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A Newsletter of the Chemistry Department at the University of West Florida
FALL 2005
Chemistry News
Charting a Course in the Pursuit of Science
Chemistry Program Experienced an
Explosive Summer
by Jaimie Woodard and Amber Jackson, University Marketing Communications
Atoms, molecules and ions weren’t the only things keeping the University of West Florida
Department of Chemistry on its toes this past summer. The Department geared up for an
explosive summer as we made preparations to offer a new bachelor of arts degree in the fall;
launched Project SEED over the summer, a national program that plants disadvantaged high
school students in university chemistry labs across the United States; and kicked-off the MorelliQuinteros Fellowship, a research program designed to expose UWF undergraduate students to
advanced scientific research in the field of chemistry.
’s New P
continued on page 6
News From The Department
Iin this issue
Chem Program Explosive
page 1
Department News
page 1
Chairman’s Letter
page 2
New Faculty Profile
page 2
William Smart Seminar
Series Established
page 3
by Pam Tanner
The 2004-2005 academic year will be remembered for UWF’s experiences with two hurricanes
within a ten month period. Ivan roared through Pensacola during the night in September 2004.
Throughout the campus community, houses and businesses were destroyed. Ninety-five percent
of UWF’s buildings suffered some damage and more than 2,000 trees were down. A core group
of UWF employees remained on campus to monitor operations throughout the night. One
chemistry faculty member sheltered with his family in building 58 and witnessed rivulets of
water running throughout the ground floor and a window
blowing out of one of the research labs. Campus personnel
worked tirelessly to repair and restore. Classes were
suspended for almost three weeks and creativity was
required to makeup missed material. Many people
evacuated in July when hurricane Dennis was forecast as
a category 4 storm. Luckily, the storm weakened and
damage was minimal in Pensacola as compared to Ivan.
The campus did not experience severe property damage
but did lose another 300 trees. Classes were again
cancelled due to problems with the main power feed onto
campus. As this author drives home, I cannot tell the
difference between older damage from Ivan and new
damage from Dennis. The new panorama in town is very
far-reaching because we no longer have the cover of live
Dr. Waylon Jenkins 2004 Alumni Seminar Speaker
The 2004 Alumni Seminar Speaker was Dr. Waylon
Jenkin who graduated UWF in 1973 and currently works for the Eastmen Chemical Company
in Kingsport, Tennessee. Waylon gave an excellent presentation on the use of plastics in
the food and beverage industry.
UWF Alumni Donates
$17,500 T
und Chemistry
page 3
Chemistry Alumni Donors
page 3
Graduating Class of 1970
page 4
Alumni News
page 5
Project SEED
page 6
Student Events Recent
page 7
Lana Smith Beagles
Allan Crane
Larry Manziek
Chris A. Pelezo
News From The Department
continued on page 6
Chemistry News
FALL 2005
New Faculty Profile
Pamela Vaughan, Ph.D.
Visiting Lecturer
As a child, I enjoyed growing up in
Pensacola. After graduating from Tate High
School, I attended the University of Florida (B.S.
Chemistry, 1993). My education continued in
graduate school at the University of Maryland,
College Park (Ph.D. Analytical Chemistry, 1999)
where my graduate research focused on
photochemical production of reactive species
in aquatic systems. After graduation, I was
granted a National Research Council postdoctoral research associateship which was
completed at the Environmental Protection
Agency, Athens, GA with Richard Zepp. This
research examined the impact of iron
photochemistry on the degradation of dissolved
organic matter.
In the summer of 2004, I returned to
Pensacola with my husband, Will and our two
children, Virginia (5 yrs) and Victoria (3 yrs) and
began working at the University of West Florida.
Initially I was employed with the Center for
Environmental Diagnostics and Bioremediation,
Wetlands Research Laboratory as a chemist
and as an adjunct instructor for the Chemistry
Department. Beginning fall 2005, I became a
full-time faculty member of the Chemistry
department teaching General Chemistry,
Analytical Chemistry and Instrumental Analysis.
Pensacola certainly made an
impression on me, so it is probably no
surprise I chose a field examining properties
of water and sunlight. My current research
interests include further study of quinone
photochemistry related to the degradation or
“bleaching” of colored dissolved organic
matter and degradation of quinone-based
pesticides. Future work will examine
relationships between photochemical and
bacterial degradation of these compounds.
