Monday, December 11, 2017

Illinois Research Experience for Undergrads seeks applicants

Illinois Research Experience for Undergraduates program urges students to apply to do summer research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  The program will run for 10 weeks, May 29 – August 3, 2018.

They particularly seek students who have not previously conducted research, are members of underrepresented groups (including women), or are first-generation college attendees.  Students who have completed coursework at the sophomore to junior level by June 1, 2018 are the intended scholarship recipients.  Because of high demand for the program in prior years, applicants should be planning to obtain a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry or related fields between January 1, 2019 and August 31, 2020.

The scholarship provides:

*$5,000 stipend for a ten-week stay in our department
*Housing at Europa House in Urbana, within walking distance to the Department of Chemistry and the rest of the campus
*Round trip travel cost (up to $800)

Students must have at least two semesters of organic chemistry lecture and laboratory. They should also be inclined to pursue graduate studies in chemistry.  Applications may be made at the website  For detailed information about the research areas of individual faculty members, please see

Students should apply as soon as possible. Applications received by February 16, 2018 will receive full consideration.   Files that are incomplete at 11:59 PM on the closing date will not be kept open for consideration.  Letters of recommendation must be received by the deadline. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Minnesota ACS Announces Sixth Annual Chemistry Job and Recruiting Fair

The Minnesota Local Section of the American Chemical Society is pleased to announce our 6th Annual Chemistry Job & Recruiting Fair.
The Chemistry Job and Recruiting Fair will be held from 4 – 6 P.M. on Tuesday, November 14th, 2017 at Saint Catherine University in Saint Paul, MN in the 3rd floor Ballroom of the Coeur de Catherine Building.
Confirmed companies and organizations with others pending*Aerotek, Apix Life Sciences, Beckman Coulter, Experis, H.B. Fuller, Kelly Scientific, Medtronic, Pace Analytical Services, Land O'Lakes, Verum Technical, WuXi AppTec, Minnesota High Tech Forum, University of MN Department of Chemistry, University of MN Department of Medicinal Chemistry, University of MN Division of Environmental Health Sciences, other companies pending. 
Schedule: 4-6 pm meet with recruiters
                 5 pm pizza, beverages, and light snacks will be served
Cost: Free with RSVP
This event is an opportunity to meet with technical recruiters from the Twin Cities area and is open to professionals and students from chemistry and related fields. Sophomore and junior chemistry majors are also encouraged to attend to inquire about internships.
Please RSVP to James Wollack ( by November 9th so there will be an accurate head count for food. Include how many people will be coming from your group. 
Thank you to career fair sponsors – MN-ACS, St. Catherine University, Aerotek, Beckman Coulter, Pace Analytical Services, Verum Technical, Experis, Minnesota High Tech Forum, University of Minnesota Division of Environmental Health Sciences.
"First Annual Halloween Cuvette Decorating Contest" in Chemistry 121 Lab C
Winners: Ceci Crosby (1st place) and Hunter Barber (2nd place)
Winners showing off their winning artwork - "hollow tree with bats and floating pumpkin" and "monster 
with pumpkins

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Summer Undergraduate Research at Caltech

Caltech is excited to announce two summer research opportunities available to continuing undergraduate students. Questions about these programs can be directed to Carol Casey at or (626) 395-2887.

Interested students can register for the following webinars to learn more:
  • WAVE Fellows Program Webinar, November 15, 11:00 am PSTRegister
  • Amgen Scholars Program Webinar, November 16, 11:00 am PSTRegister

The WAVE Fellows program provides support for talented undergraduates intent on pursuing a Ph.D. to conduct a 10-week summer research project at Caltech.

The program aims to foster diversity by increasing the participation of underrepresented students in science and engineering Ph.D. programs. The program is extended, but not limited, to underrepresented minorities, women, first-generation college students, geographically underrepresented students, educationally or financially disadvantaged students, and students with disabilities.

Eligibility: Students must be current sophomores through non-graduating seniors and must be U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents, or have DACA status. A minimum GPA of 3.2 is required.

Competitive applicants will have prior research experience and can articulate how their research interests align with Caltech's research areas.

