News & Events
Retirement Reception for David Crouse and Gene Mullins - Friday, April 29th
The Department of Chemistry will be hosting a retirement reception for two members of our department. Dr. David Crouse, assistant professor of chemistry, has served 42 years as a faculty member. Gene Mullins has served seventeen years as the department's lab coordinator. The reception will be on the LSC portico on Friday, April 29th from 4-5:30 p.m. (In case of bad weather the reception will be moved to the north LSC atrium) The campus community is invited to help us celebrate the wonderful careers of these two exceptional individuals. Questions can be sent to email@example.com.
Rebecca Firth Receives Kurt Eisen Excellence in Liberal Arts Award
Rebecca Firth, a senior pursuing a major in Chemistry and a minor in Astronomy, is the recipient of the 2022 Kurt Eisen Excellence in Liberal Arts Award. This is the highest student award given by the Tennessee Tech College of Arts and Sciences. Rebecca is recognized for her chemistry research and service to the American Chemistry Society though various leadership and outreach roles. Rebecca joined Dr. Gichuhi’s research team as a sophomore. She has presented research on negative ion photoelectron spectroscopy of deprotonated benzonitrile at the regional and state levels. Working with Dr. Gichuhi, Rebecca is planning to submit her Benzonitrile work to the American Chemistry Society’s Journal of Chemical Information and Modelling. According to Dr. Gichuhi, “this level of research productivity by an undergraduate student, especially in the area of physical chemistry, is not only extraordinary, but a clear indication of how intelligent, dedicated and talented Rebecca is.”
Goldwater Scholarship awarded to Chemistry student
Brayden C. Copeland, a sophomore student pursuing degrees in Chemistry and Biology, with a minor in Honors, is one of the 417 outstanding college sophomore and junior students selected nationwide to receive the Goldwater Scholarship (up to $7,500, for up to 2 years). Brayden’s award comes 23 years after the scholarship was last awarded to a Tech student in 1999.
Brayden is conducting research in the Chemistry Department with Dr. O. Andreea Cojocaru, firstname.lastname@example.org. His research focuses on converting solid-state drugs into new dual functional liquid state drugs that would address issues faced by solid-state drugs such as polymorphism, limited efficacy and bioavailability while allowing for the development of new drug delivery strategies. Brayden has presented his research at National and Regional meetings and he is an author on a manuscript that was recently accepted for publication. Brayden’s goal is to become a practicing clinical physician and researcher.
Research and Creative Inquiry Day set for April 20-21, 2022
Research and critical thinking skills were displayed at Tennessee Tech University's 17th annual Research and Creative Inquiry Day. The event generated 234 submitted abstracts on topics from 24 fields of study from six different colleges on campus. This year's winners include the following individuals from the chemistry department.
- Andrew Callender, Ph.D.
- Fortune Dzeagu, M.S.
- Shawna Coulter, undergraduate
- Connor Pinson, undergraduate
- Chance Morris, undergraduate
- Sydney Asmus, undergraduate
Chemistry Students Selected for ACS Leadership Award
The Department of Chemistry would like to recognize two of our of students for receiving the Student Leadership Award from the American Chemical Society. Recipients of this award are selected from competitive pools of students from United States and international universities based on their leadership skills and extracurricular activities. The students selected possess the skills and potential to become future leaders within the ACS professional society.
Courtney LaPointe, a senior chemistry major from Hendersonville, TN, was one of 21 students to receive the award and attend the ACS virtual Leadership Institute in 2021. Rebecca Firth, a junior chemistry major from Kingsport, TN, was one of 16 students selected to receive the award in 2022, and she will be attending the Leadership Institute in Atlanta, GA in January.
The Leadership Institute is an invitation-only conference that allows students to attend workshops and network with other student leaders from around the world, as well as ACS leaders from local sections, technical divisions, and the ACS national board.
Tennessee Tech Chemistry Students Win National Awards
The American Chemical Society recently handed out 49 Outstanding Awards and 27 Green
Chemistry Awards to student chapters for 2020-2021. The Tennessee Tech chapter brought
home one of each. “I believe this is our chapter’s ninth consecutive year for receiving
the Outstanding Award and our fifth consecutive year for receiving the Green Chemistry
Award,” Amanda Carroll, chapter advisor and chemistry lecturer at Tech, said.
