Allegheny College Student Earns Honors at American Chemical Society National Meeting

Max Steffen

As a first-year student, Max Steffen stepped forward to learn more when Allegheny College chemistry professor Ryan Van Horn mentioned a research project on polymers.

It’s a step that eventually took Steffen, now a rising junior, all the way to San Francisco. That’s where he earned third-place honors for his poster presentation at the American Chemical Society’s Undergraduate Research in Polymer Science Symposium, part of the organization’s national meeting and exposition in April. The title of Steffen’s poster was Isothermal Crystallization Analysis of PEO-b-PCL with Larger WPEO or WPCL.

After initial conversations with Van Horn about the polymer project, Steffen began to conduct research in the professor’s lab in spring 2016. Van Horn then invited Steffen to continue the research on campus that summer.

“So I stayed over the summer, and the project that I worked on was part of what I presented in San Francisco,” said Steffen, a biochemistry major and psychology minor from Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.

In simple terms, a polymer is a chemical compound where many repeating molecules bond together to form large chains. Steffen’s project investigated a unique polymer with applications in better understanding drug delivery in the body and improving devices such as contact lenses and knee and hip replacements.

This specific polymer is biodegradable, biocompatible and amphiphilic (composed of “water-loving” and “water-hating” parts). The research looked at the impact of temperature, specifically cooling the polymer to sub-room temperatures.

Steffen is quick to point out that the research was a group effort. Three other students who work in Van Horn’s lab also attended the conference in San Francisco.

“We all have separate projects, but we all talk about them,” Steffen said. “And when things aren’t working, we’re there for each other. We can work through it all together — especially Dr. Van Horn. He’s made my Allegheny experience just great.”

Van Horn encouraged his students to submit proposals for the conference, where he also led a talk. “We got some really great results and that’s why we went to the conference,” Steffen said.

Steffen showed off his poster alongside hundreds of other student presenters. The conference opened a door for Steffen to connect with polymer experts who stopped by to ask questions about his work, spawning ideas for future research including his Senior Comprehensive Project.

“It’s all going to fit in and flow together,” Steffen said of what he learned in San Francisco.

In the long term, Steffen plans to attend medical school and complete a residency in orthopedic surgery and a fellowship in orthopedic traumatology. For now, he’s spending the summer interning in the healthcare field. Steffen will return to Allegheny — and Van Horn’s lab — in the fall.

“I would have never thought coming here that I would go to a poster session in California,” Steffen said. “It was a really cool opportunity and experience.”

And he’s already looking forward to another adventure: next spring’s American Chemical Society meeting in Boston.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Students Attend American Chemical Society National Conference

With support from a National Science Foundation research grant originally awarded to Assistant Professor of Chemistry Ryan Van Horn in 2016, three students — Natasha Brigham ’17, Max Steffen ’19, and Cole Tower ’19 — attended the American Chemical Society (ACS) national conference in San Francisco, California. Brigham, Steffen and Tower presented posters on their research in Van Horn’s lab involving the physical structure of biocompatible block copolymer plastic films. Van Horn also attended and gave a presentation on the use of polymer labs across the Allegheny chemistry curriculum during the “Incorporating Polymer Science into the Classroom” symposium. Hannah Fischer ’18 traveled to the ACS conference as well through funds from a Dreyfus Foundation – Boissevain Fellowship to present her summer research in Van Horn’s lab on the release of methylene blue from similar polymer films as a possible treatment for anaphylaxis.

Zach Iezzi ’18 and Altan Frantz ’18 also attended the ACS conference through generous support from the Thomas Lord Charitable Trust. Iezzi presented a poster entitled “Structural stability analysis of a S. cerevisiae DEAD-box protein.” This work was done in collaboration with Associate Professor of Chemistry Ivy Garcia and focuses on the role of specific proteins in the translation of RNA. Frantz presented a poster entitled “Synthesis of monometallic nickel (II) halide complexes with secondary phosphines as building blocks for hydrogenase mimics” showcasing his research with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Tim Chapp. This work is on the synthesis of molecules containing phosphorous that mimic enzymes in soil bacteria, which produce hydrogen gas.

Steffen also was recognized for his poster presentation with a third place award in the “ACS Undergraduate Research in Polymer Science” symposium. His poster entitled “Isothermal crystallization analysis of poly(ethylene oxide)-block-poly(ε-caprolactone) with larger wPEO or wPCL” was ranked 3rd out of the 31 posters in the symposium.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

University of Kansas Chemistry Professor to Present Lord Lecture

Kristin Bowman-James, University Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of Kansas, will present the annual Lord Lecture at Allegheny College at 8 p.m. on Monday, March 13, in Ford Memorial Chapel. Her talk, “Serendipity and Surprise in Coordination Chemistry,” is free and open to the public.

After receiving her undergraduate and doctoral degrees at Temple University and completing postdoctoral research at Ohio State University, Bowman-James has spent her academic career at the University of Kansas, becoming the first woman to chair the Department of Chemistry. She was promoted to University Distinguished Professor in 2007. In addition, in 2005, she was appointed director of Kansas EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research), a National Science Foundation-funded program advances excellence in science and engineering research and education.
Bowman-James’ research is in the field of supramolecular host-guest chemistry and transition metal coordination chemistry. She is especially recognized for her contributions to the field of anion coordination, for which she received a National Science Foundation Creativity Award in 2006. Bowman-James recently was appointed associate editor of “Coordination Chemistry Reviews,” one of the leading review journals, and she co-edited “Supramolecular Chemistry of Anions and Anion Coordination Chemistry.”

