and inspiring.  

Dr. O'Dell will be presented with a plaque of appreciation in front of his class.  

....................................................................................................................................................................

Chemistry lab awarded $420,085 grant

​​(Reproduced from a CM Life article, February 9th, 2015)

February 9, 2015 - Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Assistant professor, Benjamin Swarts was awarded a $420, 085 grant from the National Institute of Health to aid his lab in researching an efficient way to help fight tuberculosis.

The project, titled "Chemoenzymatic Synthesis of Trehalose Analogs as Tools for Investigating Mycrobacteria," involves the development of a new method for synthesizing derivatives of a special sugar called trehalose.  

The compounds created will help researchers understand how bacterium makes trehalose and uses it during the infection process.

With the collaboration of Peter Woodruff, an assistant professor at the University of Southern Main, and the work of recent  Central Michigan University graduate Douglas Wing and senior Bailey Urbanek, their research published in August helped support the approval of the grant.

"In the U.S. we don't think much about tuberculosis," Swarts said.  "It's pretty well controlled here, but it's a problem in developing parts of the world and there is also the issue of it becoming more resistant to drugs and the threat it poses by spreading through world-wide-travel."

According to the World Health Organization's latest report on tuberculosis, TB remains one of the world's deadliest communicable diseases.  In 2013, an estimated 9 million people developed TB and 1.5 million died from the disease.

Swarts said because trehalose is absent from humans but is essential for the bacterium, it is a very attractive target for tuberculosis drug and diagnostic development.

The lab's research could lead to new insights for better diagnosing and threating people infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

"We're looking for a better way to target the bacterium," he said. "They have the trehalose, we don't. If we can target just that we will better detect it."

The grant is also being used to help equip the biosafety level 3 lab in the future Biosciences Building.  

Swarts said the lab will enable him and his students to do research on the bacteria itself rather than model organisms, which will provide data that will be more relevant to clinical translation.

....................................................................................................................................................................

​Amanda Clark nominated to compete for Goldwater Scholarship

February 19, 2014 - Amanda Clark, a junior amanda-clarkfrom Three Oaks, Mich. majoring in biochemistry, has been nominated to compete for a Goldwater Scholarship.

Clark is a 2013 McNair Scholar and vice president of the CMU student chapter of the American Chemical Society. She has been working with associate professor of chemistry Choon Lee, on research involving the synthesis of antioxidant dendrimers - repetitively branching molecules - since January 2012. The goal of her most recent project was to synthesize a second-generation dendrimer.

Clark evaluated the pro-oxidant effects of the dendrimer, but was not able to full test its antioxidant capacity. She is currently redesigning her compound to make it more soluble in biocompatible solvents in hopes that it can someday be used to help treat cancer and other diseases.

"I enjoy research because of its challenges. It is thought provoking and very difficult, but I enjoy the amount of knowledge that I am gaining from this experience," Clark said.

Clark's interest in cancer medications stems from a very personal connection to the disease - when she was 15, she lost her father to lung cancer. Two years later, Clark was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. After experiencing the side effects of chemotherapy medications herself, she was inspired to help develop medications with fewer adverse effects.

Clark has been in remission since undergoing chemotherapy, but she will never forget her battle with cancer. "I keep the memories with me as motivation for what I want to help discover someday," she said.

Clark plans to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry and pursue a research career in academia. She hopes to pass along her enthusiasm for science to future students, and conduct research that aids in the development of new cancer treatment medications.

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Barry Goldwater, who served for 56 years as a soldier and U.S. Senator. Scholarships are awarded each year to 300 college sophomores and juniors committed to pursuing research careers in mathematics, engineering or the natural sciences.

....................................................................................................................................................................

Du's research on glucose poly(ortho esters) featured as cover story of Angewandte Chemie

February 13, 2014 - Assistant professor of chemistry and Science of Advanced Materials research scientist Wenjun Du recently had his research featured as the cover story on the journal, Angewandte Chemie.

"Synthesis of Highly pH-Responsive Glucose Poly(orthoester)" - hypothesizes that pH-responsive polymers have great potential in biomedical applications, including targeted drug delivery.

Since tumors and inflammatory tissues tend to have low pH values and existing pH-responsive materials, such as polyketal copolymers, had known limitations and were falling short in terms of treating conditions optimally, Du and his research colleagues synthesized a glucose poly(orthoester) as a highly pH-responsive polymer to address these issues. Their research demonstrates the first, successful creation of a new class of sugar-based polymers, in which the sugar units are connected through orthoester linkages.

Ths new discovery has broad applications and may be useful in the synthesis of highly pH-responsive materials that could selectively and rapidly deliver drugs to diseased tissues with low pH values.

Du and his team plan to continue their study of glucose poly (ortho esters), with additional research studies already underway in his laboratory.

Angewandte Chemie is one of the premier chemistry journals in the world. It is the only journal in the field that delivers a mix of review articles, highlights and communications weekly, and also regularly publishes Nobel lectures in chemistry and related fields.