Chemistry News
Chairman’s Letter
by Peter Tanner
As you can see from the various press
releases and announcements in this newsletter, it has
been a very interesting year.
We completely revised and updated the
curriculum for the B.S. degree tracks, placing a greater
emphasis on student research. We also initiated a series
of B.A. degrees with concentrations in Forensics,
Education, Pre-Law, Pre-Medical, Environmental and
Business. A one-semester course in physical chemistry
has been added to our offerings for the B.A programs.
For three years, since Dr. Chiu’s retirement,
the department was without an analytical chemist.
Fortunately, Lois Dixon, a UWF alumna, agreed to teach the instrumental analysis
course, on top of her heavy teaching load at Pensacola Junior College. We are very
grateful to Lois for helping out during this difficult period. We are pleased to report that
in August the department was assigned a two year visiting faculty position in analytical
chemistry and we are hopeful that this position will become permanent. We welcome
Pamela Vaughan, who has a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from the University of
Maryland. Pam’s research interests are in environmental chemistry.
After a two year period in the Dean’s office, Leo terHaar has been appointed
interim chair of the Computer Science Department. He remains a faculty member in
our department but his teaching is limited to one course/semester. After 20 years as
Chemistry Office Administrator, Diana Walker, has accepted another position within
the University. We will all miss her.
Thanks to the generosity of one of our alumni, John Morelli, and his wife
Cecilia Quinteros, we were able to provide stipends for summer research for six
chemistry undergraduates. The students presented their results at an on-campus
seminar which we were pleased that John was able to attend. Tara Sirvent secured a
Project Seed Grant from the American Chemical Society to support summer research
by two high school students. These students presented posters at a meeting of the
Pensacola Section of the A.C.S...
The Student Affiliates were recognized as a commendable chapter by the
A.C.S. and a group traveled to the Spring National Meeting in San Diego to receive the
award. At this meeting two of Michael Huggins’ students presented posters on their
research. One of Tara Servant’s students was selected to present a paper the A.A.A.S.
meeting in Washington D.C.
Recently, we had a significant and unexpected donation from Mr. William
Smart, a Gulf Breeze resident. Mr. Smart has established an endowment fund to
support a chemistry seminar series, and his donation will be matched by the State.
We hope to bring distinguished scientists to campus to present talks to general
audiences as well as giving departmental seminars and meeting our students and
As state funding of higher education is reduced we are becoming more
dependent on private contributions to move our program forward. We thank all of you
who have donated to the department accounts in the University of West Florida
Foundation. We urge all our alumni to donate. Our goal is be the department that has
the highest percentage of alumni support. We have three foundation accounts, the
‘Birdwhistell Scholarship Endowment Account’, the ‘Chemistry Alumni Scholarship
Account’ and the ‘Chemistry Department Foundation Account’. A contribution into any
of these accounts significantly enhances our program.
Since Ralph Birdwhistell, the first chair of the Chemistry Department,
relinquished the position, I have served as department chair. This last summer I decided
that it was time for someone else to take over. The department is very pleased that
Michael Huggins agreed to accept the position. Mike is bringing new ideas, enthusiasm
and energy, and under his leadership I am sure that the department will move forward
and prosper. I invite you to visit U.W.F. to meet Mike and the new faculty, as well as
revisiting the old-timers.
FALL 2005
The William D. Smart Seminar Series in Chemistry has been established at the University of West Florida thanks to an
endowment gift of $100,000 from William and Mary Smart of Pensacola. The endowment will allow the Department of Chemistry to
initiate the seminar series which will bring distinguished scientists to campus to present and discuss cutting-edge scientific research.
“We are grateful that our students and faculty will have the opportunity to interact with world-class scientists and great ideas
through this seminar series,” said UWF President John Cavanaugh. “The importance of the series is heightened in light of concerns
that our nation is lagging in the development of young scientists. Bill and Mary Smart have been wonderful friends of higher
education, and we are grateful for their most recent support of UWF.”
Prior to his retirement, Bill Smart was corporate vice president of Abbott Laboratories and president of the Abbott Ross
Laboratories Division. He currently serves on the UWF College of Business Advisory Council.
The Smart’s endowment gift is eligible for a $50,000 match through the State of Florida’s major gift matching program. In
addition, there is an opportunity to bundle additonal gifts into the endowment which are also be eligible for a match from the State at
the two-to-one rate. This presents a great opportunity to increase the effect of your donation to the Chemistry Department. Anyone
interested in participating in this bunding program needs to contact the Chemistry Department or the UWF Foundation by
Dec 11, 2005.
