Department News

Summer Scholars 2018

This past summer 13 Students participated in the Summer Scholar’s Program:

Dr. Forman:   Isabella Armento, Elise Brutschea,  Christina DeAngelo and Emily Schaeffer;  (Top Left)

Dr. Cerda:       Elizabeth DelRio, Ashley Frankfenfield, Michael Feng and Emily Hunter;   (Top Right)

Dr. Graham:   Brandon Jiannotti, Madelyn MacDonald and Steven Oldenburg;      (Bottom Left)

Dr. Niezgoda:    Erica Litle and Griffin Spence.     (Bottom Right).


Welcome Aboard

The Chemistry Department welcomed Brian Lake in July as the new “Chemistry Resource Coordinator”

Brian’s office is located in Room 404 and he can be reached at or 610-660-1790.

SJU Chemistry Students Present at the American Chemical Society National Meeting in New Orleans

Chemistry research students Amanda Tallon, Linda Bui, Isabella Armento, Elise Butschea and Franco Baccardi presented posters summarizing their research and the activities of the Molly Chemical at the American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana March 19-21, 2018.

All of these students worked with Dr. Forman during the summer of 2017 as Saint Joseph’s University Summer Scholars, a program that pairs students with a faculty advisor who supervises the work.   The students continued their research with Dr. Forman during the 2017-2018 academic year.  Also presenting at the ACS meeting was Ashley Frankenfield, who presented her research with Dr. Cerda.  Recent SJU Chemisty alumni/ae attending the meeting and stopping by the posters included Sean Vilanova (’11), Bob Carden (’14), Renee Kontos (’17) and Stephanie Schallemhammer (’17).

Th ACS meeting allowed these students to not only present the results of their research but to also spend time with some of the 18,000-plus students, professors, scientists and corporate representatives attending, providing invaluable networking opportunities.


The Office of Fellowships is pleased to announce  that Elise Brutschea, (Chemistry ’19),  been selected as a Barry M. Goldwater Scholar for the 2018-2019 academic year.

The Goldwater Scholarship, started in 1989 by Congress to honor Senator Barry Goldwater, is the most prestigious U.S. undergraduate scholarship in Math, Engineering and the Natural Sciences providing $7,500 in funding to sophomore and junior students who show academic promise and intend to pursue graduate research in STEM fields.  This year, only 211 Scholars were selected nationally out of 1,280 finalists nominated by their colleges and universities on the basis of their academic merits.




Chemistry Seminar Spring 2018 Schedule

Date                         Speaker and Title

Feb. 7                        P. Leslie Dutton, Ph.D. (Eldridge Reeves Johnson Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics; University of Pennsylvania)
McGroddy Frontiers in Science Seminar Series (Physics) (SC 300)

Mar. 21                    James Keller, Ph.D. (Thomas Jefferson University)
“Talk on Medical Physics” (SC 300)

Apr. 11                    Elizabeth Rhoades, Ph.D. (Department of Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania)
McGroddy Frontiers in Science Series (Biology) (SC 200)

Apr. 18                   Student Research Presentations 1
(SC 400)

Apr. 25                 Student Research Presentations 2
(SC 400)

Enrolled Chemistry Seminar students are required to attend four seminars to earn a passing grade. Your attendance will be confirmed by your signature on the attendance sheets. It is your responsibility that you make sure to sign each attendance sheet.

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.