CWUChemistry NewsChemistry News Alumna Named ACS Fellow, 16 Aug 2017 08:04:10<p><img alt="" src="/chemistry/sites/" style="width: 158px; height: 174px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 4px; float: left;">Aurora Clark, a WSU professor of chemistry, has been named a Fellow of the American Chemical Society.</p><p>Clark received her BS in chemistry from CWU in 1999.</p><p>Clark received the prestigious award for her service to the nuclear/inorganic and computational chemistry communities and for her innovative research, including the pioneering use of computer algorithms and network analysis to understand the behavior of complex solutions and their interfaces.</p><p>Read more of this story in <em><a href="" target="_blank">WSU News</a></em>.</p><p>Wednesday, August 16, 2017</p>Yingbin Ge's Transition Metal Catalyst Research Funded by ACS, 20 Apr 2017 12:31:33<p>Yingbin Ge's proposal, titled "Theoretical design of long-life efficient transition metal nanocatalysts towards the activation of C-H bonds at low temperatures," is funded by the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund in the amount of $70,000. Ge group is hiring undergraduate students to conduct paid research from 9/1/2017 to 8/31/2020. Ge and students Hao Jiang, Russell Kato, and Prasuna Gummagatta have published a paper in this research area, titled "Size and Site Dependence of the Catalytic Activity of Iridium Clusters towards Ethane Dehydrogenation," in the Journal of Physical Chemistry.</p>Beng Group Publishes Paper in the Journal of Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry, 20 Jan 2017 08:58:03<p>&nbsp;<strong><em>Paper title</em></strong><em>: Expedient and modular access to 2-azabicyclic architectures by iron-catalyzed dehydrative coupling of alcohol-bearing allylic lactams</em></p><p><strong>Citation</strong>: <em>Org. Biomol. Chem.,</em> 2017, Advance Article, DOI: 10.1039/c6ob02652d</p><p><strong>Authors</strong>: Katie Hovenkotter, Hannah Braunstein, Spencer Langevin and Timothy K. Beng</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The pentannulation of readily affordable alcohol-bearing allylic lactams<em>, </em>under iron catalysis, on three privileged motifs (<em>i.e.,</em> the piperidine-, pyrrolidine-, and morpholine heterocycles) is described. The highlight of the studies is the strategic employment of a cheap iron precatalyst to achieve intramolecular dehydrative coupling, with complete stereofidelity. Our effortless ability to readily assemble 2-azabicyclic architectures using an environmentally benign approach that also features non benzylic tertiary alcohols, in a regiocontrolled, cost-effective, step-economical and modular manner, are some of the practical and conceptual advantages of the strategy over existing approaches.</p><p>We are confident that medicinal chemistry community will embrace the current work and find that it offers modular access to functionalized lactam-fused cyclopentenes bearing vicinal stereocenters.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>We are grateful to Central Washington University for financial support through the donation of startup funds to T.K.B. H.B. is a recipient of the CWU COTS-SURE Fellowship and a Keck Scholar. K.H. is a Scottish Rite Scholar. S.L. is a Nelson Scholar and is also grateful to the Chemistry department for a graduate assistantship. Professor Blaise Dondji is thanked for initiating biological testing studies.</p>Yingbin Ge publishes Paper in the Journal of Chemistry Education, 18 Oct 2016 09:05:32<p>Yingbin Ge recently published in the Journal of Chemistry Education an article titled "Let Students Derive, by Themselves, Two-Dimensional Atomic and Molecular Quantum Chemistry from Scratch." He also published in the Journal of Theoretical and Computational Chemistry an article titled "Assessing Density Functionals for the Prediction of Thermochemistry of Ti-O-Cl Species" with undergraduate students Doug DePrekel, Kui-Ting Lam, Kevin Ngo, and Phu Vo.</p>CWU Student Awarded $50,000 EPA Undergraduate Fellowship, 02 Jun 2016 08:28:40<p><img alt="" src="/chemistry/sites/" style="width: 200px; height: 300px; margin: 4px; float: left;">Justin Rodriguez, a junior at Central Washington University, received a $50,000 <a href="" target="_blank">EPA fellowship</a> for his research in environmental chemistry. His mentor, chemistry professor Anne Johansen, encouraged him to apply for the award when he was a sophomore. Rodriguez was the only person in Washington State, and one of only two in the Pacific Northwest to receive this prestigious fellowship.