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Chemistry Department News:

December 2013

We welcome Darwin McCunn as our new lab manager. Darwin has a B.S. in chemistry from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with extensive experience as an analytical chemist and microscopist. He has worked in several industries including coatings, industrial hygiene, petroleum additives, semi-conductors and nuclear fuel.

November 2013

Prof. Scott Day coauthored a paper "Plasma Treatment of PDMS for Applications of In Vitro Motility Assays," with Rebecca Lycans, Catherine Higgins, Michael Tanner, and Eric Blough in Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces. This paper presents a method to create flow cells using PDMS that supports actin-myosin motility.

Prof. John Rakus attended the Council on Undergraduate Research's "Beginning a Research Program in the Natural Sciences at a Predominantly Undergraduate Institution" Institute in San Diego on November 22-24.

Prof. Derrick Kolling attended the 39th Midwest/Southeast Photosynthesis Meeting at Turkey Run State Park, IN, on November 8-10. Derrick presented a poster titled "Limitations in Biological Solar Energy Conversion Due to the Temperature Dependence of Photosystem II Catalyzed Water Oxidation and Oxygen-Evolving Complex Assembly." Derrick co-authored the paper with graduate student J. Board and undergraduate B. Blodgett. Derrick also chaired a session, "Water, Oxygen, and Proton Transport". His trip was partially supported by a Quinlan award.

Prof. Laura McCunn coauthored a paper "Thermal Decomposition Products of Butyraldehyde," with Courtney Hatten, Kevin Kaskey, Brian Warner, and Emily Wright, in the Journal of Chemical Physics. The article describes the McCunn Lab's experiments to determine how butyraldehyde breaks down at high temperatures.

October 2013

Junior chemistry major Emily Wright was mentioned in the Hexagon, a magazine published for members of the Alpha Chi Sigma national fraternity for chemists. Emily was featured as the 2013 Gamma Eta Scholar.

Prof. Laura McCunn was featured as a featured faculty member in the Herald-Dispatch.

Prof. Derrick Kolling was invited to sit on a panel--"Energetic Minds: A Sample of Energy Research in West Virginia"--at the 2013 STaR Symposium at Morgantown, WV on Oct. 22-23, 2013. During the panel, he presented a talk entitled "Biofuels as a Transportation Fuel." One of Dr. Kolling's master's students, Hope Cook, also attended.

Prof. Derrick Kolling was invited to attend the 4th Annual Scialog Conference at Biosphere 2 on October 15-18. At the conference, he presented a poster entitled, "Limitations in Biological Solar Energy Conversion Due to the Temperature Dependence of Photosystem II Catalyzed Water Oxidation and Oxygen-Evolving Complex Assembly." The paper was co-authored by graduate studene J. Board, undergraduate B. Blodgett & D.R.J. Kolling. The conference is unique in that it has many discussion-based break out sessions and an opportunity to write a proposal with former Scialog scholars. Dr. Kolling worked with Professor David Cliffel of Vanderbilt University to write a proposal that consisted of using Photosystem II and a unique electrochemical approach to search for novel water oxidizing catalysts.

Prof. Michael Castellani attended a university retreat on October 11. The purpose of the retreat was to address expected decreases in revenue from the state of West Virginia. The retreat set up a process to address the university's vision and strategic plan for the coming decade and set up a process to involve all parts of the university and the outside community, including alumni. Information about the process may be found at: The website will be regularly updated and provide a mechanism for everyone to contribute to the discussion who wishes to.

September 2013

Prof. Ken O'Connor authored a paper "An Undergraduate Organic Chemistry Laboratory Experiment: The Use of Thin Layer Chromatography to Monitor the Hydrogenation of Unsaturated Esters," in the Chemical Educator. In this paper, students learn how to monitor a hydrogenation reaction by using thin layer chromatography.

Undergraduate students Hannah Bott, Caleb Calvary, Chris Warner, Brian Warner, Emily Wright, and graduate student Emma Gardner attended the 246th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society in Indianapolis. Chemistry professors Gary Anderson, Scott Day, Laura McCunn, Mike Norton, and Bill Price also attended the conference. All students presented posters on their research from Marshall research laboratories.

Prof. Michael Norton presented a talk titled, "Probing Large DNA Nanostructure Self-Assembly," co-authored by M. Rahman, T. Schrieber, M. Mcllvain, M. Johnson, T. J. Bakhshi, and D. Neff, in the Division of Colloid and Surface Chemistry at the 246th ACS National Meeting in Indianapolis on September 8. Dr. Masudur Rahman, a post-doctoral fellow in Dr. Norton's group presented a talk titled "Modification of Surface Bound DNA Nanoarchitectures with Biomolecules and Conjugates" (co-authored by D. Neff and M. Norton) and a poster titled "Surface Plasmon Resonance Detection of Mn2+ Binding to Iron Responsive Element-mRNA" (co-authored by A. Belalcazar, C. Warner, B. S. Day, B. Wang, and M. Norton) at the same conference.

August 2013

We welcome our two newest faculty members Rosalynn Quinones and John Rakus. Rosalynn is a native of Puerto Rico, having received her Bachelor's degree from University of Puerto Rico in Industrial Chemistry. She received her Ph.D. from Duquesne University in Analytical Chemistry in 2008 and has post-doctoral training from the University of Michigan and Washington and Jefferson College. She is also a Faculty in Residence at Holderby Hall. She is married to Jose Buxo and has two children Jose and Diana. John is a native of New York who received his Bachelor's degree from the University of Richmond and Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Illinois. He has post-doctoral training from New York University and held a one-year teaching position at Fort Lewis College before coming to Marshall. He is married to Jessica and has a two-year old son Alec.

BayerMaterials made a generous donation of lab equipment to the Department. Much of the material will see immediate use in our teaching and research labs. We also say an official farewell to Dr. Robert Gastinger, who directed the research labs at the BayerMaterials' South Charleston research facility before retiring this month. Bob has regularly attended our annual outreach event in the spring of each year and has informally helped us when we had questions about the kinds of skills graduates should have upon graduating. We'll miss him and wish him well as he takes on the role of full-time grandparent.

Prof. Derrick Kolling presented "The temperature dependence of Photosystem II water oxidation and photoassembly of the oxygen-evolving complex" co-authored with J.Board at the 16th International Congress on Photosynthesis, St. Louis, MO. August 11–16, 2013.

June 2013

Prof. Leslie Frost coauthored a paper "Glycation of Human Erythrocyte Glutathione Peroxidase: Effect on the Physical and Kinetic Properties," with Sreekanth Suravajjala, Menashi Cohenford, Praveen Pampati, and Joel Dain in Clinica Chimica Acta.

Prof. Michael Castellani attended the Executive Board and Business meetings of the Council on Undergraduate Research at Chapman University from June 19-22. He was named a member of the Chemistry Division's nominations committee.

Prof. Laura McCunn presented a talk entitled, "Thermal Decomposition Mechanism of Butyraldehyde," at the 68th International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy in Columbus, Ohio on June 18, 2013.

Prof. Ken O'Connor coauthored a paper "The Solvent-less Hydrogenation of Unsaturated Esters using 0.5%Pd/Al(O)OH as a Catalyst," with Derek Fry in the Chemical Educator. In this paper, the hydrogenation of unsaturated esters using a solvent free catalyzed hydrogenation reaction is described.

Karl Shanholtzer, our laboratory manager for 40 years, is retiring on July 5. Karl has been an integral part of the Department for longer than all but one faculty member. We anticipate his departure with a genuine mix of emotions: happy for the time he'll be able to spend with his wife, children, and grandchildren, but sad at the loss of his good company and expertise. We wish him the best in the next phase of his life.

May 2013

Tanner Bakhshi (Norton), Caleb Calvary (Castellani), Derek Collins (Frost), Courtney Hatten (McCunn), Rebecca Holliday (Day), Christopher Means (Wang), Tabitha Norman (Cohenford-IST), Alisa Osborne (Day), Anthony Stephenson (Kolling), Matthew Thompson (Kolling), Brian Warner (McCunn), and Emily Wright (McCunn) presented their research in poster format at the Marshall Chapter of Sigma Xi's 23rd Annual Research Day. Chemistry majors did quite well in the undergraduate poster presentation category with Derek Collins placing first, Sumaiya Chaudhry tied for second, and Anthony Stephenson and Courtney Hatten tied for third place. Tanner Bakhshi (Biological Sciences major working with Norton) tied for second.

Prof. Bin Wang authored a paper "Base Composition Characteristics of Mammalian miRNAs," in Journal of Nucleic Acids. This paper explores the base composition characteristics of miRNA genes from the six mammalian species that contain the largest number of known miRNAs.

