Friday, December 18, 2009
Applications are invited for graduate student positions (Ph.D. or M.Sc. level) to study plant-insect interactions in the laboratory of Dr. Steven Ralph (www.und.edu/dept/biology/ralph/ralph.htm) at the University of North Dakota (UND). A Graduate Research Assistantship is available immediately to investigate the molecular basis for resistance to insect pests in poplar trees using a forward genetics strategy. This project is funded by a new three year grant from the National Science Foundation. One of the most successful approaches to identify genes responsible for variation in a trait of interest is to produce mutants that are then screened for alterations in such traits. Our previous research identified several dozen activation tagged mutant poplar lines that are resistant to feeding by defoliating insect larvae. In this project, the modified gene in these insect resistant (IR) lines will be identified and functionally characterized. The roles these genes play in mediating IR will be systematically examined in poplar through both gene knock-down and over-expression studies. Furthermore, mutant plants will be subject to thorough phenotypic characterization that includes evaluation of global changes in gene expression and measurement of insect feeding performance and larval development. It is expected that these studies will provide new insight into the genes and pathways that enhance resistance to feeding insects. Identification of specific IR genes will facilitate breeding of improved tree varieties in the future. The successful candidate will receive training in plant tissue culture, plant transformation, insect feeding/development bioassays, gene cloning and heterologous expression, bioinformatics, microarrays, and real-time PCR among other techniques. This project involves collaboration with researchers at North Dakota State University and the University of Florida and will require periodic travel to both institutions.
Successful candidates should have a strong interest in research areas such as ecological and functional genomics, forest tree biology, plant-insect interactions, biochemistry and molecular biology. Candidates should possess good written and verbal English skills, be capable of working independently, and have demonstrated the ability to work as part of an interactive group. Successful candidates will be invited to submit a formal application for admission to the graduate program at UND (deadline February 15, 2010; www.und.edu/dept/biology/biology_graduate_program.htm).
The Graduate Research Assistantship starts at $17,000 (M.Sc.) or $20,000 (Ph.D.) per year and includes medical health insurance and a full tuition waiver.
How to apply:
Please supply a cover letter stating your interests, a CV describing your education and skills, undergraduate transcripts (unofficial is acceptable), and contact information for three referees. Send applications to Dr. Steven G. Ralph, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Biology, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota, 58202-9019,
email firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 701-777-4673.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
The Nov. 30 issue of Chemical & Engineering News (C&ENews) has a Newscripts article describing fun chemistry projects resulting in Christmas ornaments. You can read it by clicking here. A close-up view of a borax crystal ornament is shown at right. The color comes from whatever pipe-cleaner you choose as a form. The photo is from the October 2006 Owlhaven blog.
Four scientists, Cavendish, Moisson, Priestley, and Rutherford, discovered four elements, fluorine (F2), hydrogen (H2), nitrogen (N2), and oxygen (O2). Each of these elements has a different property: One is one of the least reactive elements, one is the most reactive element, one is the most abundant element in the body, and one is the most abundant element in the universe. Can you determine who discovered what element and what each element’s property is?
a. Fluorine, which was not discovered by Cavendish, isn’t the least reactive element.
b. Nitrogen, which was not discovered by Priestley, isn’t the most abundant element in the universe.
c. The four scientists are: Priestley, Rutherford, the discoverer of fluorine, and the discoverer of the element most abundant in the universe.
d. The element found to be the most abundant in the body wasn’t discovered by Moisson and isn’t nitrogen or hydrogen.
Dr. Bob Hanson
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
New on the board:
The Dawn of Academic Chemistry
Science from Art
Silly String (yes, the real thing!)
Tools for Protein Folding
Missing the Target (targeted cancer therapy)
Old Drugs, New Tricks
Careers and Chemists (a series of short letters)
Chemical Synthesis (Editorial)
A Whiff of Knowledge (Cognitive Enhancing Nasal Spray??)
African Americans and Science (Editorial)
DNA Shape Directs Proteins
Molecule Controls Worms with a Flip of a Switch
A Coating that Fights Ice (soon to be useful)
New Helper for Bulky Amino Acids
Continuing their run on the board: The Chemistry of Forensics, Amide Stacking Rivals H-Bonds, and Considering an M.D., D.D.S., Pharm. D....Why Not a Ph.D.?
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
If you'd like to chat with Dr. Marz, Professor Listenberger is organizing an informal gathering prior to the seminar. Contact Prof Listenberger for details.
