My first year as chair has been as action-packed as I expected, and I’m excited to share some highlights from our department, its students, and our faculty in this column.
This year has been a tremendous success for our faculty and their research students in terms of scholarly productivity. In 2016 alone, our department saw ten peer-reviewed manuscripts published in a variety of scientific journals, nearly all of them with SCU student coauthors. Active grants from the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Health, and the Petroleum Research Fund supported student-driven research projects in several labs in the department. We began a “Summer Research Poster Session”, where students engaged in summer research showcased their research accomplished to the department and the University at large. In April 2017 a large cohort of students and faculty attended and presented at the ACS meeting in San Francisco, in sessions ranging from “Molecular Recognition and Self Assembly” to “Biomedical Advances in Cancer Detection”. In all, the caliber of research in the department is as high as ever, and the future looks even brighter.
Speaking of the future, we are delighted to have Ian Carter O’Connell joining our department next Fall as a tenure track Assistant Professor, after finishing his postdoctoral training at Oregon Health and Science University. Ian will teach in the biochemistry series and will begin to initiate a research program involving signal transduction networks and their role in human disease. With the addition of Ian and the return of Atom Yee to the faculty, we will have twelve tenured and tenure-stream faculty members. In staff news, we are pleased that Megan Tichy, a familiar face in the department, will become the Senior Laboratory Instructor in the General Chemistry series. I must also mention the exciting news of Korin Wheeler’s promotion to Associate Professor with tenure! She will be spending the next academic year on sabbatical at ETH Zurich, collaborating with Professor Kris McNeill on developing tools to characterize interactions of nanomaterials with human blood proteins. Congratulations to her for this milestone in her career.
Steve Fedder, Senior Lecturer and Pre-Heath advisor, and Atom Yee, Professor, will begin phase retirement next year. Both have had long and successful careers at SCU, and we are glad to continue to have them in the department for the next few years as they begin the next chapter of their lives. Atom rejoined our faculty this year, after a long tenure as Dean of the College Arts and Sciences, and hasn’t missed a beat in the classroom, with students praising the clarity of his lectures in the General Chemistry series.
In last year’s Chair’s Corner, it was noted that we would select the first winner of the Michael Sweeney Endowed Award to a student(s) “"who best exemplify Dr. Sweeney's passion for teaching, curiosity, and humor”, funded by an endowment established by donations from the Sweeney/McSweeney familes. Among many strong entries, similes authored by our majors Kyle Bandaccari and Daniel Tiano were chosen. Students that received other departmental awards include Rae Sesanto and Kyra McComas for the John C. Gilbert and Stephen Martin Organic Chemistry Award, Pavel Klier for the Joseph Deck Award, and Caroline Bosmajian and Amanda Fearon for the Bastiani Summer Research Awards.
Innovative teaching and quality teaching are a high priority in our department, and we were all pleased when Amelia Fuller received the Dr. David E. Logothetti Teaching Award from the College of Arts and Sciences this year. In addition to her outstanding classroom teaching, Amelia oversees a large group of undergraduates in her research lab, who regularly appear as coauthors and present their work at a variety of professional venues. As a first year department chair and a still-new member of the SCU Chemistry and Biochemistry Department, it has been a pleasure to get to know and serve the talented faculty and staff in our department. It’s an exciting time to be in our department, with the University moving full speed ahead on a new STEM complex, which will co-locate all of the science departments with engineering in a state-of-the-art facility. I encourage you to check out our new Facebook page So you can regularly get updates on what’s happening in our department.
Chair, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry