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Chemistry Department Receives NSF Grant

The Chemistry Department received the NSF grant #0736538 for $136,276. The grant is entitled "Curricular Enhancement of the Sciences through the Vertical Integration and Interdisciplinary Applications of GC-MS." Dr. Lois Zook-Gerdau is the Principal Investigator (PI) on the project and the Co-PI’s are Dr. Deepamali Perera, Dr. Eric Schurter, and Dr. Paul Szalay.   The award became effective April 15, 2008, and expires March 31, 2011. 

The Chemistry Department will also purchase a second GC with FID detector for the Organic Laboratory through the college's Symbols of Excellence program.  Muskingum College is also paying for travel to a 4-day training course at Perkin Elmer’s headquarters in Shelton CT mid-August 2008 for Zook-Gerdau.  Perkin Elmer is also going to have a product specialist on campus mid July, 2008 to train all the faculty on specific applications of the GC-MS for use in their courses and research projects. 

The Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer (GC-MS) instrument will be used in a variety of research projects as well as in the teaching labs.  GC-MS is an extremely powerful analytical tool that can be used in a variety of disciplines including chemistry, biochemistry, and environmental science, to name a few.  GC-MS is routinely used in the medical, pharmacological, environmental, and forensic fields.  Students in all the Science division disciplines will be using the GC-MS in their introductory chemistry courses.  In addition to Chemistry majors, students majoring in Biology, Molecular Biology, and Neuroscience who take Organic Chemistry and/or Biochemistry as part of a pre-health major will use the GC-MS in those courses.  Environmental and Conservation Science majors who take Environmental Chemistry will also be using the GC-MS in the laboratory to analyze water and soil samples.  We even plan to implement the use of the GC-MS in the Liberal Arts Chemistry course, specifically Dr. Szalay’s Chemistry 105 sections of Issues in the Chemical Science that focus on Forensic Chemistry.  Students will also be using the GC-MS in research projects.  Some examples of on-going research projects that could utilize GC-MS in the future include 1) a chemistry/molecular biology study of the possible long-term effects of the application of pesticides to reclaimed and restored strip-mined lands at the Wilds, 2) a chemistry/environmental science project studying organic pollutants in the Salt Creek Watershed, 3) an interdisciplinary project by a chemistry/psychology double major studying analogs of the ADHD drug, Ritalin, on the play behavior of rats, and 4) a bioaccumulation study on Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) in native versus non-native plant species. 

In addition to the NSF grant, Dr. Szalay, Dr. Rataiczak and Dr. Zook-Gerdau co-authored a presentation at the Central Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society on June 12. It was titled "An Integrated Laboratory Experiment: Synthesis and Characterization of Transition Metal Maleonitriledithiolate Complexes."

Students Present Research at Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Week Poster Session:
Two Molecular Biology Students (Joint Program Between Chemistry and Biology) Win Awards

The Science Division held its annual Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Week in April, during which students presented their research findings in poster presentations. Each worked with the faculty at Muskingum, as well as with experts and organizations from outside the campus. Winners of the poster competition were selected by Science Division faculty members. Two molecular biology students received awards provided by the Carolyn and Glenn Hodges Student Research Awards Fund. The program for the event contains abstracts for students' research.

1st  Place:

Ankur Joshi, Molecular Biology Program: Prediction of the structure and nature of the “resuscitation promoting factor” (RPF) protein secreted by the viable cells of Microcuccus luteus.

Prediction of the Structure and Nature of the “Resuscitation Promoting Factor” (RPF) Protein Secreted by the Viable Cells of Micrococcus Luteus.” Bioinformatics research using several databases was carried out to obtain information about the 3-D structure and function of an Rpf protein produced by Micrococcus Luteus.

2rd Place

Anna Belyaevskaya, Molecular Biology Program: Comparison of HLA-C gene from a person affected by psoriasis and 3 people potentially carrying the gene.

Psoriasis affects nearly 3 percent of the world population.  Among many genes causing psoriasis, HLA-C in human leukocyte antigen (HLA) complex on chromosome 6p21.3 has shown the strongest association with the disease. Although the connection between this allele and psoriasis has been studied for several decades, researchers still have doubts about this relationship. This research project focuses on sequencing of the HLA-C gene from a person affected by psoriasis and 3 people who may be potential carriers.  Data obtained will supplement information about connection between HLA-C gene and psoriasis in the Russian population. 

Other chemistry students participating in the Poster Session were:

  • Amanda LeFever and Dr. Raymond D Rataiczak presented Synthesis and characterization of the pyrene- 7,7,8,8- tetracyanoquinodimethan charge transfer complex.
  • Craig Miller and Dr. Deepamali Perera presented Synthesis and characterization of pyrimidopyrimidoindole nucleosides: fluorescent probes for abasic DNA sites.
  • David Shahbodaghi presented Independent chemical research with Dr. Eric J. Schurter.

