2018 Newsletter

Chemistry, Biochemistry, Geology, and Physics at WU

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Pat Owens, Chair

Greetings from Sims to all Winthrop chemistry, biochemistry, physics, and geology program friends!

2018 was a year of tremendous student accomplishments with the second largest graduating chemistry class ever of 24, one of the highest number (ten) earning ACS professional certification, and a record eleven alum matriculating directly into graduate programs. Six are starting Ph.D. programs at Clemson, USC, Notre Dame, UNC Chapel Hill, UC San Francisco, and UC Davis respectively, quite a geographical spread! Another turned down multiple Ph.D. program offers to accept a Chemistry master's program offer from NYU to take advantage of the opportunity to live in New York City while examining chemical technologies to address climate change! Another chose to stay closer to home enrolling in Winthrop’s MBA-Finance program with a corporate CPA goal in her future. Two are off to medical school at USC and MUSC respectively while a third is staring pharmacy school at Presbyterian. Many others are smoothly transitioning into industry in the rapidly growing Charlotte metro region that continues to be the economic center of the Carolinas and a very desirable location to take advantage of sporting events and entertainment activities. The chemical industry is global and Winthrop’s proximity to the nation’s eight busiest airport provides continued incentives for future chemical growth in our region affording job and internship opportunities for our graduates and students.

2018 was also a sad year in one way for our program with the retirement of Lee Miller this spring. Since 1999, Lee has run nearly every facet of this entire Department; countless students and faculty have benefitted greatly from her support, encouragement, and advice. This place will not be the same without her presence. Unbeknownst to us all, as an infant, Lee was washed up in the tsunami that hit Hilo Harbor, Hawaii on April 1, 1946. Her father, fearing she had drowned, found her washed up in a basket at the top of a tree, a story Lee told during the campus-wide celebration in Sims honoring her many years of service at Winthrop. Lee Miller has done such miraculous work in the Department these past two decades; this is such a heart-warming and fitting story! Lee, we will miss and will never forget you!!

With Lee’s departure, Willie Aiken who has done such superb work as our Laboratory Chemist for the past ten years, has been selected as the Department’s Operations Manager with responsibilities for budgets, involvement with internships, serving as the key liaison for alumni affairs. We just completed a national search and are delighted to announce that Holly Truluck has accepted the Laboratory Chemist position. Last year, she was awarded a master's Degree in Environmental Chemistry from Western Carolina where she served as the lab assistant for general and organic chemistry programs overseeing much of their weekly operations. More recently, Holly has been working as an analyst with the City of Rock Hill’s water quality lab. We are delighted to welcome Holly and look forward to her arrival this summer.

Our faculty continue to do spectacular work with students in so many inspiring ways. During this past year, Diana Boyer has led student courses and research experiences to the Bahamas and Ohio; Scott Werts has led a student course to the Arctic Circle fringe at Churchill, Canada; Fatima Amir has co-sponsored a student at Brookhaven National lab; and Cliff Calloway has taken students to Wake Forest for a full summer of research. This past year, Christian Grattan visited yet another 10 high schools in the region doing chemical demonstrations and talking to prospective students about the exciting thing happening in our growing programs. On campus, Maria Gelabert has led Winthrop’s team of seven chemistry and physics faculty’s first year of work on South Carolina Materials Science and Engineering NSF research infrastructure grant and Cliff Harris has continued his work as Associate Director of the Eagle STEM program resulting in their high selection rates for competitive off-campus summer research fellowships. Robin Lammi continues to lead Winthrop’s NIH INBRE initiative that involves 15 faculty across four departments. Notably, Robin’s INBRE IV proposal resulted in Winthrop’s recent exciting selection as a member of South Carolina’s INBRE IV team. The EPSCoR and INBRE programs provide funds to pay students for summer research while Winthrop generously provides dorm rooms for summer research students at no cost to them. Summer research is the core of our undergraduate experience and countless alum have cited the importance of this in their growth as scientists. The inspiring work of our faculty and the achievements our students make under their mentorship are so remarkable. Faculty are so central to everything that we do and are about.


