Thursday, September 20, 2012

Nov. 9-11, 2012 - Quebec Ontario Minisympsium in Synthetic and Bioorganic Chemistry (QOMSBOC)

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Windsor is hosting the 23rd annual QOMSBOC (Quebec Ontario Minisympsium in Synthetic and Bioorganic Chemistry) from November 9-11, 2012. The conference will be held on the campus of the University of Windsor.  

The plenary speakers include Dr. Mukund Sibi (North Dakota State University), Dr. Jeff Aube (University of Kansas), and Dr. Carl Decicco (Bristol-Myers Squibb).

We invite both oral and poster presentations for the conference; normally the vast majority of these are from graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. The deadline for both oral and poster contributions is Oct. 17, 2012. The early registration deadline is also Oct. 17.  

For more information, please see the website for the conference:


Monday, September 10, 2012

Dennis Ma is awarded a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship

Dennis Ma pulls a tray of experimental cancer cell samples out of a liquid nitrogen tank in his Essex Hall lab.

Congratulations to Dennis Ma!

All of the dedication and commitment Dennis Ma has put into his research are beginning to pay off, both in his academic career and the progress he’s made in finding new ways to fight cancer.

“I’ve never worked harder in my whole life than I have in the past few years,” said Ma, a PhD student in Chemistry and Biochemistry and the recent recipient of a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. “A lot of times we’re here at 7 a.m. and don’t get home until after midnight. It’s been a lot of hard work and a lot of long hours.”

Ma was one of 156 doctoral students from 29 Canadian universities to receive one of the scholarships, which provide $50,000 per year in funding over a three year period. The successful recipients were announced at a reception last week in Kingston, Ontario.

Click here to read the whole story in the Daily News.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Windsor Welcome Week - Sept. 5 at 10 a.m.

Welcome Week Chemistry/Biochemistry orientation will be held on Wed, 5 September 2012,
at 10:00 a.m. in Toldo 200.  All first year students should attend.  This year, we will focus on "What is required for success in first year chemistry and biochemistry."

For additional information, contact Prof. Lana Lee.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Undergraduate poster presentations, Thursday, Sept. 13, 12-5 pm, CAW

Undergraduate Research Poster Session
CAW (main floor) on Thursday, Sept. 13, from 12-5 p.m.
Presenters attend their posters 3:30-5:00 p.m.

Undergraduate students in Biochemistry and Chemistry who have worked in one of our research groups (e.g. outstanding scholars, summer research students, and volunteers) present their specific research projects and the general research interests of the group they joined.

Faculty and graduate students will also attend during the poster presentations.
We encourage all undergraduate students who are required or would like to join a research group (especially 2nd-year students) to look at the posters and talk to the various group members and professors during the presentation time (3:30-5:00 p.m.).

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Web site migration underway

The Chemistry and Biochemistry website is being migrated to the new format...we expect to have it up and running sometime during the first few weeks of September!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Crystal Flask Golf Tournament

Crystal Flask Golf Tournament
Place: Roseland Golf Club
Date: Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Time: 9:30 am

All faculty, staff and students along with any skill levels are welcome.
Green fee will be approximately $24 per person for 18 holes of golf.
If you are interested in participating please contact Sinisa Djurdjevic at
djurdjes@uwindsor.ca, no later than August 23, 2012.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chemists break new ground in molecular machine research

Nick Vukotic, left, and Kristopher Harris are two of the team members who developed and tested University of Windsor Dynamic Material, UWDM-1.

A graduate student and his team of researchers have turned the chemistry world on its ear by becoming the first ever to prove that tiny interlocked molecules can function inside solid materials, laying the important groundwork for the future creation of molecular machines.
“Until now, this has only ever been done in solution,” explained Chemistry & Biochemistry PhD student Nick Vukotic, lead author on a front page article recently published in the June issue of the journal Nature Chemistry. “We’re the first ones to put this into a solid state material.”

schematic diagram of UWDM-1
This schematic shows how the various elements assemble themselves into mechanically interlocked molecules.
The material Vukotic is referring to is UWDM-1, or University of Windsor Dynamic Material, a powdery substance that the team made which contains rotaxane molecules and binuclear copper centers.  The rotaxane molecules, which resemble a wheel around the outside of an axle, were synthesised in their lab. The group found that heating of these rotaxane molecules with a copper source resulted in the formation of a crystalline material which contained structured arrangement of the rotaxane molecules, spaced out by the binuclear copper centers.

“Basically, they self-assemble in to this arrangement,” said Vukotic, who works under the tutelage of chemistry professor Steve Loeb. Other team members include professor Rob Schurko, and post-doctoral fellows Kristopher Harris and Kelong Zhu.