Support: WAVE Fellows will receive a $6000 award for the ten-week program and an additional $500 housing/travel supplement.

Online applications are due January 12, 2018.

Caltech's Amgen Scholars Program is geared towards students in biology, chemistry, and biotechnology fields. Some of these fields include biology, biochemistry, bioengineering, medical engineering, chemical and biomolecular engineering, and chemistry.

Eligibility: Students must be current sophomores through non-graduating seniors, must be attending a four-year university in the US at time of application, and must be U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents. A minimum GPA of 3.2 is required.

Support: Amgen Scholars will receive a $6000 award, round-trip air transportation, campus housing, and a food allowance.

Online applications are due February 15, 2018.

For more information, please visit

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Chem 391: Environmental Chemistry - Spring Semester

Interested in Chemistry and the Environment?  

During spring semester 2018 the chemistry department is offering a topics class with the theme of environmental chemistry.  The class will count as an elective in the Chemistry Major and as a natural science elective in the Environmental Studies Major.

Chemistry 391: Environmental Chemistry
Instructor:  Paul Jackson 

Our surroundings play an important role that influences who we are as people – from genetic triggers to mental well-being.  We rely on the environment for the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we consume, and material resources for daily living.  As human demands place additional pressure on finite energy and material resources the knowledge and understanding about the chemistry supporting the functions of the earth and its systems becomes increasingly important.  This course focuses on key concepts and tools employed by environmental chemists to develop deeper understanding of the chemical processes and phenomena associated with each of the earth’s compartments (atmosphere, lithosphere, and hydrosphere), chemical fate and transport, environmental toxicity, energy resources, and life cycle assessments.  By making use of the primary literature we will pay attention to the interplay of chemical cycles and chemical changes present as part of earth’s system and those induced or modulated by human activity.  Prerequisites:  One level II Chemistry or Biology course - with preferences for Bio 261, BIES 226, Chem 248, Chem 255 or permission of instructor.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Summer Research in Blood and Marrow Transplant Center, U of MN

Summer research position for three St. Olaf students with the Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT) Center lab at the University of Minnesota. This is an intensive 10-11 week summer research position that does not include opportunities to shadow on a regular basis. Students apply for this opportunity through Handshake and complete interviews on campus at St. Olaf to be selected as semi-finalists. Final student selections will be made by Dr. John Wagner, MD, who oversees the program. See posting in Handshake for more details and information about the specific research opportunities.

Application deadline is November 3rd.

1. Current sophomore or junior (will be a rising junior or senior during summer 2018)
2. Pre-med
3. Strong communication skills
4. A passion for research AND comfortable with animal research
5. Strong academically
6. Completed Biodiversity Foundations (BIO 150) and Cell biology (BIO 227) and Genetics (BIO 233) is 'preferred' by June 2018

The selection committee will also consider the following:
1. Ability to represent St. Olaf College in a mature, professional manner
2. Positive attitude and outlook, excellent interpersonal skills
3. Past related academic, research, and/or internship experience

Thursday, September 21, 2017

"A guide to the Chemistry Department seminar program"

The St. Olaf Catalog lists as one requirement for the chemistry major, the "Attendance at 12 departmental seminars after declaration of major.”  This means 12 seminars from the time you declare a chemistry major until you graduate.  Our goal in this article is to explain the reasoning behind this requirement and to share with you some tips that will help make this experience a good one for you, your professors, and your invited seminar speaker alike.  First the why, then the how.

Seminars are educational. Speaking for the faculty in the chemistry department, we strongly believe that all of us—students and faculty—benefit from taking the time each week to listen to the story of science being told by someone from beyond our local environs. It’s simply impossible for a group of about a dozen faculty members in a department to cover all of the various perspectives of chemistry. By bringing in speakers from other academic departments, various companies and chemistry-related governmental agencies, we try to gain insight into what chemistry is like "in the real world." We want to learn about areas with which we aren’t very familiar. By setting aside this time and encouraging you as a student to join us, we are saying to you, "Learning chemistry is a life-long endeavor. Keep it up!" In addition, just as anyone learning to write should read, those hoping to better their own speaking skills should listen to others speak.  Listening to seminar speakers do their thing (some of whom will be great) gives us useful tips for making effective presentations ourselves. If nothing else, it gives us an appreciation for how hard it is to get up in front of a group of strangers and say anything meaningful.

