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Chemistry Department News:


December 2016

Prof. Rosalynn Quiñones developed a high school research project that is listed in The Neuron at the bottom of page 10. As part of the Marshall PERT program (Perservice and Early Career Research for Teachers), she worked with high school student Abdullah Hijazi and his teacher Tamara Westfall to study sunscreen samples. Various Marshall University researchers are also recognized in other articles on pages 4, 6, & 11 of The Neuron.


November 2016

Prof. Laura McCunn has published a research article, “The Effect of Aldehyde Structure on Pyrolysis Reactions,” in the Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis.  The paper was written with four undergraduate coauthors: Sarah Cole, BS (Biochemistry) ’17; Eric Sias, BS (Chemical Sciences) ‘17; Brian Warner, BS (Chemical Sciences) ‘15; and Emily Wright, BS (Chemical Sciences) ‘15.  The article is the third paper published by the McCunn Laboratory on the thermal decomposition of aldehydes.  The lab has previously studied the small, unbranched aldehydes, propionaldehyde and butyraldehyde.  This paper describes how the pyrolysis mechanism can change for branched-chain aldehydes isovaleraldehyde and pivaldehyde.

Members of the Norton Group (Masudur Rahman,  David Neff, Nathan Green and Dr. Norton) published a paper "DNA Origami Reorganizes upon Interaction with Graphite: Implications for High-Resolution DNA Directed Protein Patterning" in Nanomaterials. The paper discusses the interaction of DNA, and particularly DNA folded into two dimensional objects by a process known as DNA Origami, with the surface of graphite.  Graphite is an unusual material in that it is very conductive and atomically flat.  These aspects of the material would seem to make it an ideal surface to support nanoscale constructs for imaging studies using Atomic Force Microscopy.  However the very strong van Der Waals interaction between DNA and graphite lead to significant denaturation of the DNA, partially decomposing these designed constructs.  The direct, microscopic observation of this interaction reveals that the restructuring takes place very rapdily and results in a stable, though modified structure.  The study concludes with a demonstation that proteins can be patterned on the surface of graphite, using DNA structures as supports and organizing species.  The article and the supplementary information are available through this site:



October 2016

Prof. Michael Norton had a manuscript published in the journal “Analyst” in October.  The article reviews methods which are currently implemented and methods still in their developmental stages which enable studies of DNA methylation.  DNA methylation is of growing interest because it is one facet of a recently uncovered phenomenon, epigenetic modification.  In epigenetic modifications, the usual DNA bases and newly discovered modifications of RNA provide control language for use of the genetic code.  Such control elements explain many previous mysteries, particularly the concept of “junk DNA”.  Junk DNA is the name for the concept that since most of the Human Genome does not code for protein, it does not do anything.  Epigenetic modifications can turn on and turn off signals and can enable changes in protein expression on relatively short time scales.  These signaling molecules were not previously observed due to analytical limitations.  The review article seeks to enumerate current methods and also to motivate development of new methods which will enable introduction of epigenetic evaluations into studies of a wide variety of disease states, including cancer.  The article particulars are:   Syedmoradi, L., Esmaeli, F. and Norton, M.L; Towards DNA Methylation Detection Using Biosensors. Analyst, v141. pg 5922-5943, 2016.

Chemistry, biology, and biotechnology majors (in the photo from left), Natalie Reib (Biology), Karleigh Napier (Biology), Tempany Arbogast (Biotechnology), William Papageorge (Chemistry), Zachary Runyon (Forensic Chemistry), Tim Boyd (Chemistry), Brandy Harvey (Chemistry), and Amanda Smythers (Biochemistry) volunteered to assist with Mad Scientist Day at Hite Saunders elementary school.  The Huntington Herald-Dispatch covered the event and posted several photographs of the students to accompany the article on their website.


Prof. Rosalynn Quiñones was awarded the NASA Research Enhancement Travel Award which is sponsored by Marshall University NASA Space Grant Advisory Committee. This travel award will be used to present an oral talk at the ACS National meeting at San Francisco  in April 2017.

Prof. Rosalynn Quiñones participated in the Content Development Conference for the Chemical Educational Foundation (CEF) on October 24-25, 2016 at Washington DC. The purpose of this conference was to develop and improve the "You Be The Chemist National Challenge" event which will be held on June 19, 2017

Deben Shoup, a (’18) chemistry student researching with Prof. Rosalynn Quiñones, was awarded the NASA Student Fellowship which is funded by the Marshall University NASA Space Grant Advisory Committee.


