Department News

Dr. Rao Awarded 2011 Merit Award for Teaching

Rao teaching award

Above: Chemistry faculty member Dr. Usha Rao receives her Merit Teaching Award from SJU Interim President John W. Smithson

Dr. Usha Rao was awarded a Merit Award for Teaching at the 2011 Fall Awards ceremony. Dr. Rao has been teaching in the Department of Chemistry and in the Environmental Science Program at Saint Joseph’s University since 2000. During this time, Dr. Rao has developed numerous new courses in Chemistry and Environmental Science and she is a now a two-time of a Merit Teaching Award at Saint Joseph’s University. Congratulations Usha!


Philadelphia American Chemical Society Section 12th Annual Student Poster Session

2012 phila acs

Above: The Cerda Group at the Philadelphia ACS Section Poster Session (l to R); Andi Fritz, Emily Amendola, Dr. Jose Cerda, Jackie Castorino, Michale Gallagher

Two of Dr. Jose Cerda’s research students won awards at the Philadelphia American Chemical Society Section 12th Annual Student Poster Session on Thursday, February 23, 2012 at Temple University. Emily Amendola ’12 and Michael Gallagher ’12 won third place and honorable mention, respectively, for their research poster presentations. Emily’s poster, entitled “An Electrochemical Method used for Probing the Interactions between Distal Residues and a Heme-Bound Fluoride in Heme proteins” reported on the pH dependence of the midpoint potential of horseradish peroxidase (HRP) in the presence of fluoride. Michael presented a poster entitled “An electrochemical study of heme-pyridine and heme-saffranine interactions”. Michael’s research was focused on using a compound called hemin to model the interactions creating free heme. Hemin is an iron-porphyrin ring with a chloride ion bound to the iron and tends to aggregate in solution, so an organic solvent that can help dissolve and displace aggregated heme would be best for creating six- coordinate heme.


Reynolds Group presents at Spring 2012 ACS National Meeting in San Diego


2012 national acs

Above: Reynolds Group members Chrissy Ott and Kim Nguyen present at the Spring 2012 American Chemical Society national meeting in San Diego, CA

Chrissie Ott and Kim Nguyen presented the results of their research with Dr. Mark Reynolds at the 243rd National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Diego in March 2012. Chrissy’s and Kim’s poster was entitled “Site-directed mutagenesis studies of conserved residues in the heme domain of smfixL: Insights into the oxygen sensing mechanism of heme-pas proteins” was presented” and represents several years of the students research in the Reynolds group. Chrissy was a three year Summer Scholar and Kim a two-year Summer Scholar. The SJU Summer Scholars Program pairs students with a faculty advisor who supervises their work.


Molloy Chemical Society Presents at the Philadelphia Science Carnival


Molloy Phila Sci Carnival

Above: Philadelphia Science Carnival Participants Dan Trainer, Lei Li, Avery Vilbert, Chrissy Ott, Jackie Castorino, EuTchen Ang, Brady Werkheiser, and Ian McKendry

The SJU Molloy Chemical Society presented at the Philadelphia Science Carnival on Saturday, April 21st at Logan Circle on Ben Franklin Parkway. Members of Molloy gave an exciting demonstration of a hydrogen peroxide and calcium iodide reaction. The crowd was thrilled as they experienced the dynamic power of this exothermic reaction.

Congratulations 2012 Chemistry and Chemical Biology Graduates!


2012 Graduates

Above: Saint Joseph’s University Class of 2012 Chemistry and Chemical Biology Graduates


Student Awards

American Institute of Chemists Award for Scholastic Achievement

Chrissy Ott 

Above: Senior Chrissy Ott with SJU Interim President John W. Smithson

Christine (Chrissy) Ott was recently named this year’s recipient of the American Institute of Chemists Award for Scholastic Achievement at Saint Joseph’s University. 

Chrissy was selected for this award in recognition of her academic ability, leadership, and professional promise. Chrissy has been Summer Scholar for three summers, and she recently presented her research results at the 2012 American Chemical Society National Meeting in San Diego, CA. She has also served as a Chemistry tutor, a Chemistry TA, a member of University Singers, the president of the Molloy Chemical Society, and a volunteer at Inglis Foundation. Chrissy is also an accomplished equestrienne.

Chrissy will begin doctoral studies in Chemical Biology at the University of Delaware as a National Institutes of Health Pre-Doctoral Scholar. Congratulations Chrissy!


American Chemical Society Scholastic Achievement Award

 Andi Fritz

Above: Senior Andi Fritz with SJU Interim President John W. Smithson

Andrea (Andi) Fritz is this year’s recipient of the American Chemical Society Scholastic Achievement Award at Saint Joseph’s University. 

A resident of Johnstown, PA, Andi was chosen for the award based on his high academic achievement and research accomplishments. Andi’s honors at Saint Joseph’s include being named a Summer Scholar; an Eagles Fly for Leukemia Scholarship; a Pennsylvania State Senate Commendation for Community Service; induction into the Alpha Sigma Nu Jesuit Honor Society, the Alpha Epsilon Delta Premedical Honor Society, and the Sigma Xi Research Honor Society. Andi has also volunteered for the American Cancer Society, the Kyle and Rose Epilepsy Foundation, and Conemaugh Mentoring in Medicine.