(by Jaimie Woodard As Annouced March, 2005)
University of West Florida alumnus John Morelli and his wife Cecilia Quinteros donated $17,500 to the UWF Chemistry
Department to establish a summer research program for undergraduate students. Morelli earned a bachelor’s in chemistry from UWF
in 1994 and a master’s in physical chemistry from Notre Dame University in 1998. Quinteros also graduated from Notre Dame in
2001 with a doctorate in physical chemistry. Morelli is the chairman and chief strategy officer for Coaxsys, a manufacturer of
communication gear for the next generation of IP services.
The Morelli-Quinteros Fellowship is designed to expose UWF undergraduate students to advanced scientific research in the
field of chemistry. “The Chemistry Department is excited about the research opportunities in chemistry that the Morelli-Quinteros
Fellowship program provides for our students, which will prepare them for the job market or for graduate school,” said Michael
Huggins, assistant professor of chemistry. “We are even more pleased that one of our chemistry alumni is financially supporting
these efforts. In the long-term, we plan to use this program as the beginning of a successful and substantial summer undergraduate
research program in chemistry.”
Undergraduates Jason Blaney, Patrick Barber, Lyndsay Munro, Tom Chamberlain, David Wells and Ray Terryn are the
selected participants for the 2005 Morelli-Quinteros Summer Research Fellowship Program. These six students will spend 25 to 30
hours a week for up to 12 weeks working on a research project while being directly supervised and trained by a mentor. At the
conclusion of the program, the students will be able to synthesize the knowledge and the data obtained through research to develop
conclusions and initiate new questions to be explored.
The students in the fellowship program received a $3,000 stipend for their time and research. Upon completion of the
program, the students also have additional opportunities to present the results of their research at local, regional or national scientific
meetings. Several students will be presenting their results at the American Chemical Society National Meeting in Atlanta, GA this
2004-2005 Chemistry Alumni Donors
The Department would like to thank the following alumni for their generous support during the 2004-2005 academic year.
This generous support allows us to offer undergraduate student scholarships and awards, in addition to enhancing our
instructional and research activties. Thank you very much and we hope you can continue this philanthropic support.
Mr. Rickey W. Ables
Mrs. Karen F. Barnes
Mr. and Mrs. James H. Beagles
Dr. Kurt R. Birdwhistell
Mr. Scot P. Birdwhistell
Mr. John C. Bochenek
Mrs. Elizabeth S. Calhoun
Chemistry News
Ms. Debbie L. Dahlin
Dr. Lois A. Dixon
Dr. H. Thomas Etheridge, III
Dr. Larry Manziek
Ms. Amy R Meyers
Mrs. Sharon C. Mitchell
Ms. Ethelynn A. Morlier
Mrs. Dana K. Nagel
Ms. Anita L. Suttmiller
Ms. Elaine P. Swanson
Mrs. Stephanie Brown Thomas
Mrs. Kara L. Warrensford
Mrs. Mary Anne Wilson
FALL 2005
Allan Crane
Chemical Association Officers
Lorraine Lear - Vice Chairman
Larry Manziek - Chairman
Lana Smith - Secretary Treasurer
Wayne Richardson - Jr. Class
(in order from left to right)
Lana Smith Beagles
After graduation I taught Chemistry for two years in the
Pensacola public school system. Then I aquired a job at the Materials
Engineering Laboratory, Naval Air Rework Facility, Pensacola, working
with preservation materials and processes for reworked aircraft and
parts. I retired in 1994
Larry Manziek
Upon Graduation from UWF Larry entered a Ph.D. program
at the University of Florida. During his tenure at the University of
Florida he received his Ph.D. in Chemistry and met all the qualifying
requirements of both the organic and inorganic departments. Also,
along the way he managed to fit in a Masters Degree in Environmental
In 1975 Dr. Manziek joined the Rohm and Haas Company
in Philadelphia, PA. as a senior research scientist. During his career
he worked almost exclusively in the exploratory research efforts of
the company and has often referred to his work as working on the
“bleeding edge” of technology. His research endeavors were varied
and included: catalysis, hydrometallurgy, extractive hydrometallurgy,
ion-exchange polymers, nano-scale composites, polymer templated
inorganics and other exciting new frontiers of science. The Rohm
and Haas Company acknowledged Dr. Manziek’s contributions by
awarding him the prestigious “Otto Haas Award for Scientific and
Technical Excellence”.