Diana Boyer

WE ARE VERY ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT the recent increase in Geology minors. I was excited to teach Oceanography for the first time here at Winthrop, while my Dinosaurs! course continues to be one of my favorite offerings. This past summer I had two students, Geology minors Daniel Croke and KeeLe Puckett, participate in research associated with the Late Devonian mass extinctions. Their research utilized samples that previous students had collected in Utah and NV during the summer of 2017 and from northern Ohio in the summer of 2018. I was excited to head back to my alma mater of the University of California, Riverside (M.S. ’02; Ph.D. ’07) for the North American Paleontological Convention this summer and present some of the research that these students were working on. I am currently preparing to take seven students to the island of San Salvador, Bahamas for 12 days of field work as part of the Geology of the Bahamas course (GEOL 345). We will compare modern and fossil coastal environments including reefs, and also sample for microplastics in the water and sediments.

Cliff Calloway

IT HAS BEEN AN active year for analytical chemistry and department instrumentation. I continue to teach quant, instrumental and forensic chemistry lecture and lab courses as well as keeping up with many of the instruments in the department (repairs, upgrades and replacements), and sometimes, the Sims Building, itself. Our 300 MHz NMR retired after almost 21 years of service. The 400 MHz instrument is now our main high field instrument, but we added two benchtop 60 MHz instruments to give us some backup. We also replaced our AccuTOF high resolution mass spectrometer with the newest model and added the DART ion source, which wasn’t available with our first AccuTOF. My favorite demo is to show visitors the cocaine signal on the dollar bills in their wallet…with no sample preparation. The large MALDI mass spectrometer was replaced with a smaller benchtop version that’s a little less maintenance intensive, a nice plus. So, Winthrop students still get plenty of hands-on experience with a variety of modern, sophisticated tools for chemical analysis, giving them the unique Winthrop experience and advantage. My research continues around development of a tungsten coil based atomizer for atomic spectroscopy and development of the Standard Dilution Analysis (SDA) method. In fact, two papers will be published on SDA in 2019. One paper as an introductory lab experiment and the other as a research paper. A busy time for SDA. Last year, I had four undergraduate research students in the Calloway lab. They all did an outstanding job and generated a lot of data. I also continue to collaborate with Wake Forest University during the summer, bringing one or two Winthrop students with me. This gives them a chance to see what graduate school might be like. And finally, Dr. Mahes and I are taking part in South Carolina’s NSF MADE in SC materials science grant at Winthrop, by offering a summer two-week professional development course for South Carolina high school teachers in materials science.

Gwen Daley

THE LAST FEW YEARS HAVE BEEN productive. I have taught the introductory classes Physical Geology (in both traditional and online formats) and Historical Geology. I have also taught the upper level geology course History of Life, which included an option for students to do research on my current projects, which many students did. The students were included as abstract co-authors on presentations at sectional meetings of the Geological Society of America. I published a paper in the journal Palaios on how fragmentation of fossils affects measured biodiversity. I have a manuscript in preparation about biodiversity measurements in lithified rocks versus unconsolidated sediment. I am currently collecting data to test a hypothesis about how taphonomic destruction skews our understanding of predator-prey relationships in fossil data.

Clifton Harris

THESE LAST TWO YEARS HAVE BEEN incredibly busy and rewarding. I’ve been quite active with teaching, research and advising. I taught general and physical chemistry classes, mentored several undergraduate research assistants (Cale Gaster, Blake McCloskey), and continued to serve in my capacities as the assistant director for the Winthrop’s Eagle STEM scholars program and the faculty advisor for the student organization, Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society (SAACS).

Research in the Harris laboratory centers on addressing the rapidly worsening energy crisis facing our world. The most important technical problem facing humanity is the development of a sustainable, long-term, carbon-free energy economy to supply a global energy demand that is expected to reach 25 TW by 2035. Hydrogen gas is a viable fuel source with the potential to replace fossil fuels as a means of electricity production. Our research focus is on the production of light-sensitive, multi-layered semiconductor thin films that can act to catalyze the decomposition of water into its base elements of hydrogen and oxygen. We’ve had a number of breakthroughs in my research laboratory. Specifically, we’ve developed a series of synthetic methods for depositing films of controlled thickness, morphology, and conductivity-type. We are currently improving upon our hydrogen evolving materials before incorporation of oxygen evolving materials. In addition, we have an active collaboration with researchers at the University of South Carolina.

NSF-EPSCoR funding has supported most of our research endeavors. We’ve made several equipment acquisitions, including a surface profiler and a potentiostat. We recently published one paper, and began drafting manuscripts for two others. Cale Gaster graduated in May and began Ph.D. work at the University of Notre Dame. Blake McCloskey is currently active in the lab, but was recently admitted to the chemistry Ph.D. program at Clemson.

