Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Monday, August 1, 2011
One is a biochemist who specializes in cell biology, vascular systems and blood platelet function. The other is an experimental artist who helped pioneer the conceptual art movement in Canada. They have a lot more in common than you might think.
Bulent Mutus, a professor in biochemistry, and professor emeritus Iain Baxter&, who’s been dubbed "the Marshall McLuhan of visual art," will both participate as leaders in a two-week BioARTCAMP, an art and science fair that begins on July 19 in Banff, Alberta. Dr. Mutus will be the senior scientist at the event and Baxter& will be the senior artist.
Jennifer Willet, a visual art professor and the mind behind the camp’s concept, said the event will bring together about 20 artists, scientists, theorists, filmmakers and students to build a portable lab and field research station that will demonstrate that art and the sciences are more alike than most people traditionally assume.
“We’re just going to put a whole bunch of artists and scientists together and see what comes out,” said Dr. Willet. “Art teaches people to construct meaning through representation and that’s what scientists do too, whether they realize it or not.”
Mutus, who likes to dabble in painting and photography in his spare time, agreed. He noted that when he’s conducting lab experiments he’s always thinking about how the data will appear visually.
“Science is all about how you present information,” he said. “Whether you know it or not, you use art almost daily in science.”
Besides helping construct the lab and assisting other artist and scientists with their projects, Mutus will work on a piece that uses silver nitrate filter paper, which operates as a sensor to detect hydrogen sulfide, a potentially dangerous gas. When the paper detects H2S, it leaves dark impressions that could be worked into artistic drawings or other pieces. He’ll set up an installation to do just that.
Meanwhile, Baxter& will spend his time stomping through the woods of his youth with a mannequin, photographing it in various settings in an attempt to conceptualize both the distances and connections between humanity and nature.
“Science and art both involve a great deal of technical dexterity and craftsmanship,” said Baxter&, who studied zoology before devoting his life to his art. “They’re both really conceptual. The whole idea of creating something artistic mimics experimental methodology.”
Willet said there will be two opportunities for members of the public to participate in the camp and view the work. She also suggested the camp may turn into an annual event.
Visit the camp's Web site for more information.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Annual Chemistry and Biochemistry Crystal Flask Golf Tournament
This year's Crystal Flask Golf Tournament will take place on Wednesday, August 17, with first tee time at 9:30am. Tournament will take place at Roseland Golf Club and we will play 18 holes. All skill levels are welcome, and Chemistry Club will be covering 1/2 of the green fee. For any additional information and to reserve a spot please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than August 12.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Silicon-based integrated circuits currently used in cell phones and mp3 players are about as small as they’re going to get with current technology. Now, in response to consumer demand for even faster, more efficient electronic devices, chemists are racing to develop tiny molecular structures that would process data instead—and a UWindsor PhD student in chemistry has joined the race.
“Everyone knows that if we want data to be transferred faster we need to make things smaller, but we’ve almost reached the limit now with how small we can go,” said Mike Miller, who recently won a three-year post-graduate doctoral scholarship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council worth $63,000.
Miller, who works under the supervision of associate professor Tricia Carmichael, said many scientists are trying to create molecular wires and resistors by linking together chains of functional molecules that could be lined up in such a way so that one day, data could be transferred through them and they could replace conventional circuits. Miller’s attention, meanwhile, is devoted to studying ways to smooth the surfaces those molecules would bond with, as a way of ensuring better conductivity and data transfer.
Specifically, he is analyzing an industrial process called chemical mechanical planarization, which involves polishing metal surfaces with a combination of abrasives and chemical etchants to control the surface roughness and grain structure of thin films of metals such as gold, copper, silver and palladium.
“We’re studying what we can change about the molecules, but also what we can change about the surfaces and how that might affect how those molecules will behave,” he said. “It’s not quite there yet. There’s a lot of fundamental work that needs to be done.”