Heating the material causes the wheels to rapidly rotate around the axles, while cooling the material causes the wheels to stop, he said. The entire process can’t be viewed with a microscope, so the motion was confirmed in Dr. Schurko’s lab using a process called nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

“You can actually measure the motion and you can do it unambiguously by placing an isotopic tag on the ring,” explained Dr. Harris, who helped oversee that verification process.
Although the team admits their findings are still very much a proof of principle, they insist that molecules in solid materials can be manipulated to form switches and machines. This could be extremely significant and could find future applications in the fields of computer storage, data transfer or controlling the electronic properties of materials at the molecular level.

“Important metal organic frameworks like this are typically named after the university in which they were created,” Vukotic said of the material’s name. “It also emphasizes that this material is a prototype for other dynamic materials to come.”

Since the Nature Chemistry article appeared, a number of leading chemistry publications around the world have been reporting on the team’s findings, Dr. Loeb said.

“It’s a starting point,” said Loeb, who first imagined the concept about 10 years ago. “It’s a blueprint, but it’s the first demonstration of motion in a solid state. Normally when you make a new material you’re done. You can’t reorient molecules in a solid state.”

This story originally appeared on the Daily News, and is written by Stephen Fields

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Chemistry grad Michael-Anthony Ferrato is the 2012 President’s Medal winner

Before he even got to the University of Windsor, Michael-Anthony Ferrato was helping new students get oriented to campus. It was a habit he kept up through his undergraduate career.

That level of involvement helped to earn the chemistry graduate the 2012 President’s Medal, awarded each year to a graduating student who has made significant contributions to campus and community activities while maintaining a superior academic record.

After his acceptance to the University in the summer of 2008, Ferrato produced videos documenting his experiences with academic orientation and course registration.

“We were looking for ways to get students involved and then we were pleased to find out Michael-Anthony was there ahead of us,” recalls liaison officer Tim Brunet. “He was helping to orient students by sharing his own experiences.”

After he started classes, Ferrato joined the recruitment team, acting as a guide for campus tours and working alongside staff and faculty to represent Windsor at the Ontario Universities Fair. He says that experience helped him see the many opportunities available on campus.

“I tell anyone who asks that the University of Windsor has everything they could want,” he says.

Ferrato made the most of his time here, holding an appointment as an Outstanding Scholar, getting involved in Lancer athletics, and pulling down top grades.

His work in the research lab of chemistry professor Tricia Carmichael brought him two summer research awards from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and earned him credit as a published author in a top academic journal.

He served as video coordinator for the Lancer basketball program; the broadcast he produced of the 2011 Canadian Interuniversity Sport women’s championship tournament was the primary feed for fans across Canada.

Ferrato is just as excited about his role as a co-founder and co-captain of the men’s baseball team: “With the talent we have in  this part of the province, it could be a powerhouse.”

And he earned places on the Dean’s List and President’s Honour Roll with a cumulative grade point average of 12.70 and a major grade point average of 12.90. Ferrato will continue his University of Windsor career in September as he pursues a masters degree in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

See the original story on the Daily News:

Friday, June 1, 2012

Chemists develop new method to make stretchable light-emitting devices

Chemistry student Heather Filiatrault and professor Tricia Carmichael examine a light-emitting device fabricated in their lab.

A common method of treating babies born with jaundice is phototherapy, which involves bathing the infant in light from fluorescent bulbs, halogen quartz lamps, light-emitting diodes, and even fiber-optic mattresses.

Tricia Carmichael can see a day when those babies can simply be wrapped in a light-emitting blanket.

An associate professor in chemistry and biochemistry, Dr. Carmichael spends most of her lab time studying ways of making flexible and stretchable electronic devices. In a recent Advanced Materials journal cover article – whose first author was grad student Heather Filiatrault – Carmichael and her colleagues describe an emerging method used to make light-emitting devices designed to tolerate strain so that they can stretch, bend and wrap.

“There are all kinds of cool applications for this technology, but the idea is to be able to make it inexpensively,” Carmichael said.

The challenge with making stretchable conventional organic light-emitting devices, which rely on technology currently used in cell phones, cameras and digital media players, is the device complexity, Carmichael said. The display screens on those devices consist of thin film layers and each one needs to have an element of elasticity.

Carmichael’s approach has been to reduce the device complexity by using light-emitting electrochemical cells, which rely on materials that give off light when voltage is applied, sandwiched between electrodes. Along with her team, Carmichael developed a way to make a light-emitting material—an organometallic ruthenium complex—stretchable by blending it with an elastic silicone rubber.

“It’s actually a fairly simple idea but no one has ever really done it before,” said Carmichael.

Under lab tests to measure its “stretchability,” the team found the material could achieve about 25 to 30 per cent elongation before the device failed to emit light.

 The concept is still in its infancy, but if developed it could have a wide range of potential applications from electronic display signs that could wrap around the corners of buildings to such health applications as light therapy used for healing wounds or activating certain chemotherapy drugs, Carmichael said.

