Chemistry Annual Report Cover Image


Introduction

Welcome to the Chemistry Annual Report.

As I look over the material in this report, it is weird to realize that while so much was different last year because of the continuing COVID epidemic, most of the contents here are not incredibly unusual.

As you will realize when you read the report, last year most of chemistry classes had an in-person lab component but were virtual otherwise. Lanhao and Julie did incredible work that allowed us to maintain nearly complete in-person chemistry lab offerings to the usual number of students throughout the 2020-2021 academic year. The chance to work together in person offered a bright spot during the week for many students and faculty where faculty and students were able to work together in person, and many of our classes were better for this. We all really worked hard to support each other and to provide our students with a true Carleton experience.

This summer, our research students worked in person, and it was a joy! The academic year that is just starting does not quite feel like this summer, but despite the mask wearing there is palpable sense of reconnecting communities that is moving.

Conversations about race that followed George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis have continued both within the department and at the college at large. This rekindled our commitment to making sure that the Chemistry Department is a place where everyone feels valued. We keep exploring the ways in which we can improve in empowering and developing the talents of students from backgrounds that have not traditionally been well-represented in science, to change chemistry and the world for the better.

The big facilities news for our department is that the new science complex is now complete! Evelyn M. Anderson Hall stands against the south side of Olin Hall, and is connected to Olin and Hulings on all floors. The complex has a large open atrium that bridges Olin and the new space. The Chemistry Department is housed mostly in the new building, with almost all our teaching space opening onto the atrium, and research space directly adjacent to or integrated with the teaching labs. The new facilities are gorgeous!

We have also made some changes to the upper-level curriculum in Chemistry to offer our students more flexibility in pursuing the major. These will support students with different interests, while continuing to require sophisticated quantitative work in advanced courses. Students graduating in 2023 will be able to take either CHEM 330 (Instrumental Chemical Analysis) or CHEM 344 (Quantum Chemistry). All majors will still need to take an advanced class that is quantitative in nature, but will have the option of doing so in either a more theoretical or in a more applied context. In addition, CHEM 302 (Spectroscopy lab) is no longer required; we now require two elective labs.

Finally, this September we are welcoming, Andjela Radmilovic, who received her PhD from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in Inorganic Materials Chemistry. Andjela will be teaching CHEM 224 in the fall and winter, and Inorganic in the Spring.

Much more can be found in the following pages. As always, we look forward to keeping in touch!

August 2021
Dani Kohen, Chair

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Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Respect (DIER) in Chemistry

We continue to work on making the Chemistry Department a place where everyone feels valued. We want to affirm our commitment to supporting you all whenever and however we can. We continue to explore the ways in which we can improve in developing the talents of, and empowering, scientists from backgrounds that have not traditionally been well-represented, in order to change chemistry for the better, and we count you as important partners in our efforts to identify and address these issues.

A summary of our past work and current work can be found in this report. Please do not hesitate to reach out to any member of the Chemistry Department if you have any questions or want to discuss DEIR issues further.

See the American Chemical Society’s statement on Diversity, Inclusion, and Respect in Chemistry. 

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The Class of 2021

Eli Babcock – Cape Elizabeth, ME– This summer I’ll be working remote for the NIH Clinical Center before starting medical school at Tufts University. I’ll be working through medical school for the next four years and then on to residency! This past summer I painted houses while studying for the MCAT and applying to medical school. Playing for the Carleton Ultimate Team and working as a weightlifting coach for a number of varsity teams have been my main nonacademic pursuits at Carleton. I did research at the University of New England with Dr. Erin Hartigan.

Margaret Ball – Bethesda, MD – I will be competing in horseback riding for the beginning of the summer and then moving to Ohio to start my Chemistry Ph.D. program. I will be attending the Ohio State University Inorganic Chemistry Ph.D. program starting this fall. I worked on late-metal silylenes in Matt Whited’s lab. I have been involved in Nova Ultimate Frisbee and Project Friendship mentoring.

Henock Befekadu – Reidsville, NC – In the fall, I am starting a MD/PhD program at Case Western Reserve University. Last summer, I performed research with Dr. Koeberl at Duke University (remotely) doing work in medical genetics. I have spent the last couple years as a volunteer for Food Recovery Network. I was also part of the bowling club. I did research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Dr. Seller’s lab.

Tristan Belzer – Mercer Island, WA – This summer, I am moving to Seattle and finding a job in Analytical Chemistry. After gaining experience, I will make the decision of pursuing further education, or following some other opportunities. Last summer, I had a research position with Steven Drew canceled by Covid. During my time at Carleton, I was involved with Varsity Men’s Swim Team and Club Water Polo.

Alexis Chan – Littleton, CO – This summer, I am doing research at Emory University. In the future, I will attend medical School. Last summer, I studied for the MCAT and had an online internship with the Mayo Clinic. During my time at Carleton, I was Directory of Alzheimer’s Buddies and Captain of Women’s Golf Team. I did research at MD Anderson with Dr. Yennu-Nanda.

Anna Hughes – Glenview, IL – This summer I am working at a scuba and marine science summer camp in the British Virgin Islands and then next year I will head out to pursue a PhD in Ocean Ecology and Biogeochemistry in the College of Earth, Ocean, Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University! In the future, I will complete my PhD and pursue a post-doc with the goal of someday becoming a professor. Last summer, I had the opportunity to intern with Carleton alum, Yui Takeshita, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute exploring upwelling dynamics in the California Current System with Spray underwater gliders. I was a 4-year varsity athlete on the women’s basketball team, worked in the sports information department, and started a club for students interested in science and research! At Carleton I did research with Mike Nishizaki in the biology department. Additionally, I completed a research project the summer after my sophomore year through SEA as a study abroad program and last summer as explained prior.

Xander Idrogo – Minneapolis, MN – I will be working as a dermatology technician/medical assistant in the southwest Minneapolis metro area. After taking a gap year I am planning on attending medical school. I interned at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center under the guidance of Mark Hasegawa where we developed novel solar blankets. I was involved with the Carleton Radio, KRLX, where I helped make sure that the FM radio was running correctly. I worked at a lab at UC Riverside with Dr. Michael Zachariah where we developed energetic materials which can be used to rapidly cleanse the air of any kinds of airborne pathogens. With Spencer Hamilton who graduated in 2020, I was going to give a talk at the Spring 2020 ACS conference in Philadelphia before it was canceled due to COVID-19. Our talk was to be titled “3D Printing of Nano-Scale Energetic Material.”

An Kitamura – Maebashi-shi City, Gunma Japan – I am going back home to Japan for the summer and will spend time with my family! From fall, I will start graduate school in Chemistry at Northwestern University. Last summer, I was a remote visiting student researcher at the University of Ottawa in Dr. Paul Mayer’s atmospheric and analytical chemistry research group. I did research at Rutgers University under Dr. Andrew Nieuwkoop and at the University of Ottawa with Dr. Paul Mayer.

Max Kuhs – Edina, MN

Anja Leitz-Najarian – Duluth, MN – This summer, I am hiking part of the Appalachian Trail, taking another physics class, and studying for the MCAT. In the future, I will take the MCAT, apply for med school, and hopefully live somewhere where I can be outdoors a lot. During my time at Carleton, I was involved with softball. I did research at Carleton with Rika Anderson.

Katherine Mateos – Santa Cruz, CA – I plan to begin a graduate program in Ocean Sciences at UC-Santa Cruz in the fall. I will move to Santa Cruz and get started working in the lab this summer. I plan to work towards my PhD in Ocean Sciences and will complete that in six year if all goes according to plan. I worked with Dr. Rika Anderson (Carleton Biology), continuing the bioinformatics research that I have been doing throughout my Carleton Career. Last summer, I turned my attention to the evolution of the sulfur cycle on the early Earth. I served as a mentor, program director, and board member with Project Friendship and have been matched with a mentee since my freshman year! I also have been involved in various dance groups, including Synchrony II, JCO, and EDB.

Jamie North – Florham Park, NJ

Ben Sirulnik – Northampton, MA

Matt Stamets – Addison, IL – In the fall, I am going to Stockholm Sweden to get my Masters in Public Health – Epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet. In the future, I will potentially stay in Sweden and stay in public health. Last summer, I did research with Matt Whited remotely and works part time with DoorDash and Pier 1 Imports while playing baseball. I did varsity Baseball for 4 years and 2 Jobs with the ITS Helpdesk both at the helpdesk and with hardware. I did research with Amit Reddit at Georgia Tech work on heme trafficking and Matt Whited working on pincer ligands.