</p><p>The award will provide funding for tuition, travel costs to EPA conferences, lab costs and a stipend for living expenses. As part of the fellowship, Rodriguez will attend a 12-week summer internship at an EPA’s Western Ecology Division Laboratory in Corvallis, Oregon. There he will assist in research to determine the potential effects of engineered nanoparticles on terrestrial ecosystem resources. In essence, he will be studying the effects of pollution from manufacturing processes and how they settle into soils.</p><p>“The nanoparticles may react with natural organic compounds, such as humic acids, in the presence of light,” he explained. “And in this way, they may be producing radical compounds that have a negative effect on the environment and biological systems.”</p><p>A participant in CWU’s <a href="" target="_blank">Science Talent Expansion Program (STEP)</a>, Rodriguez has been working with Johansen on the toxicity of air pollution nanoparticles in cellular environments. For his EPA grant he will be focusing on the reaction of these nanoparticles in soils.</p><p>“He thinks carefully of what he is doing, and has excellent communication and organizational skills,” said Johansen. “These characteristics have allowed him to be effective at problem solving when left alone in lab. In 15 years of teaching, I consider him one of the best students I have encountered.”</p><p>A 2013 graduate of River Ridge High School near Olympia where he grew up, Rodriguez is from German and Puerto Rican descent. From a young age he was fascinated in the natural world and unlocking its secrets. Coming into college he knew he wanted to pursue a degree in science.</p><p>“I didn’t decide to pursue chemistry until I took Chemistry 181. I fell in love with its complexity and it ability to explain the world around us, and I knew it would be a good challenge”</p><p>Rodriguez plans to pursue a master’s degree in chemistry, and ultimately plans to work in an EPA facility solving environmental issues.&nbsp;</p><p>“I hope to lead by example and open doors to more minorities getting into science in general.”</p><p><br>“With the help of this funding, undergraduates will be able to explore their passion in environmental science and cultivate their research skills,” said Thomas A. Burke, EPA science advisor and deputy assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Research and Development. “These fellows are the next generation of scientists, who will help lead the way in protecting the environment and public health.”</p><p>The EPA Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) Fellowships for Undergraduate Environmental Study winners receive fellowships of up to $50,000 for their last two years of undergraduate study and a three-month summer internship at an EPA facility.&nbsp; By enhancing and supporting quality environmental education for undergraduate students, the GRO Undergraduate Fellowship encourages promising students to pursue careers in environmentally related fields and to continue their education beyond the baccalaureate level. For more information about the GRO fellowships, go to</p><p><br>Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,<br><br>&nbsp;</p></br></br></br></br>$20,000 Scholarships Available to Junior STEM Students, April 1 Deadline, 09 Mar 2016 14:31:07<p><img alt="" src="/chemistry/sites/" style="width: 212px; height: 200px; float: left;">Approximately seven, two-year scholarships in the amount of $20,000 will be awarded to academically talented students majoring in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math) discipline, thanks to a continuing program at Central Washington University. The deadline for this year’s applications is April 1. Students can apply at</p><p>Community college students who wish to transfer to CWU are especially encouraged to apply. Up to 10 students may be found eligible for the award.</p><p>Thanks to a $612,840 National Science Foundation grant, the scholarship program, SOLVER (Sustainability for Our Livelihood, Values, Environment, and Resources), can help promising students through the last, most difficult years of their science degree program.</p><p>“The scholarships are for $10,000 per year,” said Audrey Huerta, professor of geological sciences, and one of the principal investigators of the grant. “If the student does well in the first year of their award, they are eligible for the second $10,000.”