Chemistry and Biochemistry News


American Chemical Society Award for Symon Gathiaka

Symon Gathiaka, a member of the research group of Associate Professor Orlando Acevedo, has been awarded a Chemical Computing Group Excellence Award for Graduate Students from the Computers in Chemistry Division (COMP) of the American Chemical Society (ACS). A ceremony in honor of Mr. Gathiaka will take place in August during the ACS's national meeting in San Francisco.

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NSF Career Award for Patkowski

Assistant Professor Konrad Patkowski has received a five-year CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation for his proposal, “Towards an accurate and illuminating theory of weak interactions between open-shell systems”. Dr. Patkowski, a theoretical chemist, has been at Auburn University since January 2011 and is an expert on the calculation of intermolecular forces and applications of these computational techniques to a variety of systems of interest in energy research.

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Awards for Njuma and Paul from Alabama Academy of Sciences

Olive Njuma and Samir Paul won first-place and second-place awards in the Chemistry section of the ninety-first meeting of the Alabama Academy of Sciences, held in Auburn on March 12-14, 2014. Ms. Njuma and Mr. Paul are students of Dr. Douglas Goodwin and Dr. Vincenzo Cammarata, respectively.

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Outstanding Graduate Student Award for B. Maynard

Branson Maynard will receive an Outstanding Graduate Student Award from the Graduate Council at its annual awards ceremony on April 21, 2014.

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AURIC Fellowship for A. Dmytrejchuk

Ana Dmytrejchuk, a graduate student in the group of Dr. Bradley Merner, will be an AURIC Graduate Fellow in Cancer Research, effective March 1, 2014. This fellowship is awarded by the Auburn University Research Initiative in Cancer.

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Merriwether Fellowship for S. Gathiaka

Symon Gathiaka, a graduate student working in the research group of Dr. Orlando Acevedo, has been awarded the Merriwether Fellowship for academic excellence by the Graduate School.

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Promotions for G. Mills and J. Gorden

President Gogue has approved the promotion of Associate Professor German Mills to the rank of Professor and the promotion of Assistant Professor John Gorden to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure effective in the fall semester of 2014.

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Associate Professor Dr. Doug Goodwin, recently recognized by the ACS as a 2014 Outreach Volunteer of the Year

Congratulations to Auburn University Associate Professor Dr. Doug Goodwin, recently recognized by the ACS as a 2014 Outreach Volunteer of the Year for his work with the Alabama Department of Corrections. We are very proud of his accomplishments and his service to the Local Section.

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Curtiss wins COSAM Advisor Award

Dr. Ashley Curtiss has won COSAM’s Faculty Advising Award for the 2013-2014 academic year.

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The COSAM Ph.D. Dean's Research Award for the 2013-2014 academic year Awarded to Branson Maynard

Branson Maynard was awarded the COSAM Ph.D. Dean's Research Award for the 2013-2014 academic year. His research with Professor Anne Gorden involves the investigation of novel actinide cyanometallate compounds.

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Comer Medal for Excellence in the Physical Sciences Awarded to Kristin Zuromski

Kristin Zuromski, a B.S. Biochemistry major, was awarded the Comer Medal for Excellence in the Physical Sciences for the 2013-2014 academic year.

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The COSAM Undergraduate Dean's Research Award for the 2013-2014 Awarded to Ethan McCurdy

Ethan McCurdy, a B.A. Chemistry major, was awarded the COSAM Undergraduate Dean's Research Award for the 2013-2014 academic year. Ethan is performing his undergraduate work with Professor Doug Goodwin evaluating the catalytic interplay of catalytic peroxidase.

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Outstanding Junior for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry: John (Wesley) Nelson

Outstanding Junior for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry: John (Wesley) Nelson

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Dean's Medalist for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry: Spencer Kerns

Dean's Medalist for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry: Spencer Kerns

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Stanbury, Zhan and Mansoorabadi IGP proposals approved

Internal Grant Program proposals by Professor David Stanbury (“Oxidation of Sulfinic Acids”), Associate Professor Wei Zhan (“Atomic Force Microscope for Characterization of Nanomaterials and Surfaces”) and Assistant Professor Steven Mansoorabadi (“Macromolecular Crystallography at Auburn University”) have been approved for funding by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.

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Milestone for Mass Spectrometry Laboratory: Sample Number 3000

On January 17, 2014, Dr. Yonnie Wu, Director of the Mass Spectrometry Center, accepted the Center’s three-thousandth sample, which was submitted by a graduate student, Nicholas Klann, a member of Dr. Anne Gorden’s research group.