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Aaron Hartel

THIS PAST YEAR I TAUGHT my usual sections of Organic Chemistry I & II, Organic Lab, and Essentials of Organic Chemistry. I was also able to teach Advanced Organic Chemistry lecture and lab courses that focus on organic synthesis for the first time in several years. My research group continued work on two ongoing projects: a methodology for preparing synthetically valuable aldol products from cyanohydrins and a novel seven-step total synthesis of nicotine. Throughout the year I continued to work on a suite of exciting software projects, developing apps designed for both teaching and learning organic chemistry. I completed significant updates to two popular, established apps and also released "Visualizing Organic Chemistry," my most ambitious app to date. Currently I am designing two new, comprehensive apps that I am very excited about and I hope will benefit students around the world when completed. In April, I will deliver invited seminars describing my research and software development at Appalachian State University and Winthrop University.

Jason Hurlbert

THE PAST TWO YEARS HAVE BEEN good for the Hurlbert group. In addition to teaching the usual course offerings (ACAD101, CHEM106, CHEM307, CHEM495, CHEM523, CHEM524, CHEM525, and CHEM529) we have added another couple of projects and another collaboration with the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Florida. My group’s primary focus is studying the relationship between the structure and function of proteins using x-ray crystallography. Typically, proteins in bacterial systems are cloned and expressed, recombinant proteins are purified and characterized, conditions suitable for crystallization are identified, and then the structure of the crystallized protein is solved. The variety of techniques used provides plenty of opportunities for undergraduates to learn techniques that they will need in whatever post-baccalaureate path they choose. One new instrument we are eager to get to work on is the new Shimadzu MALDI-TOF MS acquired in late spring 2018. With a lot of projects comes the need for a lot of hands to work on them and the Hurlbert group has had a lot of members since 2018. Graduates of the lab include: Jesslyn Park (WU Class of 2018, currently working on her doctorate at UCSF), Jonathan Cutrone (WU Class of 2018, currently seeking his MD at MUSC), Augustine Vinson (WU Class of 2019, currently working on her doctorate at UF), John Pike (WU Class of 2019, currently seeking his MD at MUSC), Erin Hershelman (WU Class of 2019, currently working in the QC lab at cbdMD in Charlotte, North Carolina), Lauren Travis (WU Class of 2019, preparing to start pharmacy school at Wingate in Fall 2020). In addition to Jesslyn, I have had the pleasure of hosting two other McNair Scholars, Juliana Quay (Class of 2020) and Marlin McKnight (Class of 2020). In the summer of 2019, three students will work in the lab: Alyssa Petty (Class of 2021), Nghi Tran (Class of 2021) and Christine Dunn (Class of 2022). Students in the group have presented their research at SOURCE, SURE and SERMACS in addition to annual meetings of the INBRE and Made In SC grants. In spring of 2020, Juliana will present her research at the 2020 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in San Diego, California.

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Robin Lammi

IT'S BEEN ANOTHER busy and rewarding year! I had a fun, engaged group of Gen. Chem. students in the fall, including several who subsequently added chemistry majors or minors. The spring Inorganic class was a strong one too, willing to work hard in their last (or second-to-last) semester before graduation. My research students and I continued to collaborate with Dr. Hanna’s group in the design, synthesis, and evaluation of small-molecule inhibitors for amyloid-β aggregation (which is linked to Alzheimer’s disease); I also continued to support the Gelabert lab’s work with ZnO nanoparticles. Winthrop’s INBRE program for biomedical research remains strong (with 42 students participating during Summer 2019), and we’re hopeful that we will receive another five years of funding from the NIH (2020-2025). Winthrop’s campus-wide Undergraduate Research program also continues to grow: I celebrated my fifth year as its director with the largest Showcase of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors (SOURCE) event to date in April 2019. (If you’re around Rock Hill this coming spring, consider joining us for the next SOURCE on April 24, 2020!).