In 1998 Larry retired from the Rohm and Haas Company as
a senior research fellow with the intent to return home to Pensacola
to enjoy a more leisurely pace of life and to pursue other interests.
Unfortunately retirement was short lived, as he was enticed to take
over the Executive Director position of the International Precious
Metals Institute. As part of the enticement the Institute was relocated
to Pensacola, which provides Larry with the opportunity to still pursue
his other interests while keeping those scientific brain cells
stimulated. If you would like to learn more about the Institute its
web site is
Throughout the years since graduation Larry has continued
to support UWF and especially the Chemistry Department both
financially and with his time and ideas.
Larry and Ella, his wife of 28 years, reside in Pensacola
and often can be seen close to the water if not on it.
Chemistry News
Sitting here reflecting on events since my time at what
was then the new UWF brings back many fond memories of
the university and, particularly, its chemistry faculity and staff,
and the pivotol role they played in my life as a struggling student.
After entering the Univeristy of Florida as a 26 year old
ex GI, I suddenly found myself academically drowning in a sea
of oversized classes, sabotaged lab experiments, and less
accessable teachers. It was at this point that I discovered and
transfered to the UWF, where I found the warm and sincere
welcoming handshake of the chemistry department chairman,
Dr. Birdwhistell. I soon discovered a motivated and talented
chemistry faculty, as well, that was dedicated to teaching and
ensuring the success of all their students, to which my
graduation in 1970 with a B. S. in chemistry provides
unquestionable testimony.
In 1970, I was accepted by the U of GA, and had the
privilege of continuing my studies under some of the more prolific
and renowned research professors at this time. My master’s
thesis earned an ‘A’ and I graduated from the the U of GA in
1974, having majored in inorganic chemistry with an analytical
chemistry minor.
My first job as a degreed chemist was with the EPA on
Wadmalaw Island, SC. I was offered this civil service position
over the phone without an interview and told to report in ten
days. I later learned that the hiring official made this decision
based on the recommendation of Dr. Birdwhistell, with whom
he was well aquainted. Again, providing clear testimony to the
nurturing character of the UWF chemistry faculty and their
continuing interest in the success of their alumni.
Most importantly, near the end of the 70’s I met Anne
Kennedy, a fetching Charleston woman who I eventually married
and who remains my loving wife and companion in a nest that
is now empty of her three children, but occasionally visited by
our four beautiful grand-children.
In 1980 the Bears Bluff field station was consolidated
with its parent lab in Gulf Breeze and I resigned from the civil
service to assume a start-up position with Alumax of South
Carolina. In 1992, I assumed the position of quality engineer for
MDT Diagnostic Company, a Charleston based manufacturer
of sugical tables, OR-lighting and electrosurgical equipment. It
was here that I learned the intricacies of the Code of Federal
Regulations for medical device manufacturers and was assigned
responsibility for the company’s regulatory affairs.
My experience at MDT led to a similar position in
February1995 at the Charleston facility of an Indiana based
manufacturer of hospital beds and theraputic surfaces, HillRom, Inc. The fourth organizational restructuring at Hill-Rom in
the last five years caught up with me in September of this year,
so, as of this writing I’m “pursuing possible new career
opprtunities” and looking forward to the next 35 years, hopeful
they will be as varied and interesting as the last.
FALL 2005
Chris A. Pelezo
Candace and I have a son, William, who is 7.5 months old now.
I worked fulltime and raised a family while attending UWF.
Dr. Birdwhistell and the Chemistry Department of UWF made it
possible for someone like me to attend classes and still hold down
a job. I had left UNC at Chapel Hill because it made no provisions
for working students. Upon Graduation I was promoted at Monsanto
Pensacola to Research Chemist and subsequently to Senior
Research Chemist. During the period from 1970 to 1979 I authored
13 patents and records of invention, presented a paper on “Aromatic
Polyhydrazides” at the national ACS Convention in Miami and was
in “Who’s Who in the South and Southeast”. I had one Composition
of Matter Patent that was disallowed because August Frazer, Chief
Chemist at DuPont , filed less than a week ahead of me. I received
an Achievement Award while in Pensacola.