....................................................................................................................................................................

Tomasik receives $565,000 grant from National Science Foundation for STEM education research

November 22, 2013 - Central Michigan University assistant professor of chemistry Janice Hall Tomasik recently received a $565,000 grant from the National Science Foundation's Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (TUES) Phase II program to support work exploring the impacts of research-based environmental experiments on students and faculty at CMU, Saginaw Valley State University and Delta College.

Along with CMU associate professors of chemistry Dale LeCaptain and Anja Mueller, Tomasik and research colleagues - David Karpovich and Tami Sivy from SVSU, and Jay Vanhouten and Bernadette Harkness from Delta College - will develop new laboratory activities for undergraduate STEM courses. 

The new labs will involve authentic hands-on research experiences for students, as they investigate the environmental health of the watershed in the central Michigan area and on Beaver Island in northern Lake Michigan. Students in courses including Biology, Biochemistry, General and Analytical Chemistry, and Ecology will perform investigations both onsite at local sources and in laboratories on each campus, using state-of-the-art equipment and procedures. 

Students will share their findings between the three institutions and with the public at an annual student research summit made possible by a portion of the grant. 

Tomasik and researchers will investigate the impacts of the research-based experiences on students and faculty in multiple disciplines and at each type of institution - a research-intensive university, a predominantly undergraduate institution, and a community college. Their research will shed light on best practices for incorporating research-based environmental activities into courses at each type of institution, and their work will serve as a model for other programs. 

They will share their findings and host a workshop at national conferences at the end of the research study.

....................................................................................................................................................................

Senior and chemistry major Geoffrey Bourdon receives scholarship

October 22, 2013 - Congratulations to Geoffrey Bourdon, pictured third from left, receives the O'Connell Family Endowed ScholarshipCMU senior and chemistry major Geoffrey Bourdon, who is the recipient of the Dr. Barbara Leiting-O'Connell Family Endowed Scholarship. A native of Muskegon, Mich., Geoff plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in chemistry after graduating in May 2014 and ultimately wants to have a career as a chemistry professor. The award will help him cover some of his tuition expenses during his last year at CMU.

Established in 2007 by Dr. John O'Connell, '83, in memory of Dr. Barbara Leiting-O'Connell, this scholarship is awarded annually to a full-time junior or senior with a signed chemistry major and a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or higher. Preference is given to students desiring to attend graduate school and who demonstrate financial need.

Click here to explore all available scholarships to CST students.

....................................................................................................................................................................

From Chippewa to Tiger: CMU graduate receives prestigious TigersTeach Noyce Scholarship and heads to Clemson University

June 4, 2013 - 2010 CMU graduate and Ashley Morganchemistry major/mathematics minor Ashley Morgan has received a prestigious TigersTeach Noyce Scholarship to attend a very competitive MAT Secondary Education (Math Science) program at Clemson University in Clemson, S. Car.

The MAT program is a technologically rich program in which students master the fundamentals of teaching and become skilled at motivating and helping students learn either science or mathematics at deep levels. The program addresses content directly related to the secondary classroom, educational foundations and specific teaching methods that reflect current research in the field.

As a TigersTeach scholar, Ashley will participate in immersion activities, become a learning assistant and an active member of Clemson University's student chapter of the National Science Teachers Association. She is also committed to teaching in a high-needs school district for two years after graduation.

Clemson University's Robert Noyce TigersTeach Scholarship seeks to encourage talented science, engineering and mathematics majors and professionals to become secondary mathematics and science teachers. Funded by a five-year, $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, it is a collaboration between Clemson's colleges of Health, Education and Human Development; Engineering and Science; and Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences. School districts in Greenville, Anderson, Oconee and Pickens counties are partners in the project.

Students in TigersTeach will learn from veteran scientists and teachers, participate in professional conferences and work with local schools and agencies.

....................................................................................................................................................................

American Chemical Society brings regional meeting to CMU

Chemists gather to discuss sustainability; special exhibits open to the public

May 17, 2013 - About 600 chemists Central Michigan Universitygathered at Central Michigan University for the Central Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society May 15 through 17. CERM was held at CMU for the first time in the meeting's 44-year history and was hosted by the Midland Section of ACS.

Chemists attending the conference represented university and college chemistry faculty, chemists from business and industry, and undergraduate and graduate chemistry students from across the Great Lakes and northeastern U.S., according to Philip Squattrito, chairman of the 2013 CERM and CMU chemistry professor.

The theme of the 2013 CERM was "Building Blocks for a Sustainable World," with presentations given on topics such as chemistry and global health, water quality and biogeochemistry. A Thursday symposium observed the 150th anniversary of the discovery of organosilicon compounds, as well as the 70th anniversary of Dow Corning Corp., which manufactures them into products. Organosilicon compounds have many uses in household compounds, such as caulk, and industrial applications including as surfactants in agriculture.

