News 2008

December 2008

Dr. Michael Norton attended the Vaccine 2nd Global Congress, Dec. 7 – 9, 2008 in Boston, MA.  Dr. Norton is the co-inventor of the technology described in the paper delivered in an oral presentation: “System and Process for Large-Scale DNA Vaccine Production by PCR”.  The paper was presented by another of the co-inventors, Derek Gregg.
A second paper discussing recent progress using DNA vaccines produced using this technology was also presented in December by Derek Gregg, at the DNA Vaccines 2008 Conference held December 9 – 11, 2008 in Las Vegas, NV.  The paper was titled:  “Large-Scale Linear DNA Vaccine Production Technology.” DNA Vaccines hold promise as a method to rapidly respond to novel disease challenges.

Prof. Laura McCunn published a paper entitled “Photoelectron imaging study of vibrationally mediated electron autodetachment in the type I isomer of the water hexamer anion” in Chemical Physics Letters (2008, 467, 32-36) with coauthors Ben M. Elliott and Mark A. Johnson.  This article is a result of Dr. McCunn’s postdoctoral research at Yale University.

The Department brought in an external review team to evaluate its programs. Drs. Bernadette Donovan-Merkert (Chair, Dept. of Chemistry, UNCC) and Silvia Ronco (Program Officer, Research Corp.) met with all members of the Department, students, staff, and several administrators. The team will issue a report after the New Year suggesting ways the Department can better achieve its teaching and research missions.

November 2008

Prof. B. Scott Day received a $3,000 NASA Research Enhancement Award sponsored by the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium and Marshall University for his proposal titled “Utilizing Short Sequences of DNA to Selectively and Reversibly Load and Unload Molecular Cargo from Actin Filaments”.   This work is part of a collaboration with Dr. Eric Blough in the Department of Biological Sciences.

Dr. Michael Norton was invited to co-organize and co-chair a session for the NANO-DDS (Nanoelectronic Devices for Defense & Security Conference) to be held in Fort Lauderdale, FL from Sept. 27 – Oct 2, 2009.  The session falls under the technical block:  “Materials, Fabrication and Integration for Sensor/System Architectures” under the focus session area tentatively titled: “Chemically Directed/Selective Self-Assembly of Nanoscaffolds.”

October 2008

Seniors Ms. Danielle Clark (IST double major) and Mr. Charlie Lowe (Mathematics double major) were chosen as two of the first six College of Science Research Ambassadors.  This is a new program whose purpose is to have a cadre of undergraduate students who are actively engaged in research that can help with recruiting from high schools by doing building tours and discussing Marshall from a student perspective.  These students are also available for visitors, including alumni.

Prof. Michael Castellani was a facilitator at the NSF-CCLI Midwest Regional Workshop on Institutionalizing Undergraduate Research at Hope College (October 10-12) sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research.  The workshop was one of a series designed to assist programs attempting to make undergraduate research part of their university culture.

Prof. Michael Castellani presented a seminar entitled “Electronic and Steric Effects in Phenyl Substituted Cyclopentadienyl Transition Metal Complexes” at Central Michigan University on October, 6.

September 2008

Mr. Dana Lycans, junior student majoring in biochemistry, was selected as one of 27 Carlos Ballard Undergraduate Research Award 2008 winners.  He is working in Prof. Bin Wang’s lab, with a research focus on the structural determination of Alzheimer’s Disease related RNA.  Dana will spend the awarded $500 on attending an RNA annual meeting in May 2009.

August 2008

Prof. Laura McCunn attended an ACS PRF Proposal Writing Workshop in Washington, DC for new faculty.  At this first ever workshop by ACS-PRF, program officers from the Petroleum Research Fund assisted early career faculty in writing their first grant proposal to the PRF.

Prof. Michael Norton has received funding for a proposal titled : “Integrated Sensing Using DNA Nanoarchitectures”, submitted by to the the Electronics Division of the Army Research Office.  The award, with all increments funded, has a budget of ~ $1.1M for the 4 year effort.  This funding enables continuation of collaborative efforts with researchers in Virginia, North and South Carolina, New Mexico, Texas and California in the area of spectroscopy of DNA.  The funds will also enable a new “on biochip” molecular motor project to be initiated.  The combination of capabilities, in one laboratory, for projection microlithography, large scale nanolithography, nanoscale fabrication including single active biomolecule localization has positioned Dr. Norton’s group to be highly competitive.  Students working in the laboratory are able to contribute to facets of this project and other current projects in the lab.

