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Annual Reports

2014

Noteworthy Achievements

Student Awards and Distinctions. Our Departmental Senior Scholar for 2013-14 was Matthew Sherman who did his Senior Honors Research with Professor Ryu and completed his BS in Biochemistry in May, 2014. Matt was also honored this spring at SRS for presenting the best Chemistry poster in the undergraduate division. The winning graduate division Chemistry poster at SRS was presented by Jhansi Kalluri, a Ph.D. student with Professor Coffer. At the ACS Meeting-in-Miniature this spring, TCU Ph.D. students, Pradeep Budhathoki (with Dr. Ryu) and Kyralyssa Hauger (with Dr. Neilson) were awarded First and Second prizes, respectively, for their oral presentations. Pradeep was also honored as the Department’s selection for the Dean’s Teaching Assistant Award for his outstanding work in the Biochemistry Lab course. Nguyen Le, a Biochemistry major and research assistant with Professor Annunziata, was the TCU winner of the Student Scholarship Award from the DFW Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS). Travis Hayden, a chemistry major working with Professor Green, was selected by the inorganic faculty as our ACS Division of Inorganic Chemistry award winner.

Faculty/Staff Awards and Distinctions. Our Instrument Technician, Gerald Katchinska, was selected and duly honored as one of seven University finalists for the Chancellor’s Staff Award last fall. Professor Onofrio Annunziata was nominated by the Department and recognized at the College level as the CSE nominee for the Dean’s Research Award. Professor Sergei Dzyuba was selected by the Department as our nominee for the Dean’s Teaching Award. Professor Eric Simanek was awarded two-year grant of $200,000 from the TCU Vision-in-Action Fund in support of the IdeaFactory of which he is the founder and director. Several chemistry faculty were recognized with new intramural research grants awarded for 2013-2014 from TCU RCAF (to Onofrio Annunziata, Kayla Green, and Youngha Ryu), JFSRP (to Kayla Green), and TCU Invests in Scholarship (to Jeff Coffer and, jointly, to Jean-Luc Montchamp and Ben Janesko). Grants from the TCU Andrews Institute of Math and Science were awarded to Onofrio Annunziata, Kayla Green, and Yulia Sevryugina. Scholarly publications by the Chemistry faculty were also recognized. Last fall, the paper “Rung 3.5 Density Functionals” published by Professor Ben Janesko in the Journal of Chemical Physics, was selected as one of four articles from 2010 in the journal’s 80th anniversary collection of 80 landmark papers. The paper by Professor Jean-Luc Montchamp, “A General Strategy for the Synthesis of P-Stereogenic Compounds” was highlighted as a “hot paper” by the very high-impact-factor journal, Angewandte Chemie, International Edition in 2013. Jean-Luc also published an invited review of his recent work in the very prestigious ACS journal, Accounts of Chemical Research.

Program Highlights

Undergraduate Research. During the period of June, 2013 – May 2014, we had a total of 29 undergraduate students, including five Senior Honors Scholars, working on research projects in the Department. Their research efforts contributed significantly to 8 co-authored publications and were highlighted in 6 presentations at the Student Research Symposium (SRS) this year.

Chemistry Club. The TCU Chapter of ACS Student Affiliates (aka “the Chem Club”) has continued to expand (current membership is over 40) and flourish under the superb mentorship and enthusiastic guidance of their faculty sponsor, Kayla Green. Other Chemistry faculty, notably Ben Janesko and Julie Fry, also participate regularly in Club activities and serve as co-mentors for the group. For the second consecutive year, the TCU Chapter was recognized by the National ACS with an Outstanding Award for their extensive variety of education and outreach activities (at several elementary and middle schools, Cook Children’s Medical Center, and the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History).

Research Grants. Given the very difficult nature of the current funding climate in the US, new awards to Jean-Luc Montchamp (NSF, $260,000), Jeff Coffer (NIH, $326,680), and Eric Simanek (Department of Defense, $350,220) are especially noteworthy. As detailed in Section 2, eight Chemistry faculty members held 16 research grants from regional and national sources totaling approximately $3.15 million. On an annual basis, this averages to about $71,000 per full-time faculty member in the Chemistry Department. While such numbers are still quite impressive, we must also acknowledge that some grants, including two from the Welch foundation, and one each from NSF and NIH, recently ended without renewals.