David Stem 

Irene Stoutland – Madison, WI – Next year I am starting grad school at UW Madison. Last summer, I did virtual research with Dani through Carleton. I have also majored in studio art and been very involved in art-related activities. In addition to last summer with Dani, I did research with Nick Hud at Georgia Tech through the Center for Chemical Evolution.

Ethan Ta – Philadelphia, PA – This summer I will be spending the next month and a half at home spending time with family and friends before I head to dental school at the University of Pennsylvania. The next four years will be studying to be a dentist. Following this I will be serving in the Navy as a dentist. My initial plan last summer was to attend an REU in chemistry which ended up being cancelled. As a result, I ended up having a more “relaxing” summer which included playing a lot of disc golf, biking, and submitting applications to dental school. During my time at Carleton, I was involved with ultimate frisbee with the Carls and hockey club. I did research with Steve Drew over the academic year here at Carleton.

Clay Tydings – Charlotte, NC – I will relax this summer and then attend Vanderbilt in the fall. I plan on being in grad school during this time. I participated in the virtual UCLA BIG Summer REU. My research involved using a neural network to predict apoptotic commitment from early caspase 8 data. I have been a member of the track and cross country teams all four years.

Miguel Velasco – Mountain View, CA – In the fall, I am taking a gap year and applying to medical school. Last summer, I was a Protein Biochemistry intern at Sutro biopharma in San Francisco, CA. During my time at Carleton, I was involved with water polo, Ruth’s House of Hope, and TRIO. I did research at PATH (non-profit, medical devices research) in Seattle, WA. My mentor was Becky Barney, my PI was Ihn Kyung Jang.

Jack Williams – Kensington, MD – I’ve accepted a research position at the University of Wisconsin Madison, where I will start work in mid-July. I hope to stay there for about 2 years. I hope to get more research experience and then work on applying to either grad school or medical school. I worked for Matt Whited in an online lab position, mostly working in computational modeling and other calculations. I worked for the past four years in the dining hall as a student manager. During my time at Carleton, I did research at Georgia Tech with Dr. Pamela Peralta-Yahya and at Carleton with Dr. Matt Whited.

Christof Zweifel – Northfield, MN – I will take a one year gap year and find a temporary position before grad school. In the future, I will attend graduate school for geochemistry. Last summer, I did research with Dani Kohen. During my time at Carleton, I was involved with Varsity Tennis and Food Recovery Network. I did research with Prof. Kim Huynh in summer 2019 at University of Maryland, funded by Carleton. I joined Prof Dani Kohen’s group in 2020/2021.

Contact Tami Little if you would like your information to be updated.

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Student Honors and Awards

JAMES ADAMS MEMORIAL AWARD FOR POSITIVITY

Alison H. Block ‘22

AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY UNDERGRADUATE AWARD IN ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY

Ben Austin Brewster ‘22

AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY UNDERGRADUATE AWARD IN ENVIRONMENTAL CHEMISTRY

Diana N. Rodriguez ‘22

AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY UNDERGRADUATE AWARD IN ORGANIC CHEMISTRY

Irene M. Stoutland

AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY UNDERGRADUATE AWARD IN INORGANIC CHEMISTRY

Christof Martin Zweifel

AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF CHEMISTS AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN CHEMISTRY

Irene M. Stoutland, Christof Martin Zweifel

B.A. DEGREE WITH LATIN HONORS

Summa Cum Laude – Irene M. Stoutland, Christof Martin Zweifel

Magna Cum Laude – Ethan Thien Ta

Cum Laude – An Kitamura

BISCOTTI AWARDS FOR OUTSTANDING SEMINAR ATTENDANCE

Alison H. Block ‘22, Xander M. Idrogo, Helen J. Jin-Lee ’23, Lauren E. Way ‘22

CLASS OF 1966 DIVERSITY OF ACHIEVEMENT

Polycarpe Bagereka ‘22

CHARLES CARLIN PRIZE IN CHEMISTRY

Alexander M. Idrogo

DISTINCTION IN THE MAJOR

Katherine C. Mateos, Benjamin J. Sirulnik, Irene M. Stoutland, Ethan Thien Ta, Jack L. Williams

DISTINCTION ON THE SENIOR INTEGRATIVE EXERCISE

Margaret Ann Primrose Ball, Katherine C. Mateos, Benjamin J. Sirulnik, Irene M. Stoutland, Ethan Thien Ta, Jack L. Williams

FRANZ EXNER AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE IN CHEMISTRY

An Kitamura, Ethan Thien Ta

JAMES FINHOLT PRIZE IN INORGANIC CHEMISTRY

Christof Martin Zweifel

LAURENCE MCKINLEY GOULD PRIZE IN NATURAL SCIENCE

Irene M. Stoutland

ROBERT J. KOLENKOW AND ROBERT A. REITZ FELLOWSHIP FOR STUDENT SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH

Isabel Davida Cannell, Katherine Marie Taylor ‘22

BRIAN MARS AWARD FOR LABORATORY SERVICE

Margaret Ann Primrose Ball, Miguel Velasco

JERRY MOHRIG PRIZE IN CHEMISTRY

Henock B. Befekadu

MORTAR BOARD

Irene M. Stoutland

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION GRADUATE RESEARCH FELLOWSHIP

Katherine C. Mateos

PHI BETA KAPPA

Stephen Carl Lavey ’22, Irene M. Stoutland, Ethan Thien Ta, Christof Martin Zweifel

RICHARD RAMETTE TEACHING AWARDS

Margaret Ann Primrose Ball, Henock B. Befekadu, Alexis Mikayla Chan, Katherine C. Mateos

JEAN SCHMIDT PRIZE

Irene M. Stoutland

SECOND CENTURY STUDENT AWARD

Christof Martin Zweifel

SIGMA XI Margaret Ann Primrose Ball, Alexis Mikayla Chan, Anna Rose Hughes, An Kitamura, Katherine C. Mateos, David Kiran Stem, Ethan Thien Ta, Claiborne Wilson Tydings, Christof Martin Zweifel

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Off-Campus Student Research Presentations

AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR BIOCHEMISTRY AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGY

Improving Prediction of Helminth Aminoacyl-tRNA Synthetases through Manual Analysis of Genomic Data. (Poster) Alison Block, Max Gjertson, Jevon Robinson, Seth Warner, David Wilson, and Joseph Chihade. American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting, April 2021.

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Enrollments

Fall 2020

CourseStudentsFaculty
122, Introduction to Chemistry24Ferrett
123, Principles of Chemistry & Lab33Bakker-Arkema
224, Principles of Chemistry II & Lab41Drew
233-1, Organic Chemistry I & Lab30Alberg
233-2, Organic Chemistry I & Lab21Chihade
292, Independent Research1Drew
301, Chemical Kinetics Laboratory30Gross, Whited
343, Chemical Thermodynamics33Hollingsworth
394, Student-Faculty Research10Staff
400, Integrative Exercise2Staff

Winter 2021

CourseStudentsFaculty
123-1, Principles of Chemistry I & Lab46Bakker-Arkema
123-2, Principles of Chemistry I w/ Problem Solving18Kohen
224, Principles Chemistry II & Lab20Chihade
233, Organic Chemistry I & Lab51Alberg
234, Organic Chemistry II & Lab30Calderone
289, Climate & Health: Sci to Pract13Gross
302, Quantum Spectroscopy Laboratory31Ferrett,Hollingsworth
330,331, Instrumental Chemical Analysis7Drew
344, Quantum Chemistry31Ferrett
358, Organometallic Chemistry9Whited
394, Student-Faculty Research6Staff
400, Integrative Exercise21Staff

Spring 2021

CourseStudentsFaculty
123, Principles of Chemistry I & Lab33Drew
224, Principles Chemistry II & Lab42Gross
234, Organic Chemistry II & Lab58Calderone
306, Spctrmtrc Char of Chem Componds12Alberg
320, Biological Chemistry53Chihade
321, Biological Chemistry Laboratory46Chihade
351, Inorganic Chemistry11Whited
352, Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory9Whited
362, Chemistry At the Nanoscale15Ferrett
394, Student-Faculty Research21Staff
400, Integrative Exercise20Staff

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Faculty and Staff Activities

David G. Alberg, 1993-, Professor and Chair. B.A., Carleton College; Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley.

