2004-2005 Faculty and Staff Activities
David G. Alberg, 1993-, Associate Professor. B.A., Carleton College; Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley.
Dave enjoyed one last year of relative freedom before he assumes, with considerable trepidation, his duty as department chair beginning in July. Despite living with a sense of foreboding, the year was a very good one for Dave. The highlight of the academic year was teaching a new course, Chemical and Biosynthesis. Jerry Mohrig had originally developed a course by that name some years ago, but it hadn’t been taught since Jerry retired. The arrival of Joe Chihade in the department, who assumed the major teaching responsibilities for Biological Chemistry, freed up Dave to develop this new course. It was a great opportunity to learn new things and relearn other things which he hadn’t thought about for some time. In addition to Chemical and Biosynthesis, Dave also taught Organic Chemistry in the Spring and Fall Terms, as well as Advanced Lab III, with Gretchen Hofmeister, in the Spring Term.
Dave was again heavily involved in comps this year. In addition to serving as the comps coordinator – managing the administrative details of the department’s comps program – he and Joe Chihade co-supervised a group of five seniors (Margie Mattmann, Dave Farina, Aistis Tumas, Greg Poduska, and Andy Ryan) who studied the work of Professor Greg Verdine, from the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University. The group focused on Professor Verdine’s research on the structure and function of enzymes involved in the repair of DNA containing damaged bases.
Dave’s administrative duties this year included his continuing assignment on the Recreation Center Advisory Committee and as the Coordinator for the Biochemistry Concentration. Dave also served as the Chair of the internal committee in the 10-year review of the History Department.
Dave’s research on the design, synthesis, and evaluation of inhibitors of trypanothione reductase (TR) continues to be supported by an NIH-AREA grant that he was awarded in the spring of 2003. TR is an enzyme unique to the metabolism of trypanosomes and related parasites, many of which are responsible for numerous diseases, including African sleeping sickness. Last summer, Dave worked with three students. April Wilhelm (’05) returned for her second summer of research, and she was joined by Andy Wills (’05) and Anna Larson (’06). Anna and April worked hard to assess the biological activity of a number of inhibitors the group had prepared. April continued some of that work over our winter break in December and put much of that research in publishable form. Dave now has to find the time to write! Andy Wills worked on the synthesis of two other potential inhibitors. This summer, Anna Larson will be returning for her second summer in Dave’s lab, and she will be joined by Admire Kuchena (’07) and Jack Rousseau (’06). Last September, Dave was honored to be awarded a “2004 Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Chemical Research” from the Department of Chemistry at Indiana University. Dave traveled to Bloomington with two Carleton students, Anna Larson and Greg Ducker (’06), to accept the award and give a talk on his research at their 4th Annual Symposium for Excellence in Undergraduate Research.
On the home front, Dave and Gretchen continue to struggle to keep up with son Sam (11) and daughter Eleanor (7). In last year’s report, Dave wrote about the near completion of a kitchen and basement renovation project. In spite of his best intentions, Dave still has a number of painting projects to complete in connection with the renovation. He suspects those projects will still be incomplete when he writes again next year. Stay tuned….
Charles H. Carlin, 1966-2004; Charles “Jim” and Marjorie Kade Professor of the Sciences, Emeritus, 2004-. B.A., Carthage College; Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University.
Chuck Carlin officially retired last June but, due to a serendipitous shortage of organic chemists, gladly returned this year to teach Organic Chemistry III in the fall and have one last shot at Organic Chemistry II in the spring. He finally got it right!
Chuck will continue to teach his “Consumer Decisions” course at the Cannon Valley Collegium during the Winter Term and spend this summer recovering from a broken leg suffered in the second week of Spring Term. (Teaching from a wheelchair isn’t all that much fun!)
The golf course beckons and the fishing poles are strung.
Chuck sends his heartfelt thanks to his colleagues and to every alum who has made his career such an enjoyable and rewarding one. Carleton students and alums are great people, and he has loved being a part of their lives while professing that organic chemistry is important, gratifying, and a hell of a lot of fun!
Marion E. Cass, 1987-, Charles “Jim” and Marjorie Kade Professor of the Sciences. B.S., Fort Lewis College; Ph.D., University of Colorado, Boulder.