The Society Committee on Education selects ACS Student Chapters to receive special recognition on the basis of their programs and activities, as described in their chapter reports. Awards are classified as outstanding, commendable and honorable mention. “The number and variety of events is what earned our chapter the Outstanding award. Our report review said the reviewers were very impressed with how our chapter was able to do so many events while maintaining a safe environment through COVID-19,” Carroll said.
They were one of 27 student chapters who received the Green Chemistry Award for successfully completing green chemistry activities throughout the year. “This puts our chapter in the top 10 percent of student chapters both nationally and internationally,” Carroll said.
The Green Chemistry Student Chapter Award provides national recognition for ACS student chapters who have shown outstanding commitment to incorporating green chemistry into their annual activities. It is an acknowledgement of green chemistry activities conducted by a student chapter.
To be eligible to be recognized as a green chemistry student chapter they must engage in at least three green chemistry activities during the academic year.
Student involvement in green chemistry principles and practices is essential to the integration of environmentally benign technologies in academia and industry, according to the American Chemical Society.
Recipients are recognized at the Green Chemistry Student Chapter Awards Ceremony held at ACS National Meetings, receive information on green chemistry travel awards and scholarship opportunities and gain connections with faculty engaged in green chemistry research. The Tech chapter also drafted a proclamation for National Chemistry Week in October that was signed by the City of Cookeville’s vice mayor.
They had a week full of activities that the campus and community participated in. It included walking a mole of zeptometers around the stadium track, a lecture on Green Chemistry and how it relates to human and environmental safety, an ACS webinar about the chemistry behind a good cup of coffee and a periodic table of cupcakes and a bake sale.
They viewed the ACS ChemLuminary awards program where they found out one of their events won an award for Fostering Interactions between Local Sections and Student Chapters, had movie night and handed out free chemistry activity bags, color changing cups and baked goods to the community at the Putnam County Library. “Our chapter strives to serve our members, campus, and community through professional development events, service activities, and chapter development and social activities,” Carroll said.
Tech Hosted Tennessee Academy of Science Annual Meeting on Saturday, November 6, 2021
Tennessee Tech hosted the 131st meeting of the Tennessee Academy of Science in-person Saturday, Nov. 6, in the recently-opened Lab Science Commons on campus. “It’s exciting to host the academy at Tech– even more so this year since we are utilizing much of Stonecipher Lecture Hall and the Laboratory Science Commons. Plus, it will be good to see, face-to-face, many colleagues that we’ve not seen in a while,” Jeffrey Boles, chemistry chair at Tech, said.
The TAS was founded in 1912 and directs Tennesseans on various science issues. The academy manages continuing programs in various fields, coordinates symposia and interacts with the national scientific culture. It is associated with two national societies and seven Tennessee societies.
Professor Adam Holley from the department of physics at Tech was the featured speaker for the plenary session of this year’s meeting. His talk is titled “The Tortoise and the Hare: A Race for Answers to Big Questions About the Universe.” Holley received his Ph.D. in experimental nuclear physics from North Carolina State University and studies very low energy “ultracold” neutrons and their potential for helping explain what we observe about the universe.
Tech hosts the annual meeting about once every 10 years, rotating hosting duties with other universities in the state. This year they are expecting between 200-300 people, according to Boles.
A highlight of the annual meeting is the poster and oral presentations by the students. “There will likely be up to 100 poster presentations at this event, mounted on tripods along the center hallways of LSC. The poster provides an introduction to the research topic, the background and methods along with the results and conclusions.” In addition to the morning poster sessions there were several afternoon sessions of oral presentations, as well. “Students are judged in both poster and oral presentations. Those placing first, second and third place in each category are provided certificates at an afternoon awards ceremony.”
Chemistry Major Earns Highest Student Honor with Derryberry Award
Rachel Baker has been named the recipient of the 2021 Derryberry Award, the university’s highest student honor.
The daughter of Denise and Tracy Baker, and a native of Holladay, Tennessee, Baker recently earned a degree in chemistry with a concentration in pure chemistry along with minors in environmental studies, agriculture and honors. Baker is the first chemistry major earn the Derryberry Award, which was established in honor of Everett Derryberry, who served as Tech president for 34 years and retired in 1974. She says that being named the recipient of the award tops off a great experience at Tech.
