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The Summer Heat Speeds Up Chemistry at ASU

June 28, 2017

The Angelo State University Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry does not stop experimenting, teaching, or reaching out to the community when the spring semester ends.

 Approximately 140 students will be taking General Chemistry I and II and their labs over the summer. Some of these students will have the opportunity to view laboratory technique and problem solving videos created by ASU chemistry professors Dr. Edith Osborne and Dr. Gregory Smith, which were funded by a National Science Foundation grant awarded to Dr. Connie Heimann (NSF project no. DUE  0856657). In other chemical education news, Dr. John Osterhout has been asked to serve as a community editor for the MacMillan Flipped Chemistry web community. Dr. Osterhout has made his flipped classroom worksheets available to the public and has subscribers across the United States and in England.

 This summer, several chemistry majors are working on research projects at ASU and at other universities. Many of the chemistry research students at ASU are receiving scholarships or stipends for their work. One of the main sources of funding is a Robert A. Welch Foundation Departmental Research Grant that has been awarded to the department. The Robert A. Welch Foundation supports fundamental chemical research at colleges and universities throughout Texas. Chemical research at ASU provides undergraduates the opportunity to apply the information they learned in the classroom to solve real world problems. Their research experiences also help to enhance their resumes when applying to graduate schools, professional schools, and jobs. Dr. David Carter and his research students, Baxter Krug and Dorian Herrick, are researching the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the Concho River. PAHs enter the water through runoff from asphalt surfaces like roads and parking lots. Dr. Edith Osborne and her research team, Clancy Collom, Chris Garcia, and Jung Ah Kim, are working to find affibody proteins that will bind to proteins found in snake venoms. This research is part of a collaboration with Dr. Christopher J. Noren at New England Biolabs, a world leading biotechnology company. Dr. Gregory Smith and his students, Alfredo Felipe and Bailey Harvey, are working to make “greener” solar cells and investigate metal-doped silica nanoparticles. Dr. Ralph Zehnder and his research team, James Jenkins and Harry Maslen, are developing new lanthanide metal organic frameworks (MOFs), which they hope will contribute to finding more advanced solutions for the long term isolation and storage of nuclear waste. Two ASU students were accepted to highly competitive National Science Foundation sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduates summer programs. For 10 weeks, Jenna Placzek will perform research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Sarah Champagne will perform research at the University of North Texas.

 Science outreach is an important service provided by the department. ASU’s American Chemical Society Student Chapter (ACS) and the chemistry faculty perform demos and help with workshops year round. The outreach programs not only educate and entertain the citizens of San Angelo and the surrounding area; they also help ASU students learn how to communicate science to the public and practice public speaking. During the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts Summer Camps, Dr. Zehnder and ASU students impressed the campers with chemistry demos, and Dr. Osborne taught them to use chemistry to write secret messages and change the color of their radish drawings by altering the pH using household chemicals. Over 300 people attended a Chemistry Magic Show performed by the ASU ACS Student Chapter members and co-advisor Mr. Kevin Boudreaux at Sunset Mall’s Summer Kids World. 

During the summer, chemistry at ASU speeds up as the temperature rises.


Writen by Dr. Edith Osborne,