Well, I don’t want to do that again! 

Despite the difficulties of teaching with COVID, it was ultimately a successful year.  I taught Organic Chemistry I in both the Fall and Winter terms.  Both terms I taught in-person to most of the socially-distanced students, while about 10% of the enrolled students joined the class and lab remotely.  In class, I Zoomed to the remote students using my iPad to live stream my lectures.  My course prefects also followed the Zoom feed and could direct any remote students’ questions to me.  In the orgo lab, each remote student was paired with a volunteer who was working in-person.  The in-person volunteer interacted with his or her remote partner via an iPad set up in the fume hood, positioned to allow the remote person to follow and contribute to the experimental work.  The live Zoom streams in both the class and lab worked surprisingly well!

Spring term I taught CHEM 306, Spectrometric Characterization of Chemical Compounds.  I taught the course in the same fashion as I did organic chemistry.  Again, we Zoomed via an iPad in lab, and the remote students could participate in setting up NMR experiments using Zoom with screen sharing, on the NMR computer.

Julie Karg and Lanhao Yang deserve a special thanks for reorganizing our teaching labs to make them socially distanced, and to outfit some of our research space to accommodate the overflow of organic chemistry lab students.  We couldn’t have done it without their extra efforts.  While we pulled it off, I am so looking forward to teaching under “normal” conditions in the Fall (cross your fingers!).

For me, the academic highlight of the year was comps.  Joe Chihade and I co-advised an excellent group of seniors who studied the work of Professor Wilfred van der Donk, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  We had to settle for virtual Zoom discussions with Wilfred instead of the normal in-person visit, but by spring term our Zoom proficiency was at its peak, and we were able to have effective, in-depth, and enjoyable discussions with Wilfred.

I hope you all are fully vaccinated and healthy, and I hope that the pandemic will be in our rear-view mirrors when I write next-year’s piece for the Annual Report.

Julia G. Bakker-Arkema, 2020-, Visiting Assistant Professor. B.A., Carleton College; Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder.

It’s been a busy, challenging, and exciting year. I returned to the chemistry department as a visiting faculty member this past fall after having been a student here not too long ago. A lot is the same (the old oak tree outside, wonderful professors, Chester the UV-Vis spectrophotometer) but a lot has changed as well (new building, new labs, COVID, some fun new instruments to tinker with.) I taught Principles of Chemistry I in the fall and winter, and was fortunate to be able to hold my labs in person in the beautiful new science complex. I got a lot of exercise running back and forth between 221 and 229, as my students were split between the two labs and broadcast over webcam to maximize social distancing. I am super grateful to my awesome TA’s who helped make this happen! But I really missed the camaraderie of Periodic Table, in-person seminars and department meetings, and face-to-face time in the classroom.

I didn’t teach during spring term and instead returned to my former lab at the University of Colorado as visiting research faculty, where I conducted some follow-up experiments on my thesis research. These mostly consisted of environmental chamber experiments of alkene oxidation by nitrate radicals in order to develop reaction mechanisms for the subsequent aerosol formation. In addition to the lab work, I conducted a modeling study with the help of a post-baccalaureate student from Smith College, Emmaline Longnecker. It was a pretty nice change of pace, with high vaccine rates and low case rates in Boulder such that we had a relatively normal and productive summer of research, despite lots of instrument troubleshooting. Outside of the lab, I did some hiking in the mountains around Boulder, married my partner (also a Carl!) and spent some long-awaited time with family before heading back to Northfield in August.

Christopher Calderone, 2012 – Assistant Professor. B.S., University of Chicago; M.Phil., Cambridge University; Ph.D., Harvard University.

This year was a year of figuring out how to be in two places at once—social distancing required classes to be split up due to decreased classroom and laboratory capacities.  In lecture, that meant teaching half the class live while half “attended” via Zoom.  Though giving lectures is normally one of the things I enjoy most about my job, sitting at a table at the front of a lecture hall while half the class stared at you writing on an iPad was unsurprisingly less enjoyable.  Labs were another matter—our normal 24-person sections had to be split into two spaces, leading to more sprinting back-and-forth between separate laboratories than I would have preferred.

I got to participate in the organic sequence for the first time this year, teaching CHEM234 in Winter and Spring terms.  While it’s always exciting to teach a new course, the logistical challenges led to a bit more excitement than usual.  Regardless, I’m glad to be adding to my normal stable of introductory and biochemistry courses.  The other curricular news is that I’ve taken over for Joe Chihade as the director of the biochemistry program, and we’re working on implementing some changes to the minor over the next couple of years—stay tuned for details.

The highlight of the year was definitely the opportunity to get back in the lab.  Between renovations of Hulings and the pandemic, it’s been nearly two years since I’ve been able to do any substantive lab work with students.  It’s a relief to be able to get some research momentum going again—hopefully we’ll be able to keep it up.

The bright side of the pandemic was that I got to spend more time with my family.  Simon (11) and Frances (8) are turning into people with actual opinions, and it was lots of fun to hang out with them to an extent that wouldn’t otherwise have been possible.

Charles H. Carlin, 1966-2004; Charles “Jim” and Marjorie Kade Professor of the Sciences, Emeritus, 2004-. B.A., Carthage College; Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University.

Rolling about in a wheelchair isn’t really as exciting as it appears. The computer and email are a fragile but essential connection to the covid-addled world that I now depend on. Please send a “Hello” in a spare moment. It will brighten a limited life.

Marion E. Cass, 1987-, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry. B.S. Fort Lewis College, Durango Colorado, Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder.

Greetings once again from rural New Hampshire!  Steve and I spent the year “self-isolating”, lots of work building our energy efficient home, reading, walking the dogs and living a quiet life.  Spring brought vaccinations and a bit more adventuring.  Much love to all of you from this side of the country.

Joseph W. Chihade, 2003-, Professor. B.A., Oberlin College; M.A., Ph.D., Columbia University.

I’ll start by saying that I hope I never hear the words “You’re still muted” ever again, although my bet is that Zoom meetings will be with us in one way or another for awhile. I started last year’s report by noting that it had been an unusual year, but of course the unusual part was only the last few months of the academic year. This one has been strange all the way through.

Like most of the other faculty, I taught mostly via Zoom and recorded videos this year.  This meant developing new material, mostly process oriented, guided inquiry learning (POGIL. Yes, there are acronyms for everything in teaching) style in-class problem sets that students worked on in small groups as I barged around from one breakout room to the next. Both the students and I got better at this mode of learning as the year went on, though the challenge of drawing chemical structures and equations and showing them to a group mate in another part of campus or in another state remained frustrating throughout. Cherish your opportunities to share with others using pencil and paper or a blackboard and chalk! Still, many of the things I learned teaching at a distance, such as making videos that cover important concepts that can be viewed and reviewed multiple times, will feature in my teaching for years to come. I’m particularly proud of my “unboxing video” that describes how to put together a molecular modeling kit. I made the video with a GoPro type camera mounted on a ski helmet that I was wearing in my office. There were few enough people in the building that I didn’t need to worry about students walking by my office and bursting out laughing at my ridiculous attire.

Fortunately, I was still able to see most of my students in three dimensions at least once a week, when they came to the teaching lab. We reduced the number of students in each section to half of the usual capacity, which made for very pleasant small sections in the fall and winter, when I taught Chem 233 and 224. In the spring, when I taught three lab sections of Chem 321, the Biological Chemistry lab, each of which was spread out over two rooms on different floors in Hulings, it meant a lot of running up and down stairs. I discovered the step counting app on my phone in time to realize that I was hitting 20,000 steps on some of those spring lab days. The Biological Chem lab was an extension of the project I started last spring, with students working exclusively on COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 proteins, trying to express fragments of the spike protein and to purify and characterize the main protease. One of the unexpected silver linings of the pandemic was the discovery that several other biochemists across the country were also incorporating teaching about the virus into their courses and labs. I was able team up with a group of colleagues at several institutions to pool our work into a resource that is now “published” on CourseSource.org, a website with peer-reviewed resources for biological sciences. We also wrote up a Perspectives piece about the work that was published in a special issue of the Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education this spring.

