Archive for the ‘Publications’ Category

Chemistry Majors Inducted into Phi Kappa Phi

Posted on: April 30th, 2021 by nhammer

Nine University of Mississippi chemistry majors have recently been welcomed into one of the oldest and most prestigious honor societies in the world.

The Phi Kapa Phi honor society’s mission is “to recognize and promote academic excellence in all fields of higher education and to engage the community of scholars in service to others.”

“This semester’s inductees deserve so much praise and respect,” Phi Kappa Phi Ole Miss board member Dr. Debora Wenger said. “They remained committed to academic excellence despite a pandemic creating innumerable challenges for learning. These students are truly scholarly all-stars.”

Phi Kappa Phi has a long and impressive history. In 1897 at the University of Maine, 10 senior students, two faculty members and the school president created an honor society that was different from the few others then in existence- one that recognized and honored excellence in all academic disciplines. Under the leadership of undergraduate student Marcus L. Urann, the group formed the Lambda Sigma Eta Society, which was later renamed Phi Kappa Phi from the initial letters of the Greek words forming its adopted motto: Philosophìa Krateìto Photôn, “Let the love of learning rule humanity.”

At the University of Mississippi, notable inductees include former chancellor Robert Khayat, the late Senator Thad Cochran and bestselling author John Grisham. Presidents, senators, Supreme Court Justices, governors, Pulitzer Prize winners, even astronauts count themselves as members of Phi Kappa Phi. 

Please join the department in welcoming these 2020-2021 chemistry majors to the Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society:

B. S. Chemistry Majors Selected for Prestigious NSF Research Fellowships

Posted on: April 22nd, 2021 by nhammer

Two University of Mississippi B .S. Chemistry majors have been selected to receive National Science Foundation fellowships that recognize and support the research-based pursuit of master’s and doctoral degrees in STEM fields.   Jax Dallas and Larry Stokes were selected for fellowships that include three years of financial support through the foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program.  The two students are the first UM students to be offered the prestigious fellowship since 2015. Both are enrolled in the university’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

“We are overwhelmed with joy that Honors College students received the coveted NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program grants,” said Douglass Sullivan- González, Honors College dean. “Their success is a testimony to their hard, persistent work with the tough questions of the day.

“Kudos also to our faculty and staff who make these opportunities possible and who work with them in the labs and in the application process to compete successfully for the highest awards in the nation. We are so proud that undergraduate research and creative performance continue to be a part of the signature experience of our honors students, and their work catches eyes in national competitions.”

Jax Dallas

The fellowship program includes an annual stipend to the student and a cost-of-education allowance to be applied toward their future graduate studies, which do not have to occur at their current institution. Through the program, the student is required to work toward a master’s or doctoral degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics or STEM education at an accredited U.S. institution.Jax Dallas, of Caledonia, earned a Graduate Research Fellowship Program award to continue his investigations into the field of quantum sensing, which uses advanced physics to perform highly sensitive measurements of a physical quantity.

A senior from Caledonia, Dallas plans to further pursue his chemistry studies at the California Institute of Technology; Meador, of Carbondale, Illinois, is a senior who will continue his chemistry studies at UM; and Stokes, of Clarksdale, is a senior majoring in biomedical engineering who is still deciding between the University of Texas and Vanderbilt University for his graduate school.

Dallas’ chemistry emphasis is in chemical physics, and his future studies will investigate the field of quantum sensing, which uses advanced physics to perform highly sensitive measurements of a physical quantity.

He plans to further explore the development of new instrumentation and methods to study light-matter interactions, as well as the combination of novel molecules for the field of quantum sensing. One research project at the California Institute of Technology that specifically interests Dallas is optimizing and applying one of the world’s few entangled photon spectrometers, which is a scientific instrument used to probe the properties of light.

“I am interested in these fields as they are on the cutting edge of what humanity has accomplished so far within the sciences, and I am extremely eager to be in on the action,” said Dallas, who in 2020 was awarded a coveted Barry S. Goldwater Scholarship, one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious national scholarships in the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics.

