Chemistry Department Newsletters: Archive         2011      2012      2013      2014      2015     

Chemistry Department News:


February 2015

Prof. Ken O'Connor mentored 35 Boy Scouts on in attaining the chemistry merit badge on February 14.  Approximately 500 Boy Scouts visited Marshall to obtain merit badges in a wide array of disciplines.  Some of the topics covered in the chemistry badge were understanding a material safety data sheet (MSDS), how to construct a Cartesian diver as well as identifying different fields of chemistry.  Ken also conducted a series of demonstrations in addition to having the Boy Scouts make their own Mentos™ geyser.

January 2015

Prof. Laura McCunn coauthored a paper "Products from Pyrolysis of Gas-Phase Propionaldehyde," with students Brian Warner, Emily Wright, Hannah Foreman, and Courtney (Hatten) Wellman in the Journal of Physical Chemistry A. The article describes the McCunn Lab's experiments to determine how propionaldehyde breaks down at high temperatures.

(editor's note: see addition to June 2014)


December 2014

Prof. Derrick Kolling and students Benjamin D. Woodworth, Rebecca L. Mead and Courtney N. Nichols had their paper “Photosynthetic light reactions increase total lipid accumulation in carbon-supplemented batch cultures of Chlorella vulgaris” published in Bioresource Technology. 
This research is important to understand microalgae, which are an attractive biofuel feedstock.  The paper documents and highlights that C. vulgaris generates equivalent biomasses in hetero/photomixotrophic batch cultures and that light enhances lipid production in C. vulgaris batch cultures.  Also, there are differences in lipid to biomass ratio are a result of photosynthetic light reactions. Ben and Courtney were undergraduates in the Department of Chemistry and Rebecca was a master’s student in Forensic Science.


November 2014

The Department as a whole was recently honored for becoming the first campus unit of any kind to be inducted into the John Marshall Society. Faculty members have written laboratory manuals and donated all of royalties to support undergraduate scholarships and fellowships for chemistry majors.  The Department became a corporate member when it donated $50,000 over the past 5 years.  In combination with alumni donations and a state Research Trust Fund match for a portion of the donations, the Department has raised over $300,000 over the past decade to support undergraduate education in chemistry. The Department’s donation was featured over the Christmas break by the Huntington Herald-Dispatch.

We are saddened to report loss of former faculty members Daniel Babb and James Douglass.  Dan was a faculty member at Marshall for over 40 years and Jim for 35 years.  Both served as chairs of the Department and were well respected across campus for their service to Marshall and as superior instructors.  Dan’s obituary may be found in the Huntington Herald-Dispatch and a description of his career was included in last year’s newsletter when he retired.  Jim’s has also been posted online.  We will include a retrospective of Jim’s career in our 2015 newsletter.

We have posted a new recruiting/promotional video on YouTube.  The video features more than half-a-dozen chemistry majors and three chemistry faculty members talking about being a chemistry major at Marshall.  It was created by Sumaiya Chaudhry (B.S., Major in Biochemistry, class of 2014), who also wrote and directed the Lab Song parody video.  The video is also prominently displayed on our home page:

On the 10th and 11th, Mark Bussell of Western Washington University and Silvia Ronco of Research Corporation for Scientific Advancement visited the Department to conduct an external review of our program.  The purpose of the review is to obtain outside input on how we might improve the quality of our program and infrastructure.  We last hosted a review team in 2008.

Prof. Rosalynn Quinones , who is a faculty in Residence at Holderby Hall, Buskirk Hall and Twin Tower West, is featured in a YouTube video highlighting life in the Chemistry Department and the dorms at Marshall University.


October 2014

Prof. Rosalynn Quinones organized the ACS session called: Surface Chemistry; Polymer Science and Biointerface at the ACS CERM meeting in Pittsburgh,  PA.

Undergraduate students Destiny Carte, Marjorie McCoy, Cynthia Peck, Noah Searls, Eric Sias, Brian Warner, and Emily Wright attended the annual Central Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Pittsburgh.  Chemistry Profs. Laura McCunn, Michael Norton and Rosalynn Quinones also attended the conference.  The students presented posters of their research projects that were conducted alongside Marshall faculty.  While in Pittsburgh, the group enjoyed a dinner at the famous Primanti Bros. sandwich shop and rode the Duquesne Incline, overlooking the three rivers and downtown Pittsburgh.  They also spent a day at the Carnegie Science Center.​

In addition to the undergraduate students present, graduate students Joshua Botkin and Eric Mendenhall along with research technician William Patterson and postdoctoral fellow Masudur Rahman attended the conference. Josh, Eric, and William all presented posters of their research at the Sci-Mix poster sessions. Furthermore, Masudur gave a presentation at the General Oral presentation session, while Eric gave an oral presentation at the Analytical Chemistry in the Central Region session. While at the conference, all four individuals networked with other chemists and attended lectures and events, including two presentations given by Dr. Norton. Outside of the conference the four of them enjoyed the city of Pittsburgh while dining in the south side area. Josh, Eric, and William also spent time with the undergraduate attendees by viewing their posters, joining them for dinner at Primanti Bros., and touring the city with them on a cold and rainy Friday afternoon.

