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Chemistry: Scientists Capture First Images of Molecules…

This article is highly recommended for reading!


Chemistry: Ten Important Reactions

I’ve made a list of ten reactions I would like all my students to know:-)

Chemistry and Gardening: Cyanogenic Plants

The mysterious case of the dying cows

Sunny Otake, a chemistry student at Truman, sent this link to me:

This is a fascinating article on so many levels – and a good illustration of the complexities of problem solving. I hope you will read it and follow some of the links to learn more about cyanide.

National Women’s History Month: Women Chemists

Women Chemists in the National Inventors Hall of Fame

ACS Honors African Americans in the Chemical Sciences

Black History Month celebrates the achievements and contributions of African Americans to American culture and society. Learn about scientists who overcame great odds to pioneer some of the most important discoveries and developments in our history.

Chemical Free??

Chemical Free Food

A sign on a restaurant window

It always amazes me to see these kind of signs or labels. I mean what does this mean really? What does it mean to be “chemical free”? Is not all matter chemical? Some chemicals are villainized – bad, bad chemicals – and this is done to promote the sale of “healthy” food – but how do we determine what is really going on? What exactly is in a hot dog? Certainly there are many, many chemicals. If we remove chemicals – such as nitrate preservatives then we have to ask ourselves what is happening to the food over time when it is no longer fresh. Chemical changes are taking place all the time. Nitrates are added to preserve color and maintain microbial safety. Are nitrates harmful? How do we know? Are microbes harmful? Certainly some are and, well, some aren’t. Chemicals are not good or bad – they just are – and it is very important for us to understand the role they play in our physiology so we can make good choices for our health. I would hope that we would be interested in a deeper understanding of our world than what is implied on hyped up window ads but are we prepared to make good decisions and to separate information from misinformation? What do you think?

GMO = genetically modified (food)
HFCS = high fructose corn syrup
GME = genetically modified engineering

ACS Scholars Program

Scholarships for African Americans, Hispanic, and American Indian Chemical Science Students from ACS (American Chemical Society) are available. The deadline to apply is March 1, 2011.

New Student Email

Just log on at and give it a try. You will retain access for one year after the last semester you are a student – this service gives you access to microsoft applications and it also provides some “cloud” storage and of course it provides email. We’ve been told it is a big improvement over our previous email system for students.

Homework: Lipids, Proteins, Enzymes

chapter 13: 13, 15, 50, 51, 55, 57, 59, 63, 76 (lipids)

chapter 14: 8, 12, 13, 17, 20, 23, 35, 38, 43, 53, 79 (proteins)

chapter 15: 9, 11, 13, 22, 27 (enzymes)

Letter about CUR: Council on Undergraduate Research

Dear Students:

The Council on Undergraduate Research hosts a Registry of Undergraduate Researchers.  The purpose of this registry is to facilitate matchmaking between undergraduates who have research experience and a desire to pursue an advanced degree, with graduate schools seeking high quality students who are well prepared for research.  The Registry is open to students and graduate schools in the fields of Anthropology/Archaeology, Arts/Humanities, Biology/Biochemistry, Business, Chemistry/Biochemistry, Economics, Education, Engineering, English and Linguistics, Environmental Studies, Geosciences, Health Professions, History, Journalism and Communications, Mathematics/Computer Science, Physics/ Astronomy, Political Science, Psychology, Social Work and Sociology.

Any undergraduate may go to to fill out a simple curriculum vitae form.  There is no charge to the student and records will be made available to bona fide Graduate Schools that contract with CUR for this service.  Organizations or companies seeking the students’ information for other marketing purposes will not be granted access.  Graduate School representatives may contact students to invite applications or visits to the campus and laboratory, or to share information about their research programs and financial support opportunities.

Graduate schools may provide a link to their websites, and may provide a short description of opportunities, such as research fields and fellowships. It will also be possible for institutions to place an ad on the database website if the content is related to the mission of CUR and the Undergraduate Registry.

For graduate schools that wish to review the student information, there is an access fee of $1,500 for the entire database, or $300 for one specific discipline.  Again, there is no cost to you as a student to create a profile.

We hope that students who are currently in their junior year will register now, but anyone with undergraduate research experience may register at any time.  You will be able to update your listing as appropriate, to include any summer research experience or information about Senior Theses and test scores.  We also welcome submissions by students who are engaged in Masters’ Degree programs now but who plan on going on to a PhD program. Just fill out the information on the form including the date you intend to enter a PhD program and your date of completion of your undergraduate degree.  Upload a link to your CV that contains complete information about your MS/MA degree activity (school, subject, thesis topic (if applicable), and advisor).

