Chemistry

Alumni Newsletter Archives

FLORIDA TECH CHEMISTRY ALUMNI NEWSLETTER

C. Baum • September 2006

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C. Baum • January 2003

No, you have not missed any newsletters since November 1999. Several factors conspired to delay this second "annual" letter. As a consequence, there are many Florida Tech facility changes to report. The new F. W. Olin Engineering Complex and F. W. Olin Life Sciences Building were opened during the Spring 2000 semester allowing the chemistry department to expand into space formerly occupied by chemical engineering and biological sciences. We now have the entire third floor of the Link Building, much of which has been renovated to provide an increase in the size of the research labs, a computer room and new space for student offices and equipment. Major instrumentation additions include fluorescence and UV/visible spectrophotometers along with HPLC's. The old biology lab building in the quad (between the organic and general chemistry lab buildings) also belongs to chemistry. It houses a multinuclear FT-NMR used in undergraduate courses, faculty and graduate student offices and laboratories, and a conference room. Hedgecock gym was demolished in January 2000 along with the facilities and annex buildings near it and the Charles and Ruth Clemente Center for Sports and Recreation was dedicated in 2001. This complex has enhanced student life substantially. Construction has just begun on four, three-story residence halls behind Roberts Hall north of Crane Creek.

The most exciting change for the department is the three-story F. W. Olin Physical Sciences Building that will house the chemistry and physics departments and is scheduled for completion in summer 2004. This facility will contain computerized classrooms, state of the art teaching and research laboratories, five instrumentation centers, a computational chemistry/molecular modeling facility, a photochemical reaction laboratory, a polymer flammability laboratory, a thermal analysis center, a laser spectroscopy laboratory, and a glassblowing shop.

Several faculty changes have occurred. Bill Baker is now at the University of South Florida and Robert Burns accepted a position at Alma College. New faculty members include Dr. Mark Novak (synthetic organic) from Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Dr. Kurt Winkelmann (physical chemistry) from Northwestern University and Dr. Nasri Nesnas (bioorganic and synthetic organic) from Columbia University.

In addition to his role as Department Head, Mike Babich continues his research in the areas of solid state transition metal chemistry and energy storage materials. He has served on the board of governors for the Council for Chemical Research and has served on a panel for the Chemical Sciences Roundtable to explore "Women in the Chemical Workforce". He is also the CCR action network leader for long term and societal issues facing the chemical community. Monica Baloga has assumed the position of coordinator for the general chemistry and organic chemistry lecture and laboratory courses. The number of general chemistry sections is being increased so that the class size is reduced to no more than 50 students. Monica has been named an Outstanding Teacher by the students and, along with Robert Burns and Clayton Baum, received a National Science Foundation grant to upgrade our 60 MHz permanent magnet NMR for use throughout all four years of the chemistry curriculum. Clayton Baum and Al Brown have received support from NASA and the Florida Space Grant Consortium to develop fiber optic sensors for hazardous gases. The Florida Solar Energy Center is funding their research on energy storage molecular systems. Clayton was awarded a NASA/ASEE Faculty Fellowship for summer research at the Kennedy Space Center. Al is the current Faculty Senate President and continues to be very involved in student activities. Gordon Nelson continues as the Dean of the College of Science and Liberal Arts while maintaining a very active research group in developing flame retardant polymers. Joshua Rokach has recently received multimillion-dollar grants from the National Institutes of Health to pursue his chemical research in the areas of cardiovascular, Alzheimer's, degenerative and inflammatory diseases. Virender Sharma is interested in the kinetics and mechanisms of oxidation by transition metals in higher oxidation states. This information can be effective in reducing the level of contaminants in the aquatic environment. Virender has received more than $300,000 for this work and collaborates with faculty around the world. Mary Sohn continues her interest in geochemistry, which includes collaboration with the oceanography faculty at Florida Tech. This past summer she participated in fieldwork in Alaska.

We do plan to mail out the newsletter on a more frequent basis. We welcome any suggestions you might have with regard to the content of the newsletter. We will include alumni profiles starting with the next issue. For current information we invite you to visit our web site, listed below.

A major intent of this newsletter is to provide our current list of alumni addresses to encourage networking among you. You will note that there are a number of “lost” alumni; because of my delay this number may increase. Please let us know if you have the current address for any of these folks; also please notify us if you change your address so we can keep in touch or if you would prefer not to have your address listed.

Contact the Department

Department of Chemistry
150 W. University Blvd.
Melbourne, FL 32901-6975
phone 312-674-8046
fax 312-674-8951
Website http://cos.fit.edu/chemistry/


FLORIDA TECH CHEMISTRY ALUMNI NEWSLETTER

C. Baum • November 1999

Thank you to all who responded to our alumni mailing in the Spring. The responses were very enthusiastic. A special thank you to Jonathan Zung ’86 who really helped to get the ball rolling. In this edition I will provide a short history of the chemistry department for the benefit of the older alumni who may be wondering what has happened since they graduated and for the more recent alumni who would like to know how it all started.

