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 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.
On April 30, high school students from Boston Community Leadership Academy (BCLA) visited the BU Chemistry Department for our second annual Chemistry Day. The forty-five BCLA students learned about acids and bases, gas laws, and chemical reactions at a jaw-dropping demonstration show. They also explored rates of reactions and electrochemistry in two hands-on laboratories run by BU graduate student, Daniele Ramella, and Postdoctoral Faculty Fellow, Rosemary White. Then the students toured chemistry research labs where graduate students and postdocs taught them about their current research. The event concluded with a picnic lunch, sponsored by Cynthia Brossman of LERNET. Chemistry Day was organized by Anais Gervais (BUWIC), Riya Luhar (Chemia), Rosemary White, and Susan DeSensi. The BCLA students are in Arielle Saavedra’s 10th-grade chemistry class. Throughout the semester, BU undergrads Jennifer Kole, Ariana Sherman, and Mike Zimmerman visited Arielle’s classes as part of the Chemistry Outreach Program. The Chemistry Outreach Program, organized by Dr. Susan DeSensi and Dr. Rosemary White, both of the BU Chemistry Department, sends BU undergrads to BCLA, English High School, and Fenway High School to work with the chemistry classes, perform demos and labs, and share their excitement for chemistry. Please check out some Photos from this wonderful event.
Snyder Recognized for Excellence in Student Advising
For the second year in a row, a member of the Chemistry faculty has received the Templeton Prize for Excellence in Student Advising, the top undergraduate advising award given by the College of Arts and Sciences.
The 2009 recipient is Prof. John Snyder. Despite his busy schedule which involves teaching, research, and management of two NSF summer undergraduate research programs, this dedicated advisor and mentor is always available to meet with undergraduates. One student related that “Anytime I have a problem, personal or academic, Dr. Snyder was right there and took the time to give me advice and help. He even went out of his way to find me a scholarship for the summer so I could take two classes that I wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise.”
Among many enthusiastic accolades, another student stated: “Being a freshman and ignorant of many aspects of college life, I had trouble adjusting. It was always my dream to enter graduate school one day. However, I really had no clue what to do to get there. I sought the advice of my professors, but Dr. Snyder really helped me the most. He would spend time to get to know me, understand what type of person I am, help me to learn where my strengths and abilities are, and to help me to discover which aspect of chemistry I was most passionate about. In doing so, I personally felt that Professor Snyder went the extra mile to be a part of my academic journey. It is professors like Dr. Snyder that make Boston University such a great school.”
This news item has been adapted from the April 30, 2009, award announcement at the CAS Faculty Meeting. We thank the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs, Wayne Snyder, for sharing his citation.
Professor Morton Hoffman Elected Chair of the Division of Chemical Education of the American Chemical Society
Professor Morton Hoffman has been elected Chair of the Division of Chemical Education (CHED) of the American Chemical Society (ACS) for 2005; he will serve as Chair Elect in 2004. The 6,000-member CHED is one of the largest and most active ACS divisions and includes chemistry educators from all levels, as well as individuals from industry and government who have a particular interest in chemical education. Prof. Hoffman has been an active member of CHED for nearly four decades and sees his position as an opportunity to advance an organization that has been important to his career as a chemical educator through greater outreach to high school teachers and improved web presence
Professor Straub received the award in recognition of his dedication to improving academic programs in Chemistry and in the Core Curriculum. Teaching both undergraduate and advanced courses, his classes have always received the highest ratings from students who write comments such as:
“[Professor Staub] was passionate and funny, but most importantly he cared about us. I learned more in one of his lectures [in CH 101] than I did all last semester.”
An associate chairman of the Department of Chemistry, Professor Straub leads the Graduate Affairs Committee. He is also an internationally recognized researcher in the fields of theoretical and computational chemistry and biophysics. In addition to his work with undergraduates, Professor Straub is devoted to advancing the research and careers of his graduate students, many of whom have moved into prestigious positions in both academic and non-academic institutions.