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Chemistry students and faculty present research

Chemistry students and faculty presented their summer research at the Joint 57th Southeastern/61st Southwestern Regional American Chemical Society (ACS) Meeting in Memphis.

UTC undergraduate students are afforded an intense research experience while stimulating and enhancing chemical research at UTC. Research groups consist of eight pairings of one UTC chemistry major with one faculty member.

Student Presentations:


Kevin Terry with Dr. Tom Waddell
Kevin M. Terry, Dr. Thomas G. Waddell

“Recently, a natural product has been isolated from a marine organism that features a rare 8-membered ether ring in its structure,” Terry said. “Inspired by the likely biosynthesis of this compound in the organism, we have discovered a reaction that mimics the biosynthesis and produces the 8-membered ring ether in an unprecedented process. Our results may be used in the future in a synthesis of natural products and should influence ideas of biosynthesis. A paper describing our results has been submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. “

Title: “Chemistry of Epoxy Alcohols: Biomimetic 8-endo Cyclization of Sclareol Epoxide”


Lauren K. DeLoach, Dr. Kyle Knight

“Our work involves constructing molecules that are, like our hands, mirror images of each other, yet not identical,” said DeLoach. “Our right hand is the mirror image of our left hand, but they are not the exactly alike. Many molecules have this same property. They have a ‘right handed form’ and a ‘left handed form.’ These right handed forms and left handed forms can have very different effects if the molecule is taken into the body as medicine. Our goal is to develop ways to make a class of molecules called carbocycles where either only the right handed form or only the left handed form is present.”

Title: “Synthesis of Substituted Cycloalkanes Using Organozirconium Catalysts”


Randi L. Gant, Dr. Manuel F. Santiago

“The synthesis of DNA or RNA requires nitrogen to produce the components to build these genetically important biomolecules,” Gant said. “This research determined that a coenzyme used in the synthesis of eukaryotic nucleic acids can be found in prokaryotes providing evidence of the similarities between animals and bacteria.”

Title: “Pyridine Nucleotide Transhydrogenase Activity in Pseudomonas syringae”


Maikel E. Botros, Dr. Gregory J. Grant, Dr. Daron Janzen

“This is a study of organic molecules which bind heavy metals like mercury and cadmium,” Botros said. “We have synthesized new organic compounds for this purpose as well as studied existing compounds. The goal of the project is to develop better binding molecules for the detection and removal of these toxic heavy metals in water.”

Title: “Complexation Studies of Mercury (II) and Cadmium (II) with Hexadentate Thiacrown and Azacrown Ligands”


Emily Hinson with Dr. Daron Janzen

Emily R. Hinson, Dr. Gregory J. Grant, Dr. Daron E. Janzen

“This project deals with the study of compounds which contain the element platinum,” Hinson said. “The element is widely used in catalyzing organic compounds. The project could lead to enhanced methods for the synthesis of certain pharmaceuticals. We have also begun some research in the preparation of platinum nanosquares, similar to the ruthenium ones Weinan Chen is working with.”

Title: “Platinum (II) Complexes of Crown Thioethers with Chiral and Achiral Diamine Ligands”



Daniel Chatham with Dr. John Lynch

Daniel N. Chatham, Dr. John A. Lynch

“If we could peek into a test tube and watch molecules mating what would we learn?” asks Chatham. “Fiber optics allow us this view. Captured values chart the color changes caused by chemical reactions. Equations tailored to match what we think might be happening are then used to interrogate these data. By matching our thinking to the data we learn the ways of the molecules as they combine to form new, more colorful, species.”

Title: “A Spectrophotometric Titration Study of the Reaction between Fe2+ and 1,10-Phenanthroline”


Matthew C. Zoerb, Dr. Steven J.K. Symes, Dr. Sean Richards

“This project is concerned with the identification and quantification of common pharmaceuticals in southeast Tennessee area watersheds,” said Zoerb. “As few drugs are ever completely metabolized, much of an ingested drug dose and its metabolites may eventually return to the environment, often appearing in watersheds. It has been estimated that 30 – 90% of an ingested drug dose is excreted as an active substance, depending on the compound. Human use and excretion of prescription and nonprescription drugs thus represents a potentially continuous source of contaminants in the aquatic environment that may have detrimental ecological effects, especially if combinations of synergistic compounds occur together.”