This year Marion has been on sabbatical leave at Imperial College, London, where she has been doing computational chemistry with Professor Henry Rzepa. Over the course of the year, she has worked on several projects. In the fall, she worked with Professor Rzepa and lecturer Charlotte Williams to modernize a web site on the Imperial College Department of Chemistry home page to supplement the teaching of molecular symmetry. The site, “An Animated Interactive Overview of Molecular Symmetry,” has instructional animations of each type of symmetry operation and the posted 3D structure of 45 molecules for student examination. In December Marion and Henry submitted an article to the Journal of Chemical Education about the site titled “The Use of the Free, Open Source Program Jmol to Generate an Interactive Web Site to Teach Molecular Symmetry.” Independent of her work at Imperial, Marion also created a second web site to supplement her teaching in the inorganic course. The site, “The Structure and Symmetry of Metal Tris Chelates,” can be found on the Carleton web site. Following a round of explorations into the development of molecular orbital correlation diagrams (just for fun), Marion and Henry began studying the fluxional processes in small molecules (such as PF5 and IF7). What began as a theoretically simple plan to animate a Berry Pseudorotation, launched into two projects; one focusing on the three different types of motions observed in the fluxional processes in these small molecules and a second on the less well known fluxional processes in square pyramidal XY5 compounds. Marion and Henry submitted a second paper to the Journal of Chemical Education on the first project titled “Mechanisms that Interchange Axial and Equatorial Atoms in Fluxional Processes: Illustration of the Berry Pseudorotation, the Turnstile and the Lever Mechanisms via Animation of Transition State Normal Vibrational Modes.” They hope to bring closure to the project on square pyramidal molecules before Marion returns to the United States in August.
Marion and Steve have loved living in London this past year. They have spent a fair amount of time exploring the museums, theaters, historic sites, neighborhoods, parks, restaurants, and pubs, both with each other and with many sets of friends and family who have come to visit them in London. Other than a five-day hiking trip along the Amalfi Coast in Italy, and two weekend trips to explore castles in Wales and Scotland, they have stayed close to their home base in London. Marion looks forward to returning to teaching, to Carleton, and to living in the co-op in the fall.
Joseph W. Chihade, 2003-, Assistant Professor. B.A., Oberlin College; M.A., Ph.D., Columbia University.
Joe’s second year at Carleton got off to an early start this year with the birth of his (and Dani Kohen’s) second daughter, Sofia, in late August. Joe had a research leave in the Fall Term. In addition to studying life in a home with twice as many small children, Joe continued the work started in his lab over the summer by Greg Ducker, Alice Agyiri, and Andy Nieuwkoop (all ’06). Joe also coordinated the purchase of two new HHMI funded “molecular imagers” during the Fall Term. The Kodak ImageStation 2000R can image fluorescent and chemiluminescent samples and the Molecular Dynamics Storm Phosphorimager locates and quantitates radioactivity in two-dimensional samples such as electrophoresis gels or TLC plates. Both of these instruments will be useful in Joe’s research and for several members of the Biology Department as well. The department added a third new instrument at the beginning of the Winter Term, a Beckman liquid scintillation counter, which, despite its name, can measure radioactivity in both liquid and solid samples.
Joe got back to teaching in the Winter Term with a large, sophomore only, section of Chem 233, Organic Chemistry I. Among the highlights was an a cappella student rendition of “Oh Grignard, the Beautiful.” (Look up the lyrics if you don’t know them already!) In the Spring Term, Joe taught Chem 320, Biological Chemistry, to another large group, this time of junior and senior chemistry and biology majors. He also inaugurated Chem 321, Biological Chemistry Laboratory. The 18 students taking the lab course purified and characterized an affinity-tagged E. coli enzyme and designed eight site-specific mutants. Next year’s class will take on the task of characterizing this year’s mutants. During the winter and spring, Joe helped Dave Alberg direct the bio-organic comps group, examining the work of Greg Verdine from Harvard. The group learned about macromolecular recognition, mechanistic organic chemistry, and x-ray crystallography, all in the context of DNA damage repair. Joe also supervised two individual comps this year, both on pharmaceuticals. Elizabeth McEachron studied ramoplanin, an antibiotic, while Katie Freeman focused on the differences and similarities between cocaine and Ritalin.
Joe’s research on human mitochondrial alanyl-tRNA synthetase, an enzyme involved in translation of the genetic code, continues this summer. Andy Nieuwkoop, ’06, is returning to the lab and will be joined by Ali Khaki and Amy Gauger, both ’07. The group is looking forward to a trip to the ACS national meeting in Washington at the end of August. Joe also continues to collaborate with Karin Musier-Forsyth of the University of Minnesota at sorting out the amino acid editing ability of prolyl-tRNA synthetases.