Prof. Derrick Kolling was invited to attend the 5th Annual Scialog Conference at Biosphere 2 on October 14-17. At the conference, he presented a poster entitled, "Constraints in Biological Solar Energy Conversion due to the Temperature Dependence of Photosystem-II-Catalyzed Water Oxidation and the Compulsory Dark Step of Oxygen-Evolving Complex Photoassembly." The poster was co-authored by graduate students James Board and Hope Cook, and undergraduate students Shane Kagen, Matt Thompson, and Justin Erwin.

Prof. Derrick Kolling and two of his research students, Shane Kagen and Aaron Holland, attended the 40th Midwest/Southeast Photosynthesis Meeting at Turkey Run State Park, IN, from October 24-26. Shane and Aaron presented posters on their research--Aaron was awarded best undergraduate student poster and as part of the award, was able to give a 10-minute talk on his research. Shane presented a poster entitled "Exploring the Temperature Dependence of the Oxygen-Evolving Complex," and Aaron presented a poster entitled “Maximizing Lipid Production in Chlorella vulgaris”. Shane and Aaron were able to attend with support from their NASA WVSGC Undergraduate and DOW-MU STEM fellowships, respectively. Derrick’s trip was partially supported by a Quinlan award.

Prof. Ken O'Connor amazed students at the fourth annual Mad Scientist Day at Hite-Saunders Elementary on Friday, Oct. 31, 2014. Students become mad scientists with help from professors and student-teachers from Marshall University as teachers turn their classrooms into science labs for the day. During the Halloween season, it was a treat that was covered by the Harold Dispatch.

Alpha Chi Sigma continued it's pledge training with 19 new potential initiates. We took a brotherhood retreat to King's Island's Halloween Haunt. We are also gearing up for the first (hopefully annual) Nerd Herd Cookoff, which will take place on November 13 in BBSC 101 from 3-5. This event will feature the specialty dishes of the faculty and staff in the science department. AXE will use this as a fundraiser as well. All of our events aim to serve our three obligations, specifically to bind its members with a tie of true and lasting friendship.


September 2014

Profs. Rosalynn Quinones and John Rakus held a forum entitled “So You Want to Go to Grad School?” for students interested in pursuing graduate degrees in the natural sciences.

Alpha Chi Sigma held its fall rush from September 8 through September 18. The events were well attended with twenty new pledges preparing to join.

Prof. Michael Castellani was the keynote speaker at the induction ceremony for the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. Sarah-Leigh Govender (Chemistry major) is the Society’s Marshall University chapter president. Caleb Crum (Forensic Chemistry major) was inducted at the ceremony.

August 2014

We are glad to announce that Scott Day, Laura McCunn, and Ken O’Connor were tenured and promoted at the end of the spring semester.  They begin the Fall semester as newly minted Associate Professors of Chemistry.

Dan Babb concludes 41 years as a Marshall Chemistry professor with his retirement this month.  There is a major write-up of his career in our Spring newsletter.  While retired, Dan still comes in every day and plans to tutor students during the semester.  If you are on campus and would like to visit him, his office moved to Room 400 of the Science Building.

Tina Hall, our stockroom manager, has returned to the high school classroom in Lawrence County, KY.  Her stay with us was always designed to be temporary, a sabbatical if you will, and so the move wasn’t a surprise.  We wish her well.

Prof. John Rakus served as Marshall’s representative at Ohio State University’s Ohio State Biochemistry Program Recruitment Day.

Profs. Rosalynn Quinones and John Rakus served as facilitators at the 2014 American Chemical Society Postdoc to Faculty Workshop, held in San Francisco, CA, on August 8 and 9. Prof. Quinones gave a talk entitled “Using Clickers or Response Systems in Chemistry Class.”


July 2014

Prof. Michael Castellani was named to the CUR-Goldwater Faculty Mentor Award Committee. He concluded his term as executive board secretary for the Council on Undergraduate Research.