Kathie Snyder

THE LAST TWO YEARS HAVE BEEN very busy from teaching general chemistry, safety classes, directing the general chemistry laboratories to setting-up the chemical inventory system and maintaining the safety program for the department. The department has an extensive safety program that is woven into all aspects of the chemistry curriculum from general chemistry laboratories to research labs. The Department’s safety program begins in the general chemistry laboratory program with a basic introduction to safety rules, proper personal protective equipment and finding basic hazard information about chemicals. Upper level teaching labs also address safety considerations for the chemicals, equipment and procedures being carried out in each experiment being conducted. This all-encompassing safety training program requires yearly participation from faculty, staff and student research and teaching assistants. In addition to safety training, all chemistry majors are required to take a chemical hygiene and safety course which follows the RAMP framework which is endorsed by the American Chemical Society for creating a strong safety culture. The RAMP framework focuses on Recognizing the hazards of chemicals, equipment and procedures; Assessing the risks of the hazards; Minimizing the risks of the hazards; and Preparing for emergencies. The Chemistry Department houses almost 3000 chemicals which are tracked through a chemical inventory system that also includes an extensive Safety Data Sheet database. A yearly inventory of chemicals is conducted along with an inspection of laboratories.

2018 - Faculty Awards & Grants

Dr. Fatima Amir

Principal investigator (PI); Department of Energy, DOE Grant

Dr. Diana Boyer

Principal investigator (PI); National Science Foundation, NSF: “RUI A High Resolution Paleontological, Ichnological, and Chemostrati- graphic Study of Late Devonian Mass Extinctions”

Dr. Maria Gelabert

Principal investigator (PI) - Materials Assembly and Design Excellence in South Carolina; Made in SC /Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR)/National Science Foundation (NSF)

Dr. Nicholas Grossoehme

Principal investigator (PI) - South Carolina EPSCoR/IDeA/SC Commission on Higher Education (SC CHE) - ”GEAR CRP: Collaboration to develop ferritin-based bio-macromolecular assemblies for targeted interactions with cells

Dr. James Hanna, Jr.

Principal investigator (PI) - American Chemical Society’s Petroleum Research Fund, ACS-PRF Grant Visible-Light-Promoted Additions of Organoborates to Imines

Dr. Robin Lammi

Principal investigator (PI) - South Carolina’s IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE)/National Institutes of Health (NIH)

2018 Faculty Publications

Dr. Fatima Amir

Amir, F. Z.; Pham, V.H.; Schultheis, E.M.; Dickerson, J.H.* Flexible, all-solid-state, high-cell potential supercapacitors based on holey reduced graphene oxide/manganese dioxide nanosheets. Electrochim. Acta 2018, 260, 944–951. DOI: 10.1016/j.electacta.2017.12.071.

Dr. Diana Boyer

Haddad, E.E.; Boyer, D. L.; Droser, M. L.; Lee, B. K.; Lyons, T. W.; Love, G. D.* Ichnofabrics and chemostratigraphy argue against persistent anoxia during the Upper Kellwasser Event in New York State: Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol. 2018, 490, 178 190. DOI:10.1016/j.palaeo.2017.10.025.

Dr. Nicholas Grossoehme

Blahut, M.; Dzul, S.; Wang, S.; Kandegadara, A.; Grossoheme, N.E.; Stemmler, T.; Outten, F.W.* Conserved cysteine residues are necessary for nickel-induced allosteric regulation of the metalloregulatory protein YqjI in E. coli. Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry 2018, 184, 123 133. DOI:10.1016/j.jinorgbio.2018.04.016.

Dr. James Hanna, Jr.

Plasko, D. P.; Jordan, C. J.; Ciesa, B. E.; Merrill, M. A.; Hanna, J. M. Jr.* Visible Light-Promoted Alkylation of Imines Using Potassium Organotrifluoroborates. Photochem. Photobiol. Sci. 2018, 17, 534-538. DOI: 10.1039/c8pp00061a, PMID: 29722411.

Dr. Jason Hurlbert

St John, F.; Dietrich, D.; Crooks, C.; Bologun, P.; de Serrano, V.; Pozharski, E.; Smith, J.K.; Bales, E.; Hurlbert, J. C.* A plasmid borne, functionally novel glycoside hydrolase family 30, subfamily 8 endoxylanase from solventogenic Clostridium. Biochemical Journal. 2018, 475 (9), 1533-1551. DOI: 10.1042/BCJ20180050.



Lee Miller, the VIP in Sims for decades, retired May 15, 2018. Faculty and staff could never thank her enough for everything that she did for this department and ALL of the people in it. For over 19 years and a span of 270 alums, she was the mother of the Winthrop Chemistry family. The Chemistry family held a luncheon in her honor on May 2, 2018 in Sims 301. Then, on May 10, 2018 a large crowd which included family, friends, retirees, and co-workers from across campus descended upon the Sims lobby area for a beautiful reception also held in her honor.