“Furthermore, these projects are extremely multidisciplinary and allow for overlap from the most talented scientists in fields ranging from optical engineering to molecular biology. So far, my career end-goals are undetermined, but I could see myself happily going into academia, the industry or the national laboratory setting.”

While at UM, Dallas’ research supervisor was Ryan Fortenberry, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

“I would like to thank Dr. Ryan Fortenberry, who has been extremely helpful not only during the program application process but during my time at the university as a whole,” said Dallas, who also will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. “I am extremely excited and honored to be a recipient of the fellowship, as it will allow me great amounts of freedom as I join a research group as a Ph.D. student next year.”

 

Calling the Graduate Research Fellowship Program the “fellowship that every graduate student aspires to achieve,” Meador said he was shocked and overwhelmed with emotion upon learning of his selection.

A fellow 2020 Barry S. Goldwater Scholarship recipient, Meador’s chemistry emphasis is in chemical synthesis, which seeks to build complex molecules from simpler ones through chemical reactions.

William Meador

After graduating in May, Meador’s research likely will continue to focus on the design and synthesis of near-infrared emissive small molecules for use as biological imaging agents, an area where he has gained experience over the past four years at UM. He also intends to expand his research interests into other areas while continuing his Ole Miss career, including exploring the design and synthesis of efficient low-energy absorbing dyes for solar cell technologies.

“This past spring, I decided to remain here at the University of Mississippi, where I will continue working with Dr. Jared Delcamp,” said Meador, who hopes to become a professor at a high-level research university and work with students to address some of society’s most pertinent problems.

“I am incredibly excited about this decision due to the constructive research environment here at UM that forces me to constantly learn and grow as a scientist, the opportunity to obtain crucial mentorship skills through training undergraduates, and for personal reasons, including my significant other also pursuing a professional degree here at UM.

“Not only is the research impactful, but I have the time of my life going to the lab every day, investigating ways in which we can tune how molecules interact with light.”

Delcamp, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, serves as Meador’s research adviser, and he is one of several people Meador thanked for helping him earn the fellowship, along with his family, significant other, the Delcamp Group research laboratory and the chemistry and biochemistry faculty.

 

Alumna Honored With National Mentorship Award In Health Sciences

Posted on: April 21st, 2021 by nhammer
a young African American woman in a blue blouse

Dr. Shana Stoddard, assistant professor of chemistry at Rhodes College and University of Mississippi Ph.D. graduate from 2013, was a 2021 recipient of the Mentor Award presented by the Council on Undergraduate Research’s (CUR) Health Sciences Division. The division recognizes transformative mentoring and advising by higher education faculty across all subdivisions of health sciences—wellness, disease, health care, and health management—with awards in the early career, mid-career, and advanced career categories. Each award includes a cash prize and a certificate of recognition.

“I am truly humbled to receive the Council of Undergraduate Research Health Sciences Division early career mentor award,” says Stoddard. “I am grateful to have a group of mentors myself who have not only equipped me to be an effective and engaging mentor, but who also helped open a space for me to be a mentor here at Rhodes College. Receiving this award just encourages me to be even more diligent in mentoring.”

Stoddard’s Molecular Immunotherapeutics Research lab at Rhodes is made up of a diverse group of students using a combination of computational chemistry, biochemistry, and cell-based assays to conduct research focused on improving patient outcomes with autoimmune disorders, cancers, neurological disorders, and coronaviruses. Several of Stoddard’s students have co-authored papers published in journals.

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to them their own. This ideology perfectly represents Dr. Shana Stoddard’s role as a professor and as a mentor to her students,” says chemistry major Kennedi E. Fitts ’21. “She encourages students to continue on whatever journey genuinely fulfills them. She does this by sharing the richness of her story—her obstacles and triumphs. She then utilizes such experiences to push her students to discover their own purposes. Through this, she impacts students on a personal level—one that forces them to understand themselves in a way they didn’t before meeting Dr. Stoddard. She truly puts her entire being into making sure her students feel that they belong in the room—and if they don’t, she provides them with the confidence to eventually come to that realization.”

Stoddard received a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Mississippi in 2013 and went to work for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Radiological Sciences. She came to Rhodes in 2015 as a William Randolph Hearst Teaching Fellow and joined the Department of Chemistry as assistant professor in 2017.