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Kathryn Milly West wins NACADA Excellence in Advising Award

The National Academic Advising Association has selected Kathryn Milly West for its 2014 Region 4: Excellence in Advising – Faculty Role Award. Ms. West, who has been the Coordinator of the Laboratory Science and Medical Laboratory Science (formerly Laboratory Technology and Medical Technology, respectively) degree programs since 1996, will receive her award at the NACADA regional conference in Savannah GA on April 2, 2014.

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Research Electronics Support Facility joins Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

The Research Electronics Support Facility (RESF) will report to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry effective January 1, 2014. Larry “Autry” May will be the Director of RESF, which will retain its mission of service to the Auburn University campus.

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Ortiz and Auburn Graduate Students Attend Annual Meeting NOBCChE

Dr. Vincent Ortiz, Ruth W. Molette Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Sciences and Mathematics, and five Auburn University graduate students attended the 40th Annual National Meeting of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) in Indianapolis on October 1-6, 2013. The students, Symon Gathiaka, PaviElle Lockhart, Olive Njuma and Selamawit Ghebreamlak from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Zenda Davis from the Department of Chemical Engineering, participated in technical symposia, professional workshops and recruited prospective graduate and undergraduate students. NOBCChE initiates and supports local, regional, national and global programs that assist people of color in fully realizing their potential in academic, professional and entrepreneurial pursuits in chemistry, chemical engineering and related fields and encourages college students to pursue graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Auburn University and NOBCChE currently have a Technology Education Partnership that promotes access to opportunities in research and education.

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NSF Grant for Ellis

Associate Professor Holly Ellis has received a four-year grant from the National Science Foundation for her proposal, “Defining the Mechanistic Strategies of Defulfonation in the Alkanesulfonate Monooxygenase System”.

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Disease Detection in the Palm of Your Hand

Two Auburn University professors have developed a disease-detection technology that could be the beginning of handheld, point-of-care devices – a breakthrough that would let health care professionals, first responders and even individuals quickly do blood tests for a variety of illnesses and conditions. Associate Professor Christopher J. Easley and Professor Curtis Shannon, both in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Sciences and Mathematics, led the research team that published its results in the March 27 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

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Easley and Simonian win NSF grant

Associate Professor Christopher Easley and Alumni Professor Alex Simonian of Mechanical Engineering have received funding from the National Science Foundation for their collaborative project entitled “Development of multi-parametric/multimodal spectroscopy apparatus for characterization of functional interfaces.”

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Knowles Professorship for Christopher Easley

Associate Professor Christopher Easley has been selected as the first C. Harry Knowles Professor for Leadership in Research or Outreach to Enhance Science Teaching and Learning in the College of Sciences and Mathematics. The five-year term of this appointment begins on August 16, 2013.

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ACS Award for Ryan Hasemeier

Ryan Hasemeier, recipient of the Outstanding Graduating Senior Award in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Dean’s Medalist for Chemistry and Biochemistry for the 2012-2013 academic year, has won the Undergraduate Inorganic Chemistry Award of the American Chemical Society. He worked with Associate Professor Holly Ellis on the iron coordination center of the enzyme cysteine dioxygenase and was nominated for this ACS award by Professor David Stanbury and Associate Professor Christian Goldsmith. In the fall semester, he will begin graduate study in chemical biology at Johns Hopkins University.

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Lilly-Lovelace Award for Stephen Swann

Stephen Swann, Laboratory Manager for General Chemistry, has been selected to receive the 2013 Lilly-Lovelace Distinguished Service Award in recognition of 17 years of exceptional service to Auburn University.

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Distinguished Dissertation Award for Elizabeth Ndontsa

Dr. Elizabeth Ndontsa has received one of the three 2013 Auburn University Graduate School Distinguished Dissertation Awards in Biological/Life Sciences. Dr. Ndontsa was a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Douglas Goodwin.

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Research by Professors Easley and Shannon highlighted by NSF

Research performed in the laboratories of Dr. Christopher Easley and Dr. Curtis Shannon on Innovative techniques for measuring hormones and other proteins in complex fluids such as blood were featured on a web page published by the National Science Foundation.

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SETCA 2013 at Auburn

More than 80 scientists attended the 2013 meeting of the Southeast Theoretical Chemistry Association at Auburn University on May 9-11, 2013. This meeting was organized by faculty and graduate students in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and was sponsored by Gaussian, Incorporated, the College of Sciences and Mathematics and the Office of the Vice President for Research. Pictures of the conference will be posted at the conference web site.

