Featured Major: Chemistry

The CBU Chemistry Department offers a four-year program leading to a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and a degree in Biochemistry that we featured in our September 2012 newsletter. Four paradigm options are available with the chemistry degree: a traditional paradigm designed for students interested in graduate school or working in a chemistry lab, a paradigm designed for pre-med students, a paradigm for pre-pharmacy students, and a paradigm for pre-forensic science students. The biochemistry degree is designed to provide a strong preparation for both the workplace and professional schools, including pharmacy school, medical school, or dental school. The program places emphasis on development of a wide range of laboratory skills that are needed in today’s biomedical laboratories, whether they are found in industry or academia.

The Department also offers, in conjunction with the Department of Education, a four-year program leading to a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Science with teaching licensure in chemistry or chemistry and biology for grades 7 through 12.

The Chemistry program provides students with an understanding of chemical principles in the areas of analytical, biochemistry, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry. Students gain laboratory skills and the ability to select and utilize appropriate instrumentation to investigate and solve specified problems.

Biochemistry Lab

Students in the Biochemistry Lab are shown performing a column chromatography experiment.

One of the main aspects of our chemistry program that contributes to its success is the number and quality of the labs that support the lectures. Labs are a place where students get to know the subject by working with the subject and working closely with the chemistry faculty. The CBU lab instructors are usually the same professors that teach the lecture component of the course. The Chemistry Department regularly offers 17 different courses and 13 of those 17 have labs attached. The labs have excellent equipment thanks to some large grants from the Assisi Foundation as well as others. The department has a web page showing and explaining their major instruments.

Chemistry is very much a three dimensional subject, and the imaging capability of computers has greatly enhanced our ability to visualize in three dimensions. The Chemistry Department has recognized the importance of this kind of tool, and with the help of donors has obtained software to help with this visualization.

Chemistry Lab Assistant

The picture above shows Riley Pace, Chemistry student worker.

The Chemistry Department has adopted a philosophy that the best way to learn to do chemistry is to do it in real world settings. In addition to the research requirement in the department, we offer a variety of opportunities through either work-study or direct employment in the department for students to begin working in the laboratories throughout their entire course of study with us. Students begin as Laboratory Assistants; juniors and seniors have the opportunity to be selected as Laboratory Specialists. Two students who have been in our work-study program for at least two years have the opportunity to be selected each year as Associate Lab Coordinators. The Laboratory Specialist and Associate Lab Coordinator positions include supervisory responsibilities, giving students the opportunity to gain valuable leadership experience.  Riley Pace and Yusef Akbik are the department’s second and third Associate Lab Coordinators.    Duy Nguyen has been named the department’s fourth Laboratory Specialist.

SMACS officers

The picture above shows 6 of the 2012-2013 SMACS Officers. Pictured from left to right are Krystyna Clark (Treasurer), Russell Higgins (Senator), Yusef Akbik (President), Esha Thakore (Secretary), Tiffany Corkran (Chemistry Olympiad Chair), and Anna Birg (Vice-President). Not pictured are Robert Banks (National Chemistry Week Chair), Brent Holmes (Social Chair), and Alvin Siow (Photographer/Historian).

The CBU chapter of the Student Members of the American Chemical Society, SMACS, has continued its high level of activity during the past year. The CBU SMACS chemistry club won two more national awards from the American Chemical Society in 2012.  The first award was the Honorable Mention Award for their 2011-2012 Program and Activities.  The second award was a 2011-2012 Green Chemistry Chapter Award from the American Chemistry Society Green Chemistry Institute.   The club is one of the sponsors of the Shelby County Science and Engineering Fair. Members of the club serve important roles in the Fair handling registration, judging middle school projects, helping with general set-up, and serving as courtesy guides. The CBU chapter of SMACS is co-host for the Greater Shelby County High School Chemistry Olympiad and Local High School Chemistry Competitions which are sponsored by the American Chemical Society. The club participates in a wide range of additional service activities including chemical demonstrations for middle school and high school students, participation in the Science Olympiad, participation in activities that promote environmental awareness, and presenting demos for National Chemistry Week, and Science and Engineering Day.