This seminar will count towards the Chemistry Major
Laura Listenberger, PhD
Assistant Professor of Biology and Chemistry
St. Olaf College
Kris Elbein - Chemistry w/ Asian Studies Concentration
Anna Larson - Chemistry and Spanish
Michael Marty - Chemistry and Math
Joseph McDevitt - Chemistry, Economics, Math w/ Stats Concentration
Benjamin Meyer - Chemistry and Ancient Studies
Jacob Nelson - Chemistry and Biology
Lauren Seline - Chemistry and Biology
Bryant Torkelson - Chemistry and Math
Many thanks to those who rose to the challenge last week when the ASC was short on Chem 121 and 125 tutors! This week we have a greater need for organic tutors. If there's any chance you'd be willing to spend a little time helping a fellow student to navigate the Wonderful World of Organic Chemistry please read on...
These are paid positions (at student work rates) that count toward a student work award, but there is no requirement that tutors have a student work award. Each tutoring situation requires meeting with a tutee three times per week for about an hour each time (meeting times determined by the tutor and tutee).
If you're interested in becoming a Chemistry Tutor may apply online by going to:http://www.stolaf.edu/services/asc/links-work.html
Friday, November 6, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Students interested in becoming a Chemistry Tutor may apply online by going to:
and clicking on "Tutor Application or Update."
Call the ASC at 507-786-3288 with any further questions or concerns. Thanks for considering this opportunity!
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Exceptional sophomores and juniors majoring in chemistry and chemical engineering are encouraged to apply for a prestigious 10-week internship through the SCI Scholars Program. Twenty-one scholars will be chosen for summer 2010. SCI Scholars will receive $6,000-$9,000 for a ten-week internship, a certificate, and an additional $1000, which can be used for any purpose, such as participation at an ACS or AIChE meeting. Applications are due January 15, 2010. Interested students should visit www.acs.org/sci for more information and to apply. (Faculty can also download a program flyer from this site.)
the chem major -- and more? Get some research experience, perhaps, and get
credit for it. Take a semester of biochemistry in the English countryside.
Ride the trains. See Europe during breaks.
Come to the Open House Wednesday, November 4th (tomorrow) at 4:30 in the Black and Gold Ballroom for more information, or talk with program advisers Bob Hanson
(Lancaster) or Gary Muir (Sheffield).
-- Robert M. Hanson
Professor of Chemistry
Friday, October 30, 2009
How big is a carbon atom?
And, of course, I couldn't leave out the classic video, Powers of 10, which not only shows the size of atoms, but our planet's size in relation to the cosmos.
Your professors have planned review sessions Nov. 2-5 from 7-9PM in RNS 316.
Monday Nov. 2nd Organic with Dr. Pearson
Tuesday Nov. 3rd Analytical with Dr. Walczak
Wednesday Nov. 4th P-chem with Dr. Nat "entropy" Schaefle
Thursday Nov. 5th with Dr. Miessler
If you have additional questions, please contact a chemistry faculty member
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
CHEMISTRY DAY PROGRAM
Refreshments and Registration
Introduction and Department Overview
· General Description
· Faculty, Staff, Students
· Instrumentation and Other Resources
Graduate Program Overview
· Application Procedure
· Living in Brookings
Faculty Research Discussions
· Bio/Organic Chemistry
· Chemical Education
· Student Union
· HPER/Wellness Center
· Art & Ag Museums
Graduate Student Posters, Department Tour
· Research Labs
· Instructional Labs
· Instrumentation and Other Facilities
Refreshments, Q&A, Wrap-up
Distinguished Alumni Lecture, Dr. Scott Kohl, Technical Director, ICM, Inc.
Sessions to be held in Room 260 of the University Student Union.
Campus maps are available at
Friday, October 23, 2009
"It almost seemed like a no-brainer," Professor of Chemistry Bob Hanson tells MPR. "The students react to this very favorably and very much like, well 'why would you want to do this any other way? This is so obvious.'"
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The Council on Undergraduate Research hosts a Registry of Undergraduate Researchers. The purpose of this registry is to facilitate matchmaking between undergraduates who have research experience and a desire to pursue an advanced degree, with graduate schools seeking high quality students who are well prepared for research. The Registry is open to students and graduate schools in the fields of Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biology, Physics/ Astronomy, Mathematics/Computer Science, Economics, Geosciences, Engineering, Psychology, Sociology, Humanities and Anthropology/Archaeology.