“I’ve loved Tech and loved every minute here, so it’s kind of sad to know that my time here is up and I will be an alumna instead of a current student,” said Baker. “I’m also excited to see what the future holds.”
Baker was named the recipient of the prestigious Derryberry award for her leadership, community service and academic success.
“Rachel has been extensively involved in campus and community activities throughout her time at Tech. Her leadership experience is unparalleled compared to any other student I have worked with in my nine years of teaching,” said Amanda Carroll, a senior lecturer in the department of chemistry. “Rachel graduated in our most rigorous chemistry concentration and maintained a good GPA while also completing the coursework for her different minors. She is a highly motivated and driven student and exemplifies the qualities demonstrated by a Derryberry award winner and a successful Tennessee Tech graduate.”
During her time at Tech, Baker was involved in several different student organizations such as the College of Arts and Science Student Ambassadors, Student Government Association, Associated Scholars Guild, Student Members of the American Chemical Society, Baptist Collegiate Ministry and American Institute of Chemical Engineers. She was also a member of the University Curriculum Committee, Pedestrian Flow Taskforce, Student Affairs Committee, Academic Council and University Assembly.
When it came to community service, Baker logged hundreds of hours helping others. Whether it was a service project near her home in Benton County, various projects led by student organizations or UT/TSU Extension and 4-H, Baker displayed a leadership quality and a selflessness that made her stand out for the award.
“Her extensive list of extracurricular activities, ranging from serving as Secretary of State in the SGA to various community service, should not be mistaken for that of a student who is simply compiling a diverse resume,” said Rita Barnes, director of Tech’s honors program. “Rachel’s activities are driven by her passions with a focus. She has future political ambitions, but they are informed by her commitment to science and service to others, not through a love of politics, nor by ego.”
“There were so many great candidates and to know I was chosen for this award makes it very special,” Baker said. My time at Tech has been outstanding. It’s been amazing. Tech is like a community of its own inside a larger community of Cookeville. The chemistry department really has a family feel, and has people you can rely on and go to even when it’s not chemistry related.”
Baker will remain in the field of chemistry, accepting a job with a company close to her home in Benton County where she will serve as a research and development chemist.
Lab Science Commons Features New Hanging Sculptures
Art and science blend into fascinating sculptures now adorning Tennessee Tech’s Lab Sciences Commons in the North and South Tower entrances.
Tech chemistry and biology department faculty met with the sculptor several times as he designed the artwork to make sure his artistic freedom represented reality. “The sculpture in the south tower is a first-of-a-kind three-dimensional rendition of the Periodic Table of Elements,” said Jeff Boles, Tech chemistry department chairperson. “Each element is depicted with the correct electrons in the current outer shell orbits around the nucleus. The nucleus is made of dichroic glass.”
The north tower sculpture is just as intricate in its design and story. “It starts out as the roots of a grapevine, turns into a grapevine and then morphs into a DNA double helix with a bound Leucine Zipper protein,” said Boles. “The DNA’s nucleotide bases are correct in chemical bonding patters and are made of dichroic glass.”
Both pieces add inspiration and beauty to the 165,000 building which opened this spring to classes. The grapevine, 10 feet in diameter, winds from the ceiling more than 26 feet, casting shadows and reflections throughout the atrium.
“The sculptures are a great addition to the Lab Sciences Commons,” said senior Tech student Morgan Lee. “I am so excited to see them go up and the look on students' faces when they walk through the doors and see the hanging sculptures.”
Fabricated by lead artist Roger Berry, the two helices began as carefully considered sketches created by Tech professors and have come to life through the collaboration of artists, faculty and alumni of the School of Art, Craft and Design.
Research and Creative Inquiry Day 2021
The Office of Research and Economic Development held the 16th Annual Research and Creative Inquiry Day in April 2021. This event provides an opportunity to showcase student research and creative inquiry projects from colleges and departments across Tennessee Tech’s campus. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the 2021 Research and Creative Inquiry event utilized a joint virtual and digital format. Digital files of the posters and papers were submitted and provided to judges and also to the campus community for general viewing. Interactions between judges and students occurred via video conferencing, and the event culminated in a virtual award ceremony.