Despite, and honestly in some ways because of, the pandemic, my research projects moved along surprisingly briskly over the past year, albeit in different directions than I might have otherwise taken. Last summer, I was able to finish writing a chapter about mitochondrial aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases that appeared in an edited volume of the book series “The Enzymes”, which was a pleasure to put together. Having a bit of time and space to back up and take in the big picture was very helpful in doing that writing. I also was able to have a relatively large research group last summer, with five students who all worked remotely. Because they were not able to work in a lab, all five focused on the helminth genomics project that has been slowly progressing for several years. We were trying to identify and correctly annotate all of the aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase genes in the published genomes of several parasitic worms (helminths), with an eye towards eventually characterizing these proteins and evaluating them as drug targets. Because the worms are eukaryotes, their genes contain introns, which must be identified in order to discern which parts of DNA sequence actually code for protein. The concentrated work last summer allowed us to finally get that tedious task done.

This summer, two of my seven research students are trying to express some of the most interesting helminth proteins in bacteria, while the others are pushing forward with other projects that have been more or less untouched for the past two years. The lab is bustling with energy! It’s a real pleasure to be doing experiments in person again and to be watching the students learn from each other and develop their scientific intuition as a group.

At home, we’re getting ready for some big transitions. Margo heads off to college at Haverford this fall, after doing nearly the entire college search process online. Sofia is starting her senior year of high school this fall and hoping to be able to actually visit the schools that she’s considering. While the school year had a lot of challenges, with teaching going from fully online to two days a week to fully in-person over the course of the year, both girls were remarkably resilient and managed to learn a lot. A spectacular amount of cake baking helped everyone through, as did skiing at Welch Village and Lutsen Mountain.

William C. Child, Jr., 1956-1990; Emeritus Professor, 1990-. B.A., Oberlin College; Ph.D., University of Wisconsin.

With the lifting of restrictions on social interactions, Nancy and I are returning to more normal living, from shopping in grocery and book stores to meeting with friends and relatives. Recently, three nights at Lutsen on Lake Superior with my sister allowed us contact with the woods and lake shore and some photographic opportunities. With luck, more such days lie ahead.

Steven M. Drew, 1991-, Professor. B.A., St. John’s University; Ph.D., University of Colorado.

This past school year marked the completion of my 30th year at Carleton, and it was certainly a remarkable one.  Building on my first online teaching experience in the spring of 2020, I transitioned to teaching in “hybrid” mode for the 2020-2021 academic year.  Typically, hybrid teaching consisted of online class sessions and in-person lab sessions at 50% capacity with everyone in masks.  I am now fairly proficient with online teaching tools (Moodle, Zoom, Slack), but am also sadly familiar with the limitations of online teaching.  Luckily, the hybrid mode we were able to use in chemistry mitigated some of the drawbacks of having only online teaching.  Stronger personal connections were formed plus students were able to work interactively, asking questions and developing new lab skills.  In addition, I was able to institute some limited group work in lab, which greatly improves learning.  Still, when we’re back to full in-person teaching this fall, it will be a relief.  Presenting an online lecture in an interactive manner when you only have a small writing surface (iPad white board) to work with is quite difficult, if not impossible.  I look forward to being in a classroom with unmasked students and having an entire wall of whiteboard to work with.  If nothing else, the pandemic has demonstrated for me the most important teaching tools are often the little things one takes for granted.

Despite the pandemic, I was able to have a  student work with me in my lab.  During the school year, Tristan Belzer (’21) helped me further develop a glucose sensing experiment we use for the Instrumental Chemical Analysis Laboratory.  His additional data on the construction of the enzyme modified electrode and the range of samples that can be studied demonstrated the durability of this experiment.  His data will be the basis for a pedagogical paper I hope to put together that will include the construction of a basic potentiostat for making the electrochemical measurements.

During the summer of 2020 it was not possible to bring students back onto campus to do research, so I was unable to get my lab fully rebuilt after the move in 2019.  However, this summer we are more-or-less back to normal due to the high vaccination rate among faculty, staff, and students.  I have two students working with me this summer and they are making wonderful progress.  Honestly, it just feels good to be doing research with students under normal conditions, regardless of how well the science progresses.  We continued our work on applying our 2D photocurrent scanning station to the study of thin film mixed metal oxide semiconductors we make using our inexpensive restricted evaporation technique.  Carleton’s new SEM-EDS was installed in 2019, but because of continuing construction and the pandemic, I have been unable to use the instrument.  My students and I are excited to be fully trained on the instrument this summer so we can add SEM-EDS analysis to our tool kit for examining our metal oxide thin film materials.

Tricia A. Ferrett, 1990-, Professor. B.A., Grinnell College; Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley.

I had a full year of online teaching due to COVID. I worked harder and longer than usual – that was challenging. Yet, I also felt more creative and energized that I had since my early years of teaching.  Students were great partners this year, providing us all with good ideas on how to humanize and improve learning in Zoom class.  My cat Jazz and dog Indie were irregular but favorite class attendees.

I also spent more time this year with colleagues in Zoom workshops and events related to online learning and anti-racism. This situation reminds me of what someone once told me: people get hugely creative at problem solving when they are stuck in an elevator together. The college, including staff from ITS and the LTC, provided stunning support for all the changes we faced. They all went above and beyond – I am grateful.

In my fall Chem 122 course, I began pedagogical changes that continued all year.  I used Zoom class mostly for class activities plus a bit of framing, mini lectures, and Q&A. I held many Zoom office hours each week – they were well attended! I made a few videos and borrowed/posted a ton more to help with learning. Students were in permanent teams all term working on homework and group assignments. Before each exam, I gave a group quiz that was essentially a practice exam. Teams submitted a quiz draft, consulted with me and got feedback, and then revised to submit a final version. This new practice led to stronger learning and higher exam scores, and it helped keep me connected to students more regularly. For the last 2 weeks, I developed a case study on the Flint Michigan water crisis; the chemistry was embedded in a compelling context linked to issues of social and environmental justice and systemic racism.

Winter term I had the same students in Quantum Chemistry (Chem 344) and Spec Lab (Chem 302); the latter I taught with Will. Will and I substantially reworked Spec Lab into afternoon workshops that flowed in and out of Zoom with activities, teamwork, mini lectures, office hours, Q&A, and report backs. It was sad not to be in lab, but we went even deeper into the conceptual understanding and analysis, which was a clear gain. In both classes students worked in teams, and I used the cycle of a team group quiz before the Quantum exams.  Again, I spent lots of time in Zoom office hours helping students to ensure their success. Despite the down sides of Zoom learning, the quality of the quantum homework and exams was the highest I have seen.

Spring term I taught a seminar on Chemistry at the Nanoscale to 15 incredible majors.  Here, we re-invented the idea of “class discussion”. Using student suggestions, we fell into a new rhythm. Before every class, I met with 2 student leaders to refine their draft “discussion questions” and set class goals. I then deployed a Google Doc with questions/figures, assigning teams/everyone to questions. The daily Google Docs grew to 20 pages and evolved into high-quality asynchronous discussion space. Before each class, I read the whole Google doc, made targeted comments, then designed class. In class, students worked in teams to make the shared daily “NanoJam” whiteboards – distilled, concise versions of the discussion question responses. We debriefed NanoJams all together or in teams, including Q&A. I added discussion space for more synthetic and open responses. Finally, students chose the 4 chemists we read: Teri Odom, Paula Hammond, Moungi Bawendi, and Jill Millstone. A highly diverse group – 3 women, 2 women of color, 1 man of color. The work included applied and interdisciplinary contexts of solar cells, lithium-ion batteries, drug delivery and disease treatment, electronics, and fundamental biology. The highlight of the term was a visit to Zoom class by Teri Odom (Northwestern), who talked about her incredible work on gold nanostars as probes for cell membrane processes. 

Sequestered at home with my partner Gerard and our 3 pets, I made too much bread and cookies! I exercised with videos and Zoom yoga through winter, running outside when possible. We learned to love living small, focusing on simple joys. I did manage a bit of travel, including a work retreat to Iowa in August and a road trip to Colorado in March to see my aging mother and 2 brothers. Since spring, I have spent an incredible amount of time outside and in my gardens. Working as much as I did with my students helped with a sense of purpose. I look forward to my last full-year sabbatical in 2021-22!

