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Chemistry Department News:

December 2012

Cody Stover, senior Major in Chemistry, has had a paper that includes his Capstone research project published in the journal Cancer Research. It is entitled "Inhibition of cholinergic signaling causes apoptosis in human bronchioalveolar carcinoma." The carcenogenic effects of nicotine are mediated by nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) on lung cancer cells. Traditionally, nAChRs are found on neurons and they mediate communication between neurons. Therefore, it is surprising that they are found in human lung cancer cells. The ligand for nAChRs in our body is acetylcholine (ACh). This paper shows that the acetylcholine-signaling system is present and is functional in a type of human lung cancer (called bronchioalveolar carcinoma or BACs). Nicotine can amplify this signaling system in human BACs. Conversely, inhibiting the ACh-signaling system by synthetic compounds like vesamicol, suppresses the growth of human BAC tumors. These results may be clinically relevant because about 30% of lung cancer patients continue to smoke after their diagnosis and many other use nicotine-based patches or gums to quit smoking. Cody is working with Piyali Dasgupta of the School of Medicine's Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology.

On December 2, 2012 Marshall University's "Thundering Word" Speech and Debate Team placed 3rd in a field of 28 Colleges and Universities at the final tournament of the fall semester at the Ohio State Holiday Frolic Invitational. Three chemistry majors were among the students placing in the event. They were: Victoria Ledford, Honors student and Junior Chemistry/Pre-med major from Braxton, WV was 5th in Individual Sweepstakes. This is a special honor for students who compete in all genres. They must have at least one event in oral interpretation of literature, one event in limited preparation and one event in public address. Victoria also placed 3rd in Dramatic Duo. She also scored points in Persuasion, Impromptu, Informative and Rhetorical Criticism. Matthew Osteen, Honors student and a Sophomore Biochemistry major from Jefferson, WV was second in Novice Extemp. He also competed in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Rhetorical Criticism and Impromptu Speaking. Competing in her first tournament was Honors student Marjorie McCoy, a sophomore Chemistry major from Beckley, WV was the next person to reach finals in both Novice Prose and Novice Persuasion. Western Kentucky was the overall champion and North Central College of Chicago, IL was second. Marshall outscored several squads with much larger entries, including: Ball State University, Carson-Newman College, Lafayette College, Ohio State University, University of Akron, Illinois State University, Miami University, Marion University, Wayne State University, The Universities of Cincinnati, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and University of the Pacific. Every student from Marshall University scored points in the preliminary rounds which helped propel the team into third place.

November 2012

We welcome Pamela Hamilton as our new office manager. Pam earned AAS and RBA degrees from Marshall and joins us from the Carter County Career and Technical Center in Grayson KY where she was the school's secretary. She has previously worked at Marshall at the School of Extended Education, Teays Valley Regional Center, and Marshall Community and Technical College's Student Support Services.

Prof. Derrick Kolling and his research student, James Board, attended the Midwest/Southeast Photosynthesis Meeting at Turkey Run State Park, IN, on November 9-11. James presented a poster entitled "Mapping the Temperature Dependence of PSII Water Oxidation and of OEC Photoassembly" and Derrick presented a poster prepared by Matthew Thompson, an undergraduate researcher in the lab (The Temperature Dependance of Photoassembly in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii BBY Particles). Derrick was a co-organizer of the meeting and chaired the keynote session.

Prof. Bin Wang was awarded a five-year, $122,000 contract from Wan King International Ltd to develop biomarker-based diagnostic tools for neurodegenerative diseases.

October 2012

Prof. Laura McCunn was awarded a three-year, $65,000 Undergraduate Research Grant from the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund for proposed research entitled, "The FTIR Analysis of the Radical and Molecular Products from Thermal Decomposition of Aldehydes and Nitrite Esters." The grant will support the McCunn Group's experiments investigating the pyrolysis of molecules that are relevant to the production of biofuels and combustion of conventional fossil fuels.

Prof. Michael Norton presented an invited talk at Concord University on Thursday, October 25 as part of the Division of Natural Sciences Fall Colloquium. The title of his presentation was "There's Still Plenty of Room at the Bottom."