Any undergraduate may go to www.cur.org/ugreg/ to fill out a simple curriculum vitae form. There is no charge to the student and records will be made available to bona fide Graduate Schools that contract with CUR for this service. Organizations or companies seeking the students’ information for other marketing purposes will not be granted access. Graduate School representatives may contact students to invite applications or visits to the campus and laboratory, or to share information about their research programs and financial support opportunities.
An institution-wide annual subscription fee for access to the entire database is $1,500 and departments can subscribe for $300 on their own for their discipline, if they choose.
Graduate schools may provide a link to their websites, and may provide a short description of opportunities, such as research fields and fellowships. It will also be possible for institutions to place an ad on the database website if the content is related to the mission of CUR and the Undergraduate Registry.
We hope that students who are currently in their junior or senior year will register now. Juniors will be able to update their listing at the end of the summer and during their senior year, to include any summer research experience or information about Senior Theses and test scores. We also welcome submissions by students who are engaged in Masters' Degree programs now but who plan on going on to a PhD program. Just fill out the information on the form including the date you intend to enter a PhD program and your date of completion of your undergraduate degree. Upload a link to your CV that contains complete information about your MS/MA degree activity (school, subject, thesis topic (if applicable), and advisor).
CUR believes that this service will be a great benefit for both students and graduate schools by narrowing the search for the right match. So if you are interested in graduate school, please take a moment to register now. Be sure to include a statement of your research interests, as this will be important for making the match.
Please feel free to contact me, should you have any questions.
Senior Director, Membership Services
Council on Undergraduate Research
734 15th St NW
(202) 783-4811 fax
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The program is a joint effort of the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) America International Group (AIG), the American Chemical Society (ACS), and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), and was developed to introduce chemistry and chemical engineering students to careers in the chemical industry.
Exceptional sophomores and juniors with a GPA of at least 3.5 and who are majoring in chemistry or chemical engineering are encouraged to apply.
* Twenty-one scholars will be chosen for internship positions in the summer of 2010.
* SCI Scholars receive $6,000-$9,000 for a ten-week internship.
* Students will be awarded a certificate and an additional $1000, which can be used for any purpose, such as participation at an ACS or AIChE meeting.
* Scholars nominate a high school chemistry teacher for recognition. Teachers will be awarded a certificate from SCI and $1,000, which can be used for professional development or classroom materials.
* Applications are due January 15, 2010.
* Interested students should visit www.acs.org/sci to fill out an application and get more information.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Challenge your professors and compete for ultimate bragging rights! All are welcome, but titration stations will be first come, first serve. We will also have some of last year's SOCS shirts for sale.
Thurs, Oct 22 @ 11:30 a.m. in RNS 3rd floor atrium
Come watch Prof. Gittins and Prof. Epp do some amazing demonstrations. Can anyone say combustion reaction?
Thurs, Oct 22 @ 4:15 p.m. in RNS 4th floor atrium
Pictures can be found at the Chem Week bulletin board outside Karen's office (RNS 336). Submissions are due to the box by 12:30 p.m., Thurs Oct. 22. Pause bucks will be awarded to the winners, who will be announced at Demo Day.
-Hunt for the Golden Beaker is back!-
One clue per day will be posted on the Chem Week bulletin board outside RNS 336. First to find it wins a fabulous prize! Winner will be announced at Demo Day.
-Vote for Your Favorite Element!-
Going along with the theme for the week, we will have a ballot box outside RNS 336 on the Chem Week bulletin board. Submit your favorite element, and tell us why you like it. Results will be posted after Fall Break, along with the most interesting answers. Be creative!
Finally... Don't forget to celebrate Mole Day on Friday, Oct. 23!!
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Abstract: Analysis of polar contaminants is a rapidly advancing area of environmental mass spectrometry. To this end, our group has recently developed a novel high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS) screening method for pharmaceuticals and select metabolites in fish. Knowledge of contaminant occurrence in fish tissues has obvious implications for human health. Fish are also an integral component of aquatic food webs and can potentially facilitate the transfer of contaminants from aquatic to terrestrial ecosystems via trophic transfer. This talk will summarize results of a national pilot study of pharmaceutical accumulation conducted in collaboration with U.S. EPA. Results of a more recent study focused on uptake and biotransformation of explosives in earthworms will also be presented. Both of these investigations provide definitive examples of the analytical challenges affiliated with quantifying trace levels of chemicals in complex matrices.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
"You Smell" Have you studied your odorprint?