September 2016

The Department’s newest member, Dr. John Markiewicz, joined us in the Fall of 2016.  Dr. Markiewicz grew up in Upstate New York and received his Bachelor of Science degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.  He then earned his Ph. D. in 2011 from the University of Notre Dame.  After a one-year appointment as a Visiting Professor of Chemistry at Southeast Missouri State University, he moved to Munich, Germany, where he was appointed as a postdoctoral research assistant.  After a second postdoctoral research appointment at the University of California at Santa Barbara, he moved to Marshall University, where he is currently an Assistant Professor.  Dr. Markiewicz teaches organic chemistry at Marshall University, and his research is focused on finding new methods to produce materials that are useful for carbon-based electronic devices.  His research interests also include organometallic chemistry, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and organic solar cells.


August 2016

Chase Boster (BS, Major in Chemistry, 2016) was Conference USA’s baseball scholar-athlete of the year in 2016.  Award winners are selected by a vote of the faculty athletics representatives of the 14 member universities.  More detail about him may be found at a press release on the HerdZone.

Larry Dial (BS, Major in Chemistry, 1994) was named Chief Medical Officer of Marshall Health, which is the clinical arm of the Marshall University School of Medicine.

Prof. Rosalynn Quiñones also served as a facilitator at the 2016 American Chemical Society Postdoc to Faculty Workshop (P2F), prior to the national meeting on August 19-20, 2016. Prof. Quiñones gave a talk entitled “Using Clickers or Response Systems in Chemistry Classes.”

Prof. Rosalynn Quiñones published in the Journal of Chemical Education a paper titled: “Integrating Elemental Analysis and Chromatography Techniques by
Analyzing Metal Oxide and Organic UV Absorbers in Commercial” in collaboration with faculty from Washington and Jefferson College, Mr. David Neff, a research assistant and two students from the Teachers Research Experience in the advancement of Knowledge (TREK) program: Tamara D. Westfall and and Abdullah Hijazi. The TREK program is a 6-week research experience on Marshall's campus. Each high teacher is partnered with a researcher from Marshall to work in their lab during the summer and with a high student to join them for the six weeks. This program is sponsored by the RII's workforce training component of EPsCOR grant.

Prof. Rosalynn Quiñones participated in the Art as Context for General Chemistry, Whitman College | Walla Walla, WA at Whitman College , Walla Walla, WA. This Workshop is part of the NSF-sponsored Chemistry Collaborations, Workshops and Community of Scholars (cCWCS) program. Dr. Quiñones was financially supported by a INCO FD Grant and the WV Family Travel Fund from the Division of Science and Research at the Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC).

Profs. Rosalynn Quiñones and John Rakus helped facilitate the 2016 American Chemical Society Postdoc to Faculty (P2F) workshop held August 18-19, 2016, in advance of the ACS National Meeting in Philadelphia, PA. They served on several panels during the workshop, and Dr. Quinones made a presentation on using active learning techniques in class. The P2F workshop serves to provide current postdocs guidance in their goals of obtaining faculty positions across all classifications of universities.

Undergraduate students Amanda White-Smythers, Nick Kegley, Sarah Cole, and Zachary Runyon attended the 252th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia, PA, August 21-24.  Chemistry Prof. Derrick Kolling, Prof. Michael Norton, and Prof. Emeritus Gary Anderson also attended the conference.  Ms. White-Smythers presented poster of her work in the Kolling lab: Using directed evolution to increase lipid formation in Chlorella vulgaris for use in biofuels.  In between many wonderful seminars on chemistry, the group enjoyed meals at DanDan (Sichuan), ERA (Ethiopian), and Square 1684 (Modern American).  With the help of Emeritus Professor Anderson, the students received a guided tour of the Museum at Chemical Heritage Foundation where they were able to observe historic scientific instruments and apparatus, and fine art that depicted various interpretations of alchemy. In addition, the students visited the Liberty Bell and the Mutter Museum.  The trip was graciously supported by the Babb Trust.


July 2016

Prof. Emeritus Gary Anderson was awarded the John R. Kuebler award.  This award is presented for outstanding service to the Alpha Chi Sigma Fraternity and outstanding service to the profession or accomplishment in science of chemistry.  Established in 1961, it honors John R Kuebler, Epsilon 1910, who served Alpha Chi Sigma for 33 years in various roles as Grand Recorder, Grand Editor of The KEXAGON and Grand Historian.  Gary joins a select group of highly respected scientists that includes Nobel Prize winners.  In addition to his service to Alpha Chi Sigma, Gary provides outstanding service to the ACS, the department's on-line classes and "Chemistry Magic Shows" for local youths.  The Awards Program and background information may be viewed at:  and


The major emphasis of the cover story of the July 2016 issue of the National Geographic magazine, “The Real CSI” is the technology being developed by Parabon NanoLabs, a company Prof. Michael Norton is affiliated with.  The technology described in the article is named Snapshot.  It uses machine learning to generate an algorithm to produce images of people based on their DNA.  There are many applications of this technology, only a limited number of which are presented in the article.


