Welcome to our new Tenure-Track Faculty Members!
Dr. Christopher Daley joined USD in August 2007, from Western
Washington University. According to Dr. Daley, USD’s overriding enthusiasm
and drive to succeed in teaching and research, completely won him over. Currently,
Dr. Daley teaches general and inorganic chemistry, as well as the inorganic-physical
advanced lab. In future years, Dr. Daley would like to expand his base and
teach special topics courses such as bioinorganic and organometallic chemistry.
research is centered on the study of metalloenzymes and new catalyst development;
focusing on the design and synthesis of small molecule analogues of metalloezymes
that contain a single metal in their active site – specifically on the
iron or cobalt containing nitrile hydratase family of enzymes. USD students
will quickly learn that (a) he loves to ask “Why (explain)?” (b)
he is tough but fair; and (c) he is animated in the classroom with very "student-interactive" lectures.
Dr. Daley plans to begin working with USD undergraduate students in his laboratory
before Christmas, with an anticipated unofficial opening in early November
with a ribbon cutting ceremony in early December. Accompanying Dr. Daley and
his biochemist wife, Dr. Margaret Daley, are their cat Murray and “Daley
in the oven”, anticipated to be completely synthesized, separated, and
purified in early January. (Note: Characterization will begin from that
point on but will require significant time and funding to complete!)
Dr. Robert Dutnall joined the faculty in August 2007, from UCSD. One of the
major reasons he chose USD is a shared belief and enthusiasm in creating “hands-on” learning
experiences; where students perform experiments themselves in laboratory courses,
as well as in faculty research labs. Dr. Dutnall currently teaches biochemistry
and general chemistry lab. Students will learn that Dr. Dutnall likes to keep
things interactive in the classroom using PowerPoint and drawing on the board
a lot because he likes to use pictures to help explain concepts. His research
focuses on the study of histone acetyltransferase (HAT) enzymes, especially
the enzyme Hat1 that is involved in repressing gene expression in yeast, and
methods for making histones using bacterial expression systems. He plans to
use a variety of biochemical and biophysical approaches to understand the biochemical
and enzymatic properties of Hat1 but also plans to use genetic methods to ask
questions about the biological function of this enzyme in living cells. His
research is interdisciplinary and students majoring in chemistry, biochemistry
or biology will find something interesting they can work on. It has been
a very exciting year for Dr. Dutnall. In addition to settling in at USD, he
became a dad for the first time in April when he and his wife, Dr. Caroline
McKeown, who is a research scientist at the Scripps Research Institute in La
Jolla, welcomed their son Elliot. Although Dr. Dutnall has learned
and studied aspects of DNA function (and taught genetics) for most of his life;
every time he sees Elliot, he can’t help but be amazed
how meiosis and mitosis really work; and wonder about the structures of the
molecules that are controlling Elliot’s growth and development.
Welcome to our new Staff Members!
Dr. Hélène Citeau is the Instrument Specialist
for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. She holds a M.S. in Chemical
Engineering from France and a Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from the University
of Toledo. After studying the chemistry of quantum dots for 2 years and working
as an application scientist for an instrument company for 4 years, she is very
happy to work for the University of San Diego in the field of instrumentation.
goal is to ensure that the department is equipped with pristine analytical
instruments and equipment for teaching and research purposes. This involves
grant writing to obtain better and newer instruments, helping with teaching
labs when they deal with instrumentation, inventory and routine maintenance
of the pool of instruments owned by the Department, training on the latest
developments in the field of scientific instrumentation, and the never-ending-but-oh-so-exciting-
surprise troubleshooting. Dr. Citeau loves instruments because they are beautifully
engineered tools designed to empower the scientist with tons of information
about the structure of chemical compounds.
Mia White has joined the department as Executive Assistant. Mia moved
to San Diego from Arkansas in February 2007 and has already experienced several
small earthquakes! Mia has a very lively and outgoing personality, great communication,
and administrative skills. Mia’s brings to the department a wealth
of technical skills from previous experience working at an architectural firm
and in Creative Services at USD. In addition to supporting an expanding
department of faculty, staff and students, Mia will serve as liaison with our
alumni so look forward to hearing from her often! Mia can be contacted
Renate Valois Retires
In August 2007, Renate retired as Executive Assistant in the department after
37 years of outstanding service to USD. Renate was a tremendous asset
to the department and consistently offered valuable help to faculty, staff
and students. To show our appreciation, the department sent Renate and
her husband John to Palm Desert in October for a week of relaxation. We
thank Renate for her enormous contributions and dedication to USD and to the
department. We will miss her and wish her and John the best of health
Department Awarded a Clare Boothe Luce Professorship
The department was recently awarded a highly prestigious Clare Boothe Luce
Professorship, which will fund a new female professor in Chemistry and Biochemistry
for five years, beginning in the fall of 2009. The Clare Boothe Luce
Program, which promotes the advancement of American women in the sciences,
engineering and mathematics, is the largest source of private support for
women in these fields.
Dr. Debbie Tahmassebi spearheaded our efforts, crafted the proposal and coordinated
a very successful site visit by the CBL director in spring 2007. Proudly,
the department secured this award upon our first application. Among the factors
that impressed the committee was the department’s skyrocketing number
of female majors as well as the number of female role models in the department
The award amounted to $586,000 from the Luce Foundation and will fund a new
tenure-track faculty position in the department. Over five years, it
will pay for her salary, benefits, research and career development. A
USD match of $135,000 to this grant will partially be used to fund a new departmental
program called “Bridges to Doctoral Institutions,” which will pay
for two female students to do summer work at a major research institution.
