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Chemistry Blog

Hello everyone! My name is Erica Gunn, and I am taking over the writing of the chemistry blog for the spring semester.

For those who haven't met me yet, I am a new assistant professor in the department. I'll be teaching mostly physical chemistry and materials science-type classes; I started out the year with Chem 111 (gen chem, non-majors), and am now heading off into the other end of the spectrum and teaching Chem 332 (quantum) this spring. My research involves studying the crystallization of pharmaceutical compounds, and characterizing the crystals using light microscopes and x-ray diffraction. (More about me here if you're curious or avoiding homework.)

This blog is intended to be a way for us to keep you up to date on things happening in chemistry at Simmons. We hope that current students, faculty, and alums will all check in to keep up with what's going on. We'd also love to hear back from you, so please join in in the comments!

I have to admit that this is a little like the moment that you tap the microphone and wonder if anyone can actually hear you. Especially after a long blog silence, I have to wonder if I'm talking to myself (not that that's a problem...I can just say crazier things if no one is listening...) Leave a comment to let us know that you're still out there!

Edited to add: It appears that comments are under lockdown, and I don't have permission to turn them on. Well, in that case, I guess you could "like" us on FB to tell us that you're there, and I'll see what I can do about comments.

Congratulations to Melissa Lever in her acceptance to work as a summer research intern in the laboratory of Dr. Jillian Goldfarb at the University of New Hampshire in Durham! We all look forward to the presentation of your research in Chemistry Seminar this Fall!

Congratulations to Maureen Correlius on being accepted into the Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates program at the University of Michigan for the Summer of 2012!!

Development of the Environmental Forum: An Integrative Approach
Posted: Feb 20 2012 by Michael Berger, Simmons College; Jack Duggan, Wentworth Institute of Technology; and Ellen E. Faszewski, Wheelock College

In 2003, with the help of the Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER) dissemination project, faculty members from the Colleges of the Fenway (COF) consortium created a cornerstone course as part of a newly developed Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Science. Environmental Forum, created to provide a common identity for all environmental science students at the COF institutions, brings together students, faculty and practicing professionals to discuss current issues, career planning, and civic engagement as well as to participate in service learning activities throughout the COF and greater Boston communities. An initial assessment of student learning outcomes was previously reported (Faszewski and Duggan, 2007)

Congratulations to Chau Vy on being the Simmons College recipient of a POLYED Undergraduate Award for Achievement in Organic Chemistry for 2011. The POLYED Undergraduate Award in Organic Chemistry Recognizes outstanding performance in Organic Chemistry by a chemistry major whose future plans include a career in chemistry. This Award is sponsored by POLYED, the National Information Center for Polymer Education.

Thanks to everyone who helped make our pilot of "Stone Soup Wednesdays in the CPD" a huge success. By popular demand we are institutionalizing this new tradition in the CPD. I am proud to announce that we will continue to host "Stone Soup Wednesdays" throughout the Spring Semester and beyond! Please stop to help celebrate our new CPD tradition on January 25th, 2012 at 5:30 pm. If you are interested in helping to create a Wiki on our "" to organize this weekly event please email me over Winter Break. If you have a one pot crock pot recipe that you would like to suggest or if you would like to contribute an ingredient to an upcoming Stone Soup, stop by S441 or send me an email - hopefully, we will have a wiki up soon to facilitate submissions!

The Inaugural CPD Fall Research Poster Session occurred on Monday, December 12th, 2011. What a huge success!! Thanks to all of the poster presenters, faculty, and visitors. 72 First-Year through Senior undergraduate women presented 36 posters covering their original research that was accomplished within Principles of Chemistry (CHEM113), Organic Chemistry II (CHEM225) and Mechanistic Toxicology (CHEM342) this Fall. Special thanks to the Warner Babcock Institute, the Beyond Benign Foundation and the W. M. Keck Foundation for your continued support of our Undergraduate Research Integration Program (Undergraduate Laboratory Renaissance.)

"Students at Boston-based Simmons College are part of an education experiment that has thrown out the standard approach of cookbook lab instruction and instead thrusts students immediately into integrated lab training and undergraduate research. Organic chemist
Rich Gurney and his colleagues admit their concept is a gamble, but they say it seems
to better prepare students to enter the chemical workforce."

"At the American Chemical Society national meeting in Denver late last month, Gurney and some of his students made presentations in Division of Chemical Education symposia in which they laid out the details of their program, including progress on one research project involving thymine-based copolymers. With the help of a grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation, the Simmons science faculty is creating an undergraduate experience in which students in chemistry, physics, and biology study different aspects of ongoing faculty research projects, Gurney explained."

Read more at Chemical and Engineering News Online or by downloading the PDF here.C&EN_Article_ResearchIntegration@Simmons.pdf


Congratulations to Hana Gilman (B.S. Biochemistry, '12)! Earning an acceptance offer for every Dental School interview is a feat that is nothing short of amazing! I agree completely with the sentiment you shared from one of the interviewers, "You Are a Shining Star!!"

Tufts University: School of Dental Medicine (MA)
Boston University: Henry M Goldman School of Dental Medicine (MA)
Midwestern University: College of Dental Medicine (AZ)
NOVA Southeastern University: College of Dental Medicine (FL)

Now onto the decision making stage!

While it may seem overly taxing to be required to take a quiz or an exam every Wednesday in many of our First and Second year chemistry courses, testing is proving to help people learn more effectively than other more elaborate studying processes. Researchers at Purdue University found that "practicing retrieval produces greater gains in meaningful learning than elaborative studying with concept mapping."

Check out this recent study, highlighted in the New York Times, that was published in Science on Thursday.

See the New York Times article:
To Really Learn, Quit Studying and Take a Test

or refer to the original study in Science:
Retrieval Practice Produces More Learning than Elaborative Studying with Concept Mapping