Alumni News and Events

Laursen Returns to Iran to Lecture on Ancient Textile Dyes

May 7th, 2015


Professor Laursen (center) with students at the Zanjan Branch, Islamic Azad University (Iran), where he lectured in April 2015

Professor Emeritus Richard Laursen‘s research on the analysis of vegetable dyes has taken him to many parts of the world.  Using high-performance liquid chromatography with diode array and mass spectrometric detection, his work has helped to identify the plant sources of many of the colors used in ancient textile fibers and given insights into the stability of colors over time.  His research expertise first took him to Iran in 2005, where he had the opportunity to examine antique rugs in the private collection of Miri Iranian Knots, a leading producer  of handmade rugs since 1820. 

This April, Professor Laursen returned to Iran to give a lecture on the “Analysis of Dyes in Ancient Textiles” at several universities and museums in Iran, including  Islamic Azad University, Scientific Research Branch (Tehran);  Islamic Azad University, Zanjan Branch (Zanjan); University of Zanjan (Zanjan); Tabriz Islamic Art University (Tabriz); Astan Quds Razavi Museum (Mashhad); and the Hakim Sabzevari University (Sabzevar).  Professor Laursen noted many changes in the decade since he last went to Iran, including the increasing number of women college students.


Chemistry Alum Returns to BU As Professional Development and Postdoctoral Affairs Director

May 7th, 2015

Sarah Hokanson

Alum (CAS ’05), Sarah Hokanson, is now BU’s Director of Professional Development and Postdoctoral Affairs

Dr. Sarah Chobot Hokanson, who was a Chemistry major (CAS ’05) doing undergraduate research with Professor Sean Elliott, has returned to BU as Director of the newly launched Professional Development and Postdoctoral Affairs.   Sarah and her new role are profiled in BU Today’s in-depth article “Helping Postdocs Take Charge of their Lives” (Sara Rimer).  The article also details Sarah’s  plans for assisting BU graduate students and postdoctoral fellows launch successful careers.

A highly trained scientist in her own right (PhD from the University of Pennsylvania,  2010, and NIH NRSA postdoctoral fellowship at Cornell, 2010-2012), Sarah started her own non-traditional science career path at the British Consulate-General in Boston as a senior officer for the Science and Innovation Network).  Now back at BU, her real-time views can be followed on her twitter account.

Environmental Health Scientist Speaks at Chemistry Convocation

April 21st, 2015

Dr. Urvashi Rangan, Director Consumer Safety and Sustainability, will be Chemistry’s 2015 Distinguished Alumni Speaker

The Director of the Consumer Safety and Sustainability Group for Consumer Reports, Dr. Urvashi Rangan, was the Distinguished Alumni Speaker at this year’s Chemistry Convocation (May 16, 2015).  Dr. Rangan received her BA in Chemistry from Boston University in 1990, doing undergraduate research in organic chemistry with Prof. John Snyder.  She received her PhD in Environmental Health Sciences from Johns Hopkins University in 1995 and did postdoctoral work at the Environmental and Occupational Health Science Institute (Rutgers University).  She was an NIH fellow from 1990-97.

A noted environmental health scientist, Dr. Rangan has a column in Consumer Reports’ ShopSmart magazine and also serves as a top spokesperson for Consumer Reports in the areas of sustainable production and consumption practices. She has a wide area of expertise, including organic standards, food safety issues, environmental pollution, toxics in consumer products, and environmental health concerns and has appeared in numerous national broadcast outlets. Her expertise is called upon to respond to breaking product safety news, speak on behalf of CU investigative test stories, and to discuss production problems and consumer solutions around a wide range of sustainability topics including food safety issues, organic food, risky ingredients in personal care products, misleading labels, electronics recycling, and energy efficiency for household products.

At the Consumers Union, which she joined in 1999, she has been responsible for managing risk analysis, policy assessments, label evaluations and consumer advice for tests, reports, and related advocacy work.  She developed the ratings system, database, and Web site,, for evaluating environmental and food labels. In 2005, she managed the launch of GreenerChoices,org, which covers green aspects over a wide range of products and services.   To “meet” Dr. Rangan, please go to her 2012 TEDxManhattan talk, “From fables to labels.”



Hoffman Receives Chemistry Education Award

July 28th, 2014

Prof. Emer. Morton Z. Hoffman has received the Distinguished Contribution to Chemistry Education (DCCE) Award from the Committee on Chemistry Education (CCE) of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) on the occasion of the 23rd International Conference on Chemistry Education (ICCE) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (July 13, 2014).