Prof. Kenneth O'Connor presented an invited talk titled "A Green Laboratory Experiment for the Undergraduate Organic Lab: The Solvent-less Hydrogenation of Unsaturated Esters" at the Kanawha Valley Section of American Chemical Society Meeting at WVU Tech on October 25.

Our office manager, Melinda Combs, has moved to the College of Science dean's office as their Administrative Secretary. We wish her the best in her new position.

Prof. Bin Wang was awarded a one-year, $6,667 Research Initiation Grant from the NASA WV Space Grant Consortium for proposed research titled, "An Investigation of Iron-IRE Interactions in the mRNAs of Ferritin, APP, and ASN." The grant will support the Wang Group's experiments investigating the interactions between Fe2+ and iron-responsive elements (IREs) in the mRNAs of ferritin, amyloid precursor protein (APP), and alpha-synuclein (ASN).

September 2012

We welcome Tina Hall as our new stockroom manager. Tina has B.S. with double majors in chemistry and biology along with secondary teaching certification and an M.A. in Secondary Education, specializing in chemistry. Both degrees were obtained at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky. In addition to extensive experience teaching high school chemistry, Tina has also taught chemistry at the collegiate level.

Prof. Leslie Frost coauthored a paper "Control of Myosin Motor Activity by the Reversible Alteration of Protein Structure for Application in a Bionanodevice," with Siva Nalabotu, Hideyo Takatsuki, Madhukar Kolli, Benjamin Crowder, Shinji Yoshiyama, Murali Gadde, Sunil Kakarla, Kazuhiro Kohama, Arun Kumar, and Eric Blough, in Advanced Science Letters.

Profs. Derrick Kolling, Michael Castellani, Michael Norton, Nalini Santanam (pharmacology, physiology, and toxicology), Xiaoping Sun (chemistry, University of Charleston), Maria Babuic-Hamilton (physics), and Judy Fan (physics) were awarded $338,845 Major Research Instrument Grant from NSF entitled, "Acquisition of an EPR Spectrometer for Studies in Biochemistry, Chemistry, and Physics." The grant will allow the researchers to purchase an EMX-plus EPR spectrometer from Bruker. The instrument will have liquid nitrogen and liquid helium capabilities along with the ability to perform parallel-mode measurements.

Prof. Derrick Kolling coauthored a paper "What Are the Oxidation State of Manganese Required to Catalyze Photosynthetic Water Oxidation?," with Nicholas Cox, Charles Dismukes, Ronald Pace, and Gennady Ananyev in Biophysical Journal.

The Central Ohio Valley ACS Section has received a $1,150 Innovative Project Grant for their application titled "Recruiting high school students from rural Appalachia to pursue careers in chemistry." The funds will be used by faculty to visit high schools in West Virginia to inform students about career possibilities in the chemical sciences.

August 2012

Undergraduate students Caleb Calvary, Derek Collins, Courtney Hatten, Cat Higgins, Chris Warner and graduate students Irfan Khan and Jessica Neal attended the 244th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia. Chemistry professors Gary Anderson, Scott Day, Leslie Frost, Laura McCunn, Mike Norton, and Ken O'Connor also attended the conference. All students presented posters on their research from Marshall research laboratories. While in Philadelphia, the group enjoyed a special tour of the Chemical Heritage Foundation museum.

Anthony Stephenson, a senior chemistry major is our inaugural Eiselstein Scholarship winner. This scholarship is endowed in the memory of Herbert Louis Eiselstein, a former Vice President of Technology, Research and Development at INCO alloys, by his family. It is awarded annually to a student who will also do research in the Department as part of the award.

Prof. Bin Wang was awarded a one-year, $10,000 Research Seed Grant from the NASA WV EPSCoR program for proposed research titled, "Assembly of Ferritin IRE-based Nanostructures." The grant will support the Wang Group's experiments assembling RNA nanostructures using the ferritin iron-responsive element (IRE) as a building block.

