Volume 19, January 2016

Letter from the Chair
Dear Deacon Chemists,

Thanks for your interest in our department and I hope you find some items of interest in the articles that follow. Rebecca Alexander, our Associate Chair, and I started our terms in July of 2014 and it has been whirlwind for us ever since.

Innovation Quarter Move
In the fall of 2014, the university was presented with the opportunity to lease one of the former R.J. Reynolds buildings in an area downtown known as Innovation Quarter (IQ). These buildings are being renovated by Wexford Scientific so this was a chance to acquire newly renovated lab space in a location near other biomedical science students and faculty who are currently in Biotech Place , 525 Vine, and the Richard Dean building. The department had existing plans for expansion hires in medicinal chemistry and materials science, so these were fleshed out into new curricular proposals for majors and a minor. An ACS certified BS in Chemistry with a concentration in medicinal chemistry and drug discovery has been approved by the college faculty, and plans for other majors in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a general BS in Engineering are being developed. The Chemistry Department has also helped develop a proposal for a minor in Biomaterials Science and Engineering in collaboration with the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM). Professor Rebecca Alexander has spearheaded much of the campus wide planning which has gone into the IQ expansion. Six faculty from Chemistry, as well as four from Biology, are slated to move into a renovated Building 60 south in Innovation Quarter in January of 2017.

Undergraduate and Graduate Programs
The number of majors and minors in chemistry has grown from about 15 majors and 50 minors/year 10 years ago to almost 50 declared majors and 100 declared minors/year over the last two years. Six of our spring 15 bachelor's degree graduates were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and one of them, Courtney Smith, was selected to present her honors thesis in the university's Senior Showcase program. Ph.D. student Yuyang Zhu (working with Assistant Professor Amanda Jones) had a paper on his work picked as the cover paper for an issue of the ACS journal Organometallics.

Faculty Highlights
Amanda Jones Our faculty also continue to receive awards from both within and outside Wake Forest University. Amanda Jones received a NSF CAREER Award which began in the summer of 2014 and was selected as part of a Young Academic Investigators Symposium at the Fall 15 ACS meeting in Boston. This past summer the department, led largely by Dr. George Donati (alumni and current Lecturer) received a Major Research Instrumentation grant from NSF for the purchase of an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer. This fall, Professor Abdou Lachgar received a USAID award for a proposal entitled "Empowering Pakistani Women through Scientific Research, Technology Development, and Entrepreneurship" and he was a co-recipient of the 2015 SERMACS Industrial Innovation Award. Over the last year, Associate Teaching Professor Al Rives and Professor Christa Colyer received WFU faculty fellowships and Assistant Professor Mike Gross and Al Rives received university awards for Teaching Innovation and Academic Advising, respectively. Lindsay Comstock was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor and was recently named an Academic Community Engagement (ACE) Fellow. Congratulations to all of these students and faculty.

The Chemistry Department wishes all of you a happy new year.


Mark E. Welker
Chair and William L. Poteat Professor of Chemistry

CHM 351: Special Topics Enthralling Students

Periodic Table CHM 351 is a special topics course for chemistry majors, where the focus varies with semester and instructor. Due to the hard work of faculty to develop interesting syllabi that align with their interests and compliment required coursework in chemistry, current offerings are more popular than ever!

Paul Jones, Associate Professor, is currently offering Chemical History as a section of CHM 351. He wants students to realize that changes in chemistry have had a profound effect on the direction of society. In his personal readings on the development of the field of chemistry, he was impressed by the level to which humans had achieved mastery of chemicals long before we had anything resembling a grasp of chemical theory. Take bronze; there is an entire age named for the alloy of copper and tin, it is so important. However, copper and tin do not naturally occur in the same places. It is quite unlikely that bronze was discovered completely accidentally and any bronze that was made required international trade. Thus, there was an active, international commodities market of some type as many as 7,000 years ago. All because some nerdy caveman somewhere wasted time mixing metals over a fire.

Dr. Jones also finds it astonishing how quickly new discoveries translated to practical use. For instance, William Perkin discovered "mauveine" in 1856. He opened a dye-works in 1857 and by 1862 people of very kind and place were wearing purple, heretofore reserved for royalty or, at any rate, the very rich. Wilhelm Roentgen discovered X-rays in 1895. The very next year X-rays were used clinically for the first time. In 1932, Gerhard Domagk discovered the anti-bacterial nature of the dye Prontosil — a chemical descendent of mauveine — and by 1935 the life of the son of the President of the United States was being saved by a sulfa drug. In late 1938, a German scientist, Otto Hahn, and a Jewish-German refugee, Lise Meitner, realized they were observing nuclear fission in a sample of uranium. Less than 7 years later, atomic bombs were going off. Basically, humans are very, very good at turning new materials into solutions for existing problems and those solutions invariably have a large effect on the shape and function of society.