James E. Finholt, 1960-2001; William H. Laird Professor of Chemistry and the Liberal Arts, Emeritus, 2001-. B.A., St. Olaf College; Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley.

There have been several major changes in my life since my last contribution to the Annual Chemistry Report in 2018.

In 2018 I sold my Prairie St. house and moved to a senior coop, Kildahl Park Pointe, in Northfield.  Downsizing after living in a house for 60 years was a challenge.  Help from family and friends was crucial to the operation.  It took a couple of months to sell my house and it was a great relief when my realtor called to say “we have a buyer”.  I am very pleased with my new apartment.  There is an active social life with other inhabitants of the building.  I do not regret not shoveling snow and mowing lawns.

In 2019 I received a new heart valve.  The process involved many sessions with a wide variety of medical specialists at the Mayo Clinic.  An infection set in after the procedure and I was hospitalized in Rochester for over a week.  But victory was mine and I fully recovered after a couple of months.

The pandemic was the major feature of the last year.  It was a great feeling to get vaccinated last winter.  Bridge playing using a conference call and special bridge software helped combat isolation.

I did manage to visit Anderson Hall and see the wonderful new facilities of the Carleton Chemistry Department.  The Carleton chemists had a few tough years during the transition from Mudd to Anderson, but the result is terrific.

Deborah S. Gross, 1998-, Professor. B.A., Haverford College; Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley.

I am happy to be done with this academic year. I learned a lot, was overall extremely impressed by how well our students managed what can only be described as an unusual and challenging year, and hope to never have to do anything like it again.

After a hybrid summer of research last year, my chemistry teaching was also hybrid. In the fall, I co-taught the Kinetics Lab (CHEM 301) with Matt and an intrepid group of students. We held all class meetings online via Zoom and had labs in person. We split lab sections (and partnerships) in half into different lab meeting times to minimize physical interactions and students did fantastically well with getting good kinetic data and interpreting it in a sophisticated and interesting manner. They gave excellent presentations at the end of the term, and I feel confident that they had a good experience in this fun lab course. In the spring, I had the opportunity to teach Principles of Chemistry II (CHEM 224), using a similar model. Classes were held in real-time via Zoom, but the labs were in person for most students (officially, the class was “mixed-mode” with a few students fully remote and interacting with their lab partners throughout the weekly labs via Zoom). I was again completely impressed with how well the students did – they had lots of questions, attended the regular class meetings at 8:30am on Zoom, worked collaboratively on daily group problems, and came to lab excited to do chemistry!

In addition to these chemistry courses, I also co-lead an off-campus studies (OCS) program this year, sort of! Professor Tsegaye Nega (Environmental Studies) and I were planning a winter-break program in which we would have a class together in the fall, travel with them to Ethiopia for 2 weeks during winter break, and then follow up with another class in the winter, all with the same group of students. We decided that it wasn’t reasonable to travel given the pandemic, but that we could do the program anyway! In the fall, we taught 14 students in ENTS 289, Climate Change and Human Health, in which we dug into the complexities of the climate system and the impact of various changes that we are seeing in the climate on human health. In addition, students developed research projects related to our long-standing collaborative work related to developing and distributing cleaner burning cookstoves and more efficient fuel in Ethiopia. During winter break, the students had their “OCS experience” in which we met twice a day, every day for two weeks, via Zoom. The morning meeting gave us time to meet with colleagues in Ethiopia (and Tsegaye, who went there to make the whole experience work), hear from visiting speakers such as doctors, government ministers, and staff from various NGOs, and have research team meetings with Carleton students and Ethiopian university student collaborators to discuss progress on the research questions, data, etc. The students then had time to work in their teams before we met again as a Carleton-only group later in the day for debriefing, discussing aspects of Ethiopian society and culture that are relevant to the work they did, and enjoying two cooking lessons (quite an adventure over Zoom!). No surprise – the students were fantastic, engaged, and good contributors. They worked well with their Ethiopian colleagues and got interesting data about the impact of cooking technology on various aspects of people’s lives, including financial and time costs, air quality and health impacts, impact on ability to afford nutritious food, and environmental impacts of traditional fuel use. During the winter term, the students worked on analyzing their data and presented their work at the end of the term in a symposium and as research papers. While it wasn’t our plan to have an OCS program “from home,” it went surprisingly well. We are approved to offer the program again in winter 2022 and hope to be able to travel for that program.

I had the opportunity to co-advise an Environmental Studies comps project this winter, in which three students dug into the impact of COVID-related lockdowns on carbon emissions. They did a good job with interpreting the large amount of data that we now have access to about many of our activities, thanks to cell-phone tracking. It was great to see them present their work at the ENTS Comps symposium in the spring.

As of this summer, I have traded in the short commute (kitchen to living room) that I had most days last year and am now coming to campus every day. It’s a fair trade for working in person with student research colleagues Ella Hein and Alek Rabago (both chemistry majors in the class of ’23). It’s nice to be back in a familiar routine.

At home, the garden is flourishing, Markus has a new job at 3M, and we find ourselves in a house without cats, which is quiet and strange. We are healthy and have enjoyed the opportunity to bake a lot of bread and explore home projects together. We look forward to starting to travel again.

Gretchen E. Hofmeister, 2002-, Professor. B.A., Carleton College; Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley.

William E. Hollingsworth, 1986-, Professor. B.S., B.A., University of Texas, Austin; M.S., Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley.

I decided to teach remotely for the year which took some rearranging of my original teaching schedule. I taught Chem 343 (Chemical Thermodynamics) in the fall and spectroscopy lab with Trish in the winter. The incredible amount of time it took to redirect in-person teaching to a design that could work with remote strategies centered on Zoom led to some very intense periods of activity. I also worked with the Focus cohort throughout the year. Fittingly enough, the topic we chose to study was the Covid virus. Students wrote about different aspects of the science of the virus and vaccines as well as consequences of the pandemic.

A particular highlight of the year, remote or not, was running a comps group on astrochemistry. We focused on recent work which expands the mechanistic understanding of how reactions can be viable at the low temperatures and pressures of interstellar space. Ilsa Cooke in Ian Sim’s research lab at the University of Rennes in France provided a wonderful wrap-up to the project.

Tracy and I have been partners in isolation spanning months and seasons. We found it exciting to do as much outdoor dining as we could throughout the year even if it meant taking a few memorable meals with coats and gloves to brace against low temperatures and strong winds. In the spring we made a cautious foray to California where we spent time outdoors around national parks (Joshua Tree and Kings Canyon/Sequoia) and one of our favorite places, Oceanside, CA. Another significant hunker-down activity for me has included developing new flower gardens in our yard. I enjoyed watching and identifying the improbable butterflies they attracted.

Julie Karg, 1988-, Chemistry Technician. B.S., Mankato State University.

Academic year 2020-2021 was a very unique year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  On-campus laboratory experiences were very important to the Chemistry Department.  As such, extensive effort was spent reorganizing laboratory classrooms to comply with best practices in consideration of the virus, and considerable coordination and collaboration in the use of these spaces was required.  In addition, research spaces needed to be converted to laboratory classrooms and instrument rooms, then converted back to research spaces in time for summer research.  Creativity and ingenuity was used to develop working solutions to every issue.  All of the effort payed off, as we were able to provide a safe and successful in-person laboratory experience for our students. 

Daniela Kohen, 2002-, Associate Professor. B.A., Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina; Ph.D., University of Notre Dame.

What a crazy year the one that has gone by has been.

