Department and Alumni News
A team of Texas Woman’s University Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry faculty recently received the William E. Bennett Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Citizen Science. The award, presented by the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement, recognizes professor and chair Richard Sheardy, Ph.D., assistant professor Nasrin Mirsaleh-Kohan, Ph.D., and senior lecturer Cynthia Maguire, M.S., for their success in promoting civic engagement and social responsibility through their courses and degree programs.
It didn’t take long for biochemistry senior Claudette Fraire to get into a lab when she arrived at Texas Woman’s her first year of college. In a chemistry course taught by department chair Richard Sheardy, Ph.D., she learned about his research on DNA and cancer and asked if she could take part.
“I work in DNA structure, trying to understand the molecular basis of cancer,” Sheardy said. “Claudette joined [fellow undergraduate student] Tra Nguyen to work on a project trying to understand how environmental factors affect the stability of an unusual DNA structure that is linked to biological activity.”
May 2018 Departmental Highlights
Claudette Fraire, an undergraduate biochemistry major, was selected to present her research at the highly selective National Symposium for Undergraduate Research (NSUR) at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in Memphis, TN from June 13 to 16. For her selection, her travel to the symposium was completely funded by St. Jude’s. Claudette’s research with Drs. Kohan and Sheardy focuses on understanding the molecular basis of platinum anti-tumor drug interactions with DNA. She presented 3-minutete talk on the 14th and a poster on the 15th about her research.
Tra Nguyen, an undergraduate biochemistry major who graduated this May, has been selected as the Outstanding Undergraduate chemistry/biochemistry major at TWU by the local section of the American Chemical Society. Tra’s research with Dr. Sheardy focused on the biophysical properties of the DNA i-motif which resulted in a publication in the highly regarded Journal of Physical Chemistry B. She will be attending graduate school in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Oklahoma starting this fall.
Richard D. Sheardy, Professor and Chair, participated in a panel discussion at the 2018 Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Meeting in Anaheim, CA from June 6 to 9. The panel on which Dr. Sheardy participated discussed “Civic Learning in the Major: Devising a Collective Departmental Civic Design” and also included Dr. Cindy Richards, Department of Civic Communication and Media at Willamette University; Dr. Monica Fitzgerald, Director of the Justice, Community, and Leadership Program at Saint Mary’s College of California; and Dr. Caryn Musil, Senior Scholar and Director for Civic Learning and Democracy Initiatives at the Association of American Colleges and Universities.
Richard Sheardy, PhD, discusses civic engagement in national conference panel
Richard D. Sheardy, Ph.D., recently participated in a panel discussion at the 2018 Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) Meeting in Anaheim, CA from June 6-9. The conference was organized by the American Democracy Project, the American Democracy Commitment and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators under the auspices of the Association of American State Colleges and Universities, and focused on attendees' roles as university and college faculty, staff and administrators in enacting a thriving democracy by the year 2046.
Critical issues presented early in the conference discussed hunger and homelessness among students, how climate change may affect an institution’s policies and practices, and the crisis facing undocumented students. Presenters spoke about civic agency, civic action, civic ethos, civic inquiry and civic literacy for students. Other presentations, panels and plenaries throughout the conference discussed how to increase civic engagement among students and provided examples of what others are doing.
The panel on which Sheardy participated discussed “Civic Learning in the Major: Devising a Collective Departmental Civic Design”. The TWU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry was one of three departments featured in peerReview as a model for incorporating civic engagement into the majors’ curriculum.
"I spoke about our curriculum and how we incorporate civic engagement in courses, laboratory, undergraduate research, the pollinator garden and, of course, our annual poster session at the mall," said Sheardy. "Getting students involved in the community results in a more active citizen which then leads to a stronger, or as CLDE would say, 'thriving' democracy. Many have never considered civic engagement as critical in the STEM disciplines - and it certainly is - now, more than ever."
Alex Schreiber, co-owner of Lion Bear Naked Soap Co., has a chemistry degree from Texas Woman’s University, and she and her co-owner/husband have put it to the test. Their Denton-born toxin-free cleaner and soap company has won over consumers in small pockets across the country. Now, it’s looking to expand to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Many find Lion Bear Naked Soap products on the Environmental Working Group’s website, where products are scored based on how safe they are for people. The Schreibers' company ranks among the best for being devoid of harmful toxins.
The TWU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry participated in this year's EarthX Expo at Fair Park in Dallas. The event, which took place April 20-22, is the largest exposition for Earth Day and associated environmental concerns drawing over 900 exhibitors, 260 speakers and 100,000 visitors. The department was the only chemistry department in attendance and TWU was one of only six Texas universities participating. On Friday, graduate students Mikaela Wilk and Skylar Wappes gave a presentation on their recent trip to Brazil to learn about water conservation.