July 2008

Prof. Laura McCunn, an assistant professor in Marshall University’s Department of Chemistry, has been named one of eight recipients of a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Faculty Start-up Award. The unrestricted five-year grant provides $30,000 to begin her research program.  Dr. McCunn, a native of northeast Ohio, was hired at Marshall last spring and will begin teaching at MU this fall. She is one of only five faculty from a public institution in the past five years to receive the start-up award, according to Dr. Michael Castellani, professor and chair of Marshall’s Department of Chemistry.  “It’s really a great thing to help get her started,” Dr. Castellani said.  McCunn, a physical chemist, received her B.S. degree in biochemistry from Ohio Wesleyan University, her Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Chicago and a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University.  Her research interests include the structure, stability and other properties of radicals, which are reactive chemical species created during combustion. Dr. McCunn is building a matrix-isolation instrument to measure the vibrational spectra of the radicals.  The apparatus will also be used to learn about the photochemistry of halogenated hydrocarbons, such as CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons). “We’re extremely pleased that Laura received this award,” Castellani said. “The money will allow her to hire undergraduate student to study in her research lab and so increase the educational opportunities for our students. This program is very competitive and the award also raises the stature of both our department and the College of Science nationally.”  Dr. Wayne Elmore, interim dean of Marshall’s College of Science, said he is “very pleased” that McCunn has been awarded this prestigious award. “Her addition to the Chemistry Department improves an already excellent academic and research intensive program,” Dr. Elmore said. “I am sure she will have a long and productive career at Marshall University.” Dr. McCunn said she is “thrilled” to receive the award.  “It is great for my research program and the department, and especially the students who will be able to work with me,” she said. “I knew my application would be competitive, but it is a very difficult award to get.”  The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation supports the scholarly activity of new faculty at primarily undergraduate institutions with the award to help initiate their independent research programs.  The Faculty Start-up Awards Program is open to academic institutions in the states, districts and territories of the United States that grant a bachelor’s or master’s degree, but not a doctoral degree, in the chemical sciences, including biochemistry, materials chemistry and chemical engineering.  (Full text of a Marshall University press release.)

June 2008

Prof. Michael Norton and post-doctoral fellow B. Scott Day published a paper entitled “Organizational Structure and Electronic Decoupling of Surface Bound Chiral Domains and Biomolecules” in the IEEE Sensors Journal (2008, 8, 758-766).  B. Scott Day is a former Marshall undergraduate student who will start as an Assistant Professor in our Department in August of this year.  Other coauthors include Nancy M. Santagata, Pengshun Luo, Amit M. Lakhani, Darryl J. DeWitt, and Thomas P. Pearl of North Carolina State University.

Prof. Michael Castellani attended both the business meeting (as a chemistry councilor) and national conference of the Council on Undergraduate Research at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, MN.   At the national conference he presented a session entitled “How to Get Started in Research with Undergraduates” with Prof. Merle Schuh of Davidson College.  A copy of the presentation is available on his website.

May 2008

Prof. Michael Norton, undergraduate student Huan Cao, and post-doctoral fellow B. Scott Day published a paper entitled “Impedance measurements on a DNA junction” in the Journal of Chemical Physics (2008, Vol. 128, p. 201103).  It was also selected for inclusion in the June issue of the Virtual Journal of Nanoscale Science & Technology.  Huan Cao graduated earlier this month and will begin his Ph.D. studies in chemistry at the Pennsylvania State University in the fall.  B. Scott Day is a former Marshall undergraduate student who will start as an Assistant Professor in our Department in August of this year.  Other co-authors on this paper include Sungmin Hong, Luis A. Jauregui, Norma L. Rangel, and Jorge M. Seminario of Texas A&M University and Alexander S. Sinitskii of Rice University.

