News & Events

Chemistry Student Iroda Abdullaeva Selected for ACS Student Leadership Award

IrodaAbdullaevaThe Department of Chemistry would like to recognize Iroda Abdullaeva for receiving the American Chemical Society (ACS) 2024 Student Leadership Award. Iroda is a junior pursuing dual degrees in Chemistry and Biology. She is one of the 18 students selected by ACS to receive this award. Recipients are selected from competitive pools of students from around the world based on their leadership skills and they possess the potential to become future leaders within the ACS professional society. As part of her selection Iroda attended the ACS Leadership Institute, which is an invitation-only conference where she attended workshops and networked with ACS leaders from around the world.

Sounds of Science Honors Colloquium Recital- April 26

SoundsOfScienceYou’re invited to join the Sounds of Science Honors Colloquium class for their recital on Friday, April 26 at 2:30 p.m. in BFA 374. The idea of this colloquium is that music accesses other areas of the brain that can be used to construct deeper understanding. Throughout the semester students in the course used music theory to demonstrate fundamental chemical concepts. During the recital each student will present a piece they composed that auditorily demonstrates a concept in chemistry or in their major. Refreshments will be provided. Questions can be sent to Mrs. Kathryn Rust.

Tech Students Organize Free Remote Area Medical Clinic March 16-17

RamClinic2024In just a couple of weeks, Cookeville High School's lobby and gym will be transformed into a free temporary medical clinic - and a group of Tennessee Tech University student leaders who host the event each year have been preparing for months already.

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Tech professors fueling new research with grants from American Chemical Society

KyleAndRanilThree professors at Tennessee Tech University have been awarded prestigious grants from the American Chemical Society (ACS) Petroleum Research Fund to further their research projects and give their students more opportunities for hands-on experience in the field.

Kyle Murphy, Ph.D., and Ranil Gurusinghe, Ph.D., assistant professors of chemistry, along with Gourab Bhattacharya, Ph.D., assistant professor of earth sciences, will use their awards of $55,000 each to involve undergraduate students in researching and experimenting with topics related to petroleum.  Murphy's research focuses on developing techniques using molecular rings to trap a harmful class of compounds found in petroleum sources called "asphaltenes."

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Department of Chemistry Well-Represented at SERMACS
Golden Eagle Seminar- Oct 30

SERMACS Fall 2023Twelve chemistry students and three faculty members represented Tennessee Tech at the annual Southeastern Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, October 25-29, in Durham, North Carolina. This meeting featured a diverse program of researchers from all disciplines of chemistry.

Dr. Wilson Gichuhi and Dr. Kyle Murphy presented their research and Dr. Amanda Carroll attended as chair of the American Chemical Society Committee on Education and chair of the Undergraduate Student Advisory Board.

Four graduate students presented their research. Dr. Andrew Callender advised Busoloa Olope and Oluwasola Ifedayo. Dr. Gichuhi advised Dushmantha Abeyaooriya and Nolan White.

Eight undergraduate students presented their research. Those mentored by Dr. Murphy are Iroda Abdullaeva, Wesley Gibson and Danielle Ferguson. Dr. Gichuhi advised Jonathan Dupuy. Students mentored by Dr. Cojocaru are Sarah Beshara, Will Collier, and Diana Popa. Mitchell Swann was advised by Dr. Ranil Gurusinghe.

What a wonderful representation by our faculty and students in chemistry! Wings up for all of your hard work!

Gurusinghe Receives ACS Petroleum Research Fund Grant

GurusingheACSResearchFundGrantDr. Ranil Gurusinghe (Chemistry) recently received an American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Grant. The granted funding will support the investigation of the chemistry of extremely reactive hydrocarbon radicals that play key roles in combustion, pyrolysis, and astrochemical environments. Gurusinghe’s lab will combine laser photolysis, microwave spectroscopy, and quantum chemical calculations to generate, probe, and characterize radical species inside a supersonically cooled molecular beam. Our results will demonstrate a versatile strategy for characterizing multichannel reaction mechanisms in hydrocarbon-rich environments.  Wings Up and congratulations on this award, Dr. Gurusinghe. Best of luck with your investigations!