Jones developed three main goals for Chemical History. The first is to treat, in a rigorous fashion, topics that are not covered in depth in other upper level courses. Second is to provide an opportunity for students to consider the historical and cultural context in which modern chemistry has arisen and to examine how discoveries are made. Finally, students will have an opportunity to engage practical chemistry in a creative manner. Each student participated in a group that performed a chemical demonstration, turned in a final video in which they show and carefully and thoroughly explain how the experiment works and the significance to the progress of chemistry the phenomenon being demonstrated. They prepared video instructions and written instructions with citations as well as a complete list of ingredients and materials necessary. The topics included radioactivity, nuclear chemistry, nucleosynthesis, molecular spectroscopy, polymer chemistry, chemotherapy, environmental chemistry and the history of pathological science. It is an eclectic mix of topics and, so, the semester was divided into two parts. The first considered the more physical subjects — along with all the great stories and history that go along with them — and the more biological in the second half.

Professor Jones will consider the course a success if the students learn new chemistry, find an avenue to explore their personal interests in chemistry and have an opportunity to engage in frank and open discussion of science and its relation to the world.

Dilip Kondepudi Professor Dilip Kondepudi will be offering his version of CHM 351 again in Spring 2016. Green Technologies: Science and Entrepreneurship introduces students to quantitative aspects of energy use in the economy and the science behind selected green technologies such as solar and wind energy. For class projects, students analyze large data sets obtained from industry, such as Duke Energy and NextEra Energy, to evaluate relative efficiencies of various green technologies. Student teams learn how to conduct a rigorous study and produce a report as consulting companies do. Two chemistry graduates (Ryan Daly and Nicole Irving) who previously took this course are currently employed at Deloitte Consulting.

Associate Professor Lindsay Comstock will be offering a new version of CHM 351 in Spring 2016. Kitchen Chemistry introduces a unique view of Chemistry through the identification and application of chemical phenomena that drives the culinary arts and methods of food preparation. Students enrolled in this course will correlate chemical theory to real-life observations through inquiry-based cooking experiments (with optional taste-testing!) and active participation in course discussions. Additionally, students will deepen academic learning through a community engagement project by working in teams to design and execute food-based experiments demonstrating fundamental chemical principles during a community outreach event with SciWorks.

Current Student News

Wake Forest Department of Chemistry graduate students attended the 15th Annual ACS Poster Vendor Night at Syngenta on April 14th 2015. During the event, students presented research posters to interested vendors, ACS members, students, faculty from all participating universities (WFU, Guilford College, UNCG and NCA&T), and a volunteer judge. A biochemistry poster entitled "Modification of PRMT1-Targeted Peptides Using Novel N-Mustard Analogs of S-adenosyl-L-methionine" was presented by Sarah Jo Hymbaugh Bergman, mentored by Dr. Lindsay Comstock. Organic chemistry posters were presented by Rajeswari Mukherjee (PhD 2015) and Ronald Nelson. Rajeswari, mentored by Dr. Bruce King, presented the "Synthesis of Tri-functionalized Aromatic Azides for the Detection of Protein Cysteine Oxidation," and Ronald, mentored by Dr. Mark Welker, presented "Organic Synthesis of Novel Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinase (PI3K) Inhibitors Activated by Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) for the Treatment of Androgen-Independent Prostate Cancer." Analytical chemistry posters were presented by Mahmoud Sebaiy ("On-Column Labeling of Morphine and its Metabolites in Human Urine with a New Boronic Acid Functionalized Squarylium Cyanine Dye Using Capillary Electrophoresis with Laser Induced Fluorescence") and Leona Sirkisoon ("Evaluation of New Nanomaterials as Sensing Agents Using Capillary Electrophoresis"), mentored by Dr. Christa Colyer. Ronald Nelson won the 2nd place student poster prize out of a total of 19 graduate student posters judged.