I left Pensacola in 1979 to be Chief Chemist at Monsanto’s new
startup plant in Fayetteville, NC. Fayetteville was one of two plants
in the states producing Roundup at that time. I held several job
responsibilities from 1979 to retirement – Quality Assurance/Labs
Supervisor, Industrial Hygiene Director, Environmental Supervisor
and ISO Coordinator. I trained Chemists from Canada, Mexico,
Argentina and Australia at Fayetteville in Roundup Plant lab
operations. I traveled extensively to plants stateside and to Canada,
Latin America and Europe. I also received several Achievement
Awards at Fayetteville.
Since semi-retirement in 1993, I have built two houses in the
mountains of NC near Boone. Made a mistake and thought I wanted
a log house on top of a mountain. The views and TV reception were
great, but the first ice storm made a ski run out of the road down
the mountain. Sold that one at a profit to an MD and am in the
process of completing the second “cabin” with great access.
Dabbling in Real Estate has been good for me. Retirement is great
with time for my wife and I to enjoy the children and grandchildren
except that I seem to be busier now than before I retired. UWF put
me on the road to a rewarding professional career in Chemistry that
would not have been possible otherwise.
From Bettie Obi-Johnson: (1994)
After leaving UWF, I went to Ga. Tech for my Ph.D. I worked
at Celanese Acetate in the Charlotte area for about 5 years. Now, I
am a chemistry instructor at the University of South Carolina at
From Amy Meyers: (1999)
I am now working with Intel up in Portland, OR. I defended
in December and moved out here in February. My position is actually
an engineer. I help make the next phase of the Pentium chips. I
would tell you more, but 1) I am not allowed to and 2) I am still not
sure where my group fits in the production line. Everything is still
new and exciting at this point. I spend 3-4 hours a day in a cleanroom,
another new experience. I do not do any research and I have limited
contact with chemicals, but my knowledge of chemistry is very
valuable. I am actually looking forward to not having to worry about
carcinogens and toxic chemicals and fumes for a while. Safety is
also taken very seriously, another plus.
I will admit Portland was not my first choice of places to
live. I have been told it is wonderful in the summer, sunny days,
warm, but not hot, very low humidity. However, the past couple
weeks have been cool and rainy. It is starting to warm up, but not
seeing the sun is a bit depressing. The scenery is beautiful. There
is one mountain, about an hour from Portland that you can see
almost anywhere you go in the area. It is quite impressive. Don’t
worry, I am still planning on moving back to Pensacola one day. I
need to play golf somewhere.
From Scott Brown: (1979)
Timothy, my oldest son and I spent a week on a live aboard
dive boat at Cocos Island 300 miles off the coast of Costa Rica.
We were diving with schooling scalloped hammerhead sharks -just the 12 - 14 foot variety. We were also night diving with several
hundred white tip reef sharks in 30 foot of water -- you would have
loved it!!!!! I have just returned yesterday from three weeks that
were spent in Australia, New Zealand and 10 days in Tonga. The
Tonga excursion was to swim and dive with Humpback whales -absolutely beautiful to be within several feet of such a magnificent
animal! Anyhow, life is good.
If you recall, I am one of the principals and President of
PolythaneSystems, Inc. a polyurethane systems house in Spring,
TX. I thought you would be interested in an announcement which
was published on August 17th pertaining to the purchase of Polythane
Systems, Inc. by Bayer Chemical Company. We will close on
September 1st. At present, I will remain with the new entity for a
period of time and then will see what the future holds for me. I have
been in the industry for almost 25 years and must admit it has
been a wonderful experience. With the sale of my stock, I could
certainly retire at this point, but am interested in what Bayer holds
for my future. It is a shame UWF never had me to speak with the
students and discuss with them my career -- it has taken me around
the world and involvement with some fascinating polyurethane
chemistry and applications.
Additional Classes
From time to time, we get updates and news from many of our
alumni, unfortunately not as many as we would like. Please drop
us a line with any announcements that you would like to share with
the department or other alumni. You can send us an email at
[email protected], [email protected] or [email protected], and
we will include your news in the next installment of the newsletter
and post it on the Department’s website. Here are the most recent
tidbits from alumni.