Title: “Identification and Quantification of Pharmaceuticals in Southeast Tennessee Area Watersheds by Reversed Phase HPLC-UV”


Timothy R. Brooks, Tom E. Bodkin, Dr. Stephanie Smullen, Dr. Gretchen E. Potts

“Cremation has always been an alternative to burial for the final disposal of human remains,” said Brooks. “Due to the intense heats of retorts, cremated human remains (cremains) have only been distinguished as human by the bone fragments that remain as all organic matter is destroyed. In an attempt to improve the current methods of forensic anthropology, elemental analysis of the powdery ash of cremains was performed by ICP-OES to distinguish between legitimate and contaminated cremains. The legitimacy of the cremains was determined using multivariate statistical analysis.”

Title: “Ashes to Ashes, Dust for Determination: Elemental Analysis of Cremains by ICP-OES”



Weinan Chen with Dr. Gregory Grant

Weinan Chen, Dr. Gregory J. Grant, Dr. Daron E. Janzen

“This project involves synthesizing molecular nanosquares which contain the element ruthenium,” according to Chen. “These unusual molecular squares could be used in photo devices, energy storage and other applications of nanotechnology.”

Title: “Preparation of a Ruthenium Square: The Synthesis and Characterization of [Ru(12S4)Cl(bipy)](PF6) & [{Ru(12S4)Cl}2(bipy)](PF6)2”


Kimberly Holte will present her research at the National American Chemical Societymeeting in March, 2006 in Atlanta:

Kimberly Holte, Dr. Robert C. Mebane

“The addition of hydrogen to organic molecules is an important transformation in organic chemistry,” Holte said. “For several years we have used Raney nickel and 2-propanol as a hydrogen donor to add hydrogen to a variety of organic molecules. We have now extended this methodology to the conversion of ketones into secondary alcohols. In a collaborative effort with Drs. Peter Zhang and Jess Jones of the UTK Chemistry Department, we have also shown that cobalt (II) tetraphenylporphyrin [CoTPP] is an effective catalyst for reducing ketones to secondary alcohols. Future work will include using modified cobalt (II) porphyrin catalyst to explore the synthesis of chiral alcohols which can be important building blocks for pharmaceuticals.”

Title: “Applying Catalytic Transfer Hydrogenation (CTH) Techniques to the Reduction of Ketones.”

Faculty presentations:

Dr. Daron E. Janzen, Dr. Gregory J. Grant

“Our group has been interested in platinum containing molecules that have interesting structural, optical, and electronic properties for possible applications in catalysis and heavy metal ion sensors,” according to Janzen. “This research involving platinum complexes with sulfur containing groups is focused on the design of large molecular architectures formed by metal-metal bonds. Novel metal-metal bonded supramolecular complexes have been isolated which exhibit unique structural features. Discussion was focused on the synthesis and characterization of these complexes in solution and in the solid-state.

Title: “Five and Six Coordinate Pt(II) Complexes: Orthometallated Pt(II) Thiacrown Complexes and Pt->Ag Dative Bonds”


Dr. Gregory J. Grant, Dr. Daron E. Janzen, Ketankumar Patel

“We have prepared a molecular square which contains platinum components in the corners,” Grant said. “The molecule could have important applications in the field of nanotechnology. Since the outer portion of the molecule turns on the platinum, like wheels on a wagon, we call this our ‘molecular nanowagon.’”

Title: ”Platinum(II) Thiacrown Complexes with Diimine Ligands:


Dr. Daron E. Janzen, Dr. Gregory J. Grant

“Introducing undergraduate students to X-ray crystallography, a technique used to acquire structural information about molecules, is important as solid-state characterization plays an increasingly important role in inorganic, organic, and materials chemistry,” according to Janzen. “ In an effort to enhance chemistry curriculum through the use of existing freely available software tools, the use of Mercury©, a crystallography program used for research purposes, was implemented into the undergraduate inorganic lab course. Mercury© is a multifunction visualization and teaching tool for small molecule X-ray structures. The application of Mercury© into the chemistry curriculum will be discussed, including inorganic, organic and materials chemistry applications.”

Title: “Integration of X-ray Crystallography into the Undergraduate Curriculum Using Mercury© Software”

November 4, 2005

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