SMACS meeting

The picture above was taken at the second SMACS meeting in 2013.

The Chemistry Department serves not only its own majors, but many others including other science and engineering majors. For the electrical, mechanical and civil engineers, the department has developed a one semester chemistry course with lab, Chem 115, that is more solid state than the traditional wet chemistry necessary for biology, chemistry, and chemical engineering students.

The results of a CBU chemistry degree, and with any of the CBU science degrees, is quite impressive. See our statistics for the past five years for acceptance into medical, pharmacy, and other health professional schools. The department is also successful in getting is graduates into graduate programs and directly into the workforce.

Featured Alum: Emily Biggs Rettinger, Pharm.D., Chemistry 2000

Emily with her husband and son

I graduated from CBU with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry in May 2000. In August of the same year, I started pharmacy school at UT Health Science Center. After finishing my first semester, I really felt like CBU had prepared me for the challenges that I had faced academically and in my day to day life, and I still feel that way today. I also became an active member of the professional pharmacy fraternity Phi Delta Chi and held the office of secretary my second year. I worked at St. Francis Hospital inpatient pharmacy to gain experience in a hospital setting. (I had previously worked for an independent and a chain pharmacy.)

In May of 2004, I graduated with honors and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. After receiving my license, I started working for SuperD, and I continue to work there today. I also continue to work for St. Francis on an as needed basis. I am a member of the Memphis Area Pharmacist Society, American Pharmacist Association (APhA), Tennessee Pharmacist Association (TPA), and the Christian Pharmacist Fellowship International (CPFI).

While attending pharmacy school, I met my husband, Paul, who also works for SuperD pharmacy here in Memphis. We have a 3 year old son, Matthew. We enjoy traveling, going to the Mississippi Riverking’s hockey games, and spending time with family. We are also members of First United Methodist Church.

Featured Alum: Claudia Wade, chemistry 1996

Claudia Wade with her family

Hola my fellow Buccaneers! I am honored to be the featured ALUM this month. I graduated from CBU in 1996 where I received a B.S. in Chemistry. My time at CBU was always very busy because along with my studies, I was a member of the Lady Buccaneers Volleyball Team!! Go Bucs!! My experience at CBU, both in the chemistry department and the on the court have played a big role in my life today. I attribute a lot of my career success to Dr. Mike Condren, the CBU faculty, my coach, Irene Collins and my family. When I first arrived at CBU, I was enrolled as a Chemical Engineer. My freshman year, I took Dr. Condren’s General Chemistry class and I was convinced science was in my blood. Dr. Condren has such a passion for chemistry that when he taught it came out in every lecture. I would get just as excited as he would as the years went by. Of course, it was a challenge for me because along with my studies there was hard work in the gym. Though my coach had us very disciplined and really pushed success in the classroom first, the fact that our classes were small and the having the opportunity of one-on-one attention from the teachers, made my experience at CBU go by smoothly. As I reflect today, that one-on-one attention is one of the many characteristics that makes CBU a WINNER. Each one of the CBU teachers really enjoys their work and wants to see you succeed and they are always willing to help. Dr. Condren is the best mentor/teacher anyone could have. He taught me not only chemistry but how to think outside the box, how to discipline myself in the lab, and he truly cares for each one of his students.

I currently work at Buckeye Technologies in Product and Market Development and was promoted in January 2006 to a Research Specialist. I have been employed with Buckeye 9 ½ years. Buckeye is a leader in producing-cellulose-based specialty products for high-end niche markets worldwide. We are the only manufacturer in the world offering cellulose-based specialty products made from one of the most abundant materials on earth, cellulose fiber drawn from wood and cotton, both naturally renewable resources. I work in the New Products Department and my goals are to develop novel cellulose fibers for upstream product lines. So a lot of thinking “outside the box” and my job requires a lot of discipline in note taking on experiments for legal patent purposes. I have received recognition for my work in a patent for “Delivery of Fibers Into Concrete”. Volleyball has also continued to be a part of my life after CBU. I have coached middle school volleyball @ St. Agnes Academy for the past 11 years and have also coached Junior Olympic Volleyball for various clubs around the city, including one for inner city girls.