Erik Larsen and Rachel Croxton Erik Larsen and Rachel Croxton, undergraduate chemistry majors, were employed as summer undergraduate research assistants with funding from a grant by Ameritox, Inc. to Prof. Christa Colyer of Wake Forest University. The Colyer lab has been involved in collaborative projects with Ameritox for a number of years, focusing on improved method development for drug and drug metabolite determination in clinical samples. Larsen's summer 2015 project was entitled "Improved detection of tricyclic antidepressants," while Croxton's project was "Validation of an LC-MS-MS method for the 6-MAM metabolite, characteristic of heroin usage." Both Croxton and Larsen are continuing their research projects in Salem Hall, mentored by Colyer.

The Department of Chemistry is pleased to announce recipients of the Harton Scholarship for Chemical Industry, recently established through a generous donation from Jim Harton (WFU/74) and his wife, Courtenay Harton. The scholarship is valued at $5000 and will be awarded each spring to a newly declared chemistry major who is intent on exploring career opportunities in the American chemical industry with a possible renewal for the senior year. The goal of this scholarship is to contribute to the future success of the American chemical industry by providing financial support to chemistry majors who demonstrate the potential and motivation to develop into future leaders in the chemical industry. Current senior Aaron Simmons was the 2014 recipient, and he has been joined by the 2015 recipient, junior Johnathon Bowen. We look forward to hearing of their future success in chemical industry!

Andrew Camp Andrew Camp (BS 2015) was the inaugural recipient of the inaugural Ron E. Noftle Senior Honors Thesis Award based on his research and resulting thesis. Andrew conducted his research with mentorship from Amanda Jones. Andrews was also the recipient of the ACS Division of Organic Chemistry Undergraduate Award in Organic Chemistry and the Hypercube Scholar Award.

Alumni News

Dr. Kathryn Riley (PhD 2014) was awarded a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship for a research proposal entitled "Electrochemical Investigation of ZnO Nanoparticles at the Nano, Molecular, and Biomolecular Scale". The research will be conducted in the Material Measurement Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology under the advisement of Dr. William MacCrehan.

Dr. Theresa A. Swanson Isbell (PhD 2014) successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation entitled "Protein and opioid analysis by capillary electrophoresis with laser induced fluorescence and mass spectrometry detection," and has a position as an analytical chemist at Mayne Pharma. Theresa and her husband, Nick, are also proud to announce the arrival of their daughter, Tesla May Isbell, born on January 22, 2015 weighing 9 lbs 3 oz.

Ben Vaughan (MS 2015) is working at PremierTox in Kentucky.

Dr. Yuyang Zhu (PhD 2015) has accepted a post-doc position in the laboratory of Prof. Xuezheng Song (Project Leader at the Emory National Center for Functional Glycomics).

Friends of Chemistry

The Friends of Chemistry (FoC) keeps growing and engaging more and more alumni and friends each year; and, for that, the Department is grateful and proud.

Last year, the FoC and the department teamed up to create two alumni awards, a Distinguished Alumni Award and a Young Alumni Award. The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes the preeminent contributions of a WFU alumnus/alumna to the advancement the chemical sciences, and the Young Alumni Award recognizes an alumnus/alumna under the age of 40 who has significantly contributed to any facet of the chemical sciences. The Distinguished Alumni Award is intended to focus on a career of achievement, while the Young Alumni Award focuses on engagement, promotion, and advancement of the chemical sciences. The awards are to be announced at the FoC General Meeting held during the WF Homecoming each year; the Distinguished Alumni Award to be given in the even-numbered years, and the Young Alumni Award to be given in the odd-numbered years.

The first Distinguished Alumni Awardee was announced at Homecoming 2014, and the recipient was David R. Bryant ('58). In addition to a remarkably productive career with Union Carbide, David was the recipient of the prestigious Perkin Medal in 1998, an award that identified him among the country's finest industrial chemists of the past 100 years. Read more about David and the award.

David Bryant David Bryant came to campus in April to receive his award and present a seminar "40 years in 40 minutes". He is pictured here in front of the seminar audience.

The innaugural Young Alumni Awardee was announced at Homecoming 2015, and the recipient was Peter Tarsa ('99). In addition to his accomplishments as a Senior Investigator for the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NIBR) in Cambridge, MA, Peter serves as an advisor and a board member (Patient Care Committee) at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Not only has Peter been engaged in promoting our department and mentoring several of our students, but he has also served as an invited panelist at Stanford University. Read more about Peter and the award.

As impressive as these award winners are, it is important to recognize that they were chosen from a pool of other very impressive nominees. The Department is very proud, and we look forward to recognizing other remarkable alumni in the years to come.

