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Message from the Chair

The Chair

As I write this note, the fall 2011 semester is nearly over. Freshmen are settling in to the routine of college life, sophomores and juniors are tackling O-chem and P-chem (and loving every minute of it), and seniors are getting ready to move on to the next chapter of their lives. It’s been a while since our last newsletter, so I thought I’d give you a rundown on important events from the past few years.

First, we’ve welcomed several new faculty members. Christine Morales (physical chemistry) joined the department in 2009, followed by Bart Dahl (organic chemistry) in 2010, and Sudeep Bhattacharyay (inorganic/computational chemistry) in 2011.  Jenny Dahl (inorganic chemistry) and Liz Glogowski (polymer chemistry) also joined the UWEC faculty in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Both Liz and Jenny, who have formal appointments in the Materials Science program, have chemistry-intensive research programs and currently split their teaching assignments between chemistry and materials science courses. We’ve also welcomed Rose Theisen (bioinorganic chemistry) to our instructional staff for a three-year appointment. In addition, we’re actively recruiting for a tenure-track analytical chemist this fall, a position that is funded by the Blugold Commitment differential tuition program. We’re excited by the infusion of new, energetic talent into our department.

We’ve also had several faculty promotions and transitions: Steve Drucker and Warren Gallagher were promoted to professor in 2009, while Jim Boulter and Sanchita Hati were awarded tenure and promoted to associate professor in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Jim Boulter was appointed Campus Sustainability Fellow in 2011, as well as interim director of UW-Eau Claire’s Watershed Institute. Marc McEllistrem transitioned to a new role as Materials Science Academic Program Director and Bob Eierman continues to serve as the Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. In 2011, we also said good-bye to a long time member of our instructional staff, Bill Haag, who decided to finally put down the chalk after 10 years at UWEC (preceded by 25 years at Lake Superior State). We thank Bill for his wonderful years of service.

As for our students, Adam Schneider, a senior chemistry/biology double major from Middleton, WI received honorable mention in the prestigious 2011 Barry W. Goldwater Scholarship competition. Adam is the third UWEC chemistry student to be honored by the Goldwater Foundation since 2008. In other items of note, we continue to graduate more bachelor’s degree chemists than almost every other comparable college and university in the country (according to the American Chemical Society). Over the past three years, we’ve ranked 3rd, 6th, and 3rd — the highest ranking of any Wisconsin college or university — out of over 330 comparable schools that offer ACS-approved undergraduate chemistry programs. Our Chem, BMB and Chem-Bus graduates are still actively recruited by employers in the region, including Stepan Co., H.B. Fuller, Brenntag, Mayo Clinic, Covance and 3M (to name just a few), and our medical and grad-school bound students continue to be accepted into some of the top programs in the nation.

Undergraduate research remains a hallmark of the department. We have 34 students enrolled in independent study courses this fall, and nearly 50 students participated in collaborative research over each of the past two summer sessions. Included in that summer total were several students from two-year colleges who were participating in our NSF-funded REU program. Since 2009, faculty and students have authored 35 publications, bringing the department’s grand total to 333 published works since 1973. In addition, our students continue to gain valuable experience by presenting their work at regional and national meetings. To support these research activities, we’ve obtained over $1.9 million in external funding since 2008, with another $1.8 million in proposals currently under review.

It’s the continued success of our graduates that makes this program so noteworthy, and the Alumni News page has many updates from recent (and some not-so-recent) Chemistry grads. We want to hear from you too, so if you have not been in touch recently, please send an update.

As you read these pages, think back to the special times you spent on 4th floor of Phillips Hall: your favorite classes, the joy you experienced when that stubborn reaction finally worked, and most of all, the people. Your financial support is a critical part of our continued success, especially in this era of challenging state budgets. Your generous donations help maintain our seminar programs, which connect our students with alumni, potential employers, and faculty at PhD-granting schools. Your support also funds $15,000 in student scholarships each spring and helps us modernize our curriculum and instrumentation. Please visit the “How You Can Help” link on the first page of the newsletter to find out how to make a donation and to see some of our future plans for these funds. If you are one of the many who have contributed to our program, please accept our heartfelt thanks.

We wish you a safe and enjoyable holiday season and a wonderful start to 2012.


Mike Carney, Professor and Chair

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