Chemistry Doctoral Student Suntara Fueangfung

Chemistry doctoral student Suntara Fueangfung (advisor: Associate Professor Shiyue Fang) was recognized at the Sigma Xi 2014 International Research Conference earlier this month. Fueangfung’s research poster presentation, “Purification of Synthetic Oligodeoxynucleotides via Catching by Polymerization,” was rated superior in the Chemistry Graduate Division.

The award for superior-rated presentations includes being nominated for membership by the Sigma Xi Board of Directors, payment of the initiation fee and the first year’s dues and a medal. Fueangfung will graduate from Michigan Tech this December.

For more information visit the Sigma Xi website.

Xiaohu Xia joins the Department of Chemistry as an Assistant Professor

Xiaohu Xia, PhD
Xiaohu Xia joins the Department of Chemistry as an assistant professor. He comes to Michigan Tech from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Xia has a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a bachelor’s in biotechnology from Xiamen University in China.

Xia’s research interests are development of novel nanomaterials with well-controlled shapes and enhanced properties, and biomedical and catalytic applications of advanced nanomaterials. He has been published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Advanced Materials, and Frontiers of Physics.

Lake Superior’s History and Future


On Tuesday, Nov. 18, Professor Sarah Green, expert on Lake Superior, will lead a discussion titled “Lake Superior’s History and Future,” at the Carnegie Museum. Refreshments will be served at 6:30 p.m., with the discussion following at 7 p.m.

The event is part of a monthly series of sessions on the Geoheritage and Natural History of the Keweenaw, at the Carnegie Museum in Houghton. The discussions are aimed at the general public, but discuss current research and science.

A New Biomimetic Approach to Superhydrophobic Nanocomposite Coating Materials Inspired by Natural Materials (Lotus Leaf and Duck Feather)

Soha M. Albukhari (Advisor: Dr. Patricia Heiden)

Doctoral Student, Department of Chemistry, Michigan Technological University

November  17, 2014 – 8:30 am – Fisher Hall, Room 126


This proposal describes a novel approach to create of superhydrophobic polymeric nanocoating materials, inspired by the water-repellant properties in two natural materials, lotus leaves and duck feathers. The process combines simple synthetic techniques with coaxial electrospinning and ultrasonication techniques to form a novel, reinforced superhydrophobic and self-cleaning coating on a glass substrate. To accomplish this we prepare a PMMA-grafted graphene suspension and a fluorinated silica nanoparticle suspension. These two fluids were used in coaxial electrospinning to produce a novel core-sheath nanofiber coating material with a dual superhydrophobic structure that mimics the critical structures in duck feathers and lotus leaves. These features are expected to give nanocomposite micro-nano core-sheath fibers that will impart superhydrophobic properties by increasing the water contact angle (CA) to more than 150º, and give a self-cleaning surface by having a water roll-off angle of less than 10º. These values are also expected to make the surface resistant to icing. Such a dual biomimetic structure has never been produced before, and by combining these features we will be able to study how these two differently functioning structures interact. The basic purpose of the PMMA-graphene core is to fill the air space in the micro-nano helix of the core-sheath nanocomposite by forming a cushion on the fiber-water interface, decreasing its surface wettability. Moreover, graphene electro-conductivity provides anti-icing properties and adds mechanical strength to the coating, so if the sheath layer fails, the graphene layer will still function independently. Studying this new dual-mimetic material may reveal new information about morphology and nanostructures that impart superhydrophobicity, which has value for coating applications such as airplane wings, sidewalks, car windshields, runways, and roads.

Title: Applications of Quantum Chemical Methods to Atmospheric Reactions

Dr. Heather A. Rypkema

Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Space Sciences

University of Michigan


November 14, 2014  

3:00 pm Chemical Sciences Building~ Room 101


Quantum chemical methods have a broad-ranging capacity toward informing our understanding of molecular transformations in a variety of environments, including the chemistry of the atmosphere. Specifically, these applications include kinetic and thermodynamic analysis of chemical reactions, evaluation of competing reaction channels, and the theoretical validation of postulated chemical mechanisms. This presentation provides a survey quantum chemistry as applied to a number of atmospherically relevant studies. The full atmospheric oxidation profile of peroxyacetic acid predicts the likely fate of a prevalent atmospheric species while postulating a new source of reactive species not represented in current models. The direct and catalyzed hydration of formic acid and acetaldehyde provide a mechanism for the formation of hygroscopic molecules capable of initiating cloud formation and the production of SOA. Diabatic excited states can be used to predict the relative reactivity among atom-transfer reactions, which are particularly significant in a hydroxyl-rich environment. A mechanism for the proliferation of atmospheric hydroxyl radical through the atmospheric oxidation of cyclical alkanes provides a possible explanation for the discrepancy between predicted and measured OH levels in the troposphere. Cumulatively, these studies will demonstrate the diverse applications of theoretical quantum chemistry in enhancing our understanding of atmospheric chemistry.