June 2016

Prof. John Rakus and Nicholas Kegley (CHM-Biochemistry ’17) attended the NIH/FDA GlycoSciences Research Day held at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. Dr. Rakus presented a poster entitled “Mapping C-linked glycosylation sites on Semaphorin 5A” and Nick presented a poster entitled “Identifying C-mannosylated proteins involved in inflammation.”


Prof. Michael Castellani attended annual Business meeting and National Conference of the Council on Undergraduate Research in Tampa, FL from June 23-25.  At the National Conference he co-presented a session on “How to Get Started in Research with Undergraduates in the Natural Sciences” with Melvin Druelinger of the Colorado State University-Pueblo.


April 2016

The Department of Chemistry has announced several important curriculum changes beginning in Fall, 2016. The B.S. Major in Chemistry has been renamed Chemical Sciences in order to further distinguish it from the ACS-Certified Degree in Chemistry and alleviate longstanding confusion. In addition, due to enrollment demands and administrative concerns, the Department will no longer offer CHM 307 (Introductory Physical Chemistry). All ACS-Certified majors will still be required to take both CHM 357 and CHM 358. Beginning next semester, ChemSci, biochemistry and forensic chemistry majors will be required to choose either CHM 357 (Physical Chemistry I) or CHM 358 (Physical Chemistry II) to fulfill their physical chemistry requirements. Though an abrupt change to our curriculum, we hope the outcome will be a benefit to our majors.


Prof. Michael Castellani participated in the Lewis College of Business’s Stakeholder Engagement Conference. The conference is a part of that College’s effort to work with various groups on and off campus to improve student performance.


Nick Kegley (CHM-Biochemistry, ’17), Shelley Naylor (CHM, ’16), Brandon Murdock (CHM-Biochemistry, ’17) and Alexis Kastigar (Biology/Anthropology/Latin, ’17) presented their research in the poster sessions at the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology national meeting at Experimental Biology 2016. Their research mentor, Prof. Rakus, accompanied them to the conference. The conference was held at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. Nick and Shelley’s poster was titled “Lectin-Based Methods for In Vivo Characterization of C-Mannosylated Proteins” and Alexis and Brandon’s title was “Investigation of Enzymatic Mechanism and Cellular Expression of DPY-19L1 and DPY-19L4.” In addition to attending the research talks and poster sessions, the students had the opportunity to explore the Gaslamp District and Old Town San Diego and were able to meet National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins.

Nick and Shelley were recognized with an Outstanding Research Presentation Award: Thematic Best Poster Selection for their poster presentation.


On Thursday April 28, 2016, the Department held its annual Awards Night in conjunction with the Central Ohio Valley Section of the American Chemical Society. Over 20 students were recognized for their academic achievements and the evening concluding with a presentation giving by our own Dr. John Hubbard entitled “A Lifetime of Learning: Serendipity and Forks in the Road.” All awardees are available here. (coming soon)


February 2016

Marshall chemistry students presented posters in the Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol on Thursday February 25, 2016: (left to right in the picture) Eric Sias (working with Prof. Laura McCunn), Noah Searls (working with Prof. Rosalynn Quinones), and Aaron Holland, Ethan Adkins and Amanda Smythers (working with Prof. Derrick Kolling), Jordan Martinez (workng with Prof. Michael Castellani), and Samantha Garretson (working with Dr. Quiñones). Furthermore, Andrea Hensley (working with Prof. Michael Norton)attended and was awarded the DOW-MU STEM Best Undergraduate Poster. The poster title was: DNA Origami Platform for Protein Presentation with authors: Andrea Hensley, Masudur Rahman, David Neff, Michael Norton. The event is an educational opportunity for the students and attendees to interact. Also, it provides the presenters experience to improve their public speaking and presenting skills with the chance of winning the $500 poster prize.


