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Department of Chemistry at Otterbein University

Chemistry Department News

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Otterbein student chemists attend and present at American Chemical Society conference

Otterbein student chemists attend and present at American Chemical Society conference

Joan Esson and Robin Grote, Otterbein chemistry professors, took students to an ACS meeting to present and experience all of the different facets of chemistry.

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Professor Receives National Institute of Standards and Technology Grant

Dr. Carrigan Hayes, professor of physical chemistry, was award a grant of more than $16,000 from the National Institute of Standards and Technology for her research project titled Calculating Thermochemical and Kinetic Reference.

Dr. Hayes' research focuses on the chemistry of lignocellulosic biofuels; these are biofuels that are derived from non-edible plant material (and so are not otherwise involved in the food chain). Lignin and cellulose both have large structures consisting of several interconnected rings; these complex stuctures make their chemistry complicated. Dr. Hayes is interested in examining the component individual rings present in lignin and cellulose, with the ultimate goal of better understanding the larger, interconnected systems. To this end, she and her research students use computational chemistry to calculate the energies and explore the reactions of these monocyclic (one-ring) compounds.

Professor Receives National Science Foundation Grant

Dean Johnston, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, received more than $199,000 grant award from the National Science Foundation for his project Experimental Determination of Chemical Structure. The key goals of this project are to:

  • Develop a new model for integration of structural methods into the undergraduate chemistry curriculum;
  • Assess student engagement and learning when working with experimental structural data;
  •  establish a local PUI user group to broaden the incorporation of X-ray diffraction methods and resources into the undergraduate curriculum; and
  • create interactive web-based materials for teaching crystallographic symmetry.

Science for the 21st Century

Otterbein University recently received a renewable grant of $60,000 from the Merck Institute for Science Education to fund a new program for science students called Student Scholars for the 21st Century.

The grant will fund four undergraduate research experiences annually, as well as ancillary programs designed to engage all summer research students in an enriched experience and expose them to possible career paths.

Faculty Receive Grant Award

Joan Esson, Chemistry, and Brian Sell, Physics and Astronomy, were awarded $482,992 from the National Science Foundation to support scholarships and enhance programming for Otterbein students.

In their proposal, Esson and Sell wrote: "Our objective is to provide a significant scholarship and exceptional academic and co-curricular experience to at least 30 students who are planning on majoring in chemistry, biochemistry or physics. Together with the Office of Admissions, academically talented students demonstrating financial need will be aggressively recruited from Ohio schools with high percentages of women and minorities and/or an emphasis on STEM education.

After selecting the students based on academic performance and an essay about career goals, they will participate in an active learning community with activities including a week-long summer immersion experience, programming at the Center for Career Planning, residence in a living/learning house, a year-long seminar program focusing on career options, and mentoring through a triad consisting of the scholar, an upper-level student, and alum."