Students and faculty from the Department of Chemistry participated in the SouthEastern Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society (SERMACS) held recently in Nashville.   Faculty members who attended included:  Dr. Rob Mebane, Dr. John Lynch, Dr. Gretchen Potts, Dr. Steve Symes, Dr. Jisook Kim, Dr. Greg Grant, Dr. Kyle Knight, and Dr. Tom Rybolt.

Student presentations included:

Marko Bajic:  Ru(II) Thioether Complexes in Self-Assembled Molecular Squares and Cubes. Marko Bajic, Gregory J. Grant.  “Research focused on running reactions and analyzing the products whereby molecular squares and cubes are created. The research deals with creating dechlorinated metal corners and using flat ligands as sides to create the desired geometric shapes. This research involves the use of various instruments for analysis.”

SERMACS participantsDesiree Biggers:  Effects of Group 15 Donor Ligands in Platinum Thiacrown Complexes. Desiree A. Biggers, Gregory J. Grant.  “Our group is interested in the periodic trends of Group 15 donor ligands in Pt(II) thiacrown complexes and examining the effects that these ligands have on complexation behavior. We have synthesized and fully characterized a series of Pt(II) complexes incorporating the trithiacrown ligand 1,4,7-trithiacyclononane (9S3) and  Group 15 donor ligands containing arsenic or antimony. A series of comparisons between the complexes have been made regarding changes in the chemical environment around the metal center and differences in structure.”

Michael Jobe:  Removal of Pharmaceuticals from Water Using Home Filtration Cartridges. Michael G. Jobe, Jr., Steven J. K. Symes.  Our research project studied the ability of home water filters to remove dissolved medicine from water.  We tested 3 brands of filters.  All of the filters were effective and removed over 90% of dissolved medicine.

SERMACS participantsSteven Ledford:  Methyl-p-Benzoquinone Induced Ribonuclease a Modification. Steve Ledford, Caitlin Redman, Albert Vaughn, Jisook Kim. “This research project investigates the harmful effects of quinones on biological molecules.  This investigation attempts to describe the method by which quinones attack and modify proteins.  In order to accomplish this, we use RNase as a model protein and methyl p-benzoquinone as a standard quinone.  By using electrophoresis, which separates proteins by charge and size, we can observe the reactions taking place and understand the biological effects of such reactions.”

Jessica Woods Moerman:  Analysis of Pollutants Released from Used Cigarette Litter. “It is estimated that each year that over a trillion cigarette butts are littered worldwide.  Due to the sheer magnitude, these littered cigarette butts may have adverse effects on the environment. My research with Dr. Potts focuses on identifying the elemental and organic pollutants that are leached out of discarded cigarette butts soaked in water with pH similar to acid rain. For comparison, unsmoked cigarettes are also soaked and analyzed.  The elemental analysis is performed by ICP-OES, and the organic analysis is performed by GC-MS.”

SERMACS participantsShanelle Newton:  Zirconocene-Promoted Synthesis of Cyclic Ethers. Shanelle Newton, Kyle Knight. Cyclic ethers are ring-shaped molecules that are important in medical research and drug synthesis. However, some of them are traditionally difficult to make. Our research involves reacting zirconium with organic molecules to produce cyclic ethers.

Caitlin Redman: Investigating Ribonuclease a Modification Induced by Quinones Using UV/Vis Spectroscopy. Caitlin Redman, Albert Vaughn, Steve Ledford, Jisook Kim. The purpose of this research project is to develop a better understanding of the biochemical behavior and biological effect(s) of various quinones that are known to be cellular metabolites of benzene and substituted benzene.  Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons  are considered to be health hazards. Exposure to these chemicals can occur in a variety of ways, such ways include cigarette smoke, gasoline vapors, pesticides, cosmetics, and food preservatives. This research project primarily focuses on the effects that certain PAH quinones have on proteins. Ribonuclease A, RNase, is the model protein used for this project.

Patrick Siler:  Α Facile One-Pot Synthesis of Ethyl Esters from Aldehydes.
Robert C. Mebane, Patrick J. Siler.  A facile one-pot synthesis of ethyl esters starting with aldehydes has been developed.  This tandem one-pot synthesis involves four distinct steps.  Both aliphatic and aromatic aldehydes are rapidly and cleanly converted into their corresponding ethyl esters.