</p><p>The overall objective of SOLVER is to increase the quality and diversity of students graduating with bachelor’s degrees in the STEM fields, with an emphasis on recruitment, retention, and graduation of Hispanic and Native American students. The SOLVER program will provide scholars with financial, academic, personal, and professional support.</p><p>“Our goal is to substantially increase the success of traditionally underrepresented minorities in these high-demand fields,” said Huerta.</p><p>In addition to the $10,000 academic-year scholarship, students are automatically enrolled in the Hearst Summer Fellows program. Instead of leaving campus and working low-wage jobs in the summer before their senior year, students can spend their summer involved in meaningful research. The Hearst Foundations awarded $100,000 to provide summer research fellowships to 20 Solver Scholars at CWU for the next three years.</p><p>“This is the missing piece of the puzzle,” said Audrey Huerta. “Almost all of our students have to work during the summer to make money for the school year. It’s impossible for them to take advantage of unpaid research internships that would help further their academic career. This stipend allows them to immerse themselves in science without worrying about financial consequences.”</p><p>Fall quarter 2016 will initiate the third year of the SOLVER program, and already, there are success stories from its graduates.</p><p>“Our SOLVER students have been sought after for professional positions even before graduation,” Huerta related. “Many others are pursuing advanced degrees in their field.”</p><p><br>Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,</p><p>March 9, 2016</p></br>Timothy Beng publishes paper in Journal of Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry, 03 Dec 2015 14:24:34<p>Paper Title: Regiocontrolled synthesis of (hetero)aryl and alkenyl dehydropyrrolidines, dehydropiperidines and azepenes by Ru-catalyzed, heteroatom-directed α-C-H activation/cross-coupling of cyclic enamides with boronic acids<span style="line-height: 1.4;">Citation: Org. Biomol. Chem., 2016, Advance Article, DOI: 10.1039/C5OB02263K</span></p><p>Authors: Timothy K. Beng, Spencer Langevin, Hannah Braunstein and Monique Khim</p><p>In this embodiment, the α-regioselective cross-coupling of cyclic enamides with aryl and alkenyl boronic acids, under ruthenium catalysis, on three privileged drug scaffolds (i.e., the piperidine, pyrrolidine, and azepane heterocycles) is described. The highlights of these studies are the ability to utilize a commercially available ruthenium pre-catalyst in a carbonyl-assisted, chelation controlled mechanism and selectively activate an α-amino sp2 C-H bond in the presence of a β-amino sp2 C-H and an α-amino sp3 C-H bond. The ability to install diverse functionality, using a cheap nontoxic metal such as ruthenium, and the excellent regiocontrol are some of the practical and conceptual merits offered by the current strategy over existing tactics.<br>The authors are confident that the synthesis and medicinal chemistry communities will embrace these findings since they offer direct access to functionalized piperidine, pyrrolidine and azepane derivatives via carbonyl-assisted C-H activation.</p><p>The authors are grateful to Central Washington University for financial support through the donation of startup funds to T.KB. Professors Levente Fabry, JoAnn Peters, Gil Belofsky, and Blaise Dondji are thanked for initial assistance with logistics. Brian Finn and Jeff Wilcox are greatly acknowledged for NMR assistance.</p></span style="line-height: 1.4;"></br>CWU Professors Awarded $360,000 to Fight Scourge of Hookworms, 12 May 2015 13:40:38<p><img alt="" src="/chemistry/sites/" style="width: 244px; height: 300px; margin-left: 7px; margin-right: 7px; float: left;">Worldwide, nearly a billion people are afflicted with hookworms, an intestinal parasite that causes stunted growth, anemia, malnutrition, low birth weight, and, though rarely, even death. Although it has been successfully treated in the past with drugs, hookworms and similar parasites are developing resistance to current treatments.</p><p>Responding to an urgent need to control this widespread parasitic disease, Central Washington University Professors Blaise Dondji, biological sciences, and Gil Belofsky, chemistry, have teamed up to develop alternative therapies. They are studying plant extracts that have potential to yield effective treatments for hookworm infection.</p><p>Recently they received $361,065 from the National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary &amp; Integrative Health for their three-year study, “Anthelmintic Activity of Plant Natural Products Against the Hookworm Ancylostoma ceylanicum.” The budget for the first year is $122,440.