News & Events

Chemistry Newsletter

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Please contact Dan Burgard or Holly Jones if you have items to add to this calendar.

January 2017

  • Tuesday, January 17:  First day of classes 

February 2017

March 2017

  • Friday, March 10:  Mid-Term
  • Monday-Friday, March 13 - 17:  Spring Recess

April 2017

  • Thanksgiving Holiday:  24-27

May 2017

  • Wednesday, May 3:  Last Day of Classes
  • Wednesday, May 3:  Chemistry Department Awards Picnic, 3:30 in the President's Forest
  • Thursday, May 4:  Reading Period
  • Monday, May 8 - 12:  Final Examinations
  • Saturday, May 13, 10:00 - Noon:  Thompson Hall Reception for Science, Mathematics & Computer Science.  Brown Family Courtyard (Harned Hall Colonnade in case of rain)
  • Saturday, May 13:  Convocation
  • Sunday May 14:  Commencement


Travis Harris - I developed an interest in inorganic chemistry at Willamette University where I studied ruthenium-based anti-cancer drugs with Prof. Karen Holman. I then did my graduate work in computational inorganic chemistry at Montana State University under the guidance of Prof. Robert Szilagyi. With goals of living abroad and further developing my knowledge of computational chemistry, I joined the group of Prof. Keiji Morokuma at Kyoto University in Japan as a postdoctoral researcher in 2012. My first experience as a visiting professor was at the State University of New York at Oswego, where I taught general, inorganic, and computational chemistry during the 2014-15 academic year. At UPS I will be starting my own research program while continuing to focus on providing the best experience I can for my students.

My current research aim is to understand the structure and function of the nitrogenase enzyme: the catalyst responsible for biological nitrogen fixation. Using computers, students working with me will investigate the iron-molybdenum cofactor, which is the catalytic center of the enzyme. Many issues are unresolved, such as the specific binding site of dinitrogen, the detailed reduction mechanism for converting dinitrogen to ammonia, and the role of the surrounding protein environment. My students will learn computational chemical techniques as they break new ground in this fascinating area of bioinorganic chemistry. 

He currently teaches General Chemistry (CHEM 110 and 120).

Dan Burgard Awarded Two-Year $120K Grant from the NIH (6/9/15)

The proposed research aims to address the question of how the retail sales of recreational marijuana affect its consumption and usage trends within a community.  The research will involve measuring the concentration in sewers of the principal metabolite of the main active ingredient of marijuana.

Project Title: Using Sewers to Understand the Legalized Retail Sales Effects on Marijuana Consumption.

Project Summary: Marijuana is the most abused illicit drug in the United States with an estimated 17.4 million past-month users. There has been a rise in use by young people in the last 6 years with a diminished perception of the drug’s risks being attributed to its rise, especially in light of the drug’s legal status. In fact, a recent national poll shows that for the first time a majority of Americans favor legalized marijuana. In the past two years, the states of Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia have legalized the adult use of recreational marijuana. This unprecedented step comes with no direct scientific data available to understand how these new recreational use laws will affect marijuana consumption and public health. This proposal aims to address the question of how the retail sales of recreational marijuana affect its consumption and usage trends within a community. While surveys are the most used tool in studying drug abuse, new methods have recently emerged that enable a more objective assessment of illicit drug consumption. The use of sewer-based drug epidemiology was first employed less than a decade ago but has been shown to be a valid and complementary technique with traditional drug use indicators. Raw influent to a wastewater treatment plant from a population with a known catchment area and specific geographic boundary can be used to analyze trends in drug use over time. We propose to measure the sewer available metabolite of the main active ingredient in marijuana, as well as also measure the anthropogenic population biomarker 5-hydroxyindoleacidic acid.  At the conclusion of these studies, we will provide a timely understanding of how the sales of adult recreational marijuana impact its use within a population. This data can be used by local, state, and national planners as they assess and consider Washington’s recreational marijuana law, as well as provide baseline data for future longitudinal studies.

Heather Gilliland, Storeroom Coordinator has joined the Chemistry Department (Fall 2014)

Heather previously worked with ALS Environmental in Kelso, WA where she spent time supervising the Organic Extractions Lab.  She spent time in the U.S. Navy as a Nuclear Reactor Operator (Electronic Technician) and attended The Evergreen State College where she earned her BS in Chemistry.
 She has 3 children (Alyssa, Alex, and Megan), a husband (Jim) and a mighty 2 - pound dog (Jack).
We are happy to have Heather on board and if you are visiting Thompson Hall stop by to meet her in TH367.
Steven Neshyba is selected for 2015-16 Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant in Chile

As a Fulbright grantee, Steven joins the ranks of distinguished participants in the Program. Fulbright alumni have become heads of state, judges, ambassadors, cabinet ministers, CEOs, university presidents, journalists, artists, professors and teachers. They have been awarded 43 Nobel Prizes. Since its inception more than 60 years ago, approximately 300,000 Fulbrighters have participated in the Program.

Project Title: In situ sampling of black carbon in the Chilean Andes

Scientific background: In common with many cold regions of the earth, the Andean cryosphere is responding to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases at an alarming pace, warming at twice the global rate. Long-term, Chile is predicted to experience reduced precipitation, intensified flooding, and loss of key sources of summertime fresh water. While the main driver of these trends is increased atmospheric greenhouse gases, deposition of airborne black carbon onto snow and ice has the potential to accelerate the melting of alpine snow. Compared to the northern hemisphere, however, the Andean cryosphere has received much less research attention along these lines, because satellite-based remote sensing is inadequate for this purpose, and in situ measurements are scarce.