James A. Bradford Colloquium

Chemistry student, Amanda LeFever, and Molecular Biology students, Ankur Joshi and Anna Belyaevskaya, presented their research at the James A. Bradford Colloquium during Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Week in April. Seniors from all science departments and programs along with the Psychology Department present their research to faculty and other members of the Muskingum College community. Amanda LeFever won third place. Awards were provided by the Carolyn and Glenn Hodges Student Research Awards Fund.

3nd Place:

Amanda LeFever, Department of Chemistry: Synthesis and characterization of the Pyrene-7,7,8,8-tetracyanoquinodimethan charge transfer complexThe purpose of this investigation was to determine if there was an interaction (based on degree of charge transfer) between the π-acceptor molecule 7,7’,8,8’-tetracyanoquinodimethane (TCNQ) and the π-donor molecule pyrene. Previous research on the interaction of large acene-TCNQ complexes including coronene, tetracene, and perylene suggests alternate stacking of the molecules in the charge transfer complex.

Dr. Rudy Gerlach Receives National Award for Environmental Safety Work

Dr. Rudy Gerlach, chemistry professor emeritus of Muskingum College, recently received a national award from the Academy of Certified Hazardous Materials Managers (ACHMM) for his life's work--teaching about environmental safety. Dr. Gerlach received the ACHMM's "Mary McMillan Memorial" Friend of the Academy Award, which is presented to a non-ACHMM member who has made outstanding contributions to the certified hazardous materials managers credential and the overall goals of ACHMM at the national level

Gerlach has been a member of the Ohio Local Emergency Planning Commission, and he has participated as a member of the Ohio Region 8 Search and Rescue Team. He has dedicated his life to teaching about environmental chemistry, hazardous materials, laboratory safety, occupational safety, analytical methodology, and regulatory compliance. He continues to teach in the industrial and federal facilities on these topics. He was nominated for the award by Kim Perry of BEV-CAMP Environmental Services and Training of Ohatchee, AL.

Recently he received his 50-year commendation as a member of the American Chemical Society. During those years, he served diligently on the Health and Safety Committee and College Safety Awards Committee. He also directed technical videos, "Flammables and Combustibles and Oxidizers," with the ACS Department of Continuing Education. Dr. Gerlach co-authored the book, "Improving Safety in the Chemical Laboratory" in 1991 with a second edition in 1994. From 1971 through 1981, The Journal of Chemical Education published articles by Gerlach. In 1989, he became a certified environmental trainer with the National Environmental Association, as an original member of that organization.

One of the most interesting notations of his career was a 1992 trip to Russia as a representative of the organization, "People-to-People." As part of an environmental assessment team, Gerlach traveled to St. Petersburg, Moscow and Harkov to meet with officials and to answer environmental questions. Dr. Gerlach has been a member of the Local Emergency Planning Committee since its inception and serves on the Muskingum County Emergency Management Association as a hazardous materials specialist.

For nearly 20 years, he has participated and volunteered on those teams and the Ohio Region 8 Search and Rescue Team, the New Concord Fire Department as a consultant for hazardous materials, the the Lions Club. Dr. Gerlach is a United States Marine Corps veteran, serving in a regimental supply company from February 1951 to February 1954 during the Korean War. He was honorably discharged as a staff sergeant. He is a member of the New Concord United Methodist Church and has taught an adult Sunday school class for the past seven years. He is married to Loas Gerlach.

Dr. Gerlach operates Gerlach Training and Consulting from his home in New Concord. He began his career in 1956 as a teacher at Batavia High School and after one year of high school, he joined Muskingum as a professor of chemistry. He retired from Muskingum, his alma mater, in 1993. He received a master's degree in chemistry from The Ohio State University and a doctoral degree in environmental chemistry from Walden University in Chicago, IL. Dr. Gerlach is a Morgan County native. His parents were the late Homer and Lillie Gerlach of Bristol Township.

Also in the News...

  • Lois Zook-Gerdau granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor.
  • Paul Szalay, Department of Chemistry, received a faculty development grant to design and prepare new compounds with the potential to act as heterogenous (solid state) catalysts.

Nicole Dickson, 2004 Chemistry Major Alumna, is Guest Speaker

Nicole Dickson, currently a graduate student at OSU, spoke on "Solvation Dynamics Probed by Ultrafast Spectroscopy" on November 19, 2007. Nicole discussed two projects on which she is currently working:

A.   Enhanced fluidity liquid chromatography (EFLC) has been used in the pharmaceutical industry to separate enantiomers for quite some time.  EFLC utilizes a chiral stationary phase and an achiral mobile phase.  Changing the achiral mobile phase reverses the retention times of the R and S enantiomers.  We have employed femtosecond time resolved transient absorption anisotropy to explore the interactions that occur between a chiral solute and an achiral solvent in order to provide insight into the processes involved in enantiomeric separations.

B.   Linear polyenes are often studied as models of biological molecules such as retinal.  Diphenylbutadiene (DPB) and diphenylcyclopentadiene (DPCP) are molecules often studied for their interesting excited state ordering and cis-trans isomerization.  We are interested in the differences the single phenyl to polyene versus double phenyl to polyene bonds have on the vibrational spectra of these molecules.  This talk will explore the ground work needed for obtaining such information.