</p><p>“Very little research has been done previously to look for alternatives to treatments for hookworm infection,” said Dondji, a specialist in infectious diseases. “To date, there is only one group of drugs for the disease, the benzimidazoles and they are becoming ineffective.”</p><p>Belofsky has performed significant research in the use of plant-based extracts to treat drug-resistant bacteria such as the dangerous Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause pneumonia, endocarditis, and toxic-shock syndrome.&nbsp; He has published recently on the activity of other plant components against resistant fungal strains, toward insect crop-pests, and has done preliminary work toward treatments for Parkinson's via dopamine receptor-binding.</p><p>Their research aims at identifying and characterizing plant compounds that demonstrate activity against the hookworm Ancylostoma ceylanicum, one of the species causing the human disease. Compounds come from relatively common plant species—the Western prairie clover (Dalea ornata), and the Indian plum (Oemleria cerasiformis), for example.</p><p>“We’ll examine extracts of the leaves, root, and bark and isolate the active compounds,” said Belofsky. “Then we’ll test their effectiveness on the hookworm, both ex vivo (in a petri dish) and in vivo (in a living animal).</p><p>Both Dondji and Belofsky are optimistic that the isolated plant compounds will yield positive results, and have, in fact, already isolated some of the active compounds—“which, down the road, could develop into intellectual property patenting and drug development,” said Dondji.</p><p>Early indications from these sources have been highly encouraging. However, Belofsky cautions, it must also correlate with low toxicity toward healthy cells for a treatment to be useful.</p><p>People can become infected with hookworm orally, by ingesting the hookworm larvae, or through the skin, by walking barefoot or having other skin contact with soil contaminated with hookworm larvae. The larvae that enter through the skin, end up in the small intestine where they mature. The worms then literally hook their fang-like cutting plates into the nutrient-rich lining of the intestine, where they voraciously feed on the host’s blood. Pregnant women, children and those who have compromised immune systems are most at risk for complications from hookworm infections.</p><p>Hookworms can be found throughout the world, but most commonly in sub-tropical areas where there is a constant moist, warm climate.</p><p><br><em>This research is supported by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R15AT008546. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.</em></p><p><em>Photo courtesy of NIH</em></p><p>Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,<br>May 12, 2015</p></br></br>Anne Johansen has had a 3-year NSF RISE grant funded, 19 Aug 2014 15:05:01<p>North Seattle Community College (NSCC) and Central Washington University (CWU) will collaborate to address the need to reform undergraduate STEM education programs through the development of a model for institutionalizing an interdisciplinary and research-based curriculum for chemistry and biology. This collaboration provides a model for how a 2-year community college and a&nbsp; 4-year university can work together to provide innovative and authentic research experiences<br>for community college students early in their college pathway. The RISE project builds upon<br>ten years of work at NSCC that has focused on a year-long program, Atoms to Ecosystems (A2E), which integrates chemistry and biology curricula to broaden participation in STEM among students underrepresented in these fields (e.g., women, historically underrepresented minorities, low-income, and/or first-generation students), groups disproportionately found in community colleges.<br>The RISE project seeks to 1) provide progressive and innovative STEM curriculum that significantly improves preparation of diverse student populations for upper level courses and careers in science, 2) establish the foundation for a Pacific Northwest Collaboration focused on excellence<br>in STEM education at the community college level, and 3) make a significant contribution to<br>the body of knowledge regarding our understanding of how students think, learn, and problem solve in a research and interdisciplinary context early in the college experience.</p></br></br></br></br></br>