This fall, Chemistry welcomes three new instructors to its teaching core. Dr. Rebecca Loy has joined the department as Course Coordinator for the organic chemistry laboratory program (CH 203/204/214). In addition to developing the laboratory curriculum and giving the pre-laboratory and course lectures, she directs and trains the courses’ Teaching Fellows and Undergraduate Assistants. Prior to coming to Boston University, Dr. Loy was a postdoctoral fellow with Professor Melanie Sanford at the University of Michigan, studying palladium catalyzed perfluoroalkylation of arenes and vanadium redox flow batteries. Dr. Loy’s academic studies began at the University of California, Berkeley where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in 2004. While there, she conducted research under both Professors Robert Bergman and F. Dean Toste. She studied both titanium catalyzed hydroamination reactions of allenes and rhenium catalyzed glycosylation reactions. She obtained her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2009 under the direction of Professor Eric Jacobsen studying asymmetric intramolecular oxetane openings catalyzed by cobalt salen complexes.
In addition two new Postdoctoral Faculty Fellows (PFFs), Dr. Kristen Mascall and Dr. Lynetta Mier, have joined the PFF Program. The innovative program provides a two-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. (Since its founding in 2002, there have been 23 PFFs.) In addition to her teaching, Dr. Mascall is conducting research in medicinal chemistry with Professor Aaron Beeler. She received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH) in 2012. Dr. Mier is conducting research in ultrafast spectroscopy with Professor Larry Ziegler. She received her Ph.D. from Ohio State University in 2012.
BU Chemistry hosted more than 100 students from the Boston Community Leadership Academy (BCLA) and English High School on May 4, 2012 for the fourth annual Chemistry Day. The morning long program began with a demonstration session given by BU Chemistry undergraduates and coordinated by Postdoctoral Faculty Fellow (PFF) Dr. Seann Mulcahy. The demonstration explored pH, having fun with liquid nitrogen, synthesizing nylon, and making “Elephant’s Toothpaste.” After the demonstration, students spent time in our undergraduate teaching labs performing experiments in electrochemistry of metals (a variation on a CH 101 undergraduate lab experiment), electrolysis of salt water, and identifying antioxidants using glow sticks. These experiments were coordinated by PFF Dr. Katie Frato with assistance by BUWIC (Boston University Women in Chemistry) president Sarah Soltau and undergraduates. Students also attended tours of state-of-the-art chemistry research labs, seeing major instrumentation such as NMR spectrometers and GC/MS instruments and testing a glove box. During these tours, graduate student and postdoctoral researchers also described their work and what it was like to work in a research lab. The morning was capped off with a BBQ sponsored by the department. Photos from the event can be seen at the BU Chemistry Flickr site.
BU Chemistry Day is the culmination of a semester long outreach program created by BUWIC and coordinated by Liz Hirst (BUWIC Outreach Coordinator). During the semester, 2-3 BU students visited classrooms at BCLA, English High School, and Brighton High School every other week to mentor students, assist teachers with instruction, perform demonstrations, and coordinate hands-on experiments.
BU Chemistry is grateful to all of those involved, with special thanks to:
Outreach co-directors: Seann Mulcahy and Katie Frato
BUWIC: Sarah Soltau (President) and Liz Hirst (Outreach Coordinator)
Teaching lab coordinator: Boris Bezverkhny
Undergraduate “Outreachers”: Kyle Kahveci, Will Lyon (English High); Shama Patel, Nicole Buechler, Holly Johnson, Pragya Kalla, James Priestley, Christopher Neil, Zach Bogart (BCLA); and Nick Russo, Josh Nelson, Doug Allison (Brighton High)
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.
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.
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.
- Fast 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Boston University Chemistry has launched a new Digital Common site for organic chemistry teaching lab protocols. According to Prof. John Snyder, “developing a freely accessible, dynamic data base of sophomore organic lab experiments was driven by the reality that we were creating most of our sophomore course labs rather than relying on a lab textbook. In fact, many colleges and universities are doing the same. As PFFs from our department have gone on to faculty positions, the potential for having a large number of talented contributors to the database became rather obvious.” Early users / contributors include PFF alumna Prof. Amy Bradley (Wilkes University) and Prof. Lauren Rossi (Roger Williams University). Instrumental in developing the free access database is current PFF, Dr. Seann Mulcahy.
The BU Digital Common is an open access repository, which means that the full text of the work deposited here is freely accessible to the world via the web. BU Chemistry organic lab instructors have placed protocols developed over the years to be freely and easily accessible to other instructors. Users can download and modify these protocols to use in their own courses as they see fit. Users may also be granted upload privileges to deposit modified or new protocols that will be of use to the world-wide teaching community.
In March 2011, John Miecznikowski, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Chemistry, received Fairfield University’s Teacher of the Year Award. He was nominated by the Fairfield student body and selected from among 75 undergraduate professors.
Professor Miecznikowski began his teaching career as a Postdoctoral Faculty Fellow (PFF) in the Boston University Department of Chemistry (2004-2007). At BU, Dr. Miecznikowski taught “General Chemistry” (CH101) and “Inorganic Chemistry” (CH 232).
His research was conducted in Professor John Caradonna’s laboratory and focused on the development, synthesis, and characterization of ligand precursors and iron, gallium and zinc model complexes of phenylalanine hydroxylase and other mononuclear nonheme enzymes with N and O atoms bound to the metal center.
Professor Miecznikowski started his tenure track teaching position at Fairfield in 2007.
Three new Postdoctoral Faculty Fellows (PFFs), Robert F. Harris, John Miecznikowski, and Clifford Murphy, have joined “veteran” PFF, Tom Castonguay, in the highly successful teaching/research program.
Robert Harris received his Ph.D. from Boston College in 2003, where he was also a Research Associate. He is doing research in Professor Grinstaff’s laboratory and teaching in“General and Quantitative Analytical Chemistry” (CH109/110) with Prof. Mullin.
John Miecznikowski received his Ph.D. from Yale University in Inorganic Chemistry under Dr. Robert Crabtree. He is doing research in Professor Caradonna’s laboratory and teaching in “General Chemistry” (CH 101) in the fall and “Inorganic Chemistry” (CH 232) with John Caradonna in the spring.
Cliff Murphy received his Ph.D. from SUNY Binghamton in Inorganic Chemistry. He is doing research in Professor Jones’ laboratory and teaching with Professor Straub in “General and Quantitative Analytical Chemistry” (CH111/CH 112 in the spring).