CUR believes that this service will be a great benefit for both students and graduate schools by narrowing the search for the right match.  So if you are interested in graduate school, please take a moment to register now.  Be sure to include a statement of your research interests, as this will be important for making the match.

Please feel free to contact me, should you have any questions.


Robin Howard
Senior Director, Membership Services
Council on Undergraduate Research
734 15th St NW
Suite 550
(202) 783-4810×203
(202) 783-4811 fax

American Chemical Society – Undergraduate Internships

Exceptional sophomores and juniors majoring in chemistry and chemical engineering can apply for a prestigious 10-week internship through the SCI Scholars Program. SCI Scholars are selected based on the strength of their application, statement of interest in an industrial internship, and letters of recommendation. Twenty-one scholars will be chosen for internship positions in the summer 2011. Visit for more information.

Homework for Chem 212 – Chap. 8 and 9

Chapater Eight – Amines
9, 10, 16, 25, 27, 42, 46

Chapter Nine – Aldehydes and Ketones
19, 20, 24, 25, 30, 33, 39, 51, 59, 65, 66


Error in Company Brochure – chiral compound labels

The long list of chiral compounds that I gave to you for practice – taken from ChiPros Chiral Products brochure have four errors – all related to the epoxide ring compounds. The R compounds are shown as S and the S compounds are shown as R. See if you can identify the errors and we will discuss them on Wednesday.

I’ve written to the company – we will see if they answer us.

Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey

Please take a look at this article honoring Dr. Kelsey who was responsible for stopping the use of thalidomide in the USA saving untold numbers of enfants and who discovered diethylene glycol in elixir sulfanilamide which killed 107 people in the 1930s. The F.D.A. will be giving an annual award, the Kelsey award, to a member of the F.D.A. staff.

Science and Technology Lecture – NWU – Sept. 7

Disaster in the Gulf

On April 20, 2010 the explosion and sinking of the oil rig Deepwater
Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico marked the beginning of what would become the
worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. With an estimated 215 million
gallons of crude oil spewed into the gulf over 87 days, the devastation to
the regions wildlife is unparalleled. Although clean-up operations are in
full swing, marine and plant life are suffering in a region that many fear
will never be the same again.

Dr. Ilze Berzins and Ken Ramirez from Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium will discuss
one of the nation’s richest environmental regions and what its future holds
at the Chicago Council on Science and Technology lecture on Sept. 7 at the
Northwestern University Chicago Campus, Baldwin Auditorium, 303 E. Superior
St. Reception and registration begin at 5 pm and presentation at 6 pm. Cost
is $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Cost for students is $5.

Survey of Organic and Biochem Begins…

Today we met for the first time. We introduced ourseleves and went over the website. We then launched right in to the chemistry of carbon. So what’s so special about carbon? One point that was made is that it has too many electrons to lose them all from its valence shell and not enough to gain them all to end up with the desired octet (8) so it has to share electrons – and does this by making four bonds. There are several ways this can occur – four single bonds, two double bonds, two single bonds and one double bond, one single bond and a triple bond – and all of these strategies are used. There are over 6 million organic compounds that have been identified and over 2 million have been synthesized in an organic laboratory.

We learned that carbon forms chains of atoms – straight chains, branched chains, and even rings. Organic compounds all contain carbon – but what else in in them? Well they typically include hydrogen and in many cases oxygen and/or nitrogen. Organic molecules may even have phosphorus, sulfur or any of the halogens attached to the carbon chains.

We began to talk about functional groups. You need to memorize them and learn to recognize them in molecules. They include the alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, esters, ethers, amines, amides, and others. They are printed on the back cover of the textbook. I found this page:

it looks like fun and has some cute pictures.

Please read chapters one and two and PLEASE read the syllabus so you know how to prepare for class – we will continue on Wednesday. See you then.

Classes Begin Soon

Chemistry 212, Survey or Organic and Biochemistry, begins on Monday, August 23rd at 12:30 pm. We will review some General Chemistry and cover Chapter One and most of Chapter Two.

On Tuesday, August 24th Chemsitry 203, General Chemsitry II begins with a big review of General Chemistry I. I recommend that you review the Learning Outcomes for General Chemsitry I and review any topics that you may have forgotten.

lab notebookThe Sunday course Chemistry 100/121 Basic Chemsitry does not begin until September 12th. Please purchase your lab notebook before coming to class. You will need it the first day. Also I suggest you bring healthy snacks. It is a long day.

I look forward to seeing you all in class!


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