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SWSM Outstanding Graduate Student Award for Caley Allen

The Society of Women in Sciences and Mathematics has given its Outstanding Graduate Student Award to Caley Allen, who received her Ph.D. at the May commencement. Dr. Allen was a graduate student in the research group of Associate Professor Orlando Acevedo and will soon begin a postdoctoral fellowship at Georgia Tech.

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Fulbright Fellowship for James Barnett

Mr. James Barnett, an undergraduate researcher in the laboratory of our former colleague Dr. Susanne Striegler, has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for study in Spain. Later this year, Mr. Barnett will begin to conduct research at the University of Barcelona.

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2013 Distinguished Graduate Faculty Lectureship for Emeritus Professor Worley

Auburn University’s Distinguished Graduate Faculty Lecturer for 2013 is Emeritus Professor S. D. Worley, author of over three hundred publications and patents, winner of numerous professional and scientific awards and innovator of antibacterial polymers with extensive commercial and public-health applications. Dr. Worley has maintained an active research group since his retirement from the faculty in 2009.

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John Gorden, Honors Professor of the Year

Assistant Professor John Gorden has been named Honors Professor of the Year by AU’s Honors Congress and will accept this award at the Honors Gala on April 19, 2013.

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PGOP Fellowship for Charmaine Tutson

Charmaine Tutson, a graduate student advised by Dr. Anne Gorden, has been selected for a three-year President’s Graduate Opportunity Program Fellowship, according to an announcement by Dr. Overtoun Jenda, Associate Provost for Diversity and Multicultural Affairs.

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Elizabeth Ndontsa, International Graduate Student of the Year

Elizabeth Ndontsa, who recently passed her oral examination for the Ph.D. degree under the supervision of Dr. Douglas Goodwin, has been named International Graduate Student of the Year in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

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Kathryn Milly West featured on ASCP web site

Kathryn Milly West, Coordinator of the Laboratory and Medical Technology in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, was recently featured on the web site of the American Society of Clinical Pathology.

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Bradley Merner to become Assistant Professor in Fall 2013

Dr. Bradley Merner, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Montreal, will become an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the fall 2013 semester. Dr. Merner, who obtained his doctorate from Memorial University in Saint John’s, Newfoundland, specializes in synthetic organic chemistry, compounds of medicinal importance and carbon nanostructures.

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Nature article by Assistant Professor Mansoorabadi

Assistant Professor Steven Mansoorabadi is a co-author of an article entitled “Mechanistic studies of an unprecedented enzyme-catalysed 1,2 phosphono-migration reaction” which will be published in the April 4, 2013 issue of the prestigious journal Nature. Dr. Mansoorabadi joined the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Auburn University in August 2012.

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Dana Lashley awarded inaugural Livant Graduate Fellowship

Dana Lashley, a Ph.D. student in the research group of Professor Stewart Schneller, has been named the initial recipient of the Peter Livant Graduate Fellowship, which was made possible by the generosity of one of Professor Livant’s former students. This fellowship will be awarded annually to an organic chemistry graduate student. Ms. Lashley’s research is on the organic synthesis of antiviral therapeutic candidates.

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2013 Women of Distinction Faculty Leadership Award to Dr. Anne Gorden

Associate Professor Anne Gorden has received the 2013 Women of Distinction Faculty Leadership Award from the Auburn University Women’s Resource Center and will be honored at their Awards Luncheon on April 5 at the Auburn University Hotel and Conference Center.

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Promotion and Tenure for Christopher Easley and Christian Goldsmith

Auburn University President Jay Gogue has approved promotion to Associate Professor and tenure for Assistant Professors Christopher Easley and Christian Goldsmith, effective in the fall semester of 2013.

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Prof. Duin receives NASA funding

Professor Eduardus Duin is a co-investigator for a project funded by NASA on “Iron-sulfur clusters in the evolution of the Enzymatic Synthesis of RNA” in collaboration with scientists at the University of Arkansas and Ehime University in Japan.

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IGP grant for Professors Goodwin and Calderon

Professor Douglas Goodwin and Professor Angela Calderon of Pharmacal Sciences have received funding for their Internal Grant Proposal, “Toward new antitubercular drugs: Uncovering mechanistically appropriate inhibitors of Mycobacterium tuberculosis shikimate kinase from natural products”.

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IGP funding for Professors Easley, Shannon and Simonian

Professors Christopher Easley and Curtis Shannon of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Aleksandr Simonian of the College of Engineering have received funding for their Internal Grant Program proposal entitled “Surface Dynamics of a Highly Sensitive and Versatile Protein Quantitation Method, the Electrochemical Proximity Assay”.