"Amide stacking rivals H-bonds" in protein structures
"Celebrating Chemistry" National Chemistry Week Oct 18-24 theme = Chemistry: It's Elemental
"Chemical Biology Teamwork" at the National Cancer Institute
"Considering an M.D., D.D.S., Pharm. D....Why not a Ph.D.?"
All of these articles come from American Chemical Society publications. Some are multiple pages, feel free to take them somewhere to sit and read, but bring them back! So, take a study break sometime to learn about something that's not in your textbooks.
Monday, October 12, 2009
- Sophomore, Junior, or Senior with strong academic record in science.
- At least one year of organic chemistry; majors might include chemistry, biochemistry, biology, pre-med, but other majors will be considered.
- Strong analytical abilities, ability to extend knowledge and skills to a very broad range of cutting-edge technologies related to chemistry.
- Evidence of effectiveness working independently; demonstrated self-starter.
- Ability to learn quickly
- Strong written and verbal communication skills
- Ability to interact well with all kinds of people
- Understanding of and respect for diversity
Friday, October 9, 2009
Did you know that a single base-pair in DNA is hydrated by about 70 water molecules? Or that high temperatures can unfold proteins, but cold temperatures can as well? And what is up with A- or B- DNA and RNA?
In Chem 391: Biophysical Chemistry, you will have the opportunity to answer these questions and delve into others relating to the physical chemistry of nucleic acids, proteins, and membranes. Chem 391:Biophysical Chemistry advances the thermodynamic topics you learned in Chem 126 and 371, which makes the course incredibly relevant to anyone interested in experimental biochemistry, biological chemistry, and physical chemistry.
The course is divided into two sections: the first two-thirds of the course involves lecture and group discussions while the remaining one-third of the course involves a research project. The research project does not need a full-blown research proposal. In the past, students have just selected topics from lecture and ran with their ideas in the lab. Research projects have ranged from variants of the lysozyme experiments in Chem 357: Physical Chemistry Lab to predicting protein-protein binding energies using molecular dynamics simulation. The culmination of the course is a poster presentation of the class's research projects to the FNSM community.
If you have an interest in the course or want to know more about the course, don't hesitate to contact me.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
INTERNATIONAL CHEMTEX CORPORATION
The St. Olaf Chemistry Department welcomes Erik Epp. Erik graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor with an honors B.S. in chemistry. He then proceeded to the University of Chicago, where he earned a M.S. in physical chemistry for computational chemistry modeling of interstellar gas clouds. Most recently, he hails from Purdue University where he is finishing a doctorate in chemical education research, dealing with how students learn physical chemistry through the use of hypermedia technology. He greatly enjoys teaching and has been energized by interactions with students in his Chem 121 and 125 classes at St. Olaf College. Stop by his office (RNS 328) to meet him and play with some puzzles. Clicking on the title of this post will take you to a longer blurb about Erik and other members of the St. Olaf Chemistry Department.
Monday, September 28, 2009
The St. Olaf Chemistry Department would like to welcome Dr. Laura Listenberger. Laura graduated from Hope College in Holland, Mi with a B.S. in Chemistry. She then attended Washington University in St. Louis, Mo where she got her PhD in Molecular Cell Biology and became a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals. She spent a year at Kalamazoo College as a Visiting Assistant Professor before pursuing research postdocs at Stony Brook University (in NY) and Torrey Pines Institute of Molecular Studies (in CA). Her research utilizes techniques in biochemistry and cell biology to understand how cells store excess fat. Laura moves to Northfield with her husband and two young daughters. She looks forward to working with students in Chem 373, Chem 379, and CH/BI 126 and 127 this year. Students can find Dr. Listenberger on the third floor of Regent's Hall, in office 380. Clicking on the title of this post will take you to a longer blurb about Dr. Listenberger and other members of the St. Olaf Chemistry Department.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
The University of Chicago
November 6-8, 2009
Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Physical Sciences, Mathematics,& Computer Science
MIDSTATES CONSORTIUM FOR MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE
Washington University in St. Louis
October 30-November 1, 2009
You must complete both semesters of organic to be eligible.
Application materials are waiting for you in the International and Off Campus Studies Office.
has completed Analytical Chemistry (Chem 255 and 256)
interested in being a lab assistant for Forensic Science lab this spring
available Monday afternoons 2:00-5:00 for Forensic Science lab
available Tuesday afternoon, February 16 approximately 1:20-2:45 to be dead
interest in forensic science as a career
Email Dr. Abdella (email@example.com) to apply for this position...and yes, we realize that some of you may not be able to commit to particular time slots in the spring term until AFTER registration! But, we can do some planning now and hope that it works out!
