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Chemistry Department News:

(editor's note: see belated addition to Jan 2015)

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.


May 2015

On May 1, the Department hosted its annual poster session for local companies.  This year representatives of Marathon Petroleum, Flint Group Pigments, MATRIC, and Rubberlite joined us.  At the poster session a dozen of our undergraduate and graduate students presented the results of their original research projects.  Our event is held in conjunction with the annual Sigma Xi Research Day in the College of Science.  At Sigma Xi, Master’s student Eric Mendenhall won second place for his poster “Identifying the Direct Effects of Mn2+, Fe2+ and Small Molecule Drugs on the Iron Responsive Element in the Human FTH1 IRE/IRP Complex” and senior M. David Freeman placed third with his poster “Identification of Post-Translational Modifications of Albumin Under Septic Conditions.”  Eric and Dave worked with Drs. Wang and Frost, respectively.

Prof. Michael Castellani authored a blog post entitled “A novel way to generate funds in support of research” for the Council on Undergraduate Research Chemistry Division.  The post discusses this Department’s strategy for raising funds to support its undergraduate research students.

Prof. Rosalynn Quinones received the Faculty in Residence of the year award for a second year from the Housing and Residence Life. This award recognizes a Faculty in Residence who has continually shown outstanding efforts in all aspects of their job. This includes: interaction with residents, involvement in their residence hall community and staff, programming, mentor to res life staff and residents. She worked at Buskirk, Holderby and TT West Residence Hall.

Prof. Rosalynn Quinones received the Passer Award from the ACS Chemical Education division. This award will support her attendance at a NSF-sponsored cCwCS workshop on Material Sciences & Nanotechnology in July 2015.


April 2015

Miles Gray (BS majors in Forensic Chemistry and Biochemistry) co-authored a national conference abstract with Jenna Kerby, Holly Tamski, Aaron Heaberlin, Gabriela Ion and Dr. Maria Serrat (Department of Anatomy) entitled “Temperature Enhanced Extremity Lengthening is Growth Rate Dependent.” Miles presented his research with Jenna Kerby, first year medical student, at the Experimental Biology meeting that was held March 28-April 1, 2015 in Boston, MA. The authors compared heat effects on bone length during early and late stages of postnatal growth in mice. They found that, although growth rate slows with age, heat-treated bones still grew faster during both early and late stages of development. Their results are relevant for designing approaches to treat children with bone growth disorders caused by injury or illness.

Prof. John Rakus received a NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium Research Initiation Grant to fund a project entitled “C-linked glycosylation in immunity: TNFalpha activation by Hsc70.” An undergraduate student’s summer research fellowship, as well as supplies, will be supported by this award.

Prof. John Rakus received a Summer Research Award from the Marshall University Research Committee to support a project entitled “Defining the role of C-linked glycosylation in the inflammatory response.”


Alpha Chi Sigma was active in April as indicated by the following:

-in April AXE continued to offer free tutoring for all students on a by need basis. Anyone seeking tutoring can contact a member of AXS to set up an appointment
-on April 9 AXE went to the Soup Kitchen at Johnson Memorial Church
-on April 11 we held the first Alpha Chi Sigma informal. Many brothers were in attendance and awards were given out.
-Elections are currently being held for officers for Fall 2015
-we are currently planning an end of the year picnic for the faculty during finals week; details to come
-on April 14, AXE hosted gifted 4th grade students from the area, demonstrating a magic show and touring a lab
-on April 19 AXE brothers helped host DNA day on campus


The department was awarded funds from the American Chemical Society through Project SEED to support three high school student summers research internships. The students will work in the labs of Professors Norton, Quinones and Rakus. Applications are due by June 1, 2015.

The department held its annual Awards Night on Thursday April 24, 2015. In addition to recognizing our awardees and scholarship winners, Professor Erich Uffelman of Washington & Lee University gave a well-received presentation entitled “Adventures in Conservation Science.”


March 2015

Various Marshall chemistry students presented posters in the Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol on Wednesday March 4, 2015: Noah Searls (working with Dr. Quiñones) , Marjorie McCoy Searls (working with Dr. Day), and Aaron Holland (working with Dr. Kolling). Furthermore, Aaron Holland was awarded the DOW-MU STEM Best Undergraduate Poster for his poster entitled “Maximizing Lipid Production in Chlorella vulgaris”.

During the last week of March (22nd-25th), Dr. Bin Wang’s second year graduate student, Eric Mendenhall, attended the American Chemical Society’s Chemistry of Natural Resources national conference in Denver, Colorado.  During his trip, Eric had the opportunity to present a poster on his research with Dr. Wang at the Current Topics in Biological Chemistry Symposia.   In addition to taking in the scenery of Denver and the surrounding area, he was also able to enjoy the full benefits of this ACS conference. Eric attended the Rock Stars of Chemistry networking event where he was able to meet with published authors and Nobel Laureates in chemistry.  Furthermore, he attended several lectures in topics including medicinal chemistry, advances in nanotechnology research, and the chemistry of fracking.


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.

Prof. Michael Norton and his group are working with the Brown group at Wright State and the Burke group at UC-Irvine are developing larva area graphene sensors for biomolecules. Since this research involved reviewing the literature, which contains several inconsistencies, a summary of the current literature was compiled and published, with the title "Interactions of DNA with graphene and sensing applications of graphene field-effect transistor devices: A review". In Analytica Chimica Acta, Volume853 Pages127-142, Journal; General Review; Online Computer File 2015

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




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