Traveling this year mainly involved very long flights through O’Hare. Last July, Joe flew to Seoul, South Korea, to attend the International Conference on Aminoacyl-tRNA Synthetases. This March, he and Dani took Margo and Sofia to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for a week. Joe was surprised to find that having a two-year old sleeping on his lap made the second long flight the more pleasant of the two.
William C. Child, Jr., 1956-1990; Emeritus Professor, 1990-. B.A., Oberlin College; Ph.D., University of Wisconsin.
The high point of travel during the past year was a trip that Nancy and Bill and another couple made to England in September. They spent a week in London, where, in addition to standard tourist activities, they went to the Royal Opera and attended several plays, one of them in a recreated open air theater of Shakespeare’s time. The trip concluded with four days in Grasmere and visits to two homes of the poet William Wordsworth. In April Bill performed as soloist with the Cannon Valley Regional Orchestra in the premiere of Chris Forbes’ Ballade for Bassoon and Orchestra. The piece was challenging but rewarding. Otherwise, life continued more conventionally, with participation in the Cannon Valley Elder Collegium, the St. Paul Civic Symphony, a chamber music workshop in Bozeman, Montana, and a 55th college reunion.
Steven M. Drew, 1991-, Professor and Chair. B.A., St. John’s University; Ph.D., University of Colorado.
Steve completed his three years of service as Chair of the Chemistry Department this summer. After three years as Chair, Steve has a full appreciation and admiration for the work that past Chairs have put in to make this department what it is today.
In the fall Steve taught CHEM 123, “Principles of Chemistry,” followed by CHEM 122, “Introduction to Chemistry,” in the winter, and a section of CHEM 230, “Equilibrium and Analysis,” in the spring. CHEM 122 was a new course for Steve, so he spent a great deal of time developing hands-on activities and group problems for his students to use as learning tools. He found teaching CHEM 122 very rewarding and enjoyed watching many of his students go on to CHEM 123 this spring.
This past summer Steve received news that his American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund proposal, “The Synthesis and Characterization of Chiral Platinum(II) Extended Linear Chain Materials and Their Potential Application as Gas Sensing Transducers,” had been funded. So this summer Steve is working with Aaron Lackner (’06) and Andrew Young (’06) on the synthesis and characterization of some chiral extended linear chain solid-state materials based on platinum square planar metal-ligand complexes. These materials are of interest to Steve because they are colored and undergo significant electronic changes in the presence of solvent vapors which alter the material’s UV-visible absorption and fluorescence characteristics. Aaron and Andrew already are busy learning many new synthetic techniques and life lessons including the hazards of working with stinky isonitrile ligands. This summer Steve’s research group hopes to complete the synthesis and characterization of some “double salt” and “neutral” extended linear chain platinum materials. The application of these materials in vapor sensing will also be investigated. It is hoped that these materials will possess a differential response to chiral and achiral solvent vapors.
Other professional activities have kept Steve busy the past year. Steve reviewed one American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund proposal and presented a seminar on his research activities in the Department of Chemistry at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. Steve also was invited to attend an NSF workshop entitled “NSF Workshop on Implementation of Undergraduate Research Centers,” in Arlington, Virginia.
Tricia A. Ferrett, 1990-, Professor. B.A., Grinnell College; Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley.
During Fall Term, Trish taught two sections of Advanced Lab I (Chem 304) with Will Hollingsworth. This year excitement brewed with the addition of new spectroscopy projects where students worked with fluorescence, UV-Vis, and new laser equipment. Trish had fun developing two new laser labs that involved light scattering off tiny latex spheres and “thermal lensing” of a laser through an organic dye solution. Winter Term, Trish taught Chemical Thermodynamics (Chem 343) to 33 students. She redesigned the end of the course by replacing traditional text material on phase diagrams with readings in the original literature, followed by student papers on applied or research problems in the literature. Marvelous student papers delved into the biochemistry literature on protein folding, HIV-1 protease inhibitors, the hydrophobic effect, molecular crowding, and DNA binding proteins. The class also learned about the profound concept of “entropy-enthalpy compensation,” thanks to persistent prodding by several students who proposed the concept on their own! Finally, Trish supervised Vicki Gunderson (’05) on her electron transfer comps project.