Publications and Meeting Presentations. A complete listing of publications and presentations appears in Section 2 of this report. The chemistry faculty again published 45 papers in peer-reviewed journals, affording a 5-year average of about 40 per year, an impressive number of ca. 3.5 papers per year per faculty member. As a whole, the Department was also very active in presenting research results at professional meetings and conferences (regional, national, and international), with a total of 19 contributed and invited presentations. As usual, our undergraduate and graduate students were major participants in the CSE SRS this spring, presenting a total of 16 posters.

Seminar Program. During the 2013-2014 academic year, the Chemistry Department continued its tradition of excellence in this important area with a program of 14 visiting seminar speakers in a wide variety of research fields. A highlight of the seminar series was the visit in March by Professor Lawrence Marnett (Vanderbilt University School of Medicine) who gave the Keynote Address at the Symposium Honoring Fifty Years of Science and Service by Professor Emeritus Manfred Reinecke. Several of Dr. Reinecke’s former colleagues, students, and research collaborators also gave invited talks at the day-long symposium.

New Faculty. Two new faculty members began their full-time positions in the Department last fall. Yulia Sevryugina joined us as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the general area of inorganic chemistry. Yulia has broad experience and interests in both main group (bioinorganic) and transition metal (catalysis and organometallic) chemistry. Also last fall, Julie Fry made the transition from part-time Lecturer for the past four years to full-time Instructor. In addition to teaching a variety of courses (e.g., General Chemistry, Quantitative Analysis, Advanced Inorganic Lab, and Senior Seminar) this year, Julie looks forward to teaching Biochemistry next year and also serving on the Faculty Senate.

2013

Noteworthy Achievements

Student Awards and Distinctions. Our Departmental Scholar for 2012-13 was Thomas Purgett who did his Senior Honors Research with Professor Minter and is headed for graduate school in chemistry this fall. Thomas also received an award for his SRS poster presentation in the undergraduate division. Senior Kimberly Hyde, a Chemistry/Biology double major, received the Distinguished Student Award at the TCU Leadership Awards Celebration in April 2013. Riker Saunders, a chemistry major and research assistant with Professor Green, was the TCU winner of the Outstanding Student Award from the DFW Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS). Trang Nguyen, a senior chemistry major also working with Dr. Green, was selected by the inorganic faculty as our ACS Division of Inorganic Chemistry award winner. Graduate students, Kyralyssa Hauger and Anne Moffitt were recognized as Outstanding Teaching Assistants for 2012-13 by the Chemistry faculty for their hard work in the Quantitative Analysis and General Chemistry labs, respectively. Kyralyssa was also honored as the Department’s selection for the Dean’s Teaching Assistant Award. At the CSE Student Research Symposium this spring, graduate students Henry Fisher and Mark Bridle (working with professors Montchamp and Janesko, respectively) were recognized for their outstanding poster presentation. Hunter Scarborough, another research student with Professor Green, won the First Place Award for his talk in Session I of the undergraduate division at the DFW ACS Meeting-in-Miniature, held at Texas A&M, Commerce.

Faculty Awards and Distinctions. Chemistry professors Sergei Dzyuba and Onofrio Annunziata were recognized by departmental colleagues this year with their nominations for the Deans Teaching and Research Awards, respectively. For the third consecutive year, Youngha Ryu was selected as a Faculty Fellow for Air Force Summer Faculty Fellowship Program (SFFP). The appointment will allow him to continue collaborative research at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. In addition, Youngha was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure this year. Two faculty members, Eric Simanek and Onofrio Annunziata, together with colleagues in Switzerland, Finland, and the Czech Republic, collaborated on two recent publications in the prestigious Journal of the American Chemical Society. The work deals with the synthetic, structural, computational, and biological studies of novel spherical-shaped organic molecules (known as dendrimers) that are sometimes as large as viruses. Several chemistry faculty were recognized internally with new research grants awarded for 2013 from TCU RCAF (to Onofrio Annunziata, Kayla Green, and Youngha Ryu), JFSRP (to Kayla Green), and TCU Invests in Scholarship (to Jeff Coffer and, jointly, to Jean-Luc Montchamp and Ben Janesko).

Research Grants. Even in today’s very difficult funding climate, the Chemistry faculty continued its excellent record of seeking and obtaining extramural research funding. As detailed in Section 3, nine of the eleven faculty members currently hold 14 active research grants from prestigious regional and national sources totaling $3.06 million. Most impressively, this equates to an annual average of about $85,000 per full-time faculty member in the Chemistry Department.