In addition to being an irreplaceable Operations & Budget Manager for the Department of Chemistry, Physics, and Geology, Lee was an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Sociology, Criminology, & Anthropology. She was a member of the Gerontology Committee, and co-author of four refereed publications on research conducted with Dr. J. Marx and Dr. J. Solomon.

In her spare time, she was a dedicated volunteer with the non-profit Hospice and Community Care organization where she spent countless hours providing support and friendship to patients and their families during their time of need. Miller is a tireless advocate for senior services in local communities. She personally facilitated reminiscence and life review workshops for assisted living and retirement center residents and area churches. Her steadfast leadership was also on display as she help organize the third annual symposium, “Learn Today, Live Tomorrow.” Finally in the area of senior citizens, Lee encouraged individuals to preserve their life stories for future generations. This is a cause dear to her heart as noted in the book that she authored, “The Journey: A Celebration of Life.”

It was very evident from the celebrations held in her honor, comments made by her co-workers, and tears shed, she will be greatly missed. “We love you Mom!!!”


Truluck became the laboratory chemist for Winthrop University July 1, 2018. Holly also teaches Chemistry 104 and 304. She received her undergraduate degree in chemistry from Western Carolina University in May of 2016. A little over a year later, Holly received her Master of Science in Chemistry from Western Carolina University in August 2017. Prior to her position at Winthrop, she was an adjunct instructor at her alma mater and spent some time as a lab technician for the City of Rock Hill.


Effective February 1, 2018, Willie Aiken, the Laboratory Chemist was promoted to Departmental Operations Manager. This position entails supervising the laboratory chemist and budget manager, setting up industrial internships for students, working with admissions and recruiting, fund raising, and alumni relations and the department newsletter.

As of July 1, 2018, Holly Truluck replaced Willie Aiken as the Laboratory Chemist for the department. (Refer to New Faculty and Staff section for additional information on Truluck)

Wow, the Guinness Book of Record

Winthrop’s undergraduate chemistry students and Dr. Cliff Calloway certified the heat of the Carolina Reaper’s hot pepper. Because of Calloway’s laboratory efforts, the Carolina Reaper has 2004, 2013, 2018 Guinness Records for the hottest peppers!

You can find additional information in the Winthrop Magazine found on the following link: https://www.winthrop.edu/uploadedFiles/ucm/publications/WinMagSpr19final.pdf . Also, you can find information in the Charlotte Ballantyne Magazine, in an article on Carolina Reaper grown by PuckerButt Company. The company has a store in Ft Mill, South Carolina. Photos from the Winthrop Magazine.


Due to the internal support of Winthrop and external grants such as EPSCoR Made in South Carolina and South Carolina INBRE, the department has been able to add some new and exciting instruments. This equipment has been very beneficial to faculty research, students taking various chemical courses, and performing summer research.


Winthrop’s new benchtop MALDI-8020 is the latest in a long line of MALDI-TOF products from Shimadzu. It was delivered to Sims on April 12, 2018! It is a benchtop, linear mass spectrometer that delivers outstanding performance in a compact footprint. The hands-on instrument will be utilized by students taking biochemistry courses and performing undergraduate research. Research laboratories will truly benefit from the MS capabilities of the instrument through the rapid mass-measurement of samples. As of April 25, 2018, the new MALDI was up and running in Sims! The capabilities and user interface is much improved. Students and faculty are very excited about this new instrument.

DART-MS; Out with the Old and in with the New

The old 1998 NMR was carted away. It has so much great history surrounding this 21 year old instrument. Winthrop’s 1998 NMR magnet quenched on June 22, 2018. The old NMR provided hands-on experience to thousands of inquisitive undergraduates. Well done! After 20 years, 300 MHz NMR was retired. Sixty-four chemistry alums with doctoral degrees used it!!

The new Direct Analysis in Real Time Mass Spectrometry (DART®-MS) was unboxed and installed June 26, 2018. The DART-MS, is a time-of-flight molecular ion mass spectrometer used to analyze a wide variety of samples without sample preparation. DART-MS spectra are is used to identify organic compounds in a sample. It replaced the old NMR.


Duke University Chemistry Professor Mike Therien spoke at Winthrop EPSCoR Chemistry seminar on Electronic and Optical Materials Derived from Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes: An Organic Chemist’s Perspective on January 25, 2018.

