Fall 2020
Dear Colleagues and Students,

It has been a wild ride since LSU closed down in March, and I am proud of our Department and optimistic that the best is yet ahead for us. Why?

Because we have an outstanding staff that has risen to the challenge of remote working and tirelessly kept everything running. Because we have brilliant faculty who have risen to the challenge of remote teaching and coordinating research under difficult circumstances. Because we have talented graduate students from around the world who eagerly returned to their labs while adhering to rigorous safety protocols.

We did not choose this situation but we can choose how we go forward. Higher education and academic research will be changed forever by COVID 19. We have the opportunity to direct the changes. We have the opportunity to develop new approaches to teaching and collaborating.

I look forward to working with all of you as we embrace challenges ahead.

John A. Pojman, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Virginia Rice Williams: The Legacy of a Woman in Chemistry
by Gretchen Schneider and Shelly Kleinpeter | October 2020
Nestled between the grand live oaks along Tower Drive and Choppin Hall stands Virginia Rice Williams Hall. Dedicated in 1977, Williams Hall has been the academic home for chemistry lecture rooms, teaching laboratories, and the previous chemistry library.

What many may not know is that Williams Hall is currently the only academic building on Louisiana State University’s Baton Rouge campus named after a woman. 

Virginia Rice Williams Hall represents a legacy of scientific contributions by a woman in chemistry...| More
LSU Secures $2M Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectrometer with NSF Support
Gretchen Schneider | August 2020
LSU has received a Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a project titled, “MRI: Acquisition of a solid/liquid-state 700 MHz NMR instrument for the Southeast.”

The highly competitive NSF MRI program catalyzes new knowledge and discoveries by empowering scientists and engineers with state-of-the-art research instrumentation. The $2M award will enable LSU to purchase a high-field 700 MHz NMR spectrometer that will serve 23 participating research groups from 12 regional institutions.

The Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometer has both solid- and liquid-state capabilities. The instrument affords a 1.4–1.8-fold enhancement of magnetic field strengths compared to current capabilities at LSU. Thus, the NMR spectrometer has the potential to advance knowledge across diverse research fields...| More
The Pojman Research Team Investigates Cure-On-Demand, Non-Skid Coatings for the Reduction of Harmful Compounds
Gretchen Schneider | August 2020
Principal Investigator Professor John Pojman received funding from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) for his project titled, “Reduction of Volatile Organic Compounds Through Development of Novel Next Generation Cure-On-Demand Ultra High Solid Non-Skid Coating.” 

The SERDP funds investigators with innovative, sustainable, and cost-effective solutions to meet DoD’s environmental challenges. Professor Pojman’s project involves the development of cure-on-demand Naval ship deck coatings. Non-skid deck coatings are crucial for crew and equipment movement and safety on a sometimes slippery deck. In addition, deck coatings add to the prevention and control of ship corrosion. The project’s collaborative team includes Dr. Charles White from the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division (NSWC-CD) [Bethesda, MD], LSU Chemistry Professor John Pojman, and LSU Chemistry Ph.D. Candidate Daniel Gary...| More
Development of Novel Catalysts for Alkyne Metathesis and Virtual Reality Teaching Methods
Gretchen Schneider | August 2020
Assistant Professor Semin Lee received a $465,000, three-year research grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for his project titled “Development of Catalysts and Ligands for Alkyne Metathesis.”

Alkyne metathesis is a reaction that scrambles C≡C triple bond pairs among molecules. This reaction is typically catalyzed by Mo≡C or W≡C complexes. Alkyne metathesis allows easy access to variety of organic materials and polymers. This project will focus on developing novel catalysts for alkyne metathesis with enhanced reactivity and stability...| More
Vicente Serves in New Role for LSU Research Advancement in the STEM Disciplines
Gretchen Schneider | September 2020
Louisiana State University professor Maria da Graça Vicente will serve as special assistant to the vice president of research and economic development in the STEM areas in the Office of Research & Economic Development (ORED).

Vicente will provide oversight for the Office of Research Advancement (ORA), an ORED unit that facilitates research collaboration with local, national, and international partners and fosters critical multidisciplinary initiatives. She will manage major research, development, and funding programs, especially in the biomedical and related fields.

As a successful biomedical scientist, Vicente has maintained continuous research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) and has authored over 200 scientific publications during her career at LSU. Vicente’s expertise will aid LSU in finding opportunities and external funding sources that align with institutional priorities and faculty research...| More
Murray Receives $800K Grant from NSF to Develop Mass Microscope
LSU Chemistry | September 2020
Louisiana State University chemistry professor Kermit Murray will direct a three-year $836,650 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a next-generation mass microscope. Murray will team-up with chemistry professor Touradj Solouki at Baylor University to construct and test the new instrument.