Student Members of American Chemical Society Chapter Wins Top Awards

ACS2022-2023The Tennessee Tech Chapter of the Student Members of the American Chemical Society (SMACS) recently received awards from the ACS Society Committee on Education (SOCED) for the 2022-2023 academic year for the chapter’s programs and activities as described in their chapter report. The Tennessee Tech SMACS Chapter received both Outstanding and Green Chemistry Awards from SOCED. For the 2022-2023 academic year, SOCED awarded 71 chapters outstanding, 122 chapters commendable, and 135 chapters honorable mention. In addition, 21 student chapters also received a green chemistry award for successfully completing at least three green chemistry activities throughout the year. This continues the tradition of the Tennessee Tech SMACS Chapter being one of the most active and highest ranked ACS Student Chapters in the world. For more information email

Kyle Murphy Receives an American Chemical Society Grant

Kyle Murphy ACS GrantDr. Kyle Murphy (Chemistry) has received a grant from the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Petroleum Research Fund for Undergraduate New Investigators. This grant will provide stipends for up to four undergraduate students to work in the Murphy Lab over the next two summers, as well as for two undergraduates in the upcoming fall and spring semesters.

Students in the Murphy Lab will synthesize novel porphyrin-like macrocycles and investigate their interactions with asphaltenes found in water bodies from natural petroleum reservoirs. The goal of this research is to learn more about the variety of asphaltenes found in petroleum, and to utilize the macrocycles in aiding removal of these impurities from water bodies. Please contact Dr. Murphy if interested!

Arts and Sciences Faculty Members Receive a $2.5 Million NSF Grant

Janet Coonce NSF GrantFour faculty members from the College of Arts and Sciences just received a $2.5 million National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant. This grant will provide scholarships to 45 full-time undergraduate students who are pursuing bachelor’s degrees in biology, chemistry, earth sciences, mathematics or physics. The overall goal of this project is to increase STEM degree completion for low-income, high-achieving undergraduates with demonstrated financial need.

The team leading this endeavor are Amy Chambers/Math, Wendy Smith/Math, Janet Coonce/Chemistry and Hannah Kinmonth-Schultz/Biology. Collectively they, “believe that there is an untapped pool of talent in Tennessee, particularly in the Upper Cumberland region. We are excited to see what students will be able to do when significant financial barriers are removed, and our planned wrap-around resources are poured into helping them be the absolute best they can be.”

Resources provided to students include academic tutoring and guidance, peer and career mentorship, cohort building, leadership training, and career development.

This project is funded by the NSF’s Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics program.

ACS Student Chapter Featured in Chemical and Engineering News

 ACS NashvilleThe Tennessee Tech chapter of the Student Members of the American Chemical Society (SMACS) was recently featured in an edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), which is a weekly news magazine published by the American Chemical Society that provides professional and technical news in the field of chemistry and chemical engineering. The SMACS chapter was highlighted for their work with the Nashville ACS Local Section for celebrating Chemists Celebrate Earth Week in April. SMACS and the Nashville local section hosted a booth at the Nashville Earth Day Celebration in Centennial Park where they helped people make alginate gels and spheres, and explore the properties of algae. These activities were part of the Curious Chemistry of Amazing Algae theme that highlighted the emergence of algae as one of the most promising long-term, sustainable sources of food, feed, and other co-products. You can view the article here. Questions can be sent to

Tech Stories - Diana Popa

Diana PopaDiana Popa, ‘25, a chemistry major, came to Tennessee Tech University because of the many research opportunities available. What she found in addition, her confidence, will guide the rest of her life.

For Popa, who has a concentration in biochemistry on the pre-medical track with an honors and psychology double minor, Tech’s description of its students as bold, fearless, confident and kind are linked.  She believes that being confident comes as a side effect of being bold and fearless. The

hardest part of initiating this fearlessness is branching out and getting to know those around you, she said.