Founded in 1978, CUR is an organization of individual, institutional, and affiliate members from around the world. Its mission is to support and promote high-quality mentored undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative inquiry.

Rhodes’ Professor of Biology Dr. Terry Hill and Professor of Psychology Dr. Marsha Walton were awarded mentoring awards by CUR in 2020. Professor of Chemistry Dr. Loretta Jackson-Hayes is a 2021 recipient of the CUR Chemistry Division Outstanding Mentorship Award.

Chemistry Majors Win Coveted Goldwater Scholarships

Posted on: April 5th, 2021 by nhammer

Austin Wallace and Qing Ivy Li awarded one of nation’s most prestigious national scholarships

Austin Wallace, of Southaven, has been involved in computational chemistry research with UM professor Ryan Fortenberry. The 2021 Goldwater Scholar hopes to become a researcher at a national research laboratory.

 

Two B.S. Chemistry majors and members of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College at the University of Mississippi have been awarded prestigious and coveted Barry S. Goldwater Scholarships.  This makes a total of 5 Goldwater scholars in the past three years for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. 

Qing Ivy Li, of Oxford, and Austin Wallace, of Southaven, became the university’s 17th and 18th students to receive Goldwater scholarships. Both students are junior B. S. Chemistry majors.

The Goldwater is one of the oldest and most prestigious national scholarships in the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics in the United States. It identifies and supports exceptional sophomores and juniors who show promise of becoming the nation’s next generation of research leaders in these fields.

Dean Douglass Sullivan-González said the Honors College is proud of Li and Wallace for their accomplishments as citizens and scholars.

“Austin and Ivy have poured their undergraduate careers into laboratories, seeking answers to fundamental questions at an astonishing young age,” he said. “Both have committed themselves to the task of unleashing their imagination in a very disciplined way to help advance knowledge and understanding in the world of science.

“The Goldwater scholarship acknowledges their national success. I want also to affirm that our professors make these moments possible with their investments in our students. And kudos to our new director of the Office of National Scholarships, Dr. Vivian Ibrahim, who worked to call these winners to task, align their skills and accomplishments with the right award, and push them to completion. What a team.”

Each of the students said receiving the scholarship means a great deal.

“Being selected to receive the Goldwater is a major accomplishment for me and is a critical moment in both my research journey in chemistry and my professional development,” Li said.

Wallace has been involved in computational chemistry research with Ryan Fortenberry, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry. He presented his first project on carbonic acid clusters as a poster at the Southeastern Undergraduate Research Conference 2020. The manuscript of this work has been submitted to The Journal of Physical Chemistry A.

“I am ecstatic to receive this award, since it provides support for my future career goals in research,” Wallace said. “My end goal is to become a researcher at a national research laboratory.” Wallace’s research with Fortenberry includes developing a data analysis program called 0nset, which will enhance the way in which experimental data can be interpreted. Wallace’s research also uses quantum chemistry to study clusters of small, organic molecules, such as carbonic acid, to probe the earliest possible molecular origins of life.

“The 0nset work has been published in the Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy and Radiative Transfer in February,” Wallace said. “The program was developed in collaboration with Dr. Jared Delcamp’s research group, which focuses on developing dye-sensitized solar cells.” Delcamp’s group needed a truly analytical measure of how molecules interact with light, and Wallace provided this with 0nset.

Qing Ivy Li, of Oxford, has earned a 2021 Goldwater Scholarship for her work at Ole Miss. She is looking ahead to graduate school and hopes to someday lead her own research group at a national laboratory that focuses on renewable energy.

 

Li is a part of Delcamp’s research group, where she has conducted research since her freshman year. Her research has focused on understanding long-lived, high-energy charge separation triggered by light.

Understanding light-induced charge separations is critical to a number of applications, from night vision devices and synthetic fuels to pharmaceutical drug synthesis. Li helped with the design, synthesis and characterization of a variety of organic dyes, which are responsible for the color of a compound.