Dr. Arnold Caplan is a Professor of Biology and the Director of the Skeletal Research Center at Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Caplan gave two lectures about the state of the art advances in stem cells and how they relate to past, present, and future of medicine. Dates: April 9-10, 2018

Awesome 2006 Winthrop Chemistry graduate Dr. Shakena West, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Wingate University, shared in Sims 105 “Using Traditional Synthetic Methods to Synthesize Monomers for Untraditional Polymers” on September 6, 2018.

Dr. John Arnold, Professor & Undergraduate Dean, College of Chemistry (UC Berkeley) “New actinide chemistry and connections to future nuclear energy challenges.” Date: October 18, 2018

Winthrop chemistry seminar on November 15, 2018 featuring a fascinating talk by USC Physics Professor Dr. Tom Crawford. He discussed “Magnetic nanoparticle assembly in extreme force gradients” SC EPSCoR!


Students Learning Beyond the Walls of Winthrop University

Under the direction of professors/mentors, Winthrop students have the privilege to travel to various locations around the world. Traveling to these various locations far exceed the depth of learning that takes place in the classroom or laboratory. Students evaluate breathtaking environments and terrains abroad, perform research at different locations, and/or they may collect samples to analyze at Winthrop. Students performing research at these locations have awesome opportunities to learn different laboratory techniques and use new laboratory equipment. Truly the exposure for learning is immeasurable.

Faculty-led Study Abroad Trip to San Salvador, Bahamas

The past and the present came together in a Caribbean laboratory in January of 2018. Dr. Diana Boyer’s Bahamas course included a 10-day field trip to a remote Bahamian island. This allowed students to move past the boundaries of the traditional classroom experience. This course runs in conjunction with students and faculty from Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Beyond the fantastic setting, this course gave students a unique breadth of experiences including sedimentary geology, marine conservation, climate change and human impact on the ocean, early loyalist settlement of the island, and even a visit to the beach where Christopher Columbus first landed in the new world. This was an awesome experience for geology students. Contact Boyer at boyerd@winthrop.edu for additional information.

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Collecting Fossils in the Cleveland, Ohio Area

Sara Dixson(’20), Dakota Shope(’20), and geology faculty member, Dr. Diana Boyer traveled in and around Cleveland, Ohio between June 23 and July 3, 2018 to collect samples for fossil and geochemical analyses.

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Research at Brookhaven National Lab in Upton, New York

On July 22, 2018, Dr. Fatima Amir and her research assistant, Darien Nguyen who is a Winthrop junior Chemistry major, traveled to Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) in Upton, New York to performed research on supercapacitors, “Areal Capacitance of metal organic frameworks (MOFs) supercapacitors in two different electrolytes fabricated by electrophoretic deposition.” In the photo below, Darien has on the required white bunny suit in the cleanroom at the Center of Functional Nanomaterials (CFN) at BNL. For additional in formation, contact Amir at amirf@winthrop.edu.

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Faculty-led Study Abroad Trip to Manitoba Province, Canada

Dr. Scott Werts led an all-female team to what is known as the polar bear and beluga whale capital of the world as part of his Subarctic Landscape class. They met in the spring for lectures, then traveled to Churchill, Canada, Aug. 1, 2018 at the height of the whale migration season. “This area of the world isn’t accessible by road so it isn’t seen by many people,” Werts said, adding that the team reached the site by airplane.

During their stay, Werts and the eight students remained busy. They studied three distinctive subarctic environments, walked on some of the oldest rocks on the planet, explored previously glaciated terrain, dipped their feet into the Hudson Bay, watched the Northern Lights at night and spent a morning kayaking with beluga whales.

Senior Mikayla Mangle of Simpsonville, South Carolina, said the trip was a one-of-a-kind experience. “We were there for 10 days, and every day we did something new and exciting,” said the environmental studies and political science major, who raved about seeing the Northern Lights almost nightly. This was an amazing experience for geology students. For additional information, contact Werts at wertss@winthrop.edu.

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Student(*) Peer-Reviewed Publications

-St John, F.; Dietrich, D.; Crooks, C.; Bologun, P.; de Serrano, V.; Pozharski, E.; Smith, J.K.;* Bales, E.;* Hurlbert, J. C. A plasmid borne, functionally novel glycoside hydrolase family 30, subfamily 8 endoxylanase from solventogenic Clostridium. Biochemical Journal 2018 475(9), 1533-1551.

-Plasko, D. P.;* Jordan, C. J.;* Ciesa, B. E.;* Merrill, M. A.;* Hanna, J. M. Jr. Visible light-promoted alkylation of imines using potassium organotrifluoroborates. Photochem. Photobiol. Sci. 2018 17, 534-538.