Prof. Emer. Morton Hoffman receiving the IUPAC-CCE Award for Distinguished Contribution to Chemistry Education from Peter Mahaffy (King's University College, Canada), at left, and Mei-Hung Chiu (National Taiwan Normal University).  (Photo attribution:  Paul Piunno, University of Toronto)

Prof. Emer. Morton Hoffman receiving the IUPAC-CCE Award for Distinguished Contribution to Chemistry Education from Peter Mahaffy (King’s University College, Canada), at left, and Mei-Hung Chiu (National Taiwan Normal University). (Photo attribution: Paul Piunno, University of Toronto)

The DCCE Award recognizes outstanding contributions with both local and international impact by a chemistry educator to improve the teaching and learning of chemistry.  Previous recipients of the award have been Peter Atkins (Oxford University, U.K.), Lida Schoen (Young Ambassadors of Chemistry, Netherlands), Peter Mahaffy (King’s University College, Canada), and Robert Bucat (University of Western Australia).

Morton Hoffman was promoted to emeritus in 2005 after a 44-year, highly productive career in research and teaching in Boston University’s Department of Chemistry.  In 1994, he received the University’s highest teaching honor:  the Metcalf Cup and Prize for Excellence in Teaching.  His many other honors and awards have included being named a Fellow by the ACS, AAAS, and IUPAC;  receiving the 2007 ACS Volunteer Service Award, the 2002 Catalyst Award for Teaching Excellence from the American Chemistry Council, the 2003 Timm Award for Encouraging Young People to Study Chemistry from the New England Association of Chemistry Teachers, the 2005 Norris Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Teaching of Chemistry from the Northeastern Section, and the 2006 Outstanding Professional Achievement Award from the Alumni Association of Hunter College of the City University of New York.  He was chair of the Northeastern Section in 2002 and of the ACS Division of Chemical Education in 2005.




Commemorating Prof. Emeritus Hartman (1931-2014)

March 27th, 2014

When Prof. Standish C. Hartman (‘Stan’) retired in 2005, the Department of Chemistry held a grand celebration honoring his promotion to Professor Emeritus.  A man of quiet dignity, with a dry sense of humor, Stan seemed taken aback by the turnout and tributes.  Stan’s modesty prevented him from seeing what everyone else knew:  that during his 37-years at BU as an educator, scientist, and Chair, he was instrumental in the impressive development of the Department of Chemistry, enabling many of the programmatic structures currently in place at the interface of chemistry and biology.  It is with great sadness that we note Stan Hartman’s passing on March 24, 2014.

Stan Hartman joined the BU faculty in 1968 as an Associate Professor of Chemistry.   He had received his PhD in Biochemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1957. His academic career started as an instructor of Biological Chemistry (1957-1959) at MIT.  From 1959 to 1963 he was an Associate in Biological Chemistry at the Harvard Medical School (HMS).  He became an Assistant Professor in Biological Chemistry at HMS in 1964 until he came to BU in 1968.  Prof. Hartman’s research interests were in enzymology (mechanisms of enzyme action) and recombinant DNA (retroviral vectors, gene isolation and characterization, mechanisms of mutagenesis, and methods for identifying kin relationships).  As an educator he taught general biochemistry, enzymology (graduate level), physical chemistry of biomolecules (graduate level), and recombinant DNA (senior-graduate level).  He was Chair of the Department of Chemistry from 1993 to 1997, then served as Associate Chair from 1997 until his retirement in 2005.

The brief bio above itemizes the facts of Stan’s academic career.  We are fortunate in having a record of his “voice.”  Upon his retirement, we published a “special issue” of a Chemistry newsletter dedicated to his career and contributions.  The issue is primarily an interview with Prof. Hartman in which he shared insights from his nearly five decades of experience.  His long career had given him a perspective that few can match. In the interview, Stan generously shared his candid views and insights on academic life in a department that has grown and evolved in response to the students and science it serves.  Please take a moment to read the interview and appreciate what a wonderful member of the BU community we have lost.  To access the newsletter, click here.