In honor of her achievements, Bowman-James has received the Iota Sigma Pi Award for Professional Excellence, the Kansas Dolph Simons Sr. Award for Research Achievement, the Midwest Regional Award for Diversity, the Midwest Award for Research in Chemistry sponsored by the St. Louis Section of the ACS, and the KU Leading Light Award. She was inducted into the Temple University Gallery of Success in 2004 and was elected a fellow of the American Chemical Society in 2010.

The Lord Lecture has been bringing the nation’s most distinguished chemists and scientists to Allegheny annually since 1991 and is made possible through the support of the Thomas Lord Charitable Trust. The fund is closely linked to the Lord Corporation, a major manufacturer of adhesives, rubber chemicals and other products.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Senior Emily Eikey Is Awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Emily Eikey ’16 has received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Emily is one of 2,000 students — out of almost 17,000 applicants — to receive the fellowship, which will support her research in graduate school. Emily plans to earn her Ph.D. in chemistry.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Senior Kristi Allen Presents Poster at American Physical Society Meeting

Kristi Allen ’16 presented her summer research in collaboration with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Ryan Van Horn at the 2016 American Physical Society meeting in Baltimore in March. Her poster was titled “Crystallization Trends of PEO-b-PCL with Solvent and Temperature Effects.” Professor Van Horn also gave a presentation at the APS conference, titled “Coincident Crystallization of PEO-b-PCL Copolymers with Similar Block Molecular Weights.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Deckert Presents Workshop at Women in STEM Leadership Conference

Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Alice Deckert presented a workshop on flipped classroom pedagogy at the Women in STEM Leadership: Clare Boothe Luce 25th Anniversary Professors Conference at Fordham University in New York City on November 10.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Nobel Laureate Robert H. Grubbs To Present Lord Lecture at Allegheny College

Grubbs_Paz

Sept. 15, 2015 – Robert H. Grubbs, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2005, will present the 24th annual Lord Lecture at Allegheny College at 8 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 21 in Ford Chapel on the Allegheny campus. The talk, which is open to the public, will take catalysis and sustainable processes as its topic.

Supported through an endowed fund established by the Thomas Lord Charitable Trust, the Lord Lecture has been bringing the nation’s most distinguished chemists and practitioners of related disciplines to Allegheny College annually since 1991. The fund is closely linked to Lord Corporation, a major manufacturer of adhesives, rubber chemicals and other products.

In addition to being a Nobel Laureate, Grubbs has received the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry, the Pauling Award Medal, the Havinga Medal, the Golden Plate Award from the Academy of Achievement, the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Chemists and eight awards from the American Chemical Society.

The Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology, Grubbs has more than 560 publications to his credit as well as 126 patents based on his research.

Grubbs’ research group discovers new catalysts – which facilitate the transformation of organic molecules and are used widely in industry — and studies their fundamental chemistry and applications. Catalysts discovered by Grubbs and his research team are used to prepare new pharmaceuticals and for the conversion of biorenewable carbon sources into fuels, among other applications.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny Researchers Publish Paper in “Physical Review E”

A paper by Professor of Chemistry and Physics David Statman, Ariel Statman ’14, Kaitlin Wozniak ’11 and Christopher Brennan ’13, “Comparison of photoinduced reorientation of ortho-, meta-, and para-methyl red-doped nematic liquid crystals on rubbed polyimide,” has been accepted for publication in Physical Review E.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny College Receives National Science Foundation Grant in Support of Faculty Research

Winnie in Lab

July 24, 2015 — Ivelitza Garcia, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Allegheny College, received a grant of $174,038 from the National Science Foundation in support of her project “Research in Undergraduate Institutions: Catalytic regulation of ribosome processing factors: Investigation of peripheral domain effects on the enzymatic capabilities of the DEAD-box protein Rok1p.”

The grant will provide funding for eight Allegheny students over four years to collaborate with Garcia to investigate how different structural elements within DEAD-box proteins can regulate the activity and initial structural state of a protein model. Understanding the regulation of DEAD-box proteins is of high medical interest since they are often over- or under-expressed in breast, cervical and prostate cancer as well as in T-cell and myeloid leukemia.

One hundred percent of the $174,038 cost of the project will be covered by federal funds through the NSF grant.

Photo: Winnie Wong at work in Ivelitza Garcia’s lab.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Six Students Present Research at the 249th National American Chemical Society Meeting

Six Chemistry and Biochemistry students presented research at the 249th National American Chemical Society meeting in Denver. Haley Englert ’15 presented a poster at the Biochemistry section poster session, “Biological analyses of ATP binding and hydrolysis in DEAD-box protein,” based on her research with Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Ivy Garcia. Sean Carney ’15 presented a poster at the Physical Chemistry section poster session, “Probing the mechanism of DNA duplex formation in sequences with consecutive versus alternating purines and pyrimidines using stopped flow kinetics experiments,” based on his research with Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Alice Deckert. Four students presented their work with Professor Deckert at the Undergraduate Research poster session. Emma Bean ’15 and Matt Gray ’16 presented the poster “Progress towards SERS sensor for PAH’s,” and Bridgette McCauley ’15 and Shawn Kennemuth ’16 presented the poster “Investigation of Surface Chemistry on P-Si to form Potential Biosensors/Drug Delivery Devices.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research