From C. Edwin Webster: (1995)
Greetings from Memphis! I have just started my new position
here at the University of Memphis in the Department of Chemistry
as an Assistant Professor. I am teaching the senior-undergrad/
graduate level inorganic this semester. I have one graduate student
Chemistry News
FALL 2005
News From The Department
Continued from page 1
In anticipation of his upcoming retirement after many years of reputable service, Dr. Peter Tanner has stepped down as department
chair. Dr. Mike Huggins has been approved as interim chair. Dean Jane Halonen has remarked on Dr. Huggins’ “administrative gene”
and the department is looking forward to his guidance during the next year.
Several of us attended and organized workshops or seminars. Drs. Jerry Gurst and Mike Huggins co-organized the 10 th
International Conference on Circular Dichroism which took place at Sandestin in late August. This Gordon-type conference focused on
almost all areas of Circular Dichroism Spectroscopy. In late September, Dr. Jerry Gurst was a co-organizer of the 27th Gulf Coast
conference which took place at Pensacola Beach. This conference featured academic and industrial speakers who reported advances
in organic and biological chemistry. Dr. Pamela Tanner attended two workshops focusing on the technique of guided inquiry in
chemistry laboratories. Dr. Timothy Royappa attended an NSF workshop on incorporating nanotechnology into the chemistry curriculum.
Dr. Leo ter Haar has taken the daunting position has Chair of the Computer Science Department. In his new role, Leo
somehow finds time to teach one chemistry course each semester. Dr. Gurst is back for another term in the UWF Faculty Senate
where he is tryng to keep the new University adminstrators in line.
New Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry
The department began offering a bachelor of arts degree in chemistry and chemistry/ biochemistry beginning fall 2005. The new degree
will use the same prerequisites as the existing bachelor of science degree; however, the bachelor’s of arts in chemistry tracks will be
geared toward students pursuing career paths that require a knowledge of chemistry such as science teachers, forensics scientists
and pharmacists.
“More and more students are not pursuing traditional chemistry careers but are interested in allied fields,” said Stephen Tanner,
chair of the Department of Chemistry. “While these fields have a strong component or background in chemistry, they have specializations outside of the area; for example, forensic science, education, patent law, pharmaceutical sales, environmental science, medical
and dental science. Over the last few years, the number of openings for professional chemists has not increased, while there has been
an expansion of opportunities outside traditional chemistry fields for graduates with a science background.”
The bachelor of arts degree will offer three new tracks in chemistry, including education, business and pre-law and three new
tracks in biochemistry, including forensics, environmental and pre-medical. The education track will provide courses in contemporary
issues in public education, teaching science in middle and secondary schools and educational assessment. The business option will
cover topics such as sales management, professional selling methods, statistics and management fundamentals. The pre-law track
will offer courses on judicial process, evidence, criminal procedure and environmental law. Students taking the forensics track will take
courses on topics such as the American justice system, criminal investigation and evidence. The environmental track will allow
students to explore the topics of physical geology, environmental geology and basic hydrology. The pre-medical option offers courses
on biomedical ethics, professional writing, genetics and human physiology.
Project SEED Plants Young Scientist at UWF
by Jaimie Woodard, (Reprinted from the Fountain, May 2005)
For many people, memorizing the periodic table and each element’s atomic weight and number in high school is their first, and
decidedly last, experience with chemistry. For others, chemistry is the intersection where math and science collide into a fascinating
world of molecules, compounds, reactions, equations, enzymes, test tubes, glistening
goggles and gleaming white lab coats. Hoping to expose local high school students to the
latter, more exciting side of science, chemists at the University of West Florida will sponsor
Project SEED on campus this summer. Offered through the American Chemical Society,
Project SEED plants disadvantaged high school students in campus chemistry labs across
the United States.
“Project SEED was established in 1968 and gives economically disadvantaged
students a chance to participate in hands-on laboratory research, while exploring career
opportunities in chemistry,” said Tara Sirvent, assistant professor of Chemistry and
coordinator of the program. “We will select two local students to participate in a 10-week
paid internship at UWF this summer. Applications will be accepted from all Escambia
County high school students, and also Pace High School students in Santa Rosa County.”
The two students selected for UWF’s program will spend 35 hours each week working
Air Potato Dioscorea bulbifera.
a scientist mentor. Besides earning a $2,275 stipend, the students will also
Art and photos courtesy of the University of Florida
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).
gain experience using high-tech lab equipment and proven research methods. In addition,
they will get a taste of college-life by going through several campus orientations and working with the UWF Career Center to determine
their interests and possible career paths.