SERMACS participantsAlbert Vaughn:  Ribonuclease a Modification Induced by Chloro-p-Benzoquinone. Albert Vaughn, Caitlin Redman, Steve Ledford, Jisook Kim.  Protein Modification by Quinone-There exists in the world chemicals known as quinones.  These quinones are not found in nature and are a result of manmade products and processes.  Quinones have been established as a potential human heath hazard, but to what extent is still unknown.  Proteins are an integral of every living organism; therefore we have decided to study protein as a model for living organisms.   This project examines protein modification (modification can mean damage) by a specific quinone (ClpBQ), and evaluates the degree of modification via SDS-PAGE and UV-Visible spectroscopy.

Hitesh Vashi: Self-Assembled Molecular Squares and Cubes Using Group 9 Metal Ions. Hitesh Vikram Vashi, Gregory Grant.  My research focuses on creating molecular squares and cubes by using rhodium and cobalt metal center cations, respectively. These center metals will combine with organic ligands that will help create these complexes. Different instruments and processes are then used to determine what complexes have actually been formed. These geometric shapes can be used for gas encapsulation and for nano and micro electronics.

SERMACS participantsRishi Naik:  Progress towards Self-Assembled Platinum(II) and Palladium(II) Molecular Squares. Rishi Dilipkumar Naik, Gregory Grant.  One main focus in our group is the preparation of transition metal complexes that will self-assemble into molecular squares. We are interested in using thioether complexes of Pt(II) and Pd(II) in the preparation of these squares via metal-templated self-assembly. These squares have important applications in modern chemistry due to their wide usage throughout supramolecular chemistry, molecular recognition, self-assembly, and host-guest chemistry.

Will McGee:  Development of Algorithms for Analysis of Automated Spectrophotometric Titrations.
John Lynch, William M. McGee. Our research focuses on developing methods of automated data acquisition for titrations involving the formation of chromophores by monitoring absorbance of photons at specific wavelengths over specific time intervals.  A fiber optic probe is submerged in solution to detect the absorbance at specified wavelengths, allowing us to collect near-continuous data over the course of a titration to see very distinct chemical behavior.  Traditionally, more time-consuming methods have involved making individual measurements spread over the course of a reaction, the result of which is very separate data sets that may lack pertinent reaction information.  Data analysis is based on mathematically defining parameters and also developing algorithms, allowing us to extract information from the data.

Sam Chill:  Developing a DFT-D Approach for Modeling DNA Intercalation.
Samuel T. Chill, Edward G. Hohenstein, Stephen A. Arnstein, C. David Sherrill. Understanding how molecules interact with DNA is crucial for the development of anticancer and antiviral drugs. However, studying these types of interactions in the laboratory is very difficult and time consuming. Thus accurate theoretical methods that model these relationships are of significant value. This summer I developed and compared several different models to experiment in order to judge their accuracy.

Kevin Bivona:  Gas-Solid Chromatography of Greenhouse Gases on Carbopack B. Howard E. Thomas, Casey M. O’Dell, Craig M. Goodwin, Thomas R. Rybolt, Kevin T. Bivona.  The interactions of nine different gases with a special carbon powder were studied experimentally (Erskine College students) by timing the passage of flowing gases through a column packed with the powder and also computationally (UTC student) by computer modeling.  The gases studied can act as greenhouse gases when present in the Earth’s atmosphere and can trap heat that would be radiated into space.  We determined if these gases could be trapped by carbon powder to recycle the gases and avoid their release into the atmosphere.

Blain Reynolds:  Binding Energies of Nucleobases on Graphene and Carbon Nanotubes. Blain D. Reynolds, Christina E. Wells and Thomas R. Rybolt.  One of the interesting places where material science can interface with biological systems is on carbon surfaces and carbon nanotubes. We use computer modeling to calculate how strongly certain biological molecules may bind to various carbon surfaces and carbon nanotubes.   Carbon nanotubes may have a future role in sorting or detecting biological molecules, and it is important to be able to determine how strongly different molecules would be held to any such surface.

Jennifer Gordon: Removal of Cholesterol from Solution by Adsorption on Carbon Powder. Jennifer L. Gordon and Thomas R. Rybolt.  Activated carbon has been used for many years to treat drug overdose victims. Activated carbon powder that is ingested can pass through the gastrointestinal system, and as it does so, it can remove molecules that adhere to the carbon surface. We explored the possible use of carbon powders to lower cholesterol levels by studying which powders were most effective in attracting cholesterol molecules. In optimal cases, these powders were able to remove about 25% of their own weight in cholesterol.

Tessily Cannon, Jessica Ezell and Natalie Talbot also participated in the poster competition.

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