Andi was recently featured in the Saint Joseph’s University HawkEye and in the online Commencement Newsroom. The story may be viewed here:

In the fall, Andi will begin pursuing her M.D. at Drexel University. Congratulations Andi!


SJU Chemistry Students Present at 2012 ACS National Meeting in Philadelphia, PA and Win Awards

Graham Group Summer 2012

From left: Booby Carden, James Ohane, Dr. Peter Graham

Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Peter Graham and Chemistry majors Bobby Carden (’14) and James Ohane (’14) presented a poster at the 244th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society held in Philadelphia on August 20, 2012. Dr. Graham and his students presented a poster entitled “Synthesis and reactivity of tungsten and molybdenum carbon dioxide complexes” in the Division of Chemical Education Poster Session.



Smolen Group Summer 2012

From left: Jessica Kesler, Luke Serensits, Andrew Kusterbeck, Dr. Jean Smolen

Associate Professor of Chemistry Dr. Jean Smolen and her research students presented two posters on August 20, 2012 at the meeting. Alex DeBernardo (’14), Andrew Kusterbeck (’14), and Drew Kaneps (’13) presented a poster entitled “Role of cysteine concentration and particle size in the reductive dissolution of goethite and the subsequent transformation of nitrosubstituted compounds” and Anna Feairheller (’11), Jessica Kesler (’12), and Luke Serensits (’14) presented a poster entitled “Determination of water quality indicators in the Belmont water supply and Saint Joseph’s University campus.” Anna recently earned her M.S. in Education after previously earning her B.S. in Chemistry in 2011. Jessica earned her B.S. in Chemistry in 2012, and she is currently completing her M.S. in Education at Saint Joseph’s.

Certificates of Appreciation were awarded to Jessica Kesler and Andrew Kusterbeck for their posters, which were judged outstanding for material content and for manner of presentation given before the Division of Chemical Education.



Molloy Poster Summer 2012

From left:  Avery Vilber, Alaina Stockhausen, Brady Werkheiser

Brady Werkheiser (’13), Avery Vilbert (’13), and Alaina Stockhausen (’15) represented the Molloy Chemical Society at the meeting and presented a poster entitled “ACS Student Affiliate Chapter the Molloy Chemical Society from Saint Joseph’s University”. Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Jose Cerda serves as the Molloy faculty advisor.


Congratulations to Dr. John Berberian

Dr. Berberian

Professor of Chemistry Dr. John Berberian has received a three-year, $302,228 individual National Science Foundation Research in Undergraduate Institutions (NSF -RUI) grant. His project, entitled “RUI: The Study of Molecular Motion in Simple Glass Forming Liquids” investigates the forces involved in the amorphous- crystalline behavior of simple glass forming materials above and near the glass transition temperature.

Dr. Berberian has a long and distinguished history of more than 35 years of obtaining grants from the NSF and other funding agencies. The current grant is further tribute to John’s demonstrated and acknowledged expertise in dielectrics, as well as his track record of performing this research with undergraduates, most of whom have gone on to graduate school and are in prominent positions in academia and industry.

Congratulations John!

A New Approach to Fighting HIV: Research of Dr. Jean Chmielewski ’83 featured in Chemical & Engineering News

The research of Dr. Jean Chmielewski ’83 and colleague Dr. Christine Hrycyna of Purdue University on a new a new approach to fighting HIV has been featured in a recent issue of Chemical and Engineering News (October 3, 2011, p 38).

Drs. Chmielewski and Hrycyna and their colleagues have targeted P-glycoprotein (P-gp), a transporter protein that is highly expressed in the blood-brain barrier, and prevents many small molecules from entering the brain. The researchers have created a new drug that acts like a Trojan horse: It gains entry to the brain by turning off P-gp and then converts to an ant-HIV drug in brain cells.

Dr. Jean Chmielewski received a B.S. degree with a major in chemistry from Saint Joseph’s University in 1983 and a Ph.D. degree in organic chemistry from Columbia University in 1988. She was an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow at Rockefeller University and the University of California at Berkeley before she joined the faculty at Purdue University in 1990. Dr. Chmielewski has been recognized as an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow and with a Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society. Her research in chemical biology is directed toward drug discovery, the cellular delivery of therapeutic agents, and bionanotechnology. She is currently Alice Watson Kramer Distinguished Professor in Organic Chemistry/Chemical Biology

Dr. Ivan Dmochowski to Present 2011-2012 Chemistry McGroddy Frontiers in Science Lecture

The Department of Chemistry cordially invites you to attend the 2011-2012 McGroddy Frontiers in Science Lecture on November 30, 2011. This year the Chemistry Department has selected Dr. Ivan Dmochowski of the University of Pennsylvania to give the McGroddy Frontiers in Science seminar. The title of Dr. Dmochowski’s seminar is “New Chemical Strategies for Probing Biological Spaces ”

This Seminar Series was launched with a gift from Dr. James C. McGroddy ’58, a retired vice president from IBM Corporation. The seminar series focuses on interdisciplinary research, bringing to campus researchers who discuss their work at the frontier of the natural sciences. Each year, the Departments of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, and the University’s chapter of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, host speakers in the series.