The Department held its annual outreach event where students presented their work to representatives of local companies that have chemistry as part of their core mission. This year representatives from Bayer CropScience, Bayer MaterialScience, Columbia Paint, Dupont, Flint Group Pigments, Marathon Petroleum, Matric, and Raybo attended. Chris Chiles (BS 2006) also attended as a representative of Sen. Joe Manchin's staff.

Chemistry majors Hannah Bott (Price), Sumaiya Chaudhry (Zill, BMS program), Brian Warner (McCunn), and Christian Warner (Day) were selected to participate in Marshall's SURE program. In addition, Tanner Bakhshi (Biological Science major) will be working with Mike Norton. The Summer Undergraduate Research Experience program provides a stipend to students working in faculty reseach labs for 10 weeks each summer.

April 2013

Three chemistry majors competed in a debate competition one last time this year. It was the National Forensic Association's National Tournament. Victoria Ledford (Major in Chemistry and holding the plaque), Matt Osteen (Biochemistry, behind Victoria and to the left) and Marjorie McCoy (Major in Chemistry, next to Matt) competed with Matt making it to the round of 32 in Lincoln-Douglas Debate. The team placed 10th in President's Division 1 and 22nd overall, despite being the smalled Division 1 team.

Prof. Lawrence Schmitz was one of 6 university faculty and administrators to receive a Distinguished Service Award. In his 24 years at Marshall, Prof. Schmitz has served on a wide variety of important departmental, college, and university committees and served with distinction. Notably, he served as chair of the Budget and Academic Planning committee and has worked extensively on personnel issues at all levels of university governance.

Prof. Ken O'Connor was a finalist for the Marshall & Shirley Reynolds Outstanding Teacher Award. This award was established to recognize superior teaching at Marshall University and to provide encouragement and incentive for teaching achievement. All faculty with 7 or more years of experience teaching are eligible.

The Department is very pleased to announce that Bin Wang was awarded tenure and promoted to the rank of Associate Professor and Leslie Frost was promoted to the rank of Professor.

Dr. Gary Ellis (BS 1976, MS 1977) was named the 2013 College of Science "Alumnus of Distinction" at the Marshall University Alumni Association's 76th annual Alumni Awards Banquet for his contributions to the field of pigments and his work with the Department of Chemistry, both as an adjunct instructor and professional collaborator. A brief biography of Gary may be found at

Zachary Hunter, B.S., Major in Chemistry, won the 2013 Cam Henderson Award, which was presented at the Marshall University Alumni Association's 76th annual Alumni Awards Banquet. It is given yearly to the student athlete who best exemplifies the spirit of scholarship while participating in athletics.

Prof. Michael Castellani was a member of a team that reviewed the undergraduate and graduate chemistry programs at Texas A&M University at Commerce.

Prof. Michael Castellani had a chapter entitled "Presentation of Results: Publications and Oral and Poster Presentations" published in the booklet "How to Get Started in STEM Research with Undergraduates." M.E. Schuh, Editor.

Courtney Hatten, a senior chemistry major in Prof. Laura McCunn's laboratory, presented her research at Posters on the Hill in Washington, D.C. on April 24, 2013. The event was sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research and spotlights undergraduate research in an effort to encourage more students to pursue research opportunities. Her research is one of 60 projects chosen from more than 700 applications, and the only one chosen from West Virginia. While at the capital, Courtney and Dr. McCunn discussed the importance of undergraduate research with congressional staff and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito.

Prof. Michael Norton and his postdoc Masudur Rahman attended the Foundations of Nanoscience meeting held at Snowbird, Utah from April 15th to 19th. Dr. Norton presented an invited talk titled "Addressing SWCNT onto Single and One Dimensional DNA Origami." Masudur presented a poster titled "Real Time AFM Observation of Streptavidin Modification of Surface Bound One Dimensional DNA Origami Assemblies" which was authored by Masudur Rahman, Anshuman Mangalam and Michael L. Norton.

Prof. Derrick Kolling presented an invited talk at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh on April 19. The title of his presentation was "Mapping the Temperature Dependence of Molecular Photosynthesis: Effects on Photosystem II Water Oxidation, Oxygen-Evolving Complex Assembly, and Biofuels Production."

Prof. Derrick Kolling presented an invited talk at the University of Charleston on April 9. The title of his presentation was "Toward a Better Understanding of Molecular Photosynthesis: Using Fundamentals to Improve Biofuels."

Prof. William Price presented a poster titled, "Comparing Post Hartree-Fock Models with DFT for the Gas-Phase Dissociation of Branched Aminonitile Moieties," co-authored by H.E. Bott, C. Doerner, and K. Gemayel, in the Division of Computers in Chemistry at the 245th ACS National Meeting in New Orleans on April 9.