Additionally, quite frankly, the reason we have the requirement of seminar attendance is that it’s necessary. We all have the same tendency to do only what we need to do to get the job done. In the case of earning a chemistry major, that means taking the courses and getting the grades, right? Seminars are a bit like brushing your teeth. Their benefit may not be immediately obvious, but, done regularly, listening to seminars will really produce results. Seminars are such a different sort of experience—one few high school students ever have—that it takes some time to understand how much can be gained from them. By requiring twelve seminars, we figure that you will either (a) realize how important (and difficult!) speaking and communicating science is, or at the very least (b) learn a little about the world that you never would have learned listening to the bunch of us rattle on in class about how cool chemistry is.

Now for the How: Virtually all of our seminars will occur in rooms that have doors at the front of the room (RNS 310, 390, 150). This is problematic for speakers and listeners alike.  Here are a few tips for handling a late entry to, or early exit from, a room where the doors are at the front.  First, it’s OK to come late or leave early.  We all have busy schedules.  But, what should you do in order to remain as unobtrusive as possible? For a late arrival:  take a peek in the window of one door and see where the action is—usually projection will be happening in the center of the room, but check to be sure before sneaking in.  Also, while peeking in the window, be looking for which door gives easier access to a seat.  Turn off your cell phone while still in the hall.  Dig through your backpack for paper and pen before coming into the room.  Quietly enter the room from the door that interferes least with the presentation and find a seat with as little commotion as possible. The doors close rather noisily when left to their own devices; try to minimize the noise by staying just inside the door and helping it close gently.  Do not stop to get a treat to’re late...just find a seat!  Especially if your entry brings more upheaval than you planned, it would be polite to apologize to the speaker for your late entry, after the seminar is over.  It can be unsettling to a speaker to be processing major upheaval in the audience and trying to maintain their train of thought.

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 and help the door close gently once you are in the hall. 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.  We hope you’ll 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.  The more questions students ask, the fewer questions faculty will ask.  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 (there is space on the seminar attendance card for this) 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.

Now, a note about seminar attendance cards.  These cards are pretty straight-forward to fill out but we want to call attention to one particular section:  you may suggest future seminar speakers or topics.  We take these suggestions seriously, looking through piles of cards before sending out invitations to prospective seminar speakers.  So, keep the ideas coming!  Where does your card end up?  A faculty member collects these cards and delivers them to the Chemistry Department office (RNS 336).  Your attendance is then tallied in the “Grades” section of the Moodle course called “Chemistry Major.”  You can see your total seminar count and the dates of each seminar attended.  Students who have declared a chemistry major automatically get enrolled in this Moodle course.  Rarely has a mistake been made in tallying these cards, but if you want to protect yourself, take a photo of your filled-out card before turning it in.  We will be happy to look for an un-tallied card if you can show us a photo of it! 

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 Laurie Prior (RNS 336) know.  It’s fun to eat at the King's Room instead of Stav Hall from time to time (and the desserts are fantastic)!  Most of our seminars are on Thursdays or 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!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Do You Have An Interest in Toxicology as a Career?

The Society of Toxicology (SOT) invites students to consider a career in toxicology. They offer students and their advisors the opportunity to learn more about toxicology by attending a special program for undergraduate students at the SOT Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, March 11-15, 2018.

On a more local level, the Northland SOT Regional meeting occurs in September and students may register for free!  This meeting, in Eagan, MN, is only about 40 minutes from St. Olaf!

Toxicologists address critical issues and make the world a healthier and safer place by studying the effects of physical, biological, and chemical agents on people, animals, and the environment. Many students who learn about the discipline of toxicology are excited about career opportunities that involve research and the potential to make a positive contribution to health and safety.

More information can be found on theUndergraduate Student  events page.