“My immediate plans are to finish my undergraduate degree and continue my chemistry research endeavors as a graduate student at an R1 university,” Li said. “In the future, I want to lead my own research group at a national laboratory that focuses on designing, synthesizing and applying novel organic molecules for renewable energy purposes.”

Li’s work on pyridyl-based CO2 sensors is published in ACS Omega and her work on the effects of halogen bonding on interfacial electron transfers is undergoing revisions with Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

She also has presented her research at the 2019 UM Research Experiences for Undergraduates Symposium, the Gulf Water Sensors meeting at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Feeding and Powering the World Conference and at the Southeastern Undergraduate Research Conference, where Wallace also was a presenter.

Greg Tschumper, chair and professor of chemistry, said it is truly exceptional when multiple students from the same program receive Goldwater scholarships the same year, noting that the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry has done just that two years in a row. Both Jax Dallas, a physical chemistry and math major from Caledonia, and William Meador, a chemistry major from Carbondale, Illinois, were named Goldwater Scholars in 2020.

“We are truly honored to have the work of Ivy and Austin recognized at the national level,” Tschumper said. “They have taken their passion for and dedication to science beyond the classroom and into the research lab.

“These accomplishments speak volumes about not only the exceptional quality our students and faculty but also the research they are conducting together at Ole Miss.”

Along with the recognition of being named a Goldwater scholar, selected students also receive $7,500.

Last year, the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation received 1,300 applications and awarded 250 scholarships. For the 2021 competition, more than 5,000 applications were submitted from 438 academic institutions, with 410 students being named Goldwater scholars.

“Ivy and Austin presented an incredible commitment to a career in research, a display of intellectual curiosity and proven contributions in their fields,” said Ibrahim, who worked closely with Li and Wallace to craft their applications. “We’re so proud of our 2021 scholars. Want to be a future Goldwater recipient? Let’s talk!”

List of Recent Goldwater Scholars from Chemistry & Biochemistry:

2021 Ivy Li and Austin Wallace (#17, #18)

2020 Will Meador and Jax Dallas (#15, #16)

2019 Addison Rousch (#14)

2012 Nikki Reinemann (#13)  Chemistry/Chemical Engineering

2010 Anna Kathryn Hailey  (#12)  Chemistry/Chemical Engineering/Chinese

Prof. Tschumper Wins 2021 SEC Faculty Achievement Award

Posted on: April 4th, 2021 by nhammer

Professor internationally recognized for research in physical and computational quantum chemistry

Greg Tschumper

 

Greg Tschumper, professor of chemistry in the College of Liberal Arts, has been named winner of the 2021 SEC Faculty Achievement Award for the University of Mississippi, the Southeastern Conference announced this week.

Tschumper joined the Ole Miss faculty in 2001, and his research interests are in weak chemical interactions that play a vital role in a host of chemical, physical and biological processes. He is an expert in the development of electronic structure techniques to describe weak intermolecular interactions and clusters, and he is a full member of Sigma Xi, the scientific research honor society.

“Dr. Tschumper is an outstanding member of our community of scholars, and this honor is a reflection of his many accomplishments,” said Noel Wilkin, UM provost and executive vice chancellor. “He is an internationally recognized researcher in the fields of physical chemistry and computational quantum chemistry and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“Beyond his research accomplishments and contributions to the scientific community, he is an excellent leader of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, is a stellar teacher, has been awarded the Cora Lee Graham Award for Outstanding Teacher of Freshmen and has been awarded the university’s Faculty Achievement Award.”

To receive an SEC achievement award, a faculty member must have achieved the rank of full professor; have a record of extraordinary teaching, particularly at the undergraduate level; and have a record of research that is recognized nationally and/or internationally.

University winners receive a $5,000 honorarium from the SEC and become their campus nominee for the SEC Professor of the Year Award, which will be announced in April.

Click here to learn more about Tschumper.