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Prison Outreach Award for Prof. Goodwin

Dr. Douglas Goodwin and his collaborators Ms. Kyes Stevens and Dr. Alan Wilson have received a Competitive Outreach Scholarship Grant Award for their proposal entitled “Bridging a Curriculum Gap in Prisoner Education: A Collaboration of Colleges Innovating Solutions”.

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Featured article by Prof. Acevedo

An article on Hepatitus C Virus by Professor Orlando Acevedo and his former graduate student Sambasivarao Somisetti has been highlighted by the Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling in a special issue on HCV therapies.

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GFE Award for Ruychev

The Provost’s office has selected Dr. Veselin Ruychev’s General Fee Equipment proposal for funding. To create a more interactive and safer environment for organic chemistry laboratory courses, Dr. Ruychev proposed the installation of a centralized multimedia system. Video monitors in each laboratory will be connected to a computer through which graduate teaching assistants can efficiently interact with many students simultaneously.

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Drs. Shannon and Stanbury receive endowed Professorships

President Jay Gogue, Provost Timothy Boosinger and Interim Dean Charles Savrda presided at a ceremony on October 10, 2012 to recognize the award of several endowed professorships to members of the faculty. Among those honored were Professor Curtis Shannon and Professor David Stanbury of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Dr. Shannon now holds the Andrew T. Hunt Professorship and Dr. Stanbury now is the J. Milton Harris Professor.

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New Assistant Professors Gorden and Mansoorabadi

Dr. Steven Mansoorabadi will join the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry as Assistant Professor in August 2012. Dr. Mansoorabadi received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he worked with Prof. George H. Reed at the Institute for Enzyme Research.

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NOBCChE President’s Award for Ortiz and Roberts

Vincent Ortiz, Ruth W. Molette Professor and Chairman of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Christopher Roberts, Uthlaut Professor of Chemical Engineering and Dean of Engineering, will receive 2012 President’s Awards from the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE). Dr. Victor McCrary, President of NOBCChE, will present these awards to Ortiz and Roberts at this organization’s Annual Conference in Washington DC on September 28, 2012. Roberts, formerly Chairman of Chemical Engineering, and Ortiz will be recognized for initiating and supporting the Technology Education Partnership between Auburn University and NOBCChE and for providing increased opportunities and a more receptive environment for under-represented students to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in the Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry and of Chemical Engineering.

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NIH Grant for Assistant Professor Easley

Dr. Christopher Easley has received an R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health for a project entitled “Interrogating Dynamics of Acute Secretion of Adiponectin Multimers from Adipose Tissue” in collaboration with Dr. Robert Judd, Associate Professor of Pharmacology.

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Outstanding Dissertation Award

For the second time in three years, a graduate student affiliated with Emeritus Professors S. D. Worley of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Emeritus Professor Royall Broughton of the Department of Polymer and Fiber Engineering has won the Graduate School’s Outstanding Dissertation Award. This year’s winner is Idris Cerkez, who obtained his undergraduate degree in Turkey. The previous winner was Hasan Kocer, who now has an academic position in Turkey.

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COSAM Graduate finalist for Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship

Two former Auburn student athletes are among six finalists for the 2012 Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship, the NCAA's highest academic award: 2010 COSAM honors graduate in chemistry Dan Mazzaferro; and Mary "Katy" Frierson, women's soccer, who graduated in 2011 from the College of Liberal Arts.

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Gorden awarded Intramural Grant

Anne Gorden, associate professor of Chemistry, received an intramural grant from Auburn University’s Office of the Vice President for Research for $160,000. The grant was awarded based on her proposal, “Ultraviolet-visible/ Fluorescence Microspectrophotometer.” Collaborators on the grant include assistant professor Christian R. Goldsmith and associate professor German Mills, both of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, as well as Virginia A. Davis, associate professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering. Funding from the grant will be used money to purchase an ultraviolet-visible/ fluorescence microspectrophotometer for the University to be housed in Chemistry. Gorden notes that not only will this machine be available for use by other departments, many of which have already shown interest, but it will also help attract additional funding to the University.

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Dr. Christopher Easley discusses his diabetes research

Diabetes is a disorder of the endocrine system signified by high levels of blood glucose resulting from defects in insulin production, insulin action, or both. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. and results in $174 billion in direct and indirect medical costs per year. Indeed, medical costs are more than two times greater for those with diabetes, due in part to a host of health problems that can result from the disease including: blindness and eye problems, kidney failure, limb amputation, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, pregnancy complications and depression.

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Assistant Professor Orlando Acevedo receives Chemluminary Award

Assistant Professor Orlando Acevedo has received the Chemluminary Award from the American Chemical Society for his service in local and regional activities.

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