I did not teach much, which I really appreciated as COVID imposed many new demands on my time in my role as the department chair. I did teach Chem 123 with problem solving (Principles of Chemistry) in the winter. I have taught this class many times, and I never tire of introducing Carleton students to “the wonders of chemistry.”  Chem 123 with Problem Solving is a class that covers the same material as the more “traditional” chem 123 (without problem solving) but meets two extra times a week when students work on problems in a very supported environment.  This class is designed to support students that are not quite ready for the traditional chemistry sequence. I really appreciate how teaching the “with problem solving” session allows me to be a supportive and yet demanding teacher and to get quite close to the students. This year this was particularly true because of COVID.  Even though lectures were not in person, I was able to use a Lightboard studio (a room set up by ITS with a lighted piece of glass that serves as a chalkboard) to teach over Zoom. In this way, students could see my writing and hand gestures more clearly and was able to face them and interact much like I would if they were sitting in my classroom. It was fabulous. I am very thankful to ITS for having made this available. Also, I am very thankful to the members of chem stockroom staff as they were instrumental in allowing labs to happen in person in our department, including my own. Students were so thankful! A few told me lab was the best part of their week! (Let me assure you that this has nothing to do with my labs, but reflects how starved the students were for collaborating with their peers in 3D!) In the winter, Matt and I co-supervised a “Comps” group that studied the work of Mark Thompson, from the University of Southern California. The group learned how the Thompson’s group studies optical and electronic properties of molecular materials, with an eye toward materials used to create organic LEDs, solar cells, and catalysts for solar fuels. It was so cool to learn about his work with such an enthusiastic and talented group of students. It was quite remarkable how doing everything on-line was not really much of a problem. The difficulties were pretty much the usual ones. I would say, that the biggest loss was the lack of informal interactions between Thompson and the students.

Research over the summer was an incredible pleasure. We were in person, all vaccinated and unmasked. The chem department had a summer of doing research with students much like any other summer before COVID, and it felt incredible joyous. On top of that, my group was inaugurating our gorgeous new spaces in Olin. Our new computational lab is one in a series of connected labs within the college computational research suite that also houses research space for theoretical physics and computer science.  Katherine Geist (’24) and Sean Boyce (’23) joined my group to study cation motion within zeolites (molecular sieves). The goal of these studies is to provide a basic understanding of the processes that underlie the use of molecular sieves as filters to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. In some of these materials, cations act as selective trapdoors, allowing carbon dioxide but no other gases to diffuse through. Computer simulations are allowing us to gather microscopic insight into this interesting behavior. In a set of other projects, I also directly collaborate with experimentalists here at Carleton as I continue to venture into the world of quantum chemistry. Zach Dinardo (’21) and Emma Watson (’23) used computational methods to investigate mechanism and reactivity in the systems that the Whited group studies while Lauren Way (’22) contributed to the Hofmeister/Alberg project on using Transition State Analogs to predict enantioselectivity.

As I mentioned earlier, I continue to be the chair of the department.  Given all the challenges, supporting our students, and maintaining a sense of community was a big part of my duties. I am so grateful for the team spirit that characterizes the chem department faculty and staff, and to the students that have been amazing at partnering with us. I was so inspired by the incredible hard work of the chem staff and faculty over the academic year, the clarity with which they put the students at the center of their efforts and how that focus allowed them to keep working incredibly hard. I am not certain that you, as a reader of the report, can read between the lines to recognize their efforts and so I find myself writing this paragraph, just to make sure….    

In addition to what I described above, I continue to be an external advisor to the Louisiana State University’s Louis Stokes Center for Promotion of Academic Careers through Motivational Opportunities to Develop Emerging Leaders in STEM (an NSF founded initiative). Meanwhile at Carleton, I continue to co-chair the Advisory committee on Student Life; which as you might suspect has been quite a task in these COVID times. I am also involved in conversations and initiatives within the department and in the college regarding our next steps bringing about meaningful and long-lasting change that will result in an environment that is welcoming and supporting for everyone, but especially to those have been systematically denied equal access.

On the “home” front, Margo (19) is not-longer at home, as she has started her own college life at Haverford College, while Sofia (17) is working on figuring out where college will be for her.  In the meantime, we continue to enjoy each other quite a lot, which is so so nice!

Tamara Little, 2016-; administrative assistant for Chemistry and Geology. 1996-2016 administrative assistant for AMST/ENTS/LING adding WGST (2007-2016).

The last full day I worked in my sunny office is Anderson was March 16, 2020. At the end of that day, I brought my laptop with me to continue working from home. With the shift to many of us working from home, the College implemented new systems enabling us to preform many of the traditional office functions while working remotely. Lots of hours were spent in Zoom meetings from a temporary workspace in my sunroom at my home. The only time I would come to campus was for the baseline or random covid tests, to get an additional monitor and my office chair or for office supplies. My office on campus was occupied by Alison Block, Talia Kottler and Samihat Rahman during their student work time. They were my eyes and my support to assist in any way needed to keep things running smoothly. I appreciated the additional support and thank them deeply for all of their hard work.

From home I was still able to compile content for The Weekly Beaker (with Talia’s help) and for this Annual Report, I managed the department’s website while continuing to learn more about WordPress along with my usual office duties requiring new methods in the new remote work environment. But I was not the purchaser of a steady supply of cookies for the Chemistry Seminars. Alison helped bring back the cookies in the spring of 2020. My first time back to see students in person was for a thank you to student workers and departmental picnics all with masks and social distancing. As much as I have enjoyed the view from my sunroom, I look forward to the time when students will again stop by and find me in my office in Anderson. Hopefully without masks.

Jerry R. Mohrig, 1967-2003; Herman and Gertrude Mosier Stark Professor of the Natural Sciences, Emeritus, 2003-. B.S., University of Michigan; Ph.D., University of Colorado.

As I write this in mid-June the pandemic is over for the most part. We all were vaccinated quite early at Millstream. By mid-April we were allowed to go to commercial establishments. Before that time we could only visit medical offices and have one person per table in the dining room. I spent a lot of time going along the Cannon River trail in my electric scooter, seeing the changes in the flora as spring came to Minnesota.

Not much is new in my life since my stroke over four years ago. I regularly have zoom connections with my two children, David and Sara who still are in Texas, and with many friends each week, plus meals with close friends. I am the chair of the newly formed Resident Council that allows residents to talk about their concerns at Millstream Commons, where Adrienne and I are in assisted living.

Thanks to your generosity, the fund for undergraduate research will fund two Carleton students in their research this summer. It means a great deal to me.

Richard W. Ramette, 1954-1990; Laurence M. Gould Professor of the Natural Sciences, Emeritus, 1990-. B.A., Wesleyan University; Ph.D., University of Minnesota.

Tanka, April 2019 by

Richard W. Ramette

rwramette@gmail.com

Matthew T. Whited, 2010-, Associate Professor. B.A., Davidson College; Ph.D., California Institute of Technology.

More than any recent year I can remember, 2021–22 brought into sharp focus on how much I appreciate the Carleton community. On the one hand, being distanced from everyone through endless Zoom meetings was a stark reminder of how nice it is to be physically together (and wow, it HAS been so life-giving to be together with students and colleagues in-person this summer!). On the other hand, the positive outlook and great work of our students, combined with the amazing ways that colleagues went above and beyond to deliver an excellent Carleton experience, were truly inspiring. I don’t hope to repeat this past year and a half ever again, but there is a silver lining to it all.

This year I taught Kinetics (CHEM 301, mostly in-person) with Deborah Gross, Organometallic Chemistry (CHEM 358, online), and Inorganic Chemistry (CHEM 351/352, online class w/ in-person lab). The variety of venues provided some cool opportunities for experimentation and for teaching in new ways, and I particularly enjoyed exploring ways to move almost all of the traditional lecture material to asynchronous presentation so we could get the most out of our meetings together by focusing on group problems and literature discussions [HINT: This involved making WAY more videos than I ever hope to make again…]. We were able to welcome “visiting experts” to our Organometallics class to give presentations on their work after students had worked through one of their recent papers, which was a special highlight for me since I have been missing the opportunity to connect with colleagues from other schools at conferences. The CHEM 352 lab, which I had never taught in-person without a co-instructor, was also a highlight. We spent lots of time making entirely new complexes and getting some great (and not so great) crystal structures on our new diffractometer, as well as implementing a new Suzuki Coupling lab with earth-abundant nickel catalysts. One particularly exciting outcome was collection of three very high-quality crystal structures of hitherto unknown Mo(II) propionyl complexes, leading to a paper with 9 student co-authors that will hopefully be published in Acta Crystallographica E very soon. Dani Kohen and I also co-led a comps group investigating the cool organic electronics work by Prof. Mark Thompson (USC), and we were pleased with how easily the students moved comps into the Zoom world, even though we were sad that Prof. Thompson could not visit Carleton in-person.