At the college this year, Trish served on the Faculty Affairs Committee and the Writing Advisory Committee. Trish also worked one-fourth time administering Carleton’s fifth Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) grant and the Carleton Interdisciplinary Science and Math Initiative (CISMI). Trish managed to hire a great administrative assistant, Stephanie Ewing, who got things organized and created a new CISMI web page (http://webapps.acs.carleton.edu/collab/cismi/). Trish also worked with many individuals and faculty groups related to CISMI leadership issues, strategic planning for the sciences, student-faculty research funding, curriculum development, faculty workshops, student learning in introductory courses, and assessment of interdisciplinary science learning.
This year Trish jointly received, with Prof. Joanne Stewart (Hope College, chemistry), the 2005 Carnegie Scholar Award from The Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CASTL). During 2005-06, 21 new Carnegie Scholars (300 applied!) will work on projects related to “integrative learning” (http://www.
carnegiefoundation.org/CASTL/highered/scholars_program.htm). Trish and Joanne will investigate these questions in the context of interdisciplinary science courses: To what extent can beginning science students successfully integrate different perspectives to address complex, interdisciplinary problems? How can explicit consideration of epistemology and student intellectual development in course design contribute to students’ ability to integrate across science disciplines and between science and civic life? As part of her Carnegie project, Trish will teach a first-year seminar next fall on “Paradigm Shifts: New Views on Abrupt Climate Change,” which will be linked to a seminar taught by Larry Wichlinski (psychology) on “New Views on the Mind-Brain Relationship.” Trish will collect and analyze evidence of student’s ability to integrate perspectives from student writing, classroom observation, and student reflections. Trish just returned from the first in-residence period at the Carnegie Foundation in Palo Alto, CA, where she spent 10 days learning about her own and others’ research projects and methodologies, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and integrative learning. She also picked up two new research collaborators who are equally eager to establish scholarly ways to characterize, understand, and promote “moments of integration” in the college classroom.
Trish attended several other meetings, including a Project Kaleidoscope meeting at West Point on Science Initiative Leadership, an ACM Women’s Leadership Conference, and a conference on Innovations in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Trish also sent her summer 2004 research student, Dana Kraus (biology, ’06), to the spring National Conference on Undergraduate Research in Lexington, VA.
Trish spent lots of time at home with Adam (age 3), Alex (age 2), and her husband, Tom. Trish took Adam and Alex on trips to Kansas City to see family. One grand six-day “mommie adventure” to the eco-resort of Maho Bay on St. John’s with girlfriend Sandra led to much good sea kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, funs with geckos, and daydreaming.
James E. Finholt, 1960-2001; William H. Laird Professor of Chemistry and the Liberal Arts, Emeritus, 2001-. B.A., St. Olaf College; Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley.
This past year was relatively uneventful for Jim. It was a treat to have time to read the paper, walk in the arb, take in a play or concert, putter in the garden, or do anything else that seemed like fun on the spur of the moment. There was also time to worry about the sad state of affairs of the world at large (especially after the November election).
Travel is still an important part of Jim’s and Bev’s lives. They enjoyed watching the Twins beat the Mariners in Seattle’s new baseball park in August. They attended an Elderhostel in Mexico last October in which they studied Mexican history and culture. Visits to grandchildren in Ann Arbor, Michigan, gave them an intimate knowledge of all of the bad ways to drive through Chicago.
Jim still enjoys biking, and he put in a fair amount of time in the garden. His professional activities included reviewing a number of journal manuscripts and some chemistry activities with church groups. He enjoyed helping senior citizens learn how to use computers. The Northfield senior organization has developed an excellent computer education program and its classes are always filled. Last spring Jim studied Mark Twain and his works when he took his first Cannon Valley Elder Collegium course.
Jim considers it a treat to hear from former students. His email address is still firstname.lastname@example.org, so please send a message when you have a minute or two.
Deborah S. Gross, 1998-, Assistant Professor. B.A., Haverford College; Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley.