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship: http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=6201
Hertz Foundation Graduate Fellowships: http://www.hertzfoundation.org/
UNCF/Merck Science Initiative Research Scholarships and Fellowships: http://www.uncf.org/portal/Default.aspx?tabid=93#Graduate (NOTE: this program also offers undergraduate fellowships)
If you think you might want to apply to one of these programs talk to a chemistry faculty member.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The 2009 Undergraduate Student dues are only $23 (without a subscription to C&EN), or $44 (with the subscription). You can see C&EN magazines in the offices of most chemistry faculty (and some excerpts on Beth Abdella's bulletin board).
From the ACS website:
"Members receive discounts on a number of ACS professional products and services including meetings registration, courses, and books.
Members can also take advantage of a broad array of ACS group benefits through Affinity Programs that include renters' insurance, travel programs, financial services and discounts from FedEx Kinko's."
If you are planning on graduate school in chemistry, you continue to get discounted dues for the duration of your graduate program.
John W. Moore
W.T.Lippincott Professor of Chemistry
University of Wisconsin-Madison
"The Chemical Education Digital Library: Online Resources for All!"
Seminar will be held in RNS 150 at 3:15, with refreshments served prior to start.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Dr. Gavin Brown
"Getting Clearer - Molecular Organisation of the Cornea"
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
What about leaving early? This is often a bigger problem. Our seminar speakers are asked to keep their presentations to 45 minutes plus the ever-present question and answer session. This does not mean that they all manage to wrap things up in a timely fashion. Common courtesy requires that the audience stay present and attentive until a speaker is finished AND while others are asking questions. If you know in advance that you will need to leave early it is most polite to introduce yourself to the speaker before the seminar and simply say, "Hi, I'm Bonnie Hills. I just thought I'd let you know that I may have to leave early in order to catch my ski team bus for practice this afternoon, but I didn't want to miss your talk." EVERY speaker appreciates this. Now, follow this up by sitting at a place from which a quick and easy escape can be made. There's simply nothing more unsettling for a speaker than to have people sneaking out of a seminar half-way through. What did I say? Is my presentation that boring? Not pleasant thoughts when you are up in front of a crowd of strangers. Faculty members often forewarn seminar speakers about our schedules, needing to keep tabs on lab students, running to a meeting in another building, etc. You can join us in trying to make every speaker’s visit to our department as pleasant as possible.
What about asking questions of the speaker? Please do! It's a good idea to always plan to ask at least one question. Always plan to stay for the question/answer period and make it more fun and educational by asking your question. The question/answer period won’t be shorter if you don’t ask your question, because faculty members will step in with questions of their own. It’s actually polite to ask a few questions...the speaker will feel better connected to the audience. Questions can be about the science, how the science fits in to other topics, or about the person's career or institution, etc. One easy question to ask is how the speaker became interested in the topic, whatever it is. Speakers love students who ask questions. You'll be surprised to find how pleased you'll be with your efforts. Some speakers invite questions during their presentation. If this is the case, raise your hand, wait to be acknowledged, and ask a question pertinent to the current topic of the presentation. If the speaker doesn’t notice you and moves on...lower your hand and save your question for after the presentation. If your question will be asked after the presentation, it is a good idea to jot it down (come prepared with paper and pen) and make a note about the current slide, if appropriate to the question. Be thinking about questions during the whole seminar.
If the question/answer period has already gone on for some time and you have a really important question to ask, consider keeping it to yourself to allow the seminar room to be dismissed, and then approaching the speaker with your question (introduce yourself first) after the room has emptied. You will have the benefit of the speaker's full attention and your colleagues will be free to pursue their other commitments.
Did we mention lunch? Very often our seminar speakers are here for lunch and are most interested in being accompanied by students. You can explore their area of science or their area of the country. You can get their take on what courses are most important for your interests. You can find out what they like most about their jobs or what jobs their graduate students seem to prefer. There's a lot to learn about the world out there and this is a great opportunity to perform a bit of research for your future. If you are interested in an occasional lunch-time chat with a seminar speaker, just let Karen Renneke know! It’s fun to eat at the King's Room instead of Stav Hall from time to time. Some of our seminars are on Thursdays, others on Fridays...so if you are free at lunch time on either day (or both), volunteer to take speakers to lunch.
See you soon, enjoy the donuts!