Along with working full-time, I am a mother of two beautiful children, Isabella Concepcion (4 yrs.) and Jacob William (2 yrs.). My husband, Kelly, and I have been married for 11 years and are enjoying life each day. My husband is a CRNA and is enlisted in the Army Reserves. He just returned from his first tour of duty in Tikrit, Iraq. I am so proud of him for supporting and aiding our soldiers in the fight for freedom and the continuation of the American way.

Featured Alum: Analice Hosey Sowell, B.S. Chemistry (minors math, physics), 2002; Master of Arts in Teaching, 2005

Analice Sowell, and her husband, Michael

Teaching is 1% grading papers and 99% being interested in your students and subject you teach. The CBU science professors definitely love the science they teach, and always tried to express that in everything they did. This enjoyment of teaching and working with students has remained with me as I teach my own chemistry students at MUS. When I teach, I always try to think back to the first time I learned something new. I continually remind myself that at one time, I was in my students’ shoes … barely knowing what a chemical compound was, how to balance an equation, or even how to spell “stoichiometry” much less complete a problem. But, I always try to pattern my teaching after the great teachers I had in the School of Sciences. Many times, during my lectures, I’ll pause and chuckle to myself, knowing I just did something or said something just like a science professor I had at CBU. I’m proud to be a teacher, and I’m proud to say I’m a CBU graduate. After all, people see a science degree from CBU and immediately know the outstanding reputation of the School.

But, how did I decide to become a teacher? I worked at CBU after graduating with my Chemistry degree and attended graduate school at night to earn my M.A.T. I definitely had an interest in science and at the time was involved in many education outreach programs, so pursuing graduate work in education was a perfect fit. Once I finished my M.A.T, I took at job with Buckeye Technologies in the Product & Market Development Division as a Chemist. I enjoyed my work, and learned a great deal of real world applications of chemistry. However, I really wanted to go back into the classroom, and I had my chance. Through networking at ACS events like the High School Chemistry Competition (which CBU and ACS sponsor) I met many high school teachers. MUS had an opening for a chemistry instructor, and I readily accepted the chance to teach at a wonderful school like MUS. I will never regret pursuing a career in industry, because I learned so much during that time. However, teaching is definitely my calling. I have great students, and I love going down the halls and hearing “Hey Mrs. Sowell!” My students definitely know my classes are not easy. But, they also know that I will help them when they need me – just like all of my CBU science professors helped me. For some people, teaching high school might seem easy. I beg to differ! Anyone who says a high school teacher has a boring, effortless job evidently has never taught school. It’s a dream come true to teach at MUS, but I infinitely stay in running mode — keeping up with teenagers definitely keeps you on your toes!

Analice’s chemistry students at MUS

Outside of the classroom, my husband Michael and I enjoy attending MUS sporting events together. I’m also involved in the local section of the American Chemical Society, where I currently serve as Chair. Also, I serve on a national committee for ACS where we (the committee) develop K-8 science outreach activities for National Chemistry Week and Chemists Celebrate Earth Day programs. Additionally, I serve as a member of the Program Advisory Committee for the Graduate Education Programs at CBU. My days are busy, but thankfully my loving husband and family support my volunteer efforts and my dedication to teaching. I work with wonderful people at MUS, and I can honestly say I really am having the time of my life teaching here! I know that I do not have 65 aspiring chemists in my classes, but as long as they walk away from their year of Chemistry with an appreciation of all that it has to offer, and what it has given us, I can most assuredly say I have done my job.