Outside of class, I was deeply involved with the work of the Learning and Teaching Center at Carleton this year as the LTC Fellow. This role allowed me to contribute to new faculty mentoring and help develop LTC programming around a variety of topics that really interest me, including research with students, strategies for teaching large (for Carleton) classes, and recognizing and supporting inclusion, diversity, and equity efforts at Carleton. One particularly fun opportunity, although not Chemistry-related, was being invited as a guest lecturer for the Jazz class at Davidson College in fall 2020, which required a little different Zoom setup than I am accustomed to using since I don’t often serenade classes on the piano. In the research arena, I had a great set of students last summer (Jack Williams, Margaret Ball, Matt Stamets, Wenlai Han, Zach DiNardo, and Irene Stoutland) who primarily worked remotely on computational approaches to understanding our systems. From that group, Jack, Margaret, Matt, and Irene have moved on after graduating, while Zach and Wenlai are back this summer for in-person research joined by Ben Brewster, Emma Watson, and Jackson Cleveland. I am fortunate that the research has continued to move at a good pace, even with all the disruptions, and we have made some great advances last year and this year that will be incorporated into my NSF grant renewal proposal next year. And speaking of next year, I am thrilled to be coming up on a much-needed sabbatical! After teaching Orgo I in the fall, I will be spending the majority of 2022 at UNC doing research with Prof. Alex Miller and gearing up to return as department chair. If you are in the NC area, please let me know! I am hoping to connect with lots of folks and will definitely be giving talks all around the southeast next year, COVID-permitting.

On the home front, our boys (James (9) and Andrew (7)) are at a super fun stage, always pushing us to be active and try new things. They are both happy to be getting back to sports (swimming for James, soccer for Andrew) after a pandemic hiatus, not to mention the relief of having full-time in-person school resume last February. Charlotte is doing awesome work in the Grants Office as usual, now as Assistant Director focusing primarily on supporting faculty projects (last year was a record year for faculty grants at Carleton, surely due at least in part to her support). All in all, we are still loving Northfield and Carleton, and continue to count ourselves lucky to be part of this wonderful community.

Lanhao Yang, 2013-, Laboratory Manager. B.S., Henan Normal University; M.S., Wuhan University; Ph.D., The Ohio State University.

Though the pandemic seems to have colored this past school year, it was a year of learning, gratitude, and resilience.

To ensure optimal learning experience, chemistry department offered many classes and labs in-person. To protect everyone from Covid-19, social/physical distance was practiced almost everywhere on campus: labs were held at 50% capacity; many efforts were made to minimize traffic and person-to-person close contact. Thus, a typical 24-student lab in one room was expanded to two rooms with identical setups; organization of labs were rearranged whenever possible so that students can access chemicals and equipment without having to cross the room or in close contact with others for more than 15min. Sometimes the two lab rooms were on two floors; sometimes eight reagent bottles of the same chemical, opposed to 1-2 prior to the pandemic, were needed. Indeed, it was challenging to change, especially multiplying the lab set-ups in limited amount of time. I was and still am grateful that all lab instructors were understanding and patient. What’s more, two hard-working and talented student workers, Alison Block and Diana Rodriguez, helped me tremendously. Without them, some of my days would have been even longer and more stressful.

Due to the pandemic, many in-person activities were canceled. The NAOSMM conference, I used to go, became online; the training on Shimadzu GC-MS instrument was canceled. Though online is not the best way of learning and meeting others for me, I was glad that Carleton College organized many events online. I was grateful to be connected with colleagues online at department, committee, and forum meetings and be part of book discussion groups about college admission and treaties between American Indians and the United States. All these online activities kept me less isolated and informed.

Despite of all the challenges as illustrated above, people’s flexibility and perseverance have been encouraging. It was a wonderful feeling to see the almost empty campus in April and May become alive with the return of more than 1500 students and the College allowed employees to work from home. Together, the past school year was lined with hope, joy, and love.

Crochet a Flask for Chemistry!

crochet a flask

In the fall term, Professor Deborah Gross and Katherine Mateos (’21) spearheaded a crochet-a-flask project for all chemists! Although it began as a pandemic bonding project for the department, we hope to continue having students, staff, faculty, and alums crochet Erlenmeyer flasks to display in the Chemistry Common Room in our new building. Kits of yarn, hook, thread, needle, stuffing, a pattern, and crochet tutorials were provided for socially distanced crocheting. We would love to have more contributions, so if you are (or want to be) skilled with yarn, please make a flask and send it to the department! We will add it to the display and acknowledge your contribution. Any other chemistry-themed yarn projects would be welcomed, as well!

Click here for a link to the erlenmeyer flask pattern. Contact Deborah Gross (dgross@carleton.edu) if you have any questions.

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Faculty Bibliography

Publications

COVID 360: A collaborative effort to develop a multidisciplinary set of online resources for engaging teaching on the COVID-19 pandemic: Multidisciplinary online curriculum on COVID-19. Victoria Moore, Lisa Scheifele, Joseph Chihade, Joseph Provost, Jennifer Roecklein-Canfield, Nikolaos Tsotakos, Michael J Wolyniak, Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education, 22, ev22i1.2623.

Mitochondrial aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases. Joseph Chihade, in The Enzymes, Volume 48, Academic Press (2020)

Whited, M. T.; Zhang, J.; Conley, A. M.; Ma, S.; Janzen, D. E.; Kohen, D. “Bimetallic, Silylene-Mediated Multielectron Reductions of Carbon Dioxide and Ethylene” Angew. Chem., Int. Ed202160, 1615–1619.

Whited, M. T.; Ball, M. A.; Block, A.; Brewster, B. A.; Ferrer, L.; Jin-Lee, H. J.; King, C. J.; North, J. D.; Shelton, I. L.; Wilson, D. G. “Crystal Structures of Phosphine-Supported (η5-cyclopentadienyl)molybdenum(II) Propionyl Complexes” Acta Crystallogr., Sect. E: Crystallogr. Commun., in press.

Conference Presentations (* indicates presenting author):

Gross, D. S.*, Iverson, E.*, North, W.* “Engaging A Network of Groups to Enhance Cohort Program Effectiveness” Workshop presented at the AAC&U STEM Conference, This Changes Everything, November 2020, Virtual.

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Gifts and Grants

National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) grant for the proposal “MRI: Acquisition of a Variable Pressure Scanning Electron Microscope at Carleton College,” PI: Cameron Davidson, co-PI’s: Steven Drew and Anne Gothmann (St. Olaf College).  $437,589.

Matt Whited is a Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar. The Dreyfus award comes with a $60k unrestricted grant to support research and teaching during 2016–2022.

Matt Whited received a CAREER award for $400k from the National Science Foundation for the project, “CAREER: SusChEM: Cooperative Small-Molecule Activation by Ambiphilic Pincer-Type Complexes Feature Metal/Main-Group Bonds.” The CAREER is the NSF’s premier award program for junior faculty, and the grant will support research during 2016–2021. Matt Whited received an Undergraduate Research Award from the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund ($70k) for “Stoichiometric and Catalytic Nitrene-Group-Transfer Reactions from Late-Metal Silylamides,” to fund his research during 2015–2021

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Seminars

So you might want to go to grad school? Seminar

Robin Wall Kimmerer, The Honorable Harvest: Indigenous Knowledge for Sustainability 2020-21 Frank G. and Jean M. Chesley Lecture in Environmental Studies

Undergraduate Student Research and Internship Symposium

Rigoberto Hernandez, Johns Hopkins University:  Advancing an Inclusive Culture in Chemistry Departments

Lesley-Ann Giddings, Smith College: The search for new natural products and biocatalysts

Research Info Session, Off Campus Opportunities

Chris de Graffenried ’98, Brown University:  How does the parasite Trypanosoma brucei establish and transmit its shape?

Research Info Session, On Campus Opportunities

Screening of “Picturing a Scientist”

Julia Bakker-Arkema ’14, Carleton College:  Laboratory studies of atmospheric chemistry: secondary organic aerosol formation and evolution.

Mark Mitton-Fry ’96, The Ohio State University:  Bugs and Drugs: Targeting MRSA with Novel Bacterial Topoisomerase Inhibitors.

