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Department of Chemistry DECEMBER 2009 Newsletter for Alumni and Friends From the Department Chair... Greetings from the MSU Department of Chemistry. As we anxiously look forward to 2010, I was recently reminded of a conversation I had as a newly-appointed assistant professor in the early 1990’s. In this conversation, a senior faculty member discussed in great detail how the impact of Michigan’s economy was connected to the university. He pointed out that although the university is more John McCracken insulated from the economy than the private sector, the effects of an economic downturn would cascade to us after a delay of a couple of years. In 2009, we have seen this occur. All levels of the university are taking a proactive by using this as an opportunity to strategically shape our future and best position us behind our strengths. Chemistry has a solid track record at MSU in both research and teaching, and while the challenge is difficult and complex, I am optimistic as to our future role. The correct balance of research and teaching is crucial, and we remain focused on effectively providing some of the core courses of the university. The department’s operating budget was cut 5 percent this year and is being cut an additional 7 next year. Yet the demand for our courses remains and at the start of this fall semester, we had 8,047 students enrolled in chemistry classes. The faculty and staff have done an impressive job in meeting the demands of high enrollments. Everyone in the department has done a tremendous job of doing more with less while not letting the quality of coursework or research diminish. This passion and commitment is exemplified by two recent honors in the department. Nancy Lavrik, the course coordinator for organic chemistry, was selected as the 2009 recipient of the MSU Clerical Technical Recognition Award. Professor Amy Pollock, a teaching specialist in General Chemistry, received the 2009 Outstanding Academic Specialist Award from the Faculty Professional Women’s Association. This fall we had 30 doctoral students enter the program - 35 percent less than our average over the past five years. This is due to budget reductions as we reduce the size of our graduate program from 220 to 160 over the next three years. The quality of our students remains high and I am proud to report that several of our graduate students received accolades for their research over the past year. Recent alumna Erin Vogel, who was a graduate student in the Baker lab, received the ICI Student Award in Applied Polymer Science at the 2009 national ACS meeting. Jeffrey Gour, a graduate student from the Piecuch lab, was invited to participate in the 59th Meeting of the Nobel Laureates held in Germany this past summer. Britt Vanchura, a graduate student in the Smith lab, won the Journal of Chemical Crystallography Prize for his poster at the American Crystallographic Association annual meeting. Finally, our Young Chemists Committee won an American Chemical Society ChemLuminary Award at the national ACS meeting for their outreach activities. Chemistry faculty have responded to the opportunities presented by the stimulus funds. The number of grants submitted by the department increased by 25 percent this year as compared to 2008. Overall, grant awards have followed this trend and research funding is up a proportional amount. Our junior faculty continue to set high standards. Xuefei Huang received the 2009 New Investigator Award from the American Chemical Society Carbohydrate Division for his promising work in carbohydrate synthesis and the development of applications for medical use. We also welcomed a new materials chemist, Viktor Poltavets, who is already busy teaching, establishing his lab and networking with scientists and engineers across campus. The chemistry faculty, staff and students are part of the strong foundation of MSU. I am optimistic about our future and hope you enjoy reading some of our highlights in the pages that follow. John McCracken Professor and Chair of Chemistry W W W . C H E M I S T R Y. M S U . E D U

Chemistry Alumni Newsletter Dec. 2009

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