June 2014

Prof. Michael Castellani attended the Executive Board and Business meetings and National Conference of the Council on Undergraduate Research in Washington, DC from June 24-July 1.  At the National Conference he co-presented sessions on “How to Get Started in Research with Undergraduates in the Natural Sciences” and “Creative Funding Sources for Undergraduate Research: It’s Not Just About Grants.”  He was named the Chemistry Division’s representative to the Posters on the Hill Committee.


Prof. Rosalynn Quinones had her paper "Investigation of Phosphonic Acid Surface Modifications on Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles under Ambient Conditions" accepted for publication in Thin Solid Films. Understanding and characterizing the surface modifications on Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles and their electrical and photonic properties has potential benefits for applications in semiconductors, solar cells and laser diodes. Highlights of the paper includes: *Zinc Oxide nanoparticles were modified using alkylphosphonic acid films. *Phosphonic acid modifications were strongly bonded and stable on the surface. *The surface coverage of the alkylphosphonic acid molecules was highly controlled. *The attachments were characterized using spectroscopy, microscopy and work function.

Prof. Derrick Kolling was invited to give a talk at the Renewable Energy in West Virginia Symposium, which was sponsored by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission’s Division of Science and Research. The symposium took place in Flatwoods, WV, on June 5, 2014​. Derrick's talk was entitled, "Enhancing Algal Biodiesel Production Through the Use of Waste Products."

Alpha Chi Sigma:

          Alpha Chi Sigma members helped Dr. Hubbard or Dr. Anderson with a series of local "Magic Shows" at the Cambell County libraries.  This aligns with one of Alpha Chi Sigma's objects: to strive for the advancement of chemistry both as a science and as a profession.  Community outreach is one of the essential part of being a professional fraternity.  We want to share the joy that we find in science, specifically Chemistry.
Alpha Chi Sigma is planning on sending four representatives to the National Conclave in Charlottesville, Virginia so that they can extend their network and meet with brothers from across the country. This reflects one of the Alpha Chi Sigma objectives: to bind our members with a tie of true and lasting friendship.


May 2014

Patrick Kirk and Prof. Michael Castellani published a paper in Inorganic Syntheses, Volume 36 (pp. 62-63) entitled (5-cyclopentadienyl)tricarbonylmanganese(I) Complexes. The paper presents a new way to prepare (5-C5H5)Mn(CO)3 and (5-C5(CH3)5)Mn(CO)3 in very good yields. This method has the advantage over existing preparations in that it works for a wide variety of C5R5 ligands, whereas previous methods have been selective for specific ligands.

Heath Blankenship, Joshua Botkin, Rebekkah Brown, Hannah Foreman, Cody Harrison, Michael Hineman, Eric Mendenhall, Michael Parsons, Curtis Pelfrey, Jr., Karl Shaver, Brian Warner, Ben Williams, Emily Wright, and Andrew Vess presented their research in poster format at the Marshall Chapter of Sigma Xi's 24rd Annual Research Day. Professors Frost, McCunn, Norton, Wang, O’Connor, Rakus in Chemistry, as well as Harrison (Biological Sciences), Murray (IST), Valentovic (Pharmacology), Valluri (Biological Sciences), and Zill (Biochemistry) mentored them. Karl Shaver and Emily Wright earned first and third place in the poster. Sumaiya Chaudhry made an oral presentation, which took top prize in that category.

The Department also had its annual poster session for region companies with chemistry labs. This year we were joined by representatives from Alcon, Flint Group Pigments, ICL-IP American, Kureha PGA, Marathon Petroleum, MATRIC, PTI, REI Consultants, and Rust-Oleum. At the session, company technical staff are able to meet and mingle with chemistry faculty and students.

Dr. Rosalynn Quinones received the Faculty in Residence Award of the year from housing and Residence Life from Marshall University.  She is a faculty in Residence at Holderby Hall, Buskirk Hall and Twin Tower West.  The award is recognizes her positive role in the following areas:

•             Encouraging the academic development of residential students through academic programs, advising students, and other co-curricular events
•             Promoting an inclusive community where students of all backgrounds feel comfortable
•             Maintaining a high visibility in the residence hall to encourage informal contact with students
•             Adhering to the ethical standards of the Department of Housing and Residence Life


Alpha Chi Sigma:

          Alpha Chi Sigma held their alcohol awareness meeting on May 1 and had 19 seniors graduate this semester.