Summary of the project: The project funded by the Fulbright Program contains research and teaching components, both aimed at improving Chile’s infrastructure for predicting and mitigating the effects of climate change. The research component aims at developing a comprehensive understanding of the occurrence and origin of black carbon in the Chilean Andes. In collaboration with professor Raul Cordero at the University of Santiago, we will melt and filter snow samples, and analyze the filters spectrophotometrically to determine the amount of black carbon in the snow. In combination with meteorological analysis, we aim to identify where the carbon comes from. The hope is that this information will prove useful to Chilean policy makers seeking to slow the pace of glacial retreat in the Andes, especially in urban areas that depend on summertime glacial melt for fresh water. The teaching component of the project aims at developing upper-undergraduate/graduate-level expertise in emerging computational environments for scientific computing, especially as applied to absorption of light by soot-darkened snow. The courses will be taught in a “flipped classroom” format at the University of Santiago, with an emphasis on computational guided inquiry.

Mike Hottott Retires (10/3/14)

After 37 years of dedicated service as Storeroom Manager and officer in charge of everything Mike Hottott has retired.  He plans to stay busy with his property on the farm and other outdoor activities.
Wishing Mike well in his future endeavors, cheers! Please see pictures here for our noon lunch reception.

Steven Neshyba Awarded $34,000 NSF Grant Supplement (8/28/14)

The Environmental Chemical Sciences Program of the National Science Foundation has recommended funding of a supplementary request submitted by Prof. Neshyba. The award of $34,000 will support a month-long field research campaign in the Chilean Andes to study black carbon in Andean glaciers.  A summary of the supplementary proposal follows:
In situ sampling of black carbon in the Andean Cryosphere
In common with many cold regions of the earth, the Andean cryosphere is warming at twice the global rate. While the main driver of this trend is increased atmospheric greenhouse gases, deposition of airborne black carbon onto snow and ice has the potential to accelerate the melting of high-altitude snow and glacier ice, in a positive feedback. In Chile, expected impacts attributed to greenhouse gas forcing alone include a 30% decrease in precipitation in the central region, intensified flooding events, and substantial compromising of strategic hydrologic reserves of snow and ice, by the end of the century. The extent to which black carbon will accelerate these processes is poorly documented, however, because remote sensing is inadequate for this purpose, and in situ measurements are scarce.
Work funded by this Supplement will support progress toward assessment of the impact of black carbon on snow darkness via an in situ snow filtering campaign on a north-south transect of the Chilean Andes during July of 2015. The work will be carried out in collaboration with researchers at the Universidad de Santiago and at the University of Washington. Funding will support logistical costs of the sampling campaign in Chile, an undergraduate stipend, and post-campaign spectroscopic and scanning electron microscopic analysis in the United States.

Tim Hoyt: Walter Lowrie Sustained Service Award recipient (8/26/14)

The Walter Lowrie Sustained Service Award is given to a faculty member in recognition of his or her sustained service across the university. Each year the Faculty Senate receives nominations and then, in closed session,
selects one recipient. The Lowrie Award was established in 2004 to honor Walter Lowrie, professor emeritus of history and a leader in the creation of the Faculty Bylaws and founder in 1965 of the Faculty Senate.
Congratulations to Tim Hoyt, this year's recipient of the Walter Lowrie Sustained Service Award.


Dan Burgard: Thomas A. Davis Teaching Award recipient (8/26/14)

In 2003 the dean's teaching awards were named to honor Tom Davis, who served as dean of the university from 1973 to 1994. Faculty members in the ranks of instructor, assistant professor, and associate professor are eligible for the award. Congratulations to Dan Burgard, one of four faculty members who received a Thomas A. Davis Teaching Award this year.


Megan Gessel has joined the Chemistry Department! (Summer 2014)

Megan earned a B.A. in chemistry at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA. At Whitman she completed two undergraduate research projects in toxicology and environmental chemistry. She earned a PhD. in Chemistry at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she studied protein structure and aggregation related to Alzheimer’s disease using ion mobility mass spectrometry.  She received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Service Research Award for postdoctoral training at Vanderbilt University Medical Center where she used MALDI imaging mass spectrometry to study biochemical changes to the extracellular matrix in kidney disease. Megan is particularly interested in biological applications of mass spectrometry, as well as the development of new protocols and technology for challenging analytes.  Overall, she is interested in using various mass spectrometry technologies, in combination with other techniques to study molecular structure, biomolecular interactions, and biochemical pathways.


Tim Hoyt (The Wiz) Retires (Spring 2014)

Originally hired into a visiting position in 1989, Tim Hoyt became a permanent instructor at Puget Sound in 1990. He has been involved teaching and preparing laboratory sections of the college’s first-year (general chemistry) and second-year (organic chemistry) courses ever since.

Throughout his career, Hoyt has been passionate about “chemical demonstrations,” an art form mixing science and entertainment that can be traced back to Sir Humphrey Davy and Michael Faraday at the start of the 19th century. His annual Chemistry Magic Show, in which he takes on the role of his alter ego, “The Wizard,” has been a treat for both Puget Sound students and the greater Tacoma community for more than 20 years.

Over the years Hoyt has had a profound impact on the education of thousands of Puget Sound students. Many eagerly sought out his lab sections—what could be better than to be trained by a wizard?—and they enjoy returning to visit him long after they graduate. In retirement he looks forward to enjoying the opportunity to spend more time with his grandchildren.  Please see pictures here of the retirement celebration.