Elucidating the Pathways for Protein Misfolding and Aggregation: Unity in Diversity.

Dr. Ashutosh Tiwari, Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Department of Chemistry,  Michigan Technological University     


November 7, 2014  ~  3:00pm  ~  Chemical Science Building, Room 101


Due to the aging of baby boomers in the USA, the proportion of the population in higher age groups has increased. This demographic shift coupled with a concomitant increase in longevity has brought new challenges and threats in the form of diseases and disorders that not only affect an individual but impact the whole society at large. Increased oxidative damage of proteins associated with aging causes them to misfold and aggregate and thus, disorders related to protein misfolding and aggregation are on the rise. Since many aggregated proteins share a common fibrillar structure at the molecular level, understanding the principles and contributing factors that regulate protein misfolding, surface hydrophobic exposure, aberrant interactions, or aggregation is key to understanding their relationship to cellular toxicity. I will discuss recent results from my laboratory wherein we studied several proteins for their surface-hydrophobic exposure and aggregation propensity at physiological pH and temperature. Identifying shared protein aggregation pathways for a large set of structurally diverse proteins will lead to a better understanding of the disease process and as a consequence provide common effective targets for therapy.



Green Chemistry: An Overview of Principles and Applications

Mark R. Mason

Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and
Director,  School of Green Chemistry and Engineering
The University of Toledo
Thursday, November 6, 2014
11:00 am Chemical Sciences Building Room 102

Over the past two decades, there has been a dramatic shift in the way government and industry view pollution prevention and the environmental consequences of chemical manufacture in the United States. Source reduction, rather than “end of the pipe” waste treatment, is now the preferred method for reducing pollution. This approach requires chemists and engineers to be increasingly aware of the environmental consequences of the chemical-related products and processes we develop. Green chemistry, “the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances,” is the foundation of this increased awareness. This presentation will provide an overview of selected green chemistry principles, green chemistry applications and metrics, chemical alternatives assessment, and future opportunities.


American Chemical Society Meeting

The fall 2014 meeting of the American Chemical Society—Upper Peninsula Local Section will be held Friday October 24, 2014 at 4 p.m. in Chem Sci 101.

Sarah Green (Chem) will be the featured presenter. Green recently returned from a yearlong experience in Washington (DC) where she served as the Jefferson Science Fellow. Refreshments will be provided.

DNA as a Catalyst

Prof. Scott K. Silverman,   Professor of Chemistry

Department of Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

October 10, 2014  ~  3:00pm  ~    Chemical Science Building, Room 101


DNA in its double-stranded form is familiar as the genetic material. When single-stranded, however, DNA can adopt complex three-dimensional structures that allow binding of substrates and catalysis of chemical reactions. DNA has many conceptual and practical advantages over other biologically derived polymers (proteins and RNA) for applications as a catalyst.  This presentation describes the development of DNA catalysts, or deoxyribozymes, for a variety of chemical reactions, primarily involving covalent modification of peptide and protein substrates.

Mineralogical Miracles at Merelani, Tanzania

John A. Jaszczak
Department of Physics and the A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum Michigan Technological University

 December 5,  2014, 3:00pm Chemical Science Building, Room 101


The Lelatema Mountains in northern Tanzania are host to one of the world’s richest flake graphite deposits, but it is the purple-blue gem variety of zoisite called “tanzanite” that has brought renown to the region since the 1960s.

In December 2007 a pocket of exceptionally fine crystals of graphite was discovered at in Merelani’s Block D. Given graphite’s extreme softness and obvious lack of gem value, it seems almost in miraculous that specimens of these graphite crystals, perhaps the finest in the world, were superbly preserved. Adding to their uniqueness and beauty, the graphite crystals are covered by a secondary overgrowth of graphite that contains rare stellate graphite dendrites. The pocket also produced superb gem-quality crystals of diopside, fluorapatite, and tremolite crystals. More recently, world-class specimens of several sulfide minerals have been discovered and preserved. These include highly lustrous, large Pyrite crystals, exceptionally large, translucent crystals of the rare ZnS polytype wurtzite, and rare black octahedral crystals of alabandite. This illustrated lecture will briefly tour this amazing mining district, review these seemingly miraculous mineralogical that have been uncovered.