Fikile Brushett, MIT:  Developing materials design criteria for next-generation redox flow batteries.

Mark D. Allendorf, Sandia National Lab:  Nanopores and Nanoparticles for Hydrogen Transport and Storage.

Mark Thompson, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA:  21st Century Alchemy Applied to Organic LEDs: Making Copper Act Like Iridium.

Wilfred van der Donk, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:  How to find our future antibiotics?

Ilsa Cooke, Université de Rennes 1: Bringing Interstellar Space to Earth – Experimental Insights into Our Cold Molecular Universe.

Diversity, Inclusivity, Equity, and Respect Discussion with students, faculty, staff

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Senior Comps Talks

Ethan Ta Individual Paper Comps Presentation:  Electronic properties and applications of graphene, a 2D material

Margaret Ball, Tristan Belzer, Max Kuhs, Katherine Mateos, Jamie North, Matt Stamets, David Stem / Thompson group:  The Best of Both Worlds: Improving Organic Light-Emitting Devices (OLEDs) Through Thermally-Assisted Delayed Fluorescence (TADF)

Eli Babcock, LouLou Ferrer, Anna Hughes, An Kitamura, Christof Zweifel / Cooke Group:  Exploring Kinetics in the Interstellar Medium

Henock Befekadu, Alexis Chan, Xander Idrogo, Anja Leitz-Najarian, Irene Stoutland, Clay Tydings, Miguel Velasco, Jack Williams / van der Donk Group:  ProcM Promiscuity

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The Class of 2011

Samuel Althauser  * lives in Santa Barbara, CA

Ryan Babbush  received his PhD in Chemical Physics with a focus on quantum computing from Harvard in 2015. Since then, he has worked as a research scientist with Google’s quantum computing effort, which he helped grow from 4 people to more than 200. His research often focuses on developing ways to use quantum computers to solve problems in chemistry. Ryan currently lives in Venice, CA with his wife Jannise and their son Jordan.

Caitlin Bernett  * lives in Excelsior, MN

Michael Bonin  received his MS in Logic, Computation, and Methodology from Carnegie Mellon University in 2016. He was the winner of 2017-2018 Wharton geopolitical forecasting tournament. Michael currently works as a forecasting researcher.

Sarah Bousman currently works as a Project Manager at Epic in Wisconsin. Over the past few years, she helped bring Epic live in Advocate Aurora Hospitals in IL and WI. She frequently performs with an all women’s improv troupe (called Yes Ma’am), both in-person and virtually. Sarah currently lives in Fitchburg, WI with her spouse Jonathan and their two kids, Artemis and Penelope. In the future, she plans to continue doing improv, have fun with her kiddos, and train to run a marathon in 2022.

S. Grant Bowen  * lives in Norwell, MA

Kevin Cannaday  joined the Peace Corps after graduating from Carleton and moved to Mozambique to teach 8th grade chemistry for two years. After returning to the US, he moved to Madison, where he met his wife Vanessa. Kevin is currently Associate Clinical Study Manager at Exact Sciences. Kevin still lives in Madison with Vanessa and their 4 year old Golden Retriever, Ruby. They spend their time playing Ultimate, remodeling their house, and traveling the world.

Christopher Choo  * lives in Corte Madera, CA

Grace Cooper-Olson  received her PhD in Biochemistry from the Ohio State University in 2018. She has worked as a scientist at Sarepta Therapeutics for the past three years. Some highlights from the past few years include the birth of her son, Cooper, a promotion at work, and a move to a new house. Grace currently lives in New Albany, OH, with spouse Erik ‘12 and kids Annika and Cooper.

Peter Cormier  * lives in Detroit, MI

Ben Cotts  received his PhD in physical chemistry from UC Berkeley in 2016. He currently works at Middlebury College as a professor of Chemistry. He has made it through pandemic with bread baking and board games. Ben recently moved to Middlebury, Vermont to start a new chapter with his partner Emery, and in the future, plans on living and teaching in Vermont and getting dogs to walk around the countryside with him.

Daniel Cremons  received his PhD in Materials Science from the University of Minnesota in 2017. Since 2020, he has worked as a research scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. A highlight from the last few years was having his project be sent to the lunar surface. Daniel hopes to continue working at NASA in the future. He lives in Silver Spring, MD, with spouse Julia ‘11 and 1-year-old daughter Elizabeth.

John Davis, IV  * lives in Bloomington, IN

Nolly (Gibbs) Donahoe  * lives in Pittsburgh, PA

Sara Doyle  * lives in Madison, WI

Kenneth Ellis-Guardiola  * lives in Los Angeles, CA

Anna Gallagher  received her MS in Environmental Engineering from UC Berkeley in 2017. She recently started a job as an Environmental Health Engineer at the Vermont Department of Health. She works to understand and address water quality issues that affect the health of residents around the state. Anna moved back to Burlington, VT earlier this year, where she lives with her spouse John ‘09.

Martin Granick  received his DVM in 2017 and his DACVIM in 2021, both from the University of Wisconsin. Since completing his small animal internal medicine residency at the University of Wisconsin in 2021, Martin has worked as a Staff Internist at the Red Bank Veterinary Hospital. In addition to completing his residency, he got engaged in the summer of 2021. In the future, Martin plans to continue clinical duties and teaching at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital. He also wants to learn sign language and start working with the deaf/mute community in the area. Martin currently lives in Highlands, NJ.

Jeremy Grevet  * lives in Boston, MA

Elizabeth Hecht  received her MS in Food Chemistry in 2013 and her PhD in Analytical Chemistry in 2017, both from North Carolina State University. Since 2018, she has worked as the senior scientist in the Department of Microchemistry, Proteomics, and Lipidomics at Genentech, Inc. In the last year, Elizabeth was awarded an internal research grant, which is leading her back to exciting fundamental mass spectrometry studies. She has spent a lot of time backpacking with friends since moving to CA, and the highlight was finding her way out of the backcountry after the trail disappeared. Her immediate plans for the future include getting a dog and a bigger apartment.

Sophia Hines  received her PhD in Geochemistry from Caltech in 2018. She got her first NSF grant funded in 2019. In April of 2021, she started her job as an Assistant Scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where she hopes to continue working in the future. Her new job allowed Sophia to move to Falmouth, MA to be with her husband Adam and their dog.

Andrew Hooker  received his MD from Tufts University in 2020. In the past few years, he has played semi-professional frisbee. Andrew recently moved back home to San Francisco, where he is a Resident Physician in Internal Medicine at CPMC Sutter Health. In the future, he will possibly pursue a Palliative Care fellowship or work as a primary care physician.

Geunhee Kim  * lives in Republic of Korea

Chris Lee  * lives in Republic of Korea

Eric Manley  * lives in Portland, OR

James McMenimen  * St. Louis, MO

Robert Duncan Olsen  received his MS in Environmental Engineering from Johns Hopkins University in 2012. He currently works as a Senior Business Analyst at Anthem, Inc. In the past few years, he got married, bought a house, and became a dog dad! Duncan lives in Baltimore, MD.

Olufunmilayo Olukoshi  is currently the Head Dietitian at Dietetic Wellness Inc, which she founded in 2020. She is also a Health Consultant at Islamic Development Bank. In 2019, she became a registered Dietitian from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In the future, Iyamide plans to grow her business and consultancies. She lives in Boston, MA.

Alexandra Schefter  received her MD from the University of Iowa in 2017, and completed her Ob/Gyn Residency in June 2021. She is currently a Gynecology Oncology Fellow at the University of Minnesota, and will be there until 2024. Once she graduates, she plans to practice in Gynecology Oncology, and anticipates looking for a job in an academic hospital. Alexandra lives in Minneapolis with her husband Zachary, a general surgery resident, and their 10-month-old daughter Ruby.

Kazimer Skubi  * lives in Gansevoort, NY

Samantha Thompson  received her MS in chemistry from University of Colorado Boulder. She worked as a research scientist at 3M before moving to NatureWorks, which makes compostable plastics from corn. She has been at NatureWorks for 4 years as a research scientist working on new product development. In the future, Sam wants to help grow the compostable plastics world. Sam lives in Andover, MN with spouse Forrest and 5-year-old daughter Kira.

Celine Yeh  * lives in New York, NY

* Information may not be current. Email Tami Little if you would like your information to be updated.

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