July 2012

Prof. Kenneth O'Connor presented talks titled "Green Laboratory Experiment for the Undergraduate Organic Lab: The Solvent-less Hydrogenation of Unsaturated Esters," and "Optimizing the Use of Personal Response Systems to Increase Academic Performance in an Organic Chemistry I Class," at the 2012 Biennial Conference on Chemical Education in University Park, Pennsylvania on July 30.

Prof. Bin Wang was awarded a three-year, $60,000 contract from Everbest Int'l Group Co., Ltd to develop microfluidic point-of-care diagnostic devices.

June 2012

Prof. Laura McCunn presented a talk titled "FTIR of Methyl Pyruvate Conformers in an Argon Matrix" at the 67th International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy in Columbus, Ohio on June 18.

Prof. Michael Castellani was elected as secretary to the Council on Undergraduate Research. The position carries with it a two year appointment to the organization's executive board.

Prof. Kenneth O'Connor presented a talk titled "Use of Critical Thinking Skills in an Undergraduate Organic Chemistry Laboratory: The Catalytic Hydrogenation of Trans-Methyl Cinnamate" at the 43rd Regional Meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Section of ACS in Baltimore on June 2.

May 2012

Profs. Scott Day, Derrick Kolling, Kenneth O'Connor, and Michael Castellani attended a day-long session on innovations in teaching entitled "Environments for Fostering Effective Critical Thinking" presented by faculty from the College of Engineering at the University of South Carolina and sponsored by the NSF.

Prof. Bin Wang coauthored a paper "Regulation of Iron-Related Molecules in the Rat Hippocampus: Sex- and Age-Associated Differences," with Srinivasarao Thulluri, Miaozong Wu, Eric Blough, Nandini Manne, and Ashley Litchfield, in Annals of Clinical and Laboratory Science. This paper explores how sex and advanced age affect the expression of several molecules involved in iron metabolism and neurodegeration in the rat hippocampus.

April 2012

HubbardAwardProf. John Hubbard was awarded the university's Distinguished Service Award. Over his 35 years at Marshall, John has served the university in a variety of capacities including two terms on the Faculty Senate as well as terms on the Faculty Personnel, Research and Physical Facilities & Planning Committees. Notably, he served as chair of each of those committees. He has made a major contribution to the well being of the Chemistry Department by serving as its first and current associate chair and managing two of its major internal committees simultaneously. Beyond the university, John has also been either local Councilor or Alternate Councilor to the national American Chemical Society for 25 years.

Prof. Michael Norton presented an invited talk at FNANO 2012 (9th Annual Conference on the Foundations of Nanoscience), held in the Cliff Lodge of Snowbird Resort outside of Salt Lake City. The title of the presentation was "Origami Meets Graphene: Prospects and Perils." Dr. Norton's co-authors were Masudur Rahman and David Neff. Barriers to the integration of DNA Origami constructs with single layer graphene technology were discussed, along with possible suggested methods for addressing these problems. Dr. Masudur Rahman, a post-doctoral fellow in Dr. Norton's group presented a poster titled "Enhancing DNA Origami Binding to Graphene via π-π Interactions" at the same conference.

Profs. Bin Wang, Michael Norton, Michael Castellani, Dr. Masudur Rahman, and graduate student Irfan Khan attended the joint West Virginia Science, Technology and Research (STaR) Symposium and the West Virginia Academy of Science annual meeting in Institute, WV on April 20 and 21. Irfan received second place in the graduate oral presentation competition for his talk titled "Microfluidic Endothelial Cell Culture System for Monitoring Environmental Toxins" based on his work with Profs. Wang and Norton.

Dr. Masudur Rahman, a post-doctoral fellow in Prof. Michael Norton's group presented a talk titled "Using DNA Origami to Organize Bio-Materials" at the West Virginia Science, Technology and Research (STaR) Symposium 2012 joint meeting between the West Virginia Academy of Science and the West Virginia Science, Technology and Research Saturday April 21, 2012 Institute, WV. Anshuman Mangalum another post-doctoral fellow in Dr. Norton's group was a co-author on the presentation.

On Tuesday, April 24, Prof. Michael Castellani attended the Council on Undergraduate Research's Posters on the Hill in Washington, D.C. He co-chairs the selection committee.