Open to the Public

While the conference was a paid, pre-registered event, three chemistry-related art and history special exhibits are open to the public in the Park Library and the Clarke Historical Library.

On display in Park Library's Baber Room is "Images of The Dow Chemical Company from the Brush of Arthur Knighton-Hammond," a commissioned exhibit on loan from the Dow Foundation. The paintings (circa 1920-21) depict the early years of the Dow plant in Midland.

The Clarke Historical Library features special exhibits on "Drilling for Brine: The Dow Chemical Plant in Mount Pleasant, 1903-1930" and the history of the Midland Section of ACS. The discovery of brine relatively rich in bromine in Mount Pleasant and Midland, convinced Herbert H. Dow to establish chemical processing plants in both locations.

Summer hours of the Clarke Historical Library are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Park Library's summer hours are 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and 1 to 10 p.m. on Sunday.

....................................................................................................................................................................

Chemistry major and Science of Advanced Materials student Phillip Medina receives a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

April 30, 2013 - Senior and chemistry Phillip Medinamajor Phillip Medina recently received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. This highly competitive, multi-year award will provide him with $30,000 per year to help cover his graduate school expenses.

Medina will continue his education at CMU and has already enrolled as a graduate student in the Science of Advanced Materials (SAM) program, where he plans to continue his research on lithium-ion batteries with chemistry professor and SAM researcher Bradley Fahlman, searching for methods to increase the potential capacity of the batteries through the use of porous silicon and vertically aligned nanowires.

The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) helps ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science and engineering in the United States and reinforces its diversity. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions. 

NSF received over 13,000 submitted applications for the 2013 competition. Medina was one of only 2,000 recipients who received an award.

....................................................................................................................................................................

Mueller develops water filtration method targeting contaminants

April 25, 2013 - CMU associate Anja Muellerprofessor of chemistry, Anja Mueller, has developed a water filtration method that targets contaminants including perchlorates in water - a technology that currently does not exist on the market. Perchlorates have been linked to certain cancers and developmental delays and are extremely dangerous to pregnant women and infants. Mueller developed a patent for the filtration technology and partnered with CMU Research Corporation to license and commercialize the product, which is expected to hit stores later this year.

....................................................................................................................................................................

Howell receives international award for work in thermal analysis

April 22, 2013 - Central Michigan Bob HowellUniversity professor of chemistry and polymer science Bob Howell has received the 2012 North American Thermal Analysis Society Award for Outstanding Achievement in thermal analysis research.

"Thermal analysis has to do with just the response of materials to a change in temperature," Howell said. "You can learn about the structure of the material based on the way it responds, and so that's the fundamental technique."

Howell applies his research in a number of ways, focusing primarily on studying polymer degradation at different temperature ranges. For example, his research to address the issue of foul taste and brown streaking in milk jugs - and his proposed solution - helped reduce the cost of milk production and was considered particularly noteworthy by the society. 

The solution to issues with milk containers linked back to Howell's research with The Dow Chemical Co., where in the mid-1980s he was asked by Dow to experiment with using polymeric materials in food packaging, and successfully adapted the materials to stop the streaking.

​Most containers are made with different layers of various polymer materials, each with a different composition. The elimination of the streaking allows the milk to be stored at room temperature. "Because no oxygen gets in, the milk doesn't spoil," Howell said.

Howell has also worked to remove odors from degrading polystyrene, the plastic material used in packaging food, such as cookies and pastries.

The Outstanding Achievement award from NATAS is unique to a university of CMU's size. Given annually, it recognizes distinguished achievement in the field of thermal analysis, including but not restricted to thermogravimetry, differential thermal methods and effluent gas analysis. The award recipient must have performed outstanding work in the utilization, creation or refinement of thermal techniques of generally wide interest and impact. 

Howell is the 44th recipient of this award, which represents the highest honor bestowed by the Society.

....................................................................................................................................................................

Fahlman selected to be Contributing Editor for InterNano

April 11, 2013 - Professor of chemistry Bradley Fahlmanand Science of Advanced Materials researcher Bradley Fahlman has been selected to be a Contributing Editor for InterNano, a project of the National Nanomanufacturing Network. Fahlman will generate original content about topics in nanomanufacturing and write expert reviews based on relevant and recent news in the industry.

Nanomanufacturing is the controllable manipulation of materials structures, components, devices and systems at the nanoscale (1 to 100 nanometers) in one, two and three dimensions for large-scale reproducibility of value-added components and devices. It remains the essential bridge between the discoveries of the nanosciences and real-world nanotechnology products.

The National Nanomanufacturing Network (NNN) is an alliance of academic, government and industry partners that cooperate to advance nanomanufacturing strength in the U.S. and serves as a catalyst for progress by facilitating and promoting workshops, roadmapping, inter-institutional collaborations, technology transition, test beds and information exchange services.