This year has led Deborah to internalize the definitions of two new and exciting words: tenure and sabbatical. She is thrilled beyond words to have the opportunity to learn the details of the definition of tenure at Carleton, as she plans to continue her career here into the future. The word includes aspects of support, from colleagues and students, commitment, both to and from the College, and excitement, as the shape of the future gets a bit less fuzzy. Deborah thanks all of you who are reading this Annual Report for your contributions to the definition and to her career so far. The definition of sabbatical, something Deborah will experience for the first time next year, is still a bit unclear, although the plans are taking shape. Deborah will have the opportunity to spend four months, through the fall and the early winter, working in an atmospheric science laboratory at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Villigen, Switzerland. It’s a great group of people, and there are a number of really interesting experiments set up that Deborah will get to participate in, along with her ATOFMS instrument “Gromit” which will accompany her on the journey. The rest of the year will be spent in residence at the Particle Technology Lab in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Minnesota. Tune in to next year’s Annual Report to see how it goes!
This year, Deborah was busy with an assortment of courses. In the fall, she taught CHEM 230 to a great group of students. The winter was overwhelmingly busy, including teaching a new upper-level seminar on mass spectrometry, CHEM 395, Making Molecules Fly: Mass Spectrometry in the Chemical Sciences. Deborah and an intrepid group of five chemistry students learned about a wide variety of mass spectrometric techniques, and then investigated an array of applications of these techniques in a variety of disciplines. Also in the winter, Deborah team-taught CHEM 305, Advanced Lab II, Chemical Kinetics, with Will Hollingsworth, and co-led a comps group with Gretchen Hofmeister. Gretchen and Deborah’s comps group focused on the work of François Morel, a biogeochemist in the Department of Geosciences at Princeton University. The seniors involved (Meredith Cable, Eric Hamp, David Jackson, Micah Johnson, and Adam Sunderland) had to dive deep into the ocean to understand the biogeochemical cycles of interest to Dr. Morel. Then, they had to look to the atmosphere, to understand the influence of these cycles on global climate, and vice-versa. It was a really fun comps topic! This spring, Deborah taught CHEM 123 for the first time. It was a blast! This was Deborah’s first opportunity to teach a course that was only first and second year students, and she really enjoyed the opportunity to get to know them and to learn from them.
On the research front, Deborah was busy, as usual. Work progresses as her group tries to come to terms with the huge amount of data they have acquired about aerosol particle composition in the atmosphere. Assisted by research students Andy Ault (’05) and Melanie Yuen (’06), they were busy analyzing data acquired last summer in Mt. Horeb, WI, the previous winter in East St. Louis, and the previous summer in Yellowstone National Park. Both students had a chance to present their research with posters in the Analytical Division poster session at the American Chemical Society’s Annual Meeting in San Diego, in March 2005. They did a great job! Deborah’s research has been dramatically impacted, in the past year, by a very fruitful addition to her list of collaborators: Dave Musicant in the Mathematics and Computer Science Department at Carleton. Dave and his students are partners in a larger effort with collaborators at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, to develop data mining tools to deal with complex atmospheric data sets. Deborah’s group has learned a lot by working with Dave and his students, and they have provided us opportunities that we are grateful to have. Deborah is looking forward to welcoming two new students into the research group this summer: Katie Barton (’07) and John Choiniere (’07).
In the department and the college, Deborah has continued to co-chair the department seminar series with Dani Kohen, as well as to work, as Treasurer of Sigma Xi, to actively promote student research on campus. She has also become increasingly more involved in discussions on campus focusing on helping students better navigate the sciences at Carleton, and she finds this very rewarding. This summer Deborah will teach for the third time as a member of the faculty of the Aerosol and Particle Measurement Short Course at the University of Minnesota, which is always fun.
At home, Deborah and Markus seem to spend increasingly large amounts of time in the garden. Hopefully they will reap the rewards with increasingly tasty vegetables. The challenge for the upcoming year is to figure out how best to deal with the fact that Deborah’s sabbatical time in Switzerland will bring her close to Markus’s hometown, but far from him, as sabbaticals are rare in the private sector, and he will remain in St. Paul for the majority of the time Deborah is away.
Gretchen E. Hofmeister, 2002-, Associate Professor. B.A., Carleton College; Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley.
In 2004-2005 Gretchen again taught Organic Chemistry II in the fall and winter and Inorganic Chemistry and Advanced Lab III in the spring. She had the luxury of fairly small Organic II sections, which meant that she had a lot of one-on-one time with students and got to know them well. This was the second time that Gretchen taught Inorganic Chemistry, and it was fun for her to work with students on understanding the connections between periodic trends, bonding, and reactivity in inorganic compounds.