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Student Affairs Student Spotlight - Rebecca Firth

 Rebecca FirthCongratulations Rebecca Firth on being named this month’s Student Affairs Student Spotlight, an honor bestowed upon her because of her inspiring leadership and decorated academic career. Rebecca is a senior Pure Chemistry Major with Minors in Music Performance and Astronomy who hails from Kingsport, Tennessee. She excels as a student, as evident through her receiving the Kurt Eisen Excellence in Liberal Arts Award in 2022 from the College of Arts and Sciences and the multiple research projects that she has collaborated on. Impressively, this research has resulted in two publications within The Journal of Physical Chemistry A. She has succeeded not only in the classroom but outside as well. Rebecca is a member of the Tennessee Technological University Flute Organization and the American Chemical Society, or ACS. Rebecca has proven herself as a leader by holding many positions within ACS, including President, for which she has been recognized by being awarded the Leadership Development Award in 2022 from ACS. She plans to use her strong leadership capabilities in her future career as a professor in Chemistry, a path she will further pursue by attaining a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Mississippi. Rebecca’s strong character, proficiency in leadership, and affinity for scholarship perfectly exemplify the attributes of a Golden Eagle, making her an excellent selection for this month’s Student Affairs Student Spotlight.

Dr. Dale Ensor Recognized by the National American Chemical Society

 Dale EnsorProfessor Emeritus Dale Ensor of the TTU Chemistry Department is the recipient of the 2022 W. Frank Kinard Distinguished Service Award presented by the National American Chemical Society Division of Nuclear Chemistry and Technology. The award recognizes Dr. Ensor’s contributions to the field of nuclear and radiochemistry.

During his tenure at TTU, Dr. Ensor established a highly successful program in radiochemistry, one of only a few in the United States. Students who were trained in Dr. Ensor’s lab hold positions at Oak Ridge, Savannah River, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, as well as positions in industry throughout the country. For 10 years, Dr. Ensor also taught at the Nuclear Summer Institute in San Jose, CA.

Dr. Ensor retired from teaching at TTU in 2016 but remains active in the Department of Chemistry by mentoring students in radiochemistry, collaborating with current faculty, and lecturing on the history of scientists who have worked in the field of radiochemistry.

Assistant Professor David Dan and Dr. Ensor are developing a series of podcasts on the history of radioactivity and the Manhattan Project, further promoting the field of nuclear chemistry.

Congratulations, Dr. Ensor, on a very well-deserved achievement and continued contributions to the field!!!

Pictured along with Dr. Ensor are Environmental Studies graduate student Bryant Davis, postdoctoral fellow Lesta Fletcher, and former student Dr. Glenn Fugate.

New Faculty Members at Tech Praise Quality of Students, Class Size

Kyle MurphyNew faculty members Kyle Murphy and Rachel Mannahan find that class size, professional opportunities and support, and quality of students at Tennessee Tech University all combine for rewarding teaching experiences. The new buildings and current and future construction projects as positive signs for the growth of the university, they say.

Murphy and Mannahan are among more than a dozen new faculty members who joined the university this academic year.

Murphy, an assistant chemistry professor from Massachusetts, obtained a bachelor's degree from Bridgewater State University, where he majored in two different concentrations of chemistry, professional chemistry and environmental. He obtained his doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of Vermont.

After achieving his doctorate Murphy took a teaching and research postdoctoral position at UNC Asheville.

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Rural Reimagined Faculty Grant Program Recognizes Dr. Edward Lisic's Team

Dr. Ed LisicRural Reimagined would like to recognize Dr. Edward Lisic (Chemistry), Mrs. Janet Coonce (Chemistry), and Dr. Derrick Edwards (Counseling & Psychology) for receiving Level 2 funding ($2,500-$10,000) from our Faculty Grant Program. Dr. Lisic’s team proposed their project titled “Increasing Young Student Interest in STEM Education Through Games and Free Apps,” which will develop free educational games and apps to increase student engagement in at-risk K-12 public schools. They will employ student workers to help “test, analyze, and develop” the workability and effectiveness of these games and apps. Their project’s results will be displayed in research showcases, published in journals, and serve as crucial, preliminary data for larger grant funding. We congratulate Dr. Lisic, Mrs. Coonce, and Dr. Edwards and encourage other faculty members to submit their ideas in the future!