-Amir, F. Z.; Pham, V.H.; Schultheis, E.M.;* Dickerson, J.H. Flexible, all-solid-state, high-cell potential supercapacitors based on holey reduced graphene oxide/manganese dioxide nanosheets. Electrochemica Acta, 2018 260, 944–951.

Student(*) Presentations at National Conferences

-Hernandez, B. P.;* Murray, M. G.; Crenshaw, B. L.; Vinson, A. V.; Hurtt, M. J.; Lammi, R. K.; Hanna Jr., J. M. Synthesis and evaluation of heterocyclic biaryls as aggregation inhibitors for Alzheimer’s amyloid-beta peptide. 255th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, New Orleans, LA, 2018.

-Manore, S.;* Hurlbert, J. C.; Grattan, T. C. Design, synthesis and evaluation of novel sphingosine kinase 1 inhibitors with improved hydrophilic properties. 255th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, New Orleans, LA, 2018.

-Nemeth, A. M.;* B. Melancon, B.; McDowell M.A. A Synthesis of novel oxazoline compounds for use as insecticides and the evaluation for mosquitocidal and larvalcidal activity. 255th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, New Orleans, LA, 2018.

-Shope, D;* Mitchell, M;* Werts, S. The Effects of Allophane on Carbon Sequestration and Nutrient Availability in Compost Derived from Food Waste. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, Washington, DC, 2018.

-Sellers, H.;* Grossoehme, N. Exploring a possible moonlighting role for global phosphatase in S. pneumonia. 256th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Boston, MA, 2018.

Student(*) Presentations at Regional Conferences

-Robbins, J T.;* Boyer, D.; Jackson, R. L.* Trace fossil assemblages of the lower Pilot Shale, Great Basin, USA. Geological Society of America Southeast Regional Meeting, Knoxville, TN, 2018.

-Ciesa, B. E.;* Thibodeaux, E. H.;* Merrill, M. A.;* Hanna, J. M. Visible-light-induced alkylation of aryl aldimines with potassium organotrifluoroborates enabled by an organic photocatalyst. 70th Southeast Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Augusta, GA, 2018.

-Gaster, C;* Harris, C. Characterization of Zinc-doped hematite thin films. 70th Southeast Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Augusta, GA, 2018.

-Murray, M. G.;* Crenshaw, B. L.;* Vinson, A. V.;* Hernandez, B.;* Hurtt, M. J.;* Hanna, J. M.; Lammi, R. K. Synthesis and evaluation of (dihydroxyphenyl)pyridones as aggregation inhibitors for Alzheimer's amyloid-beta peptide. 70th Southeast Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Augusta, GA, 2018.

-Nguyen, D.;* Amir, F. Electrophoretic Deposition of Ni3(HITP)2 for supercapacitor electrodes. 70th Southeast Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Augusta, GA, 2018.

-Quay, J. C.;* Jones, J.; Minsavage, G.; Hurlbert, J. C. Purification of a novel calcium binding protein necessary for phytopathogenesis in xanthomonas strains. 70th Southeast Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Augusta, GA,


-Vinson, A.;* McKnight, M.;* Jones, J.; Minsavage, G.; Hurlbert, J. C. Expression, purification and preliminary crystallization trials of a molecular chaperone from Xanthomonas cynarae. 70th Southeast Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Augusta, GA, 2018.

External Summer 2018 Research Fellowships Awarded

Three Winthrop students were awarded external research fellowships and performed research at other locations during the summer of 2018. These students presented their research results and experiences to other WU students and faculty. The students are listed below.

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Internal/Winthrop Summer Research Fellowships Awarded

Students in the department are awarded WU research fellowships to perform research under Winthrop's faculty mentors. Mentors coordinate the activities during the summer in which the students enthusiastically participate in the research.

The internal Winthrop University Fellowships activities fall under the SURE program. SURE stands for Summer Undergraduate Research Experience. SURE is an exciting experience for students involved in the Department of Chemistry, Physics, and Geology research. The students are able to participate in cutting-edge research during an eight to ten week period over the summer with faculty mentors.

Students present their research in the form of presentations and posters at various meetings, conferences, and symposiums. Thanks to the financial support of various external agencies and organizations, the hands-on learning research experience provided by the mentors, and the university support for making the undergraduate research possible for department students.

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Winthrop students present their research at conferences and annual meetings. Winthrop students learn from others and compete with students from around the world. They have awesome opportunities to network with various scientists from across the globe.