Gretchen’s group continued to make good progress in research over the past year, and she enjoyed working with Charlie Weiss (’05), Sarah Russell (’06), Andy Ryan (’05), and Aistis Tumas (’05). The goal of their research is to develop new metal-based reagents that will selectively control the outcome of organic transformations or polymerization reactions, similarly to how biological enzymes selectively control the transformation of biological metabolites or the synthesis of biological polymers. Specifically, she is working on preparing new bis- and tris-phenols for coordinating metals such as titanium and aluminum and exploring the catalytic role of the metal complexes in the preparation of poly(lactic acid), a biodegradable polymer, and in enantioselective carbon-carbon bond-forming reactions.
Sarah Russell, Aistis Tumas, and Karen Gibbins (’05) are co-authors of a manuscript that Gretchen just submitted for publication in Macromolecules, concerning the titanium(IV) trisphenolate initiated living polymerization of lactide to produce poly(lactic acid). A “living” polymerization reaction is one in which initiation and polymerization steps are rapid in comparison with termination or chain-transfer steps. These conditions enable the preparation of polymer samples of uniform molecular weight, which in turn controls the physical properties of the polymer. The reaction is also quite stereoselective, so they are excited about the progress they have made in this area. Sarah is continuing to work on this project for a second summer, along with a new student, Bill Mitchell (’08).
Charlie Weiss succeeded in preparing enantiomerically pure trisphenol, and Andrew Ullman (’06) is now evaluating whether it is an enantioselective catalyst in titanium(IV) isopropoxide mediated additions of diethyl zinc to aldehydes. Andrew’s research is going to involve a lot of exploratory chemistry, and hopefully they will be able to report on a successful application of these chiral trisphenols in next year’s Annual Report. Gretchen is also planning to work in the lab herself this summer and continue Andy Ryan’s project concerning the preparation of aluminum trisphenolates, which they plan to use as polymerization catalysts.
Gretchen and Dave just celebrated their 20th reunion with the class of 1985, and it was a thrill to get together with their classmates and reminisce about old times. Carleton does a great job planning and hosting reunion weekend, and they hope to see you back on campus when it is your reunion year.
William E. Hollingsworth, 1986-, Professor. B.S., B.A., University of Texas, Austin; M.S., Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley.
Will taught Chem 344 (Quantum Chemistry) and Advanced Lab I (with Trish) in the fall, Chem 354 (Lasers and Spectroscopy) and Advanced Lab II (with Deborah) in the winter, and Chem 128 (Principles of Environmental Chemistry) in the spring. Given the small size of the winter lasers class (2!), he was able to persuade Aki and Disan to pursue a few special project development ideas for future implementation, in particular, working toward developing a lab on the laser-induced fluorescence spectrum of the hydroxyl radical (OH). In the spring, he tried out a new lab for Chem 128, checking the levels of lead in the soil around a local campus house due to the use of lead paint in the past. And there was a lot! Given the sampling of the yard with a lot of data points, the elevation of lead by more than 100 times in soil near the house (ironically the environmental interest house) yielded a quite clear signal.
Will continues to gear up for a new research study monitoring the gas-phase fragmentation patterns of Mn2(CO)10 and Re2(CO)10 around 300-350 nm in the near ultraviolet region in order to see how the wavelength-dependent gas-phase fragmentation patterns for these compounds compare to those reported from recent solution-photolysis work. The hopes are to determine how the metal-ligand and metal-metal bond-breakage channels compete as photons query different molecular orbitals and to see how much effect the solvent has in mediating this process. He also anticipates Marion Cass’ return from England so that they may get the molecular orbital project they launched a few years back off the back burner and prepare some new resources.
Outside the department, Will continues to participate in such activities as ENTS (Environmental and Technology Studies) and the Career Center Advisory Committee. He also reviewed part of a textbook and a journal article. Next year should be interesting. After teaching at Carleton in the fall, Will will be gone the rest of the year in an exchange program teaching at Macalester College. Although the exact assignment is still being worked out, some combination of teaching in courses in physical chemistry and environmental studies is probable. It will be interesting to compare the way these two institutions teach and otherwise conduct their business.
Julie Karg, 1988-, Chemistry Technician. B.S., Mankato State University.