Prof. Bin Wang presented posters titled "COMSOL Simulation-Guided Design of Microfluidic Devices for Cell-Related Applications," (co-authored by C.M. Means, I.A. Khan, and C.J. Koontz) and "Base Composition and Genomic Distribution Characteristics of Mammalian miRNAs," at the 245th ACS National Meeting in New Orleans on April 7 and 9, respectively.

Prof. Bin Wang presented a talk titled, "RNA Degradation by Human Skin RNases Provides RNA Structural Information," in the Division of Analytical Chemistry at the 245th ACS National Meeting in New Orleans on April 7.

March 2013

The Thundering Word Speech and Debate Team participated in the Pi Kappa Delta National Tournament in St. Louis, MO from March 13-16. Chemistry majors Matt Osteen (National Champion in International Public Debate and an award of excellence in IPDA debate), Marjorie McCoy (top presiding officer in Legislative Debate and an award of excellence in Dramatic Duo) and Victoria Ledford (superior rating in persuasive speaking and received awards of excellence in Informative, Impromptu and Rhetorical Criticism) once again performed with distinction. More details may be found in a Huntington Herald-Dispatch article on the debate. (Marji McCoy really is one of our majors!)

Prof. Leslie Frost coauthored a paper "Transsulfuration Is a Significant Source of Sulfur for Glutathione Production in Human Mammary Epithelial Cells," with Andrea Belalcázar, John Ball, Monica Valentovic, and John Wilkinson IV in ISRN Biochemistry.

In December, we reported that Cody Stover, BS, Major in Chemistry, was an author of an article in the prestigious journal Cancer Research with Piyali Dasgupta of Marshall's School of Medicine. The Huntington-Herald Dispatch published an article on the paper this month.

February 2013

Several chemistry majors presented the results of their research at Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol on February 28, 2013. Courtney Hatten presented a poster, "Pyrolysis Products from the Thermal Decomposition of Butyraldehyde" and Brian Warner and Emily Wright discussed "Pyrolysis Products from the Thermal Decomposition of Pivaldehyde." These students conduct their research in the laboratory of Prof. Laura McCunn. Anthony Stephenson presented his work with Prof. Derrick Kolling on "The Effect of Glycerol Availability on the Production of Triacylglycerols in Chlorella vulgaris." Rebekkah Brown presented a poster "Resveratrol Reduces Kidney Injury Induced by Hydrogen Peroxide" with biology major Derek Ramsey based on her work in Prof. Monica Valentovic's lab in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology, and Toxicology in the Marshall University School of Medicine. In addition, Kasey and Morgan Stickler, Marshall biology majors presented a poster on "Comparison of Lipid Accumulation in Photomixotrophically and Heterotrophically Grown Chlorella vulgaris Cultures under Nitrogen and Nitrogen-Starved Conditions" from Prof. Derrick Kolling's lab. The Huntington Herald-Dispatch has an article on Research Day online.

Victoria Ledford, a junior Major in Chemistry was the overall winner in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Forensic Association's (WVIFA) state championship. Victoria, Marjorie McCoy (Major in Chemistry) and Brian Osteen (Biochemistry) each placed as one of the top three competitors in several categories in the competition. The Thundering Word debate team took top honors in the competition.

Prof. Michael Norton coauthored a paper " Site-Specific Immobilization of Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes onto Single and One-Dimensional DNA Origami," with Anshuman Mangalum and Masudur Rahman in Journal of the American Chemical Society.

It is with great sadness that we report that E. Stephenson "Steve" Hanrahan, former professor and chair of Chemistry and the inaugural dean of the College of Science has passed away. His obituary may be found in the Huntington Herald-Dispatch. He was a wonderful colleague and person and will be greatly missed.

Prof. Leslie Frost coauthored a paper "Non-enzymatic Glycation of Melamine with Sugars and Sugar Like Compounds," with Weixi Liu, Menashi Cohenford, Champika Seneviratne, and Joel Dain in Bioorganic Chemistry.

January 2013

Prof. Michael Castellani attended the Council on Undergraduate Research's winter executive board meeting as its secretary.

Prof. Michael Norton coauthored a paper "Observation of Terahertz Absorption Signatures in Microliter DNA Solutions," with W. Zhang, E. Brown, and M. Rahman in Applied Physics Letters.

News Archive for 2012 Events

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