A major intent of this newsletter is to provide our current list of alumni addresses to encourage networking among yourselves. You will note that there are still a number of “lost” alumni. Please let us know if you have the current address for any of these folks; also please notify us if you change your address so we can keep in touch. In the future, we plan to mail out a newsletter each May summarizing the events of the academic year. We welcome any suggestions you might have with regard to the content of the newsletter.

History of the Department

While chemistry has been taught at Florida Tech since the inception of the school in 1958, initially the faculty were considered a service group within the Physics Department and later within the Biological Sciences Department. The Chemistry B.S. degree program was established in 1975 with Dr. Hal Blatt (organic), Dr. Warren Bosch (organic), and Joyce Daggett (physical) as full-time members of the faculty. The following year Dr. Richard Mounts (analytical) joined the program. The first Chemistry degree was awarded in 1978.

In 1977, the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering was formed with Dr. Donald Mason as the Head. Dr. Mason also was Head of the Department of Environmental Science and Engineering and the two departments met jointly for five years. Dr. Michael Babich (inorganic) and Dr. Dennis Condon (general, visiting) arrived in 1978; the next year Dr. Clayton Baum (physical, replacing J. Daggett) and Dr. Richard Moore (organic, replacing Dr. Condon) joined the faculty and Dr. Mounts was named Chair of the Chemistry Program. In 1980 a chemistry master’s program was initiated and the first master’s degree was awarded in 1984. Dr. Brooks Bigelow (organic) was a visiting faculty member in 1980, replacing Dr. Bosch who moved to Yankton College. Dr. Mary Sohn (analytical) and Dr. Richard Langler (organic, replacing Dr. Bigelow) joined the faculty in 1981 while Dr. Blatt retired. In 1983 Dr. David Seapy (organic, replacing Dr. Moore, who moved to Limestone College) joined the faculty. The department received accreditation by the American Chemical Society in 1983. Dr. Babich succeeded Dr. Mounts as Chair of the Chemistry Program in 1984.

Chemistry and Chemical Engineering were split into separate departments in 1988 and Dr. Babich was appointed the Head of the Chemistry Department. That same year saw the arrival of two faculty members, Dr. Alan Brown (organic, replacing Dr. Langler who returned to continue his career at Mt. Allison University) and Dr. Michael East (organic, visiting, replacing Dr. Seapy who left to teach in Oman and is now at Eastern College). The Biochemistry program, conducted jointly by Biological Sciences and Chemistry, began in 1988 with the first degree awarded in 1989.

An expansion of the faculty from six to nine members in 1989 brought Dr. Gordon Nelson (polymer), Dr. Joshua Rokach (medicinal) and Dr. Bill Baker (marine natural products) to the department. Dr. Nelson, former President of the ACS, is also the Dean of the College of Science and Liberal Arts at Florida Tech. Dr. C. Vanselow was a one-year replacement for Dr. Baum who was on leave. The Ph.D. program began in 1990 with the first degree awarded in 1995.

In 1993, the faculty expanded to its current size of ten as three new faculty members joined the department, Dr. Paul Kiprof (organometallic, replacing Michael East, who left for FAR Research and is now at NutraSweet in Illinois), Dr. Eugene Smith (analytical, replacing Richard Mounts, who retired from teaching and is now at a biotech company in Seattle) and Dr. Tong Ren (inorganic). In 1996 Dr. Monica Baloga (bio-organic, replacing Dr. Kiprof, who is now at the University of Minnesota -Duluth) arrived, in 1998 Dr. Robert Burns (inorganic, visiting, replacing Dr. Ren, who is now at the University of Miami) and Dr. Alicia Wilson (analytical, visiting, replacing Dr. Smith, who is now at Hamline University in Minnesota) arrived, and in 1999 Dr. Virender Sharma (analytical, replacing Dr. Wilson, who is now at Roosevelt University in Chicago) joined the department.

The department is still located on the third floor of the Link Building and in two nearby buildings in the academic quadrangle which contain one organic and two general chemistry teaching laboratories; additional space is located in the Claude Pepper Institute for Aging and Therapeutic Research, directed by Dr. Rokach, and the Applied Research Laboratory. In the summer of 2000 we expect to expand into space vacated by the Chemical Engineering and Biological Sciences departments who will be moving into the two new Olin buildings. More news on this will appear in our Spring newsletter.

Research within the department has continued to grow with funding from government and industrial grants exceeding one million dollars annually and over 30 publications per year involving undergraduate and graduate students. Departmental equipment is now more than one million dollars. Major equipment includes NMR (360 and 60 MHz), HPLC systems, GC mass spectrometer, gas chromatographs, a stopped-flow reaction analyzer, UV/Vis spectrophotometers, atomic absorption, Fourier transform and grating infrared spectrophotometers, differential scanning calorimeters, thermogravimetric analyzers, photochemical reactors, fluorescence, dye/nitrogen laser spectroscopy system, polymer flammability instrumentation. All the instrumentation is used in undergraduate course work as well as research.

Contact the Department

Department of Chemistry
150 W. University Blvd.
Melbourne, FL 32901-6975
phone 312-674-8046
fax 312-674-8951
Website http://cos.fit.edu/chemistry/