Departmental Alumna Featured in Ole Miss Alumni Review

Posted on: March 4th, 2021 by nhammer

Qun “Tring” Zhu (PhD 2001) was featured in the Fall 2020 edition of the Ole Miss Alumni Review.  Click Here for the full issue and full article.  Zhu earned her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Zhejiang University of Technology in Hangzhou, China, before she received a graduate research assistantship from Ole Miss and embarked on her journey there.  She was going to apply to the National University of Singapore, but her friend Zhuoli He, a postdoctoral fellow in chemistry at Ole Miss, convinced her to apply to Ole Miss.  “In the beginning, I struggled with the Southern accent,” Zhu says with a laugh. “I could read and write English, but having conversations was a challenge at the beginning.”  Her education included attending symposiums and conferences, such as a trip to a regional American Chemical Society meeting in New Orleans. Going to the Gordon Research Conference in New Hampshire every summer also gave Zhu insight into the tools needed to present to groups. The process included practice sessions where Zhu appreciated the feedback and training she received from Prof. Charles Hussey.  Hussey (BS 71, PhD 74), UM Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and Biochemistry, saw Zhu’s dual skills as a researcher and team leader during her time as a doctoral student. Zhu earned her Ph.D. in electrochemistry and analytical chemistry from Ole Miss in 2001. “She is scientifically very bright and has a strong intuition, which is crucial to success in scientific research,” Hussey says. “She also has a very unique leadership skill in that she can influence team members to pursue a research direction without actually giving them orders.  I call this ‘gentle leadership.’ The best leaders have this kind of skill.”    “Dr. Hussey has high standards. He says, ‘You are not ready,’ and I practiced more until I was ready. Dr. Hussey taught me so much. He and the chemistry department gave me all the skills that I needed for future challenges.”  Obtaining a Ph.D. within the chemistry department also entails presenting a seminar to the entire department. “You have to come up with Ph.D. proposals, you have to prepare and learn how to present in front of a live audience,” Zhu says. “The auditorium was big. I prepared until I was ready!” After she completed her Ph.D., Zhu took an informal role as an Ole Miss recruiter. She recommended a couple of potential graduate students to the chemistry department at the university. “I did the screening,” Zhu says. “I looked at their resumés and made sure they were truly interested in pursuing the Ph.D. degree at Ole Miss.” Hussey notes Zhu could have excelled just as well if she had taken another path. “Qun trained with me at Ole Miss in the area of electrochemistry and went almost immediately into an industry where she went to work on diagnostics product development based on electrochemistry concepts. I think she would have done well in academia too.” 

Zhu’s transition from student to scientist began in 2001, when she accepted a job as a senior scientist with Aclara BioSciences Inc., in Mountain View, California. “My first job was doing R&D,” Zhu says. “I was doing electrochemistry. Two years later, I moved to San Diego to work for a company which was later acquired by BD. In 2007, I joined (the) Rapid Diagnostics division (now called the Point of-Care division).” Although Zhu has been working in industry since she left Ole Miss, she is also passionate about teaching and coaching, particularly in program management and leadership. She was a certified instructor at BD for planning and leading projects, and while working for  AstraZeneca China, she loved to provide training and coaching to the project managers. Zhu lives in San Diego with her husband, son and daughter. When she is not working, she enjoys running. “I love the outdoors,” she says. “My goal is to run 80 miles every month. I run at least three times a week and try to do that after work outdoors. You can do that year-round here.” Running enables Zhu to ponder ongoing work projects and clear her mind when needed. She realizes the rest of the year will be spent primarily addressing COVID-19. “Everybody is highly motivated, and people are exhausted,” Zhu says. “I work from home, but I really admire and appreciate our scientists because they had to go to the labs and do experiments every day. Without them, we do not have a product.”

Click Here for the full issue and full article. 

Prof. Davita Watkins Featured in C&E News!

Posted on: February 22nd, 2021 by nhammer

Prof. Davita Watkins was featured in the February 22nd, 2021 issue of Chemical & Engineering News as part of its special Trailblazers Issue.  Click here to access the full issue and click here for the feature article just on Davita Watkins.  This special issue celebrates Black chemists and chemical engineers.