The project will develop a simple, low-cost, and easy to use instrument that will bring high-performance biochemical imaging to a broad range of scientists in fundamental and translational biological research. The three-year project involves graduate students from the LSU and Baylor campuses who will construct and test the new device...| More
Recent LSU Ph.D. Graduate Combines Physics and Chemistry to Advance Knowledge of Bottlebrush Polymers
Elizabeth Cui | September 2020

LSU Ph.D. graduate, Karin J. Bichler, takes an unconventional route to the chemistry laboratory to make advancements in bottlebrush polymer knowledge. After a bachelor's and master’s degree in physics, Bichler found herself completing her Ph.D. in physics in the chemistry department.

With a different set of skills to her peers, Bichler was able to use an interdisciplinary approach to integrate information and concepts across disciplines. Bichler expanded her focus from the traditionally narrow, one discipline view, to more of a bird's-eye perspective, combining extensive physics knowledge with chemistry. This allowed her to improve the fundamental understanding of polymers.

Bichler followed professor Gerald J. Schneider across the world from her home country, Germany, to Louisiana, USA, to help make advancements in polymer science...| More
Tuo Wang Becomes a Funded PI at DOE EFRC Center
Gretchen Schneider | July 2020
Assistant Professor Tuo Wang became a funded principal investigator at the Center for Lignocellulose Structure and Formation (CLSF), which is a DOE Energy Frontiers Research Center (EFRC).

The funds for the first year (2020-2021) are $105,087, with possible renewals for the follow-up years. Funding will support a postdoctoral associate in Wang’s group to employ solid-state NMR and Dynamic Nuclear Polarization (DNP) methods to determine the cell wall structure of multiple woody plants, such as spruce and poplar.

The CLSF center is focused on developing a detailed understanding of lignocellulose, the main structural material in plants, for the purpose of forming a foundation for significant advancement in sustainable energy and materials. The center is hosted by Penn State University, with participating institutions of University of Cambridge, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Virginia, North Carolina State University, University of Rhode Island and The University of Texas at El Paso.

For additional information about the Wang's research, visit the Wang Research Group.

In a collaborative research project, funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI), scientists from several universities have been improving the safety and efficiency of dispersant technologies used in oil spill response. One potential technology involves the use of halloysite clay nanotubes.

At LSU, chemistry graduate student Tianyi Yu and alumnus Omead Darvish from the Zhang Research Group developed a method that systematically adjusts the wettability of halloysite particles using biocompatible polymers with tailorable hydrophilic and lipophilic qualities. To learn more about these findings, visit their recent publication in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

For more information on the collaborative project, visit the GMRI feature.

Assistant Professor Semin Lee and his research team received a three-year research grant from the National Science Foundation to explore better catalysts for alkyne metathesis and virtual reality teaching methods. 

Dr. Lenore Rodicio, executive vice president and provost at Miami Dade College and LSU PhD alumna in chemistry, was awarded the Hispanic Leadership Award by the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Turning Isolation Into Inclusion
Bintou Doumbia, Joelle A. Labastide, Keon Reid, Devin Swiner, Ashley M. Taylor, and Travis White | C&EN | September 4, 2020 | Volume 98, Issue 34

In a recently published article in Chemistry and Engineering News, LSU Chemistry alumna, Dr. Ashley Taylor, shares her story and advocates for more inclusivity in STEM. Dr. Taylor received her Ph.D. in chemistry from LSU in 2017 under the guidance of Professor Jayne Garno. She now works as a formulation chemist for Johnson & Johnson.

In a recently published commentary in Nature Reviews Chemistry, LSU Chemistry alumna, Brea Manuel, provides insight on how to recruit diverse groups of people, provide them with the resources to flourish, and support them in dreaming big.

Brea received her B.S. in chemistry from LSU in 2018. During her academic studies, she conducted undergraduate research in the Warner Research Group. Brea is currently a Ph.D. graduate student in the Heemstra Research Group at Emory University.
August 5, 2020
by Shelly Kleinpeter

Arthur Odenheimer
Chemistry Senior

Both in their labs and across campus, chemistry students are contributing their many talents to the LSU community. One student is Arthur Odenheimer, a senior, who in addition to studying chemistry studies music and plays the piccolo in the Tiger Band.

From a very early age Odenheimer shared that he was very inquisitive about the world around him. “I used to ask myself why can't I see through walls, what makes glass so different from everything else that I can see through it? What makes rubber elastic?” Odenheimer says. In highschool he would find himself looking at the periodic table and imagining the endless results of combining the elements to create something new. Majoring in chemistry at LSU was a natural choice for him. “Chemistry is the only subject I found I can let my imagination run wild.”

Odenheimer shared that there are many parallels between chemistry and what he does in marching band. On the football field, every member has a place and a pattern to follow. Without these, band members would collide during their shows. He said he has applied this same logic to his chemistry studies. Every aspect of a multi-stepped reaction has to be planned and placed in its proper spot in order to be successful. The precise and heavily calculated nature of marching with the band has actually helped Odenheimer in his classes and labs.