Chemistry Student Claudia McDavid Selected for ACS Student Leadership Award

 Claudia McDavidThe Department of Chemistry would like to recognize Claudia McDavid from Kingsport, TN for receiving the 2023 Student Leadership award from the American Chemical Society (ACS).  Congratulations Claudia!

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Amanda Carroll New Chair of American Chemical Society’s Student Advisory Board

Amanda CarrollCongratulations Dr. Amanda Carroll! Dr. Michael Adams, the chair of the American Chemical Society (ACS) Committee on Education (SOCED) has invited Dr. Carroll (Chemistry) to serve as the chair of the Undergraduate Student Advisory Board (USAB) beginning in 2023.


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Four Rural Reimagined Grants Awarded to Arts and Sciences

EdLisicRuralReimaginedGrantAwardThe College of Arts and Sciences is pleased to announce that four of our faculty received a total of $52,771 in Rural Reimagined grants. The Center for Rural Innovation’s, Rural Reimagined Grand Challenge Faculty Grant Program aims to transform rural communities across the state through collaborations with TN Tech faculty and students.  Congratulations Dr. Lisic!



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Dr. Carrick Receives Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award

JesseCarrickDreyfus Dr. Jesse Carrick has been named a Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar. The award is based on accomplishment in scholarly research with undergraduates, as well as a compelling commitment to teaching, and provides an unrestricted research grant of $75,000. Carrick is one of only 8 nation-wide to receive this award. Nominees must be engaged in research and teaching primarily with undergraduates. Institutions may submit only one Henry Dreyfus nomination annually.

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Tennessee Tech Alumnus Named NYC Chief Medical Examiner

DrGrahamJason Graham, M.D., a graduate of Tennessee Tech University with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, has recently been named Chief Medical Examiner in New York City. He says that attending Tech gave him the solid groundwork for academic success. “Academics at Tech prepared me well for medical school, particularly Tech’s physical and life sciences education,” Graham said. “Having much support and a solid undergraduate foundation enabled me to go on to considerable academic success in medical school at the University of Tennessee, Memphis, before securing highly competitive residency and fellowship training.”

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Tech Students Create the Next Generation of Field Drug Testing

KaraClaudiaCreating a more creditable field drug test is the goal for three Tennessee Tech University students. Courtney Lapointe, Kara Fulkerson and Claudia McDavid all received this opportunity by participating in the university’s Creative Inquiry Summer Experience (CISE) program.

The program provides students with a paid internship to help develop their research and creative inquiry skills. In addition, the grant allows them to work on the project with faculty members during the summer, where they present their findings. 

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13th Annual Race for the Golden Helix 5K is October 29!


GH5K_LogoRegistration is now OPEN for the 13th Annual Race for the Golden Helix 5K open road race on October 29 starting at 9:00 am! The race raises funds for the chemistry student organizations, the Cookeville RAM Clinic and TTU Foundation Scholarships.

All participants  that REGISTER by MIDNIGHT on WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 12, receive a guaranteed T-shirt! The cost is $28 for faculty, staff and the local community. Thanks to SGA SOLO funds, registration is FREE for ALL TTU STUDENTS (Code: TTUStudent).

Student volunteers are also needed for a variety of tasks that REGISTER by MIDNIGHT on WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 12, receive a guaranteed T-shirt! The cost is $28 for faculty, staff and the local community. Thanks to SGA SOLO funds, registration is FREE for ALL TTU STUDENTS (Code: TTUStudent).

Student volunteers are also needed for a variety of tasks in the days preceding the race as well as the race itself. If you are interested in volunteering, please sign up on the race website.

Faculty, staff and members of the community may also donate to the race to support our student organizations and scholarships. All donations are tax-deductable and are greatly appreciated. Donations are accepted on the race website.

The race website is — please register, volunteer or donate TODAY!

National Chemistry Week:  Oct 12th-17th

FabulousFibers Join the Student Members of the American Chemical Society in celebrating National Chemistry Week from Oct 12th-17th!