This past year, Julie continued to manage the chemistry stockroom – preparing laboratory experiments, supervising student workers, and providing assistance to laboratory and research classrooms. Julie worked with professors to develop and prepare new laboratory exercises for their courses and upgrade previously performed experiments. She also improved guidelines designed to assist professors, lab assistants, and students. Julie continues to manage the Chemistry Department’s weekly electronic newsletter, The Weekly Beaker, and the electronic version of the department’s Annual Report. She also continues to implement improvements that allow the lab floor to run more smoothly and efficiently.
Daniela Kohen, 2002-, Assistant Professor. B.A., Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina; Ph.D., University of Notre Dame.
Life this past year has been good for Dani.
As last summer was ending and research was winding down, Sofia (Dani’s and Joe Chihade’s second daughter) was born. She joined Margo in being an enormous source of joy. Dani is happy to report that (as many of you are aware) the pleasure of having two kids more than balances the challenges! That exciting end of the summer was followed by a very nice Fall Term spent – mostly – being a mom. Days at home were peppered with stimulating visits from Eric Feise (’04) and Disan Davis (’06) who were continuing their research through the term.
In the Winter Term Dani supervised a very small but motivated and fun “comps” group. Dani, Janel Uejio (’05), and Andy Ault (’05) studied the work of Sylvia Ceyer (MIT) on dynamics of the interactions of molecules with the surfaces of materials. Dani also spent some time preparing for the next term as the first offering of Computational Chemistry was scheduled for the spring.
Dani had a blast teaching Computational Chemistry. As you probably know, in recent years computational chemistry techniques have become more and more useful in chemistry labs of all sorts. The power of computational research has been shown to provide scientific insight that might not result from experimental research alone. Dani developed this new class to introduce students to computational chemistry, which is especially crucial at a school like Carleton, where so many of our chemistry majors go on to become scientists. The goal for this class was to empower students to use computational chemistry tools here at Carleton and wherever they go when they graduate. The class was geared to chemistry majors with a variety of interests, and everyone learned how to use really cool software to look at interesting chemistry and read papers from current journals (reading these articles was an exciting introduction to a lot of cool chemistry!). Students spent time familiarizing themselves with the software packages used (mostly Gaussian 03 and Amber 8), designing computer “experiments” and running the programs and interpreting their results in the light of their chemistry knowledge. It was awesome.
Research in Dani’s group is progressing nicely. Dani’s group research focuses on using atomistic simulations to understand and characterize at the molecular level how small gas molecules interact with pure CO2 in the pores of molecular sieves, and how this interaction changes in the presence of other gases present in the atmosphere. The goal of these studies is to provide a basic understanding of the processes that underlie the use of molecular sieves as filters to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Last summer, Dani and three students, Disan Davis (’06), Meghan Thurlow (’05), and Eric Feise (’04), did research together. Several continued their research through the year. This summer, Disan is continuing to do computational work in Dani’s group and has been joined by Jayme Dahlin (’06) and Dorissa Zemirah (’06). Dani and her group are looking forward to continuing a productive summer packed with ups and down – doing research is emotionally, not only intellectually, demanding – but full also of learning and discovery.
Meeting scientists and talking about science has always been a source of pleasure and replenishment for Dani, so she is very pleased that last year she had opportunities to do so. In June, she and Deborah Gross attended a workshop to learn more about peer-led team learning, an interesting approach to help students learn how to work in groups while learning science. In July, Dani presented a poster (and a short talk) on her and her group’s work at a Gordon Conference on zeolites and layered materials. She met many new people that share her research interests. The fifth Midwest Undergraduate Conference in Computational Chemistry (MU3C) was held at the University of Minnesota in mid-July. The meeting was very successful at providing undergraduates doing research in computational chemistry (a small field) with an opportunity to present their work to others who have a similar research background and creating an intellectual “support” group. Dorissa, Jayme, and Disan presented very impressive talks, learned a lot about work done by other computational chemists, and realized how broad the field is. As in the previous years, it was great fun!
All in all, another exciting and chock full of interesting endeavors year has gone by. Dani is definitely looking forward to another year like this here at Carleton.
Brian T. Mars, 1983-, Laboratory Manager. B.A., California State University, Chico; M.Th., Andersonville Theological Seminary.
During winter break, the demise of the 1090 HPLC brought a halt to a research project that Chuck Carlin was pursuing. Brian got busy finding a replacement, and the department now owns a Shimadzu modular HPLC system with which Chuck was able to complete his project before retiring.