But if breakthroughs are made, they’ll go a long way towards creating some amazing new technologies, such as low-cost flexible electronic devices. As an example, Miller points to the possibility of electronic wallpaper. Users would be able to change the look of their room with a few simple keystrokes instead of stripping and putting new paper up on their walls, he said.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
The son of parents from Vietnam and grandparents from China, Dennis Ma grew up in house where traditional remedies and natural herbal products were commonplace. So using a derivative from a rare plant to try to find a cure for cancer doesn’t really surprise him all that much.~
“A lot of these natural products have been used as traditional medicines for a long time, but we’re starting to see a lot more of them being used in a scientific setting,” said Ma, a second year master’s student in biochemistry who tests the effectiveness of pancratistatin, a derivative of a Hawaiian spider lily which has proven to kill certain cancer cells without harming healthy ones.
Ma and lab partner Katie Facecchia, both students in the lab of professor Siyaram Pandey, recently returned from Montreal where they attended the Natural Health Products Research Society of Canada’s annual conference. Ma took first place in the student oral presentation category while Facecchia, who studies the effectiveness of a water soluble formula of the naturally occurring Coenzyme Q10 at halting the progression of Parkinson’s disease, placed second.
Another group of Dr. Pandey’s students recently garnered a considerable amount of attention for their work on a formula they developed from dandelion root extract, which also halted the spread of certain types of cancer cells.
Facecchia said attending the conference gave her a renewed sense of optimism that the scientific community is embracing the notion of looking to nature to test solutions for current medical challenges.
“People used these products back in the day for a reason and now we’re rediscovering them with modern science,” she said.
There were five presentations from Pandey’s lab made at the conference and three of them were dedicated to the memory of Kevin Couvillon, who died in 2010 at the age of 26 after a lengthy battle with cancer. His parents donated $20,000 to Pandey’s lab earlier this year. Pandey said Ma, Facecchia and fellow students Pamela Ovadje and Madona Chochkeh made high-impact presentations, which he believes contributed to the society’s decision to hold its 2013 here in Windsor.
“They responded to the panel’s questions very lucidly and defended the work very well,” he said. “We’re very grateful to Seeds 4 Hope, Joseph Sczesei and the Couvillons for generously supporting their research.”
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
All students, staff and faculty, please join us for this year's Chem Prom end of year banquet, which is taking place at the Caboto Club on April 28, 2011. Tickets are still available!
Doors open: 6:30 pm
Dinner: 7 pm
Dancing to follow
Where: Verdi Hall, Caboto Club
Please see Heather (EH 373-5), Chris (EH 367) or Marlene for tickets
Thursday, April 14, 2011
“All that glitters is not gold” is an oft-repeated adage cited throughout the ages to remind us that not everything that appears precious really is.~
For a scientist like Ricardo Aroca, the intrinsic value of real gold is not in its own brilliant luminescence – or the dollar value it can capture on the open market – but its infectious ability to make the molecules from other materials around it glitter so brightly he can capture an abundance of previously unknown information about them.
Dr. Aroca, an UWindsor chemistry professor who specializes in single molecule detection, has perfected a technique used to analyze the structure and behaviour of molecules called single molecule spectroscopy.
“Every single molecule gives off light,” he explained. “But by bringing gold nanostructures in close contact with them, you amplify their scattering and fluorescence, revealing more information about them.”
Using a state-of-the-art Raman laser microscope, Aroca and his students study the vibrational spectrum, which he refers to as the “fingerprints” of a molecule. Named after C.V. Raman, a Nobel Prize-winning Indian physicist, the microscope uses a high intensity laser to magnify and project the images of materials at the molecular level.
In an international journal called Angewandte Chemie, Aroca’s group recently reported that when tiny particles of gold are brought near the molecules they’re studying, those molecules become more excited and emit greater fluorescence. Capturing that fluorescence, means greater understanding about the molecular structure of a vast variety of materials, crucial knowledge for applications in biomedicine, chemical detection and sensor technology.
It may seem like obscure science, but it’s caught the attention of colleagues around the world. In fact, two papers he authored on the subject were recently included on the Top 10 list of most-cited papers in that field over the last year, according to the BioMedLib, a search engine that monitors biomedical literature.
“We’ve had fairly good recognition internationally on this subject,” he said.
Aroca said thanks to the technique, scientists can amass large databases of information on the molecular properties of materials that can be made available to scientists developing pharmaceuticals or building sensors that can detect trace elements of carcinogens in biological organisms.
“The technique is general, but you can develop many specific applications,” he said.
-Stephen Fields, University of Windsor Daily News