For students with data to present, the Abstract Submission deadline is Noon ET on October 9. Award deadlines are October 9.

Undergraduate Diversity Program Student and Advisor Awards
Travel support to attend the 3-day Undergraduate Diversity Program; sophomores and juniors preferred; eligibility criteria include at least one of the following: students from diverse backgrounds including groups under-represented in the sciences, first generation college, or from institutions that receive no more than $6 million NIH funding per year.

Undergraduate and graduate students from under-represented groups who were selected for the 2014-2017 Undergraduate Diversity Program and have abstracts accepted for the meeting.

Undergraduate students who have abstracts accepted for the meeting. 

Annual Meeting Registration Waiver (for San Antonio meeting)
Undergraduate students submit the Registration Form with a copy of their student ID to Jim Dailey, Meeting Registrar, via email or fax: 703.438.3113.

Sunday Undergraduate Education Program (at San Antonio meeting)
A special program to introduce students to toxicology and graduate studies is open at no charge to undergraduates who register on the meeting registration form.

Diversity Initiatives Endowment Career Development Award
Undergraduate and graduate students from backgrounds under-represented in the sciences can apply for travel funding to attend additional education and career development opportunities to enhance their personal development.

Please be in touch with Rachel Woodson if you have any questions about the San Antonio meeting or any of these awards.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Post-back Program in Biomedical Ethics for 2017-18

Mayo Clinic announces that the Mayo Clinic Biomedical Ethics Research Program is seeking applicants for a year long, post baccalaureate position as part of the Mayo Clinic Graduate Research Employment Program (GREP).
GREP is designed for individuals who have completed a bachelor’s degree and plan to attend graduate, law, or medical school.  Eligible candidates must have received their bachelor’s degree before the position starts.   The position is ideal for students interested in a “gap year” between their undergraduate and graduate degree programs. 

The Mayo Clinic Biomedical Ethics Program seeks applicants for a one-year post-baccalaureate research experience in empirical bioethics research, as part
of the Mayo Clinic Graduate Research Employment Program (GREP). Students will participate in educational activities and conduct bioethics research in a mentored environment.

GREP is designed for individuals who have completed a bachelor’s degree and plan to attend graduate school or medical school. Eligible candidates must have received their bachelor’s degree before the position starts. GREP students are eligible to take graduate-level courses through the Mayo Graduate School. The position is ideal for students interested in a “gap year” between their undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
One post-baccalaureate research fellow will be selected for the 2017-2018 academic year. The position may be extended beyond one year at the discretion of the supervisor but will not exceed a total of two years.

To be eligible, students must have completed their bachelor’s degree before the position start date and must be pursuing medical/graduate school admission. Students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. All students must pass a background check and post-offer placement assessment prior to their start date.
Students must have completed coursework in bioethics or a closely related discipline such as behavioral psychology, ethics/philosophy, medical anthropology/sociology, pre- med, or public health.
The successful applicant will be:
• committed to pursuing a career in which they will engage topics in biomedical ethics
• able to work independently
• pro cient in written and verbal communication
• competent in identifying relevant peer-reviewed publications on specialized research topics
• highly motivated to learn new research methods
To Apply:
Interested applicants should email the following materials to by July 5, 2017.
  1. Cover letter describing career goals and how biomedical ethics research relates to those plans
  2. Resume/CV that includes student's major, relevant coursework, honors, and related experiences
  3. A 5-10 page writing sample (such as a course paper), preferably on a topic in biomedical ethics
  4. Current college transcript
  5. Two letters of recommendation from research mentors or undergraduate teachers (addressed to Dr. Richard Sharp, Program Director). Letters should be sent directly by the recommender and must be received by the application deadline.
For more information, contact Dr. Jessica Hirsch, Biomedical Ethics Education Coordinator at 507-538- 4023 or
For all other questions, please contact Dr. Richard R. Sharp, Director of the Biomedical Ethics Research Program at
©2016 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research | MC6924-02 
Jessica R. Hirsch, D. Bioethics
Education Coordinator
Instructor of Biomedical Ethics, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine
Biomedical Ethics Program