January 2016

Curtis Pelfrey, Susan Ensel and Prof. Ken O'Connor published a paper "SiliaCat Pd(0), a New Green Hydrogenation Catalyst for the Undergraduate Organic Chemistry Laboratory"in The Chemical Educator. The experiments uses SiliaCat Pd(0) which is an excellent hydrogenation catalyst for saturation of a wide variety of alkenes and alkynes with experimental yields ranging from 60–95%. The experiments fills a need for "Green" chemistry laboratory experiments for teaching organic labs. Dr. Susan Ensel is a professor in the department of Chemistry and Physics at Hood College. Curtis Pelfrey is a former Marshall University graduate student.

Prof. Michael Castellani was named interim chair of the CUR-Goldwater Faculty Mentor Award committee and was elected to the Council on Undergraduate Research’s Nominations Vetting Committee.



November 2015

Prof. John Rakus participated in the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) ThinkTank for Classroom Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) held at the University of San Diego, November 20-22, 2015. Faculty from two- and four-year institutions from across the country met to discuss strategies to increase the number of courses which utilize authentic research in the classroom setting.


October 2015

Prof. Rosalynn Quinones was invited to be speaker for the ACS Upper Ohio Valley section on October 28, 2015. The meeting was held at Ohio University, Athens, OH. The title of her talk was: “Controlling surface properties of metal oxide using self-assembled monolayers and polymer brushes”.


September 2015

Prof. Derrick Kolling and others published a paper with implications for removing uranium from water. X. Sun, D.R.J. Kolling, H. Mazagri, B. Karawan and C. Pierron. Investigation of Charge-transfer Absorptions in the Uranyl UO22+(VI) Ion and Related Chemical Reduction of UO22+(VI) to UO2+(V) by UV-Vis and Electron Paramagnetic Resonance Spectroscopies. Inorganica Chimica Acta, 435, 117-124 (2015).

The uranyl UO22+(VI) ion is reduced to UO2+(V) by several inorganic and organic reductants (bromide, iodide, dimethyl sulfoxide, and phenol) via a single-electron transfer (charge-transfer) process. The charge-transfer oxidation-reduction has been characterized by UV-vis and electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy. The reduction of UO22+(VI) to UO2+(V) facilitates removal of the radioactive and biochemically toxic uranium compound from the water system as UO2+(V) can spontaneously transform into U4+ and subsequently precipitated out of water as U(OH)4(s) in the nearly neutral condition.


August 2015

Undergraduate students Ethan Adkins, Destiny Carte, Samantha Garretson, Cynthia Peck, Eric Sias, and Tyler Skidmore attended the 250th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston, Massachusetts, August 15-19.  Chemistry Professors Laura McCunn, Michael Norton, and Rosalynn Quinones also attended the conference.  Several of the students presented posters of their research projects that were conducted alongside Marshall faculty.  The group enjoyed a fine dinner at Boston’s world-famous Legal Sea Foods.  The students saw the sights of the city from the streets and the Charles River on an amphibious vehicle with Boston Duck Tours.  Professors McCunn and Quiñones, and student Samantha Garretson pounded the pavement in the ACS Younger Chemists Committee 5K Fun Run.  This trip was especially exciting as it marks the first time a group of students have been able to fly to a distant conference, and the first trip supported by the Babb Trust. 

Prof. Rosalynn Quinones also served as a facilitator at the 2015 American Chemical Society Postdoc to Faculty Workshop (P2F), prior to the national meeting on August 14-15. Prof. Quiñones gave a talk entitled “Using Clickers or Response Systems in Chemistry Class.”


July 2015

Prof. Rosalynn Quinones participated in the Materials Science and Nanotechnology Workshop at Beloit College , Beloit, Wl. This Workshop is part of the NSF-sponsored Chemistry Collaborations, Workshops and Community of Scholars (cCWCS) program. Dr. Quinones was financially supported by a Dorothy and Moses Passer Education Grant Award from the ACS Chemical Education Division

Dr. Rosalynn Quinones was awarded the WV STEM+ Family Travel Fund from West Virginia Higher Education.


Prof. Laura McCunn has published an article in the Journal of Physical Chemistry A with three undergraduate students, Emily Wright, Brian Warner, and Hannah Foreman.  The paper describes their research in the thermal decomposition of 3-oxetanone.


June 2015

Prof. Michael Castellani attended the annual business meeting of the Council on Undergraduate Research in Norman, OK from June 25-27.  He was reappointed as the Chemistry Division’s representative to the Posters on the Hill Committee and will also serve on the CUR-Goldwater Faculty Mentor Award Committee.

Prof. Rosalynn Quinones participated in the development team at the National You Be The Chemist Challenge on June 22, 2015 at Philadelphia, PA. The You Be The Chemist Challenge is a national academic contest that encourages grade 5-8 students to explore important chemistry and STEM concepts and their real-world applications.




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