Donations  Stan Hartman’s family have asked that any contributions in his honor respect his wishes to benefit the Department of Chemistry.   Donations commemorating Prof. Hartman can be made as follows:

By check Make out to: Trustees of Boston University
Memo line: “Department of Chemistry in Honor of Stan Hartman”
Mail to: Boston University
Department of Chemistry
c/o of Prof. Lawrence Ziegler, Chair
590 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02215
To give on-line Go to:
In gift designation box: “Department of Chemistry in Honor of Stan Hartman”

PFF Alumnus Promoted to Associate Professor

April 10th, 2013

Professor John R. Miecznikowski

Prof. John R. Miecznikowski

Former BU Chemistry Postdoctoral Faculty Fellow (2004-2007), John Miecznikowski, has been promoted to the rank of Associate Professor at Fairfield University.  Prof. Miecznikowski started his independent career at Fairfield University in September 2007 in the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department.  A dedicated and enthusiastic chemistry educator, he was selected as the Undergraduate Teacher of the Year at Fairfield University by Alpha Sigma Nu (Jesuit Honor Society) in 2011.

Prof. Miecznikowski received his Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from Yale University in 2004, where his research with Prof. Robert Crabtree focused on developing several new aspects of transition-metal N-heterocyclic carbene chemistry.

Following his Ph.D., he joined the BU Chemistry Department as a Postdoctoral Faculty Fellow (PFF).   The PFF Program provides a two-to-three-year, full time appointment in the Department of Chemistry for recent Ph.D. graduates who plan to pursue academic careers at 4-year liberal arts colleges as Prof. Miecznikowski did.  It gives Fellows first-hand experience in teaching chemistry, while enabling them to conduct research.  As a PFF, Prof. Miecznikowski was involved in team teaching General Chemistry I (CH101), and Inorganic Chemistry (CH232).   He did postdoctoral research under the direction of Prof. John Caradonna. His research focused on synthesizing and characterizing Fe(II) and Fe(III) model complexes for the 2-His 1-Carboxylate Motif of mononuclear nonheme iron oxygenases.

Prof. Miecznikowski joins the distinguished list of PFF alumni who have also achieved tenure: Amy Bradley, Associate Professor and Chair, Wilkes College;  Robert Harris, MA College of Liberal Arts; Allison Moore, Belmont University; and Laurie Tyler, Union College.

Proteomics on the Silk Road

January 8th, 2013

Since his retirement in 2009, Prof. Emeritus Richard Laursen, a protein chemist for most of his career, has focused on using modern chemical instrumentation to analyze textiles, paint, and other art and archaeological objects.  Utilizing LC-MS, he has become a world-renowned expert in the analysis of dyes from natural sources in historical textiles, including those associated with the legendary Silk Road.  As such he was invited to participate in the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the China National Silk Museum (CNSM), the largest such museum in the world, in Hangzhou, China (November 29 – December 2, 2012).

Prof. Laursen with members of the Committee of the Research Base for Textile Conservation of the CNSM

Prof. Laursen with members of the Committee of the Research Base for Textile Conservation of the CNSM

The event marked the establishment of the first academic Committee of the Research Base for Textile Conservation of the CNSM.  Three members of the Committee are from outside of China:  Richard Laursen; Susan Whitfield, Director of the International Dunhuang Project, British Library, London; and Marie-Louise Nosch, Director of the Danish National Research Foundation’s Centre for Textile Research and Professor of Ancient History, University of Copenhagen.  Named for a period of three years (2013-2015), Committee members Laursen and Whitfield entered into collaborative agreements with Zhao Feng, Director of the CNSM.

On the last day Richard Laursen presented a talk at the commemorative conference, “Researches on and conservation of textiles from the Silk Road.”  His talk was on “Natural Dyes in Textiles from the Silk Road.”Laursen-China-Lecture

The following day, Prof. Laursen met with Liang Songping, Professor of Biology at Hunan Normal University and a former Laursen group postdoc, and with Zhao Feng, and members of the Conservation Science Department of the CNSM to discuss using proteomics for distinguishing between different species of silk in archaeological specimens.

Chemistry Alumni Connect with Current Students

October 2nd, 2012

2012 Alumni Symposium posterAs part of BU’s September 2012 annual alumni weekend celebrations, the Department of Chemistry invited four distinguished alumni to describe some highlights of their varied careers in science and technology and how their BU education launched them on these career paths. The speakers ranged in fields (theoretical chemistry to organic chemistry to physical chemistry) and careers (academia, entrepreneurship, law, industry) and BU educational experiences (undergraduate to Ph.D.). The symposium proved to be both practical in terms of career advice and touching in the tribute speakers paid to their advisors, and demonstrated the substantial impact that their BU Chemistry training had in helping to shape these successful careers. The photo shows the speakers with their advisors: Dr. Victor Battista, GRS ’96, now Professor of Chemistry at Yale, with Prof. John Straub (standing in for Victor’s advisor, David Coker); Dr. Les Dakin, GRS ’03, now scientist at Constellation Pharmaceuticals with advisor, Jim Panek; Dr. Jack Driscoll, GRS ’67, founder of HNU PID with advisor Professor Emeritus, Morton Hoffman; and Dr. Matt Zisk, CAS ’85, now partner and patent counsel at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP & Affiliates with advisor, Professor Emeritus Gil Jones.