Publications and Meeting Presentations. During the past academic year, the chemistry faculty continued their high level of scholarly activity. A complete listing of publications and presentations appears in Section 3 of this report. The eleven full-time members of the department published 45 papers in peer-reviewed journals, affording a 3-year average of 39 per year, an impressive number of ca. 3.5 papers per year per faculty member. The chemistry faculty and coworkers were also very active in presenting their work at appropriate professional meetings and conferences (regional, national, and international), with a total of 19 contributed and 4 invited presentations (2 each by Coffer and Janesko). This activity is very important in terms of advertising the depth and quality of our overall program and is a point of continuing emphasis in the Department. Once again, our undergraduate and graduate students were major participants in the CSE SRS this spring, presenting a total of 18 posters.

Program Highlights

New Faculty. Following national searches, the Department successfully filled two faculty openings. Dr. Yulia Sevryugina will join us this fall as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the general area of inorganic chemistry. Yulia has broad experience and interests in both main group (bioinorganic) and transition metal (catalysis and organometallic) chemistry. She will teach Advanced Inorganic Chemistry in her first semester. Dr. Julie Fry will make the transition from part-time Lecturer for the past four years to full-time Instructor in the Department beginning this fall with an initial 3-year contract. In addition to teaching a variety of courses (e.g., General Chemistry, Advanced Inorganic Chem Lab, and Senior Seminar this fall), Julie expects to be active in student advising, outreach activities, curriculum development, etc.

New Equipment. By combining funds (ca. $500,000 total) from TCU, the Chemistry Department budget, and new faculty start-up packages, we were able to purchase major new instrumentation including a 400 MHz NMR spectrometer and a single-crystal X-ray diffractometer. These instruments, both of which replace aging equipment, provide essential support to at least eight research groups in the Department as well as our teaching labs. In addition, and again by judiciously combining funds from various sources, we were also able to add several smaller pieces of equipment (e.g., IR, HPLC, UV-Vis, analytical balances) in the $5,000-30,000 price range that will greatly enhance our research and teaching missions.

Undergraduate Research. During the period of June, 2012 – May 2013, we had a total of 27 undergraduate students, including three Senior Honors Scholars, working on research projects in the Department. Their research efforts resulted in 6 co-authored publications and 10 presentations at the Student Research Symposium (SRS) this year. In our labs, undergraduate assistants are supervised directly by individual faculty and work along with graduate (Ph.D.) students and, in many cases, postdoctoral associates. Because the research groups are generally small, undergraduates are very key contributors to the overall success of many research projects.

Seminar Program. During the 2012-2013 academic year, the Chemistry Department continued its tradition of excellence in this area with a program of 20 visiting seminar speakers in a wide variety of research fields. The speakers also represented a variety of regional (SMU, UTA, Baylor, U. Houston, UT Austin, UT El Paso, and UT SWMC), national (Duke, Lehigh, Central Michigan, Georgia Tech, and MIT), and international (Japan, Italy, and Switzerland) institutions. These presentations not only expose our students and faculty to cutting-edge science but they also enhance our educational mission, especially at the graduate level where formal course offerings are limited. It is also very good advertising for our own research programs. A highlight of the seminar series was the visit last fall of Professor K. C. Nicolaou (Scripps Institute and UC San Diego, now Rice) who gave two excellent presentations on the total synthesis of medically relevant natural products as the Cecil and Ida Green Honors Professor.

Chemistry Club. Under the superb mentorship and enthusiastic guidance of their faculty sponsor, Kayla Green, and more recently with help from Ben Janesko, the TCU Chapter of ACS Student Affiliates (aka “the Chem Club”) has continued to expand and flourish. Other Chemistry faculty, notably Tracy Hanna and Julie Fry, also participated regularly in Club activities. The Chem Club currently has 39 active student members and, for last year, the Club’s officers included President Troy Gurney, National Chemistry Week Coordinator Sandi Dang, Treasurer Katelyn Poole, Secretary Danielle Bishop, Historian Nicola Welch, Outreach Coordinator Erika Zimmermann, and Outreach Chairs Caleb Ashbrook and Sydney DeSpain. The TCU Chapter was recognized by the National ACS with an Outstanding Award for their extensive variety of education and outreach activities during the 2011-2012 academic year. This is indeed quite an achievement, elevating the TCU Chapter to the top ten percent of ACS Student Affiliate Chapters nationwide. In the official award letter, the national president of ACS commented, “Professor Kayla Green, faculty advisor of the chapter, deserves special commendation. Few faculty members are willing to make the great commitment of time and energy that a successful chapter requires. Professor Green’s efforts certainly represent the best in undergraduate science education and mentoring around the country.” The Chem Club also continued their association with TCU Career Services and once again they organized and hosted a Career Seminar Series for Scientists, with invited speakers from local companies.