In the late part of Winter Term Brian made an attempt to modernize the lab safety training by putting together an on-line training program. When it was nearly complete, the whole thing came to a halt when the company providing the program informed him that having ten concurrent users would cost an additional $3,200.00.
In the spring Brian negotiated a five-year lease deal with Airgas for gas cylinders. This deal will save the department about $22,000 over the next five years.
Jerry R. Mohrig, 1967-2003; Herman and Gertrude Mosier Stark Professor of the Natural Sciences, Emeritus, 2003-. B.S., University of Michigan; Ph.D., University of Colorado.
In retirement, Jerry continues to be involved with chemistry, but there has also been plenty of time for traveling and other activities. Jerry’s writing this year included two projects. He spent a good deal of time on a new edition of his lab text, the 2nd Edition of Techniques in Organic Chemistry by Mohrig, Hammond, and Schatz, which will be published by W. H. Freeman this fall. Somehow writing a new edition almost seems like writing a new book, but it has been a rewarding process. The manuscript for the first of a series of research articles is also nearing completion.
Throughout the year Jerry traveled to the University of Minnesota for collaborative research on calculations to assess the role of proton tunneling in the elimination reactions that his undergraduate research colleagues have investigated over the years. In October he gave a lecture to the research group of Professor Donald Truhlar on how computational chemistry might provide insights on the kinetic isotope effects that the Mohrig group has measured.
Last August Jerry attended the 228th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia. He presented two papers. One was on a novel syn elimination pathway for base-catalyzed elimination reactions of beta-acetoxyesters, with co-authors Lea McMartin (’04), Hans Carlson (’02), and Seth John (’99). The second paper, given at a symposium on Frontiers in Organic Chemical Education, was on using question-driven experiments and projects to invigorate the organic chemistry lab. Jerry spoke on the same topic at the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education at Iowa State University.
Adrienne and Jerry were in New Zealand in February on an Elderhostel tour. It was a glorious trip. The temperate rain forests were unforgettable. Trips to Boston and south Texas to see children and grandchildren were also high points in the year. Jerry and Adrienne were at their condominium on the north shore of Lake Superior whenever they could get away.
Richard W. Ramette, 1954-1990; Laurence M. Gould Professor of the Natural Sciences, Emeritus, 1990-. B.A., Wesleyan University; Ph.D., University of Minnesota.
Lee and Dick enjoyed a Carleton Alumni Tour of Iberia, led by Art History Professor Emeritus Dale Haworth, this spring. Participants included Alan Muirhead (chemistry major ’67) and his wife, Kathy. They saw a lifetime’s worth of olive trees, glazed tiles, and Islamic mosques.
Retirement is still a good life; plenty of hobbies and volunteer activities, but also a phase where butt prints on a recliner begin to replace footprints on the sands of time.
Wendy J. Zimmerman, 1970-, Administrative Assistant.
Assisting Wendy in the office again this year was her student assistant, Andrew Schrag (’06). Andy participated in an off-campus program Fall Term, and Amy Hart (’08) filled in during his absence. Wendy continues to be the editor of the Annual Report and The Weekly Beaker, the department’s weekly newsletter.
Cass, M. E., Hii, K. K., Rzepa, H. S., “Mechanisms that Interchange Axial and Equatorial Atoms in Fluxional Processes: Illustration of the Berry Pseudorotation, the Turnstile and the Lever Mechanisms via Animation of Transition State Normal Vibrational Modes,” manuscript submitted to the Journal of Chemical Education, April 2005.
Cass, M. E., Rzepa, H. S., Rzepa, D. R., Williams, C. K., “The Use of the Free, Open Source Program Jmol to Generate an Interactive Web Site to Teach Molecular Symmetry,” manuscript submitted to the Journal of Chemical Education, January 2005.
Gross, D. S., Barron, A. R., Warren, B. S., Sukovich, E. M., Jarvis, J. C., Suess, D. T., Prather, K. A., “Stability of Single Particle Tracers for Differentiating Between Heavy- and Light-Duty Vehicle Emissions,” Atmospheric Environment, 2005, 39, 2889.
Mohrig, J. R., “The Problem with Organic Chemistry Labs,” Journal of Chemical Education, 2004, 81, 1083-1084.
Mohrig, Jean, Tastes Good, Mohrig, Jerry, Ed., Black Willow Press, 2004, 206 pages.