Spring 2018 EPSCoR Made in SC Conference in Columbia

Awesome contingent of Winthrop chemistry students and faculty presenting at South Carolina EPSCoR Made in SC conference meeting on April 7, 2018. Attendees from left to right are as follows Dr. Maria Gelabert, Maria Ojeda, Cale Gaster, Jessica Stevens, Caylie McGlade, Hunter Sellers, Carra Lyons, Arthur Todd, and Dr. Clifton Harris.

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EPSCoR MADE in South Carolina Fellows Conference

On September 24, 2018, Dr. Gelabert, and her research assistants, Tamara and Cale attended the MADE in South Carolina fellows conference in Columbia. Pictured from left to right is Tamara Bright('20), Cale Gaster('19), and Dr. Maria Gelabert.

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In additional to external and internal fellowship awards, WU students have the opportunity to receive awards and recognition from Winthrop University, industrial companies, individual donors, and from national and regional meetings/conferences. Research students compete against students from across the country. The 2018 awards/recognition is as follows.

ACS Analytical and Kullberg Research Award Winners

The following 2018 students were recipients of awards listed below.

  • ACS Analytical Division – Winthrop Undergraduate Award - Dakota Hawkins
  • Lennart H. Kullberg Research Award - Jesslyn Park

South Carolina EPSCoR Meeting Best Poster

Dr. Harris and Maria Ojeda attended the Made in SC EPSCoR State Meeting April 11-12, 2018 in Greenville, SC. Maria participated in the undergrad poster competition and won the third place award.


Students did an excellent job presenting their summer research results on September 27, 2018. WU students, faculty, and visitors gained knowledge from the student’s summer research experience by listening attentively and asking questions.

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On October 5, 2018, twenty awesome Chemistry and Biochemistry majors presented summer research results! Research posters were presented during the the SURE symposium. The students were well prepared and did an excellent presented their research on their co-authored posters.

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SAACS Participates in ACS “Program-In-A-Box”

On February 27, 2018 SAACS students learn about “Opioids: Combating Addition With Chemistry.” The group watches attentively while holding their “I Love Chemistry” fans. If you are not familiar with ACS Program-In-A-Box, click on the following link https://youtu.be/MjYJJdROgV0. Watch the video and see what experts are saying about fighting opioids with chemistry by clicking this link https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/acs-webinars/program-in-a-box/pib-on-demand/opiates/recording.html.

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Tennis, soccer and golf athletic programs benefit from the contributions of three awesome chemistry majors. Aida Kelic helped clinch an historic NCAA tennis victory on May 11, 2018. On September 22, 2018, Laurin Uptegrove was the Comporium Player of the soccer game. Sarah Funderburg, a freshman, was named Golf Player of the Week on November 2, 2018. We are so proud of their contributions!


Congratulations Class of 2018!

Class of 2018 students matriculated into various graduate programs and into industry. When students graduate, some had not made a decision, while others matriculated into doctoral or master's programs or pursuing careers in industry. Also, in 2018, a couple of students from previous classes matriculated into doctoral programs.

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2018 Doctoral Degrees

Hats off to the biochemistry and chemistry alumni that received doctoral degrees in 2018.
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View Chemistry Alumni Activities On YouTube

Dr. Carolyn (Quarles) Burdette, 2007 Winthrop chemistry alumni obtained a Ph.D. degree in analytical chemistry, 2012 from Clemson University. As an awesome undergraduate researcher at Winthrop University, Burdette was mentored by Dr. Clifton P. Calloway. She is now employed as a research chemist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Listen to her chemistry food talk on YouTube at web address https://youtu.be/CeaOccpRh84 beginning at 4:33.

Dr. Matthew Wilson, 2009 Winthrop chemistry alumni, completed a Ph.D. degree in organic chemistry from Notre Dame in 2014. Dr. T. Christian Grattan mentored Wilson in undergraduate research at Winthrop University. Now Dr. Wilson is a research scientist at Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Wilson, another awesome and dedicated researcher at Winthrop University, demonstrated his chemistry knowledge as he pursued his doctoral degree at Notre Dame. Check out his cancer research talk on YouTube at web address https://youtu.be/xso9NLed7h4.


Under Gift Designation, select "Chemistry Department Enrichment Fund" or mail a check payable to Winthrop Univ. Chemistry Dept.; 101 Sims; RH, SC 29733; Acct# 142250-2555-200.