Professor Emeritus Norman Lichtin, 1922-2012

June 4th, 2012

Norman Lichtin

In this tribute, Professor Scott Mohr remembers his colleague and friend, Norman Lichtin


1959 – Associate Professor Lichtin

Norman N. Lichtin, longtime member of the faculty of Boston University’s Department of Chemistry and its fifth chairman, passed away on April 30, 2012, aged 89. Norman played a major role in building the department and had a distinguished research career spanning 51 years that resulted in more than 80 publications in top-tier journals. He mentored 27 PhD graduates, 15 master’s students, and 28 post-doctoral research associates. His teaching spanned the range from undergraduate courses in general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physical chemistry, and a seminar on “Man and Energy,” to graduate courses in advanced organic chemistry, physical organic chemistry, photo- and radiation chemistry and chemical kinetics. More

Renovation Inspires Technology Innovation in Undergrad Organic Lab

March 16th, 2012

Undergraduate Organic Lab

BU Chemistry has dramatically improved the undergraduate organic chemistry laboratory by giving students access to major research instrumentation and state-of-the-art technology. By enabling more modern experimentation, these resources foster critical thinking and problem solving skills that prepare undergraduates for  graduate and pre-professional schools or for careers in industry. Advanced experimentation also enables more sophisticated student-designed research-type projects.

Undergraduate Organic Lab Undergraduate Organic Lab

Renovations and instrumentation

Renovations in the Metcalf Center for Science and Engineering (Summer 2011) have transformed our organic chemistry instructional laboratories into an 6,350 sq. ft. suite with fume hoods and bench areas for each student, auxiliary support space, and a chemical stockroom. Space has been dedicated for an undergraduate instrumentation center for with fully automated high field nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), ultra-performance liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Microwave reactors allow for rapid reaction rates, enabling multistep syntheses to be undertaken in a single day.

Undergraduate Organic Lab Undergraduate Organic Lab

Advanced Technology in the Laboratory Curriculum

The entire laboratory curriculum of our sophomore-level organic chemistry sequence has been transformed with the adoption of the “paperless laboratory” through the use of electronic laboratory notebooks. Spearheaded by Professor John Snyder and Professor Scott Schaus and Postdoctoral Faculty Fellow, Seann Mulcahy, integration of these technology resources have enabled the creation of an open-access repository of laboratory protocols, design of laboratory experiments that facilitate sharing of data between students and between disciplines, exposure to automated NMR, GC-MS, and UPLC-MS, and remote download and manipulation of spectroscopic data.

  • Undergraduate Organic LabFast Forward to the 21st Century -The new instrumentation advances undergraduate capabilities well beyond those in traditional sophomore organic textbooks that repeat traditional experiments. Instead, we have designed novel, research-oriented, exploratory experiments that have applicability to modern organic chemistry. These include cross-coupling experiments, olefin metathesis, and many others. Experiment protocols are available on BU’s Digital Common site (DCommon), an open-access online repository that is accessible not only by our students, but by outside instructors as well. Users can be granted upload privileges to deposit modified or new protocols thereby creating a rich resource to the worldwide research community. In addition, a DCommon collection of NMR and UPLC-MS spectra is being compiled as a teaching tool for organic chemistry courses.

Undergraduate Organic Lab

  • Major Instrumentation – BU is unique in using the latest instrumentation for routine, hands-on training at the sophomore level. The laboratory’s state-of-the-art instrumentation also allows comprehensive characterization of synthetic material prepared in each experiment. Students now routinely run 1H and 13C NMR (and 2D COSY), UPLC/MS, GC/MS, and FT-IR on their own samples and to obtain a set of data which approaches the quality needed for publication.


Undergraduate Organic Lab

  • Into the Cloud – Our students are now using fully electronic laboratory notebooks, which they populate  on their laptops with reaction details, procedural notes, and safety protocols. Analytic data and spectra (manipulated and interpreted remotely) are uploaded into the notebook and serve as part of their final laboratory reports.