Prof. Cizdziel edits a Special Issue in the Journal Atmosphere

Posted on: February 2nd, 2021 by nhammer
James Cizdziel, Associate Professor of Chemistry

James Cizdziel, Associate Professor of Chemistry

Mercury is a persistent and toxic global contaminant that is transported through the atmosphere, deposits to terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and concentrates up the food chain.  Prof. Cizdziel recently edited a Special Issue in the journal Atmosphere titled “Atmospheric Mercury Monitoring, Analysis and Chemistry: New Insights and Progress toward Minamata Convention Goals”.  In it eight original research articles report the latest findings on the distribution, deposition, and measurement of this airborne pollutant as well as the human and environmental impacts of artisanal mining of Hg and gold. Dr. Cizdziel’s editorial provides highlights of these papers and presents them in the broader context of modern atmospheric Hg research and the Minamata Convention on Mercury, a global treaty now signed by 127 parties designed to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions of Hg. The Special Issue and his editorial can be found here

 

atmosphere-logo

 

 

 

 

Distinguished Professor Charles L. Hussey to Retire

Posted on: December 10th, 2020 by nhammer
Charles L. Hussey, Professor and Fellow of The Electrochemical Society

Charles L. Hussey, Distinguished Professor and Fellow of The Electrochemical Society

 

After 42 years, Dr. Charles L. Hussey, Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Education in the College of Liberal Arts and Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, is retiring this December.  Hussey first came to the University of Mississippi in 1968 as an undergraduate student majoring in chemistry.  He received the department’s flagship  American Chemical Society (ACS) certified Bachelor of Science in Chemistry in 1971.  He chose to stay at UM and received his PhD in 1974.  After graduation he served on active duty in the USAF at the Frank J. Seiler Research Laboratory at the USAF Academy, where he was also an instructor in the Department of Chemistry. He received the Air Force Commendation Medal for his research work on the development of molten salt-based thermal batteries.  He then returned to the University and has taught courses in analytical chemistry and electrochemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UM since 1978.  Dr. Hussey served as Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry from 1997 until 2017 and then became the first  Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education in the College of Liberal Arts

Hussey’s research interests are directed at electrochemistry and spectroscopy in molten salts and ionic liquids. His experimental work includes the electro-deposition of metals and alloys, the electrochemistry of lanthanides and actinides as related to the nuclear fuel cycle, the physical and transport properties of molten salts and ionic liquids and the applications of ionic liquids as fluids for chemical engineering processes. He has authored/co-authored more than 160 journal articles and book chapters and is co-inventor on five patents. He co-authored a seminal journal article entitled “Dialkylimidazolium Melts: A New Class of Room Temperature Ionic Liquids for Electrochemistry, Spectroscopy and Synthesis,” which has garnered more than 2,000 citations. Hussey has been the P.I./co-P.I. on more than $8,000,000 in external grants. He has presented papers and given lectures on his work at international conferences and at universities in the U.S. and Europe. In 2014, his research about the electrochemistry of ionic liquids was recognized by the international Max Bredig Award for Molten Salt and Ionic Liquid Chemistry.

For more than 18 years, Dr. Hussey served as a technical editor for the Journal of The Electrochemical Society, the world’s top-ranked journal devoted to the science of electrochemistry. His national service includes the Board of Visitors Review Team for the Battery and Propulsion Directorate at the Wright Laboratory (now AFRL), the National Research Council Committee on Electrometallurgical Techniques for DOE Spent Fuel Treatment, the University of Chicago Review Committee for the Chemical Technology (CMT) Division of Argonne National Laboratory, and the Board of Visitors Review Team for the Chemical Sciences Division of the Army Research Office. He has also served as a consultant to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Dr. Hussey was elected Fellow of The Electrochemical Society in 2007 and was designated as an Emeritus Member in 2017. He is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Xi, and the Golden Key National Honor Society. In 2014, he received the Southeastern Conference Faculty Achievement Award and the R&D Magazine Top 100 Invention Award. At the University of Mississippi, he has been honored with the Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award, the Faculty Achievement Award, and the 25-Year Service Award. In 2018, he was recognized with the Lift Every Voice Award for diversity and inclusion during Black History Month.

Read more about Dr. Hussey in the UM News story.

Chemistry Professors Innovate to Run Labs Safely Amid Pandemic

Posted on: December 3rd, 2020 by nhammer

Chemistry professors and lab coordinators at the University of Mississippi worked with the university’s facilities management and facilities procurement teams to create individual cubicles, made using nonporous barriers, in chemistry labs so students could safely conduct experiments and get in-person instruction during the fall semester.