Prof. Michael Norton is celebrating his 3rd patent. On April 24th, the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted U.S. Patent No. 8,163,489, to Vandalia Research, Inc. Prof. Norton is a co-inventor on the patent, which covers Vandalia's process for large-scale DNA production using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The patent includes claims that cover Vandalia's system and process for conducting the PCR in a continuous reaction. This process enables Vandalia to scale PCR to multiple liters, allowing for large-scale production of DNA.

On Friday, April 27 Marshall University held its 22nd Annual Sigma Xi Research Day. Presenters from the Department of Chemistry included undergraduates Aaron Bailey, Allison Combs, Nathaniel Crow, Emma Gardner, Courtney Hatten, Kristen Keown, Philip Kirk, Colton Koontz, Michael Tanner, Benjamin Woodworth, and graduate student Irfan Khan. Michael, Benjamin, Nathaniel, and Irfan were the winners of the best poster awards, working with Profs. Day, Kolling, Norton, and Wang, respectively. Other students were mentored by Profs. Day, Frost, Kolling, McCunn, Norton, and Wang.

On Friday, April 27 the Department held its fifth annual outreach event to local industry. In it chemistry majors and graduate students presented the results of their research to scientists from Alcon, Bayer Materials, the Chemical Alliance Zone, Flint Group Pigments, ICL-IP American, Marathon Petroleum, MATRIC, and Radon Medical Imaging. We also had a luncheon where faculty, students, and company representatives could chat with each other less formally. Presenters included undergraduates Caleb Calvary, Allison Combs, Emma Gardner, Courtney Hatten, Kristen Keown, Philip Kirk, Colton Koontz, Michael Tanner, Benjamin Woodworth, and graduate students James Board and Irfan Khan.

In an interview for inclusion in the Neuron, Prof. Michael Norton discusses the joys of research that can be experienced by scientists of any age, and the pipeline, from summer science research opportunities for undergraduate students to real job creation.

March 2012

Prof. Bin Wang presented a talk titled, "Development of RNA Nanostructures for Drug Delivery," co-authored by Michael Thompson and Kevin Adkins, in the Division of Analytical Chemistry at the 243rd ACS National Meeting in San Diego on March 27.

Prof. Bin Wang presented a poster titled, "Age- and Sex-Associated Changes in mRNA Expression of Alzheimer's Disease-Related Molecules in the Hippocampus of Rat Brains," co-authored by Tyler Dickson and Srinivasarao Thulluri, in the Division of Biological Chemistry at the 243rd ACS National Meeting in San Diego on March 27.

Prof. William Price presented a poster titled, "DFT Comparison of the Fragmentation Pathways of First Generation Protonated Nitrile and Amine Terminated PPI Dendrimers," co-authored by Josh Hendrix, Jacob Kilgore, and Kristin Gemayel, in the Division of Computers in Chemistry at the 243rd ACS National Meeting in San Diego on March 27.

January 2012

Prof. Michael Norton gave a short invited presentation on Entrepreneurship to attendees at the WV Bioscience Summit, as part of a panel discussion titled: Research at Universities in West Virginia. The conference was held on January 25, 2012 at the Charleston Marriott Hotel in Charleston, WV.

Students Allison Combs and Sara Lilly presented a poster, "Exploring the Molecular Structure of Methyl Pyruvate" and students Courtney Hatten and Kristen Keown presented a poster, "Exploring the Structure of 2-Chloroallyl Alcohol" at Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol on January 26, 2012. These students conduct their research in the laboratory of Prof. Laura McCunn. Sara discussed her project in a YouTube video recorded by Marshall.

Marathon Petroleum Corporation has donated a bomb calorimeter to the department. The donation will give more students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in calorimetry in our physical chemistry courses.

Alcon Labs has donated a Mitutoyo PJ300 Profile Projector to the department. Its magnification and large viewing screen will allow us to rapidly and collaboratively view millimeter to micron scale features in transparent fluidics devices and lithographically patterned surfaces. Using the transmitted light path, we will be able to compare features in our masks and design drawings with those on our finished surfaces/devices. These uses will benefit several of the department's research projects.

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