“The research project the students will primarily work on involves studying the Air Potato (Dioscorea bulbifera), an invasive,
weedy vine known to decimate local trees,” said Sirvent. “The students will conduct chemical extractions and analysis and protein
Chemistry News
FALL 2005
Project SEED Continued
studies to understand the biology of the plant and its chemical make-up. The Air Potato
contains very similar hormones to those contained in birth control pills, so we are interested
in seeing how these hormones might be extracted from the plant for medicinal use.”
In order to qualify for Project SEED, a student must be in high school and
demonstrate an economic need that might otherwise prevent him or her from exploring
science as a future field of study. The program is specifically designed for students from
an economically disadvantaged background with an annual family income below $32,000
or for an income that does not exceed 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for
family size. Exceptions can be made for incomes of up to $44,000, depending on family
size and circumstances. Applications for Project SEED will be accepted through May 20.
Since the program’s inception, more than 5,000 students have participated in
Project SEED, and of those, about 80 percent went on to earn a degree of some kind.
Sirvent says UWF hopes to increase the number of students accepted for the program in
the future, and also implement a second-year program for students who would like to
complete a second internship through Project SEED.
Faculty Spotlight on Tim Royappa
My research consists of two separate areas, one in the
chemistry of hyperbranched polymers, and the other in
mathematical modeling of complex chemical data sets.
Hyperbranched polymers
Hyperbranched, or dendritic, polymers have (as
the name implies) a highly branched or tree-like
structure. This is in contrast to ordinary plastics, which
are mostly composed of linear polymers. These
hyperbranched polymers have been studied for decades,
but only now have they been made in a controlled
fashion, leading to possible applications in drug delivery,
coatings, supramolecular chemistry and other fields.
My lab focuses on the polymers and copolymers
of glycidol, a simple hydroxy epoxide capable of forming
hyperbranched polymers by cationic ring-opening
polymerization. Polyglycidol, the homopolymer, is a
branched analog of poly(ethylene glycol), PEG, which
is widely used in a variety of pharmaceutical formulations. Covalent attachment of PEG to
drugs and other biomolecules has been shown to enhance their water solubility and other
useful biological properties. At present, my group is working in collaboration with a faculty
member in the biology department on methodologies to attach cytokines (immunologically
active proteins used in cancer and other therapies) to polyglycidol, with the hopes of
improving their circulatory lifetime and immune activity. The hyperbranched polymer
research is being supported by the Merck foundation and UWF.
UWF Students
Hard at Work
Class of 2004-2005
Michael Bloomer - attending University of
Georgia in chemistry
Allison Swilley - employed at the Center for
Environmental Diagnostics & Bioremediation
Frieda Billimoria - attending Physician’s
Assistant School at Western University of
Health Science in Pomona, CA
David Fehiling - attending Johns Hopkins
University in Physics
Elizabeth Osborne - attending UC, Davis in
Odair Quetzal - unknown
Laura Davis - unknown
Allison Chandler-Altendorf - unknown
Steven Elliott - unknown
2005 Departmental Awards
Merck Awadee - Frieda N. Billimoria
Institute of Chemists Awardee - Elizabeth
Solutia Awardee - Michael Bloomer
Undergraduate in Analytical Chemistry
Awardee - Jason Blaney
Freshman CRC Awardees Daniel L. Broxson and Jamie A. Spiker
Mathematical modeling
This part of my research is entirely theoretical, and uses the Mathcad software
package to extract useful information from large data sets, such as those generated in the
paper industry and in the modeling of diatomic interaction potentials. The industrial data
sets, for example, was composed of a measure of paper quality as a function of several
process variables such as temperature, water hardness, and pH. Working in collaboration
with a paper industry researcher and a faculty member in the department of mathematics
and statistics, the chief variables (those which had the strongest effect on paper quality)
were successfully identified. My current project compares the efficacy of several different
diatomic interaction potentials. Each potential function contains several parameters, which
can be adjusted to fit experimental data for any given diatomic molecule. Using statistical
tests, we are trying to assess which functional form(s) – for a given number of parameters
– most accurately fit the data.
Chemistry News
FALL 2005
Chemistry News
11000 University Parkway • Pensacola, FL 32514
1970 Chemical Association
Chemistry Department
Chemistry News
FALL 2005

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