April 2008

Mr. David Sovic, a chemistry graduate, recently had a paper “The utilization of bathocuproinedisulfonic acid as a reagent for determining d-glucose and d-galactose levels in glycoconjugates” published in the journal Bioorganic Chemistry (2008, Vol. 36, pp. 91-95).  Leanna Lester, a graduate of the Biological Science Department coauthored the paper under the direction of Prof. Menashi Cohenford of the Department of Integrated Science and Technology. Prof. Elizabeth Murray of ISAT was also a co-author.  David is currently a graduate student at Ohio State University.

March 2008

The Department is pleased to announce the hiring of three new faculty members:  Dr. B. Scott Day, Dr. Laura R. McCunn, and Dr. Kenneth J. O’Connor.   Scott is an analytical chemist with a bachelors’ degree from Marshall and Ph.D. from Virginia Tech.  Laura is a physical chemist and received her B.S. degree from Ohio Wesleyan and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.  Ken did his undergraduate work at the Hunter College in New York City, his doctoral work at the University of Rochester in upstate New York, and his postdoctoral work at the State University of New York at Stony Brook on Long Island.  His training is in organic chemistry.  We’ll provide full profiles on each at the beginning of the fall semester and in the fall newsletter.

Dr. Anderson worked with Dr. Elaine Baker of the Marshall University Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning to organize a One Day Introductory Workshop on the POGIL approach to student centered learning.  Dr. Anderson assisted Dr. James Spencer (a Marshall chemistry alumnus) in presenting the workshop.  Dr. Spencer is the William G. and Elizabeth R. Simeral Emeritus Professor at Franklin and Marshall College.  He was the 2005 recipient of the ACS Pimentel Award in Chemical Education and he was the first person to be recognized as the Marshall University College of Science Outstanding Alumnus.  In addition, he has received the ACS Award for Research at an Undergraduate Institution, the CMA Catalyst Teaching Award, the E. Emmet Reid Mid-Atlantic ACS Teaching Award, and has authored more than 100 papers in research and chemical education. 

Prof. Bin Wang was first author on an article entitled “Complex Ligand-Induced Conformational Changes in tRNAAsp Revealed by Single-Nucleotide Resolution SHAPE Chemistry” that was published in the journal Biochemistry (2008, Vol. 47, pp. 3454-3461).  Dr. Kevin Wilkinson and Prof. Kevin Weeks, her post-doctoral research advisor, were co-authors.

Prof. Bin Wang attended the Grantsmanship Training Program in Boston, MA.  It is conducted by the Grantsmanship Training Center.  The program is designed to help individuals write successful funding proposals.

Undergraduate students Ms. Danielle Clark and Mr. Eric Martin received SURE grants to do research at Marshall during the coming summer.  Danielle is a double major in Chemistry and IST who will be working with Prof. Menashi Cohenford of the Department of Integrated Science and Technology.  Eric will be working under the direction of Prof. William Price.  The SURE program is directed by Prof. Michael Norton, who also wrote the proposal that secured the funding.  SURE funding comes from West Virginia’s Research Challenge Fund ( which seeks to advance research in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics through the support of undergraduate research.

February 2008

Prof. Bin Wang visited Dr. Stephen Quake’s laboratory in the Department of Bioengineering at Stanford University.  Dr. Quake is a world expert in the manufacture of microfluidic devices, a central theme of Dr. Wang’s research.  At Stanford, Dr. Quake and his group helped Bin by providing information about the integration of large-scale microfluidic devices and providing her with some equipment to help get her started in one aspect of her research.

Prof. Michael Castellani attended the Engagement Conference: A Summit for the Higher Education Community at Murray State University in Murray, KY.  The mission of the conference was promoting research and service to engage faculty and students in their fields of interest, and to promote thoughtful, responsible citizenship locally and globally.

January 2008

Ms. Rebecca Klug and Ms. Candice Dotson presented their research (Computational Study of Two Classes of Potential Nanodevices) at the 5th annual Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol.  At this event students present the results of their undergraduate research to members of the state legislature.  They had a poster set up in the state Capitol building and members of the legislature were invited to visit them.  Rebecca and Candice did their research under the direction of Prof. Rudolf Burcl.  The event organizing committee is co-chaired by Prof. Michael Castellani and Dean Keith Garbutt (WVU).

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