Astrobiologist Melissa Trainer, Ph.D., to present 'Chemistry on Mars' April 13
Melissa Trainer, Ph.D., astrobiologist and Assistant Chief for Science, Operations, and Strategic Planning in the Planetary Environments Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center will present "Chemistry on Mars: The Search for Habitable Environments with Curiosity" 12-1:15 p.m. Friday, April 13, 2018 in CFO 202. This presentation will recount the most important findings on the chemistry of Mars to-date and will discuss the implications for our understanding of whether the red planet was ever habitable.
TWU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry attends national meeting of the American Chemical Society
Faculty members Mary Anderson, Nasrin Mirsaleh-Kohan, Cynthia Maguire and Richard Sheardy; graduate students Anna Stopper, Lindsay Haynes, Skylar Wappes, Sara Williams, Karen Reyes and Trang Nguyen; and undergraduate students Claudette Fraire, Tra Nguyen, Meredith Garrett, Aishwarya Lanka and Daniella Trujillo attended the 255th American Chemical Society Meeting & Exposition from March 18-22 in New Orleans, LA. Both faculty and students presented research at the event, and the TWU KEM Club received an award for their outstanding achievements in education and green chemistry. Download the full report >>
Biochemistry undergraduate Marjorie Nelson accepted to summer research program
Marjorie Nelson has been accepted to the University of Maine's summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU). The Forest Bioproducts Research Institute REU program works in collaboration with the University of Concepción in Chile. During the course of the program, Marjorie will travel to Chile to perform part of her research. Congratulations, Marjorie!
Over the past decade, Texas Woman’s University students in chemistry and biochemistry have turned aluminum cans into Play-Doh, sampled and analyzed water quality in the Trinity River watershed, and converted human energy on treadmills into potential electricity. For “graduating chemists with civic lenses” and addressing such social issues as sustainability, water quality and safety, TWU has been singled out for special recognition by the Association of American Colleges and Universities.
KEM Club teams up with Ft. Worth Museum of Science and History to celebrate National Chemistry Week
Have you ever wondered what chalk, rocks and ghost crystals have in common? Chemistry! Members of the American Chemical Society at Texas Woman's University teamed up with the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History to explore these concepts and more during Chemistry Connections: National Chemistry Week, October 24 – 28. Celebrating its 30th anniversary, this year’s theme for the event was “Chemistry Rocks!”
“The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History celebrates the wonders of technology, engineering and chemistry every day. However, National Chemistry Week provides the perfect opportunity to really explore that particular science,” Museum President Van Romans said. “Most importantly, it connects students with hundreds of chemists in our studios. In that connection, science becomes real and professions become tangible.”
During this activity packed festival, guests investigated the interesting world of rocks and minerals while trying out classic chemistry experiments that deepen their understanding of the intriguing field of geochemistry.
Chemistry undergraduate Paige Hall receives ACS award
Undergraduate chemistry major Paige Hall was recently selected as the Outstanding Undergraduate Student Awardee by the American Chemical Society's Dallas-Fort Worth Local Section. In recognition of her achievements, Paige was honored at the section's April awards dinner and also will receive a cash prize.
With nearly 157,000 members and 185 local sections, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and one of the world’s leading sources of authoritative scientific information. Congratulations, Paige, on your outstanding achievements!
Four faculty members have been awarded a $15,000 Environmental Protection Agency Grant for the development of pollinator gardens on campus and across the community. The Butterfly Garden Advisory Committee is comprised of Government Professor Jeff Robb, Chemistry and Biochemistry Department Chair and Professor Dr. Richard Sheardy, Herbarium Director and Biology Professor Dr. Camelia Maier and Chemistry and Biochemistry Senior Lecturer Cynthia Maguire.
Nasrin Mirsaleh-Kohan, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Texas Woman’s University, is one of five educators to be elected to the most recent class of Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER) Leadership Fellows by the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement. Mirsaleh-Kohan was chosen from a pool of more than 6,000 faculty members and academics considered to be a part of the SENCER community.
In recognition of his long-standing contributions to the field of biothermodynamics and dedication to students, Richard D. Sheardy, professor and chair of the department of chemistry and biochemistry at Texas Woman’s University, has been named conference chair for the North American Calorimetry Conference (CALCON).
Texas Woman’s University chemistry faculty member Cynthia Maguire’s road to become a science wizard isn’t paved with yellow bricks in the Land of Oz. Rather, she will travel across the “Land of the Long White Cloud” to New Zealand this fall, returning as the “Mistress of Potions”— believed to be the nation’s first woman science wizard.
The Texas Woman’s University Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry’s student organization — the KEM Club (Kappa Epsilon Mu) — has received an Honorable Mention Award from the American Chemical Society Committee on Education in recognition of the club’s commitment to promote chemistry at the university. The American Chemical Society also gave the group a Green Chemistry Student Chapter Award for its commitment to environmentally-friendly chemistry practices. The TWU Kem Club was among only 43 student organizations out of 500 in the nation to receive the Green Chemistry Award.
Page last updated 10:07 AM, September 11, 2018