 

Chemistry professors could lecture about displacement reactions in their sleep, but one displacement problem had them stumped as they planned for fall semester. How could some 1,000 University of Mississippi students, many suddenly uprooted last spring, attend lab sessions during a global pandemic?

When classes started in August, Mississippi’s Department of Health was reporting hundreds of new COVID-19 cases a day.

In response to public health and UM guidelines, Gregory Tschumper, chair and professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and the lab coordinators worked with the university’s facilities management and facilities procurement teams to come up with a proposal for safely distancing students.

Randy Wadkins

 

They decided to create individual cubicles, made using nonporous barriers, in the labs. The department invested in $20,000 of Plexiglas, for which the facilities team coordinated the ordering and installation.

Additional safety measures included students wearing masks and the sanitizing of each station before and after students worked at it. Teaching staff assistants kept common work areas sanitized.

“I hope that our students and other members of the UM family recognize the Herculean effort that has been put forth by chemistry faculty like Dr. John Wiginton, Dr. Safo Aboaku, Dr. Kerri Scott and Dr. Randy Wadkins in our teaching labs this semester,” Tschumper said.

“With all of the safety restrictions imposed by the pandemic, they have gone to extraordinary lengths to convert our laboratory courses to a hybrid format that still regularly includes in-person instruction. It is a privilege to work with such a dedicated group of faculty and teaching assistants.”

To reduce the number of students working in the labs during a given session, the department split the 24-person sessions in half – into an A group and a B group – and rotated the groups so that 12 students at a time could attend face-to-face lab sessions. Those not in the lab watched video experiments produced by graduate students or worked remotely on labs that were available on an online platform.

The new arrangement brought some unanticipated benefits.

Kerri Scott

 

“Initially, I had to be sold on the idea of hybrid labs, said Randy Wadkins, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, “But I soon realized that with smaller numbers I’m getting to know my students better than before.”

Students, too, realized advantages of the rotation concept.

“Rotations allow each student at least two times to perform an experiment each session because there are fewer students,” said Juaneisha Finnie Kennedy, a member of Wadkins’ 400-level biochemistry class from Booneville.

Smaller classes also give professors and instructors more one-on-one time for teaching.

“Faculty and teaching assistants usually can spend seven minutes with a student, but with only 12 per class, we could actually give them twice that amount of time,” said Kerri Scott, instructional professor and associate coordinator of the forensic chemistry program. “The noise level is a lot lower, so it’s easier to have a conversation.”

Safo Aboaku

 

Having 12 students instead of 24 makes lab sessions more relaxed, said Safo Aboaku, an instructional assistant professor of chemistry.

“When you spread students out, the station next to them is empty, so they get a lot more elbow room,” he said. “It’s more comfortable if you have space to maneuver.”

As for increased safety measures such as masking, these students seem to take it in stride.

“Many of us are used to taking extensive measures for safety in labs due to the types of chemicals we can work with, so the additional safety procedures for keeping us safe don’t cause any hindrance to our experience in the labs,” said Guinn Gruber, of Denton, Texas, a student in Scott’s 300-level Quantitative Analysis labs.

“I am certainly grateful that Dr. Scott is taking every precaution to keep a rather vital part of our learning in-person, while also making sure our safety is top priority.”

John Wiginton

 

When safety concerns kept students off-campus campus over the summer, John Wiginton, instructional associate professor and coordinator of undergraduate laboratories, found a feasible solution for the summer students in 100-level General Chemistry labs. These courses, typically taken by first-year students, have the largest enrollment, by far, of any chemistry course.

He partnered with a consortium of lab supply companies to create at-home kits that were custom assembled for Ole Miss general chemistry lab classes and paid for by the department. The kits – beakers, alcohol burners and other equipment, except chemicals – were delivered to the homes of 150 students at no cost to them.

By fall, they were able to take the next level of chemistry, having done at least rudimentary lab work.

“I am very proud of my colleagues in this department, who did the best possible job under really difficult circumstances,” Wadkins said. 

Click here for the original article.