Featured Alum: Dr. Margaret (Colleen) Hastings, 1996 Chemistry alum

I graduated from CBU in May 1996 with a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry and started medical school at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) in August of that same year. I still haven’t left the UTHSC. I completed med school in the top 10% of my class thanks to the terrific education that I was privileged to receive at CBU. It really felt good to do just as well as my classmates who had spent a fortune on Ivy League colleges.

After obtaining my M.D. in 2000, I finished training in a dual residency in internal medicine and pediatrics in 2004 and obtained board certification in both specialties. I am currently in the third year of a four year med/peds nephrology program. As part of my fellowship, I will finish a Master’s degree in epidemiology this spring. Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of disease. The Epi program has concentrated on the appropriate design and statistical analysis of clinical research. Though my primary research interests include renal transplantation and glomerular disease, I am excited to be the first author on an abstract examining the role of ambulatory blood pressure monitoring in the prediction of increased left ventricular mass in children. This abstract was selected for a platform presentation at the Pediatric Academic Societies’/American Society of Pediatric Nephrology meeting in Toronto this spring.

My husband, Clay Rogers (CBU ’95), and I live in Lakeland, Tennessee with our two little girls. Emily is very proud to have recently celebrated her fourth birthday. Her sister, Kathryn, will have her first birthday in April. Clay works for XO Communications.

Featured Alum: Brian Polk, Chemistry, 1997

The following is written by Brian Polk:

I received a B.S. in Chemistry Summa Cum Laude from Christian Brothers University in 1997. I was honored to be co-recipient of the Bro. Dominic Dunn Award that year. I had several career related experiences as an undergraduate. At various times, I was as a teaching assistant for chemistry labs at CBU, I worked as a laboratory technician at Great Lakes Chemical, and I did research at the University of Kentucky.

I was granted a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Georgia) in 2002. During the course of grad school I won several competitive fellowships including the Presidential Fellowship from Georgia Tech, the Graduate Research Fellowship from the Division of Analytical Chemistry of the American Chemical Society, and a Traineeship in Environmental Science from the National Science Foundation. With support from the ACS fellowship, I was able to spend three months doing research at Dublin City University (Dublin, Ireland) in 2000.

From 2002 to 2004, I was a National Academy of Science / National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST, Gaithersburg , Maryland ). In 2004 I was promoted to Research Chemist in the Semiconductor Electronics Division of NIST.

My research revolves around microfabrication, electrochemistry, and chemical sensors. I am particularly interested in solving the problems associated with integration of electronics, sensors, and fluidics. As part of a team in BioElectronics, I am developing chemical senors contained within integrated microfluidic systems. The team’s efforts are ultimately aimed at improving the reliability, accuracy, and traceability of portable biochemical diagnostic equipment. Much of the current work focuses on forensic DNA analysis in an effort to alleviate the long lag time between evidence collection and analysis. Many of our technologies could also be used in bedside diagnostic equipment in hospitals or doctor’s offices.

In addition to my primary job in research, I am a part-time faculty member of Montgomery College. MC is a two-year community college in Maryland. I’ve taught general chemistry lecture and lab and organic chemistry lab. This fall I will teach an introductory chemistry lecture and a general chemistry lab. I find teaching challenging but rewarding. Through teaching I can give back to my instructors and mentors by following their examples. It also provides me with the opportunity to promote public understanding of science in general.

Despite the success I’ve experienced in my career so far, it pales in importance next to my family. I married my college sweetheart, Cathy Eichholz (CBU, Comp.Sci. ’99) on June 19 of 1999. Cathy also attended graduate school at Georgia Tech, finishing with an M.S. in Computer Science in 2002. This spring Cathy and I were blessed with our first child, a daughter. Anna Catherine Polk was born on April 11, 2006 weighing 7 pounds, 1 ounce. The family is doing wonderfully and Cathy and I celebrated a very happy anniversary this year.

Outside of research and family commitments, I try to find time to stay physically fit. I occasionally run in 10k road races, but my real interest is the martial arts. I earned a black belt in Taekwondo in 2002 at Georgia Tech. Now I’m working towards a black belt in another style called Tang Soo Do.