April 2014

Xiaoning Zhang, Masudur Rahman, David Neff and Prof. Michael Norton published an open access paper in the Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology in April. The paper titled "DNA origami deposition on native and passivated molybdenum disulfide substrates,"discusses the observation of a strong interaction between the two dimensional semiconductor MoS2 and DNA, which leads to destruction of the DNA based structures called DNA Origami (after the folding of molecules to make interesting shapes). The interaction can be interrupted by modifying the surface with 1-pyrenemethylamine or pyrene. Interest in the modification of this class of two dimensional materials, the transition metal dichalcogenides, which are only 3 atoms thick, stems from their potential use as sensing materials. It is believed that detectors with high sensitivity and low cost can be constructed by using materials with this unique combination of semiconducting properties and very large surface to volume ratio. With its high charge density and structural programmabilty, DNA may provide a mechanism particularly well suited to patterning charges within these two dimensional materials.

Alpha Chi Sigma:

          For the month of April, the Gamma Eta chapter of Alpha Chi Sigma has been quite busy! We hosted the East Central District Conclave at Marshall April 4-5. There were various speakers: Dr. Rakus discussing graduate school, Dr. Gary Anderson discussing the history of alchemy in the Orient, and Nadine Borovicka, program director for the Marshall University Forensic Science Graduate Program who gave us a tour of the crime scene house used by the students as well as the FBI for training exercises. Alpha Chi Sigma members from James Madison University and University of Virginia attended.
We also inducted 7 new student members and 2 new faculty members (Dr. Rakus and Dr. Quiñones) on April 11.
We also put on a “chemistry magic show” for 50 gifted 4th grade students from three local schools on April 23. There was an hour of chemistry demonstrations performed by Dr. Anderson and then a few hands-on activities for the students. Chemistry magic shows are one of the ways that the Gamma Eta chapter does community outreach and promotes not only chemistry but science in general.             April 25 we held elections for officers for Fall 2014. Megan Justice was elected Master Alchemist, Eric Hatten was elected Vice Master Alchemist, Miranda Kalaskey was elected Master of Ceremonies, Austin Rooper was elected Reporter, Patricia Mihm was elected Recorder, Rebekah Clark was elected Historian, Erin Fankhanel was elected Alumni Secretary, Lydia Hager was elected Treasurer, and Ben Coleman was elected Webmaster. Miles Gray, Miranda Kalaskey, Louis Roncaglione, and Randi Wilson were elected to the Goggle Czar community. Ben Coleman, Isaiah Dishner, Philip Kirk, and Jordan Martinez were elected to the Magic Show Committee.


March 2014

Masudur Rahman, David Neff and Prof. Michael Norton published an article in Chemical Communications, titled “ Rapid, high yield, directed addition of quantum dots onto surface bound linear DNA origami arrays” on 7 March, 2014. (Chem. Commun., 2014, Volume 50, pages 3413-3416). The article describes the fabrication of long one dimensional substrates using the technique of DNA Origami. Arrays of fluorescent semiconductor nanoparticles were self-assembled on these substrates.

Prof. Norton was invited to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory to address 29 high school science students from across the country who were attending the National Youth Science Camp at Green Bank, WV.  His presentation on March 8th,  titled  “Nanoscale Assembly:  Building the Future” was based on his research in creating nanostructures using DNA as a structural material.

For the month of March, the Gamma Eta chapter of Alpha Chi Sigma has been focused on planning the East Central District Conclave which will be hosted at Marshall University this year. District Conclave will be held April 4-5 and will include various speakers such as Dr. Rakus discussing graduate school, Dr. Gary Anderson, and a faculty member from the Marshall Forensic Science Master’s program as well as others. District Conclave strives to bring together the chapters of each district to form ties between the brothers of Alpha Chi Sigma and promote the objects of the fraternity.

The Gamma Eta chapter is also planning a visit to Marshall from a group of gifted fourth grade students from a few different schools. These students will be shown a few chemistry demos and will be involved in doing some themselves to help promote science education and community outreach from our chapter.


February 2014

Alpha Chi Sigma held its Alumni Gala on February 22 to honor the graduated members of Alpha Chi Sigma in the Christian Center on Marshall's campus and included a dinner and time for the alumni and current members to socialize.

The following awards were made to faculty members at colleges and universities statewide which have local significance.

Dr. Timothy Corrigan of Concord University is receiving $125,000 for his project entitled “Incubaor: Study of the Fluorescence from Quantum Dots Coupled with Gold Nanoparticles” This is a collaborative effort, with Prof. Michael Nortonserving as his research mentor.

Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Grants.
These grants help colleges and universities provide summer research experiences to undergraduates in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.

Three years of support totalling $210,000 were awarded to Prof. Michael Norton, Marshall University- for the Marshall University Undergraduate Research Experience Program: SURE


January 2014

Prof. Michael Castellani attended the Executive Board meeting of the Council on Undergraduate Research in Washington, DC on January 24-26.



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