See the original story and a video describing the process on the Daily News:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Chem Prom!

It's that time of year again!
Chem Prom (our end of the year dinner and dance) takes place:

Friday, April 27, 2012
Caboto Club: Verdi Hall
Doors Open: 6 pm
Dinner: 7 pm
Tickets: $30/person

Please see Heather (EH 373-5), Chris (EH 367), Corey (EH 372-3) or Marlene for tickets

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Undergrad researchers score at SOUSCC

Chris O'Keefe, left, Stephanie Kosnik and Rami Gherib all brought home chemistry conference awards from the University of Guelph on March 24.

A trio of fourth-year students who recently brought home some impressive awards from the Southern Ontario Undergraduate Student Chemistry Conference say they couldn’t have done it if they didn’t work in such a supportive department.

“We’ve got great supervisors who are excellent at helping you understand your subject matter and grad students who have been super helpful,” said Stephanie Kosnik, who works in professor Charles MacDonald’s lab and earned a second-place prize in the inorganic chemistry session for her project on the isolation and synthesis of novel phosphenium.

The conference, held at the University of Guelph on March 24, saw two other students win certificates. Rami Gherib, who works in James Gauld’s lab, took first prize in theoretical computational chemistry, while Chris O’Keefe, who works in Rob Schurko’s lab, took second prize in that category. Gherib’s project was a computational analysis to investigate the properties of LuxS, an enzyme that’s present in many types of bacterial pathogens.

“If we can determine how it works, we can develop pharmaceuticals to help control it,” he explained.

All three students said they put a tremendous amount of work into their projects. They each had 15 minutes to make an oral presentation about their work, followed by a Q&A session with a panel of judges.

“I was a little nervous but I had prepared myself pretty well,” said Kosnik, who like her colleagues, has applied to graduate school. “But it was fun and it’s intellectually challenging and rewarding, especially when you win a prize like this.”

Click here to see the original story on the Daily News

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dr. Pandey discusses disease-fighting natural compounds on research talk show

Siyaram Pandey was skeptical when he was first approached by a local oncologist who was curious about cancer patients who had been drinking dandelion tea and seemed to be getting better.

“To be honest I was very pessimistic,” said Dr. Pandey, a professor in Chemistry and Biochemistry who researches the effects that a variety of natural compounds have on the process of cell death. “She said it could be coincidental but it couldn’t hurt to see if there is anything.”

Pandey, who will appear today on CJAM to discuss his research, conducted a literature review and could only find one journal article suggesting dandelions may have cancer-killing properties. But he and his team of graduate students collected a bunch of the weeds anyway, ground them up with a mixture of water in a food processor and developed a simple formula they could experiment with.

Click here to read the full story on the Daily News!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Student researchers inspired by legacy of cancer patient

Every morning when they go to work in their Essex Hall biochemistry lab, Ph.D. students Pam Ovadje and Dennis Ma get an inspirational reminder of why they’re there. Mounted on the door to that lab is a plaque dedicating the space to the memory of Kevin Couvillon, who died at the age of 26 in November 2010, after a three-year battle with acute myeloid leukemia.

Last week, Ovadje, Ma and other graduate students from the lab of professor Siyaram Pandey met with Couvillon’s parents to give them an update on their research into how such natural products as dandelion root extract and pancratistatin – derived from a Hawaiian spider lily plant – cause certain cancer cells to effectively commit suicide.

After an emotional presentation in the Toldo Health Education building on what would have been Kevin’s 28th birthday, his father Dave discreetly handed Dr. Pandey a cheque for $20,000 to help fund the research, bringing the total the family has donated to the lab to $40,000. It was gesture that didn’t go unnoticed by the students.

Read more of this story here on the Daily News.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Rio Tinto Alcan Award Winner: Stephen Loeb

Congratulations to Prof. Stephen Loeb (Canada Research Chair in Supramolecular and Inorganic Chemistry), who was awarded the Rio Tinto Alcan Award for distinguished contributions to the field of inorganic chemistry.


Stephen Loeb is clearly reticent about tooting his own horn, but as far as friends and colleagues are concerned, it’s high time the chemistry professor was recognized for a career of consistently producing cutting edge research and cranking out top quality graduate students from his lab.

A professor and Canada Research Chair in Supramolecular and Inorganic Chemistry who joined UWindsor in 1990, Dr. Loeb recently learned the Canadian Society for Chemistry awarded him the highly coveted Rio Tinto Alcan Award for distinguished contributions to the field of inorganic chemistry or electrochemistry.

“He’s clearly among Canada’s elite in chemistry, and because of his low-key nature this has been a long time coming,” said Doug Stephan, a past recipient of the award and former UWindsor professor who nominated him for the award. “He’s been quietly publishing stellar material but not making a lot of noise about it.”

Click here to read the full story on the University of Windsor Daily News!