Our first event is the Green Chemistry Talk on October 12th at 6:30 p.m. This event will be held in LSC 1211. Come learn about the 12 principles of green chemistry!

In collaboration with the Office of Sustainability, there will be a Sustainability Day Tabling Event hosted on Centennial Plaza on October 13th from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Learn about different ways to live more sustainability.



2021-2022 Wings Up 100: College of Arts and Sciences


WingsUp100-22The following researchers in the College of Arts and Sciences have been inducted into the 2021-2022 Wings Up 100.

Jesse Carrick, professor, Department of Chemistry 

Bradley Cohen, assistant professor, Department of Biology 

Justin Murdock, professor, Department of Biology

Mark Rogers, associate professor, Tennessee Cooperative Fishery Research Unit (Department of Biology) 

Amanda Rosenberger, associate professor, Tennessee Cooperative Fishery Research Unit (Department of Biology)
The 2021-2022 Wings Up 100 roster is an elite group of 36 Tech researchers who brought in at least $100,000 in external funding for their research and activities during 2021-2022.  Congratulations to these researchers who helped Tech set a new high in external funding.

School to Industry Presentation by Dr. Chioma Onwuchekwa- Oct 5 at 6 p.m.

WCC95Anniversaryflyer Join the Student Members of the American Chemical Society (ACS) as we celebrate the 95th anniversary of the Women Chemists Committee (WCC) and host Chioma Onwuchekwa, Ph.D. as she discusses her journey through school to industry. The presentation will be on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 6 p.m. in Laboratory Science Commons 1211. Chioma obtained her doctorate from Tennessee Tech in Environmental Sciences-Chemistry in Spring 2021 and now works as an Environmental Strategy Specialist at Cummins. WCC has a mission to attract, retain, develop, promote, and advocate for women to positively impact diversity, equity, and inclusion in ACS and the chemistry profession. Refreshments will be served. Contact with questions.

Goldwater Scholarship awarded to Chemistry student 


BraydenCopelandBrayden 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,   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.

Rebecca Firth Receives Kurt Eisen Excellence in Liberal Arts Award


RebeccaFirth_CurtEisenRebecca 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.”

Retirement Reception for David Crouse and Gene Mullins - Friday, April 29th


GeneAndDavidThe 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

Student Chapter of ACS Among Top 10 in the World


TeACS Awardnnessee Tech’s Chapter of the American Chemical Society (ACS) is among the top 10 in the world! In just one year, this group held a total of 80 events – 19 service events, 15 professional development events and 46 chapter development events. This is even more incredible because it happened during the pandemic! In addition to inclusion in the top 10 student chapters, Tennessee Tech’s group earned both the Outstanding and Green Chemistry Awards.

ACS students completed science activities with the campus and community, assisted in the Chemistry Olympiad, hosted speakers, presented research and wrote grants to support activities and conference travel. In addition, students collaborated with the Nashville local section of ACS and hosted a virtual speaker whose topic was Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Respect in Chemistry which earned the Tennessee Tech Student Chapter a 2021 ChemLuminary award in Fostering Interactions between Local Sections and Student Chapters from ACS.

Research and Creative Inquiry Day set for April 20-21, 2022

ResearchAndCreativeInquiryDayResearch 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.”  

biol sculpturechem sculpture

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

Research & 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:

2021 Winners from Chemistry:
Undergraduate (TIE):
Primary author: Allison Adams
Title: : Computational Design of Novel Inhibitors of Dihydrofolate Reductase in Three Bacterial Species 
Research advisor: Dr. Derek Cashman
Undergraduate (TIE):
Primary author: Shawna Grey Coulter
Title: Creating Color Flame Candles as an Alternative to the Rainbow Flame Test
Research advisor: Dr. Amanda Carroll
Undergraduate (TIE):
Primary author: Bailey Talent
Title: Synthesis of INAP-ETSC and INAP-tButyl
Research advisor: Dr. Ed Lisic
Graduate (Master's):
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
Graduate (PhD):
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.”

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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
Graduate (Master's):
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 Research & Economic Development page.

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