Homecoming is a big time of year for the FoC. This year Roy Ware (PhD '00) finished his term on the Steering committee, and Willie Hoos ('89) and Bill Batten ('74) began theirs. Roy contributed greatly to the Committee during his 3 years, especially the great leadership he gave in his last year as Chair. The great leadership continues, with Jim Harton ('74) stepping into the role of Steering Committee Chair this year. More news about the Steering Committee can be found on the FoC website here and here.

The third annual Alumni Dinner was held Friday evening of Homecoming at the Spring House Restaurant in downtown Winston-Salem. The crowd was not large, but a lot of fun was on hand. Shown in the photo below are faculty member Christa Colyer and her husband Mark, one of the helpful staff, Lucy Lan ('12), Stephanie Rockett (PhD '12), and Stephanie's guest Brian Platz.
Alumni Dinner
This year's Career Event focused on "Chemistry and the Law". The panel included patent attorneys Nitya Anand ('10), and Erin Hoffman ('01), technology transfer specialist Partha Choudhury (PhD '15), and corporate in-house counsel Karen Ware (spouse '00). Contributions from the management-side were also made by Jim Harton ('74). This was the 6th year of the Career Event; the first three years gave students exposure to a wide range of career paths alumni have taken, and the most recent three years have attempted to focus more on specific areas (Pharmaceuticals in 2013, and Regulatory chemistry in 2014).

We have had record numbers of chemistry majors in the past few years and they aren't all looking for jobs in the lab. The Department as well as the Office of Personal and Career Development are grateful to these alumni and friends for showing current students some of the breadth of career paths their predecessors have taken. In the photo below, Jim (audience front left), Karen, and Nitya (seated at facing table) addressed the attendees in-person while Erin (large image on screen) and Partha (small right image on screen) contributed remotely via WebEx.
Career Event
More information about the Career Event can be found at the FoC website. 2015 was the 8th annual Alumni Reception and Demo Show. It has grown to be a must-do activity Saturday morning of Homecoming. For the first four years it was a Chemistry-only event, but it has evolved to include Biology and Physics. The reception fills the lobby of Winston Hall with alumni and their families as well as faculty, and this year the crowd at the Deacon Demo Show was pushing 100. Read more about the reception and demo show.

President Hatch
During the Demo Show we caught President Hatch in the lab making gold (maybe it was brass) out of copper, in his efforts to provide financial resources for the university. Pictured with the president are Katherine Black ('11, and grad student), Sean Parker (senior major), Assistant Professor Scott Geyer, and Ron Nelson (grad student).


We sadly report the passing of the following friends:

John L. Capps (BA, 1981) passed away on March 11, 2013. He earned his medical degree from Duke University School of Medicine. He practiced Internal Medicine serving the Gaston County community for over 20 years, and most recently in Bariatric Medicine in Rock Hill, SC. John was a cartoonist who sold health and medical cartoons as well as published an e-book entitled A Doctors Life in Cartoons and an artist who sold more serious artwork as well.

James B. Cook, Jr. (BS, 1944) passed away on February 15, 2015. He obtained his MS in chemistry from the University of North Carolina and MBA from Harvard Business School. He was employed at Wake Forest College during the period 1944-67 (excluding 1958-60) and subsequently as a Budget Analyst at the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget from 1967 until his full retirement in 2004. He received the George Bell Award from the National Association of State Budget Officers in 1999. He co-authored a book on the History of the Town of La Crosse, VA in 2011.

Ernest L. Long (BS, 1950) died on January 13, 2013. Prior to entering Wake Forest, he served in World War II in the U.S. Army Air Force. Upon graduation from WFU, he worked for the state as a chemist from 1951 to 1953 after which he moved to Kinston and began his long career with DuPont & Co. from which he retired in April, 1985. Following retirement, he worked as a volunteer at Mary's Kitchen. He was a Scoutmaster from 1964-74; receiving the Silver Beaver Award in 1975.

Keith F. Purcell, former Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Wake Forest, died of pneumonia on April 26, 2014 at age 74. He earned his BS in chemistry from Central College and his PHD in chemistry at the University of Illinois in 1965. He then joined the chemistry department at WFU and after four years, moved to take a position in the Department of Chemistry at Kansas State University from which he retired in 1990 as Full Professor. He co-authored several popular inorganic texts (An Introduction to Inorganic Chemistry and Inorganic Chemistry). He loved to travel and spend time with his friends, particularly in France.

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