This year’s event featured posters and papers generated from 220 submitted abstracts on topics as varied as the 22 fields of study from which they originate. Congratulations to the students and faculty advisors who have worked hard to prepare these posters and papers that demonstrate Tech's dedication to excellence in learning and discovery. To see a list of the 2021 winners, visit this link: https://www.tntech.edu/research/research-day/
2021 Winners from Chemistry:
Primary author: Allison Adams
Title: : Computational Design of Novel Inhibitors of Dihydrofolate Reductase in Three Bacterial Species
Research advisor: Dr. Derek Cashman
Primary author: Shawna Grey Coulter
Title: Creating Color Flame Candles as an Alternative to the Rainbow Flame Test
Research advisor: Dr. Amanda Carroll
Primary author: Bailey Talent
Title: Synthesis of INAP-ETSC and INAP-tButyl
Research advisor: Dr. Ed Lisic
Primary author: Zachary Gulledge
Title: Metal-free, microwave assisted oxidative cyclization of 2-pyridyl N-tosylhydrazones toward unsymmetric 1,2,3-triazole complexants
Research advisor: Dr. Jesse Carrick
Primary author: Lesta Kocher
Title: A study on the Spectrophotometric Analysis of Hg(II) using Dithizone under Conditions Pertinent to Hg(II) Reduction in Aquatic Systems
Collaborator: Stephen Okine
Research advisor: Dr. Hong Zhang
Laboratory Science Commons and Stonecipher Lecture Hall celebrated their grand opening April 9, 2021
Tech celebrated the grand opening of the Laboratory Science Commons and Stonecipher Lecture Hall on April 9, 2021. This grand opening was part of Wings Up Weekend. It was a big day for Tennessee Tech as students, faculty, staff, alumni and special dignitaries helped dedicate and celebrate the grand opening.
“The buildings we celebrate today are functional, beautiful and inspirational,” said Tennessee Tech president Phil Oldham. “These buildings enhance our campus and enhance the college experience for our students.”
The Lab Science Commons building is a 160,000-square-foot facility that is the largest academic building in the history of Tennessee Tech. It is also the first LEED certified building, housing the chemistry department, a portion of the biology department and lab space for earth sciences, physics and environmental sciences. The finished product is a massive structure that includes 106 miles of data cable, 960,000 feet of electrical wiring, 18,500 square feet of exterior glass and 39,000 bricks in the outside columns.
“There was no fear when this building was planned because it was built on understanding,” said Oldham. “Designers, architects, students and faculty spent month after month together planning the design.”
Included in the grand opening of the Lab Science Commons was the dedication of the Stonecipher Lecture Hall for Tech alum Harry Stonecipher.
“We need great moments like this,” said Oldham. “We need celebrations that make us stop and appreciate what is and what can be, and expressions of gratefulness for leaders like Harry Stonecipher and their belief in us.”
Chemistry Alumnus Named Master Distiller at Jack Daniel's
For Chris Fletcher, '03 chemistry, the journey to becoming master distiller of Jack Daniel's began in Lynchburg, Tennessee, Fletcher's hometown and the home of Jack Daniel Distillery. Fletcher grew up hearing the name Jack Daniel. His maternal grandfather was the company's fifth master distiller, retiring in 1989 when Fletcher was eight years old.
Fletcher's family has a long history with Tennessee Tech as well. His parents, paternal grandfather, sister and brother-in-law all went to Tech, so when it came time to choose a university, Tech was already on his mind.
"I enrolled in chemistry at Tech because I felt like with science, you really learn unique and new things every day," said Fletcher. "Chemistry is what I wanted to study, and that led me down the path of distilling."
Research and Creative Inquiry Day 2020 Winners from the Department of Chemistry
The following students were winners at our Research and Creative Inquiry Day that was held in April 2020:
|Undergraduate (1st) prize:
Primary author: Wesley Wearing
Co-author: Lillian Pipkin
Title: Spectroscopic Characterization of Phenothiazine Co-crystals
|Undergraduate (2nd) prize:
Primary author: Julia Vesely
Title: Research and Development of High Protein Beer
Primary author: Zachary Gulledge
Title: Cleavage of tert-Butoxycarbonyl (BOC) Groups from Indoles and Other Heterocycles Using an Addition-Elimination Strategy with 3-Methoxpropylamine
For more information, visit the Office of Research page.