In addition to band, Odenheimer is also a member of the campus chapter of SAACS. He also has research with Dr. Weiwei Xi where he analyzed the conductivity and magnetic properties of new crystals. After graduation, he plans to pursue a higher degree in chemistry while also utilizing his degree in flute performance.

Although the football season will look very different this fall, chemistry students like Arthur will still bring their special magic to Louisiana Saturday nights!
Dr. Les Butler- DOE SBIR Phase II- Grating-Based Imaging-Scattering with Portable Neutron Generator

Dr. Víctor García-López- Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award- Molecular Machines Target, Disrupt Cell Membranes and Kill Cancer Cells and Resistant Bacteria

Dr. Semin Lee- National Science Foundation (NSF)- Development of Catalysts and Ligands for Alkyne Metathesis

Dr. John A. Pojman- Louisiana State University Agricultural Center- Film Coating to Aid in Mechanized Transplanting of Pliable Vegetables; US Navy- Reduction of Volatile Organic Compounds Through Development of Novel Next Generation Cure-On-Demand Ultra High Solid Non-Skid Coating

Dr. David Spivak- US Department of Transportation- Catalyst Regeneration of RAP-Binder in Asphalt

Dr. Tuo Wang- US Department of Energy (DOE)- Atomic Resolution of Lignin-Carbohydrate Interactions in Native Plant Tissues from Solid-State NMR; National Science Foundation (NSF)- MRI: Acquisition of a solid/liquid-state 700 MHz NMR instrument for the Southeast

Graduate student Thilini Ukwaththage from the Macnaughtan research group was named a recipient of the 2020 LSU Alumni Association International Student Scholarship. The scholarship, established in 2015, recognizes outstanding international students that demonstrate high academic achievement, leadership, global engagement, and diversity..| More
Graduate student Remi Lawal from the Murray research group received a 1st place poster award in Analytical Chemistry at the 2020 NOBCChE Conference for her poster titled: “Deep-ultraviolet Laser Ablation Sampling for Localized Proteomic Analysis of Tissue.”
Graduate student Asela Dikkumbura from the Haber research group received a 1st place poster award in Nanoscience at the 2020 NOBCChE Conference for his poster titled: “Growth Dynamics and Photothermal Efficiencies of Colloidal Gold and Silver-Gold Core-Shell Nanoparticles.”

𝗣𝗵𝗗: Alexander Cleveland (Advisor: Kartika), Xin Gui (Advisor: Xie), Fatemeh Khamespanah (Advisor: Maverick), Kelsey Lopez (Advisor: Warner), Cholena Ren (Advisor: McCarley), Christopher Sumner (Advisor: McCarley), Yinhuan Xie (Advisor: McCarley), Xiaoliu Zhang (Advisor: Kuroda)

𝗠𝗦: John Mathaga (Advisor: Warner), Farhana Shanta (Advisor: Lee)
Erupting Pumpkin
LSU ChemDemo & NOBCChE | October 2020

LSU Chemistry graduate student Ashley Walker and her daughter demonstrate an erupting pumpkin for Halloween.
Uncommon Fondness
With an “uncommon fondness” for his alma mater, Kenneth Kneipp (Science, ’71), Ph.D., coined the term “famous lunches” for his regular lunch gatherings in Baton Rouge with fellow LSU Department of Chemistry alumni, faculty, and staff. Kneipp, who spent his career at global company 3M, loyally creates experiences for students by giving annually to the College of Science. He also helped to establish Louisiana’s University and College Special Plates Program, which funds scholarships at LSU. Kneipp shared a few of his favorite LSU anecdotes with the LSU Foundation | More
October 30: Dr. Jeff Reimer, University of California, Berkley
Title: "Grand Challenges for MOFs: a role for NMR" 

November 20: Dr. Martin Zanni, University of Wisconsin, Madison 
Title: TBA

December 4: Boussert Lecture: Dr. Thierry Gacoin, Laboratoire PMC, CNRS
Title: TBA

The Colloquium Program is held in the Life Sciences Annex Auditorium (A-101) at 3:30 PM. For additional information, visit: LSU Chemistry Colloquium Program
Graduate Student Professional Development Seminar Series

October 21: Dr. Howard Pentes, Louisiana State Crime Lab
Title: Career Opportunities and Current Trends in Forensic Sciences

November 18: Dr. Brandon Chan (Associate Attorney), Duane Morris LLP
Title: "From the Lab Bench to the Bar: Career Trajectory of a Patent Attorney"

*All seminar presentations will be hosted via zoom.  Check the individual notices posted in the hallways or your e-mail box for confirmation of times and zoom details.  

Benjamin P. Boussert Lecture

Friday, December 4, 2020

Gacoin Thierry, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Physics and Chemistry Departments
École Polytechnique 
Palaiseau, France
hosted by Dr. Noémie Elgrishi
To submit news for the LSU Chemistry Newsletter, email Gretchen Schneider (editor) at gschne2@lsu.edu.