Outstanding Students Receive Department Awards for
Each year, the department selects a number of students to receive awards in
the department. Traditionally, one graduating major is selected as Outstanding
Senior and one or more graduating majors receive Outstanding Achievement awards
that are presented at the University-wide Honors Convocation each May. The Outstanding
Senior Award for 2007 was presented to Alexander (Sasha) Neuwelt. The
award was made on the basis of Sasha’s outstanding academic accomplishment
in Chemistry. By the way, Sasha was also selected as College Valedictorian
and delivered a truly inspiring and first-rate address at the Commencement
ceremony. Well done, Sasha!
Four 2007 graduates were recognized for Outstanding Achievement in
Chemistry. Congratulations to Joanna Cole, LisaMarie Di Pasquale,
Christo Dru and Michelle Leibrand.
The department also created a new award in 2007 to recognize those students
who have excelled in their research efforts at USD. The Departmental
Award for Research Excellence recognizes outstanding student achievement
in chemical or biochemical research conducted at USD and in collaboration with
a Department faculty member. Award winner(s) will have generated a cohesive
body of research in their area of study and will have made a significant intellectual
contribution to that research. Although not a requirement, it is desirable
that the award winner will also have disseminated his/her results in the form
of a poster, oral presentation, or peer reviewed paper. The recipients
of the Departmental Award for Research Excellence for 2006-2007 were Christopher
Dru, Charles Gyselbrecht, Danielle Pfaff, Briana Simon and Keaton Tomlin.
Finally, the department continues to participate in the national program facilitate
by Taylor and Francis publishers and CRC Press whereby we honor a first-year
student on the basis of outstanding academic achievement in freshman (general)
chemistry. For 2007, we actually had a tie between two students, Ryan
Brennan and Ashley Cobb, who both received copies of the CRC Handbook of Chemistry
and Physics. We are proud to say that both Ryan and Ashley have declared
majors in Biochemistry – congratulations to you both!
To more publicly and permanently acknowledge and celebrate the achievements
of our students, the department installed a display case on the third floor,
east wing wall of the Donald P. Shiley Center for Science and Technology. Mounted
in the case are perpetual award plaques for each award containing the names
of all recipients (beginning in 1990). Stop by and see for yourself!
Training Future Faculty: Introducing the JUST Fellows Program
The USD Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Scripps Research Institute
(TSRI) received funding from the Fletcher Jones Foundation to implement a
unique and mutually beneficial science partnership. The Joint
USD-Scripps Training for Future Faculty Members (JUST) Program will provide
an opportunity for TSRI post-doctoral fellows to gain mentored teaching and
research experience with undergraduate students at USD. The program will
provide the USD students with exposure to the opportunities graduate school
holds as they plan their future careers in science.
The first JUST Fellow is Dr. Ola Ghoneim who is a synthetic medicinal chemist
doing her post-doctoral research with Dr. Edward Roberts at TSRI.At
USD, she is team-teaching organic chemistry this semester and will solo-teach
the second semester course in the spring. Her goals are to develop an
academic career with research projects in the field of targeted drug design. Her
general areas of interests are in neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders
with a special interest in autism spectrum disorder.
Professor Jim Bolender Receives Teaching Award
Each year, one faculty member in the College of Arts and Sciences has the distinct
honor of receiving the Davies Award for Teaching Excellence. The Davies Award
was established by Mrs. Darlene Davies in memory of her husband, Lowell Davies
and was presented to Dr. Bolender at the Honors Convocation in May 2007. The
Davies award recognizes teaching excellence through: 1) commitment to the
values of a liberal arts education; 2) a demanding intellectual presence
in the classroom; 3) accessibility to students; 4) impact on student lives
beyond the classroom experience; and 5) contributions to the growth of colleagues
as effective teachers. The award consists of an official Davies Chair
and $1,000 for professional development. Dr. Bolender is the fourth
member of the department to receive the Davies Award and joins his colleagues
Drs. Herrinton (1996), Malachowski (1999) and Dwyer (2000) in this honor. Congratulations!
Alumni Highlight: Tim Clark ’01 Begins Career in Academics
Timothy Clark came to USD from Vista, California located in the north county
inland area of San Diego. Tim graduated from USD in May 2001, married
his high school sweetheart Nicole Anthony in June 2001 and began graduate school
in organic chemistry at UC Irvine in September 2001! Tim and Nicole welcomed
their daughter Hannah Bryanne in August 2005. Tim earned his Ph.D. in
the laboratory of Professor Keith Woerpel at UCI, defended his dissertation
in March 2006 and promptly moved the family to Madison, Wisconsin where he
was a NIH post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Professor Charles Casey. Tim
is now Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Western Washington University in
Bellingham, Washington and he took some time to reflect on his time at USD
and the path to his academic career.
Tell us about your family.
We are a devoted Catholic family and spend much of our free time building Catholic
community and growing in our faith. Nicole is an RN who is very interested
in childbirth and has assisted several midwives in labor and birthing. Hannah
turned 2 years old in August and is a talkative bundle of joy.
How did your USD education prepare you for success in graduate school?
Between my courses at USD and the two summer research experiences at Agouron
Pharmaceuticals and the University of Michigan, I was very well prepared
for my years in graduate school. The courses at UCI were very challenging,
but I felt like the classes and research experiences at USD gave me a solid
foundation to excel in my graduate courses.
I also felt that I was given the necessary research experiences to do well
in research. While I had a great deal to learn about research techniques, I
had the basic skill set I needed to continue to learn new methods.
When/how did you decide to pursue a career in academia, specifically teaching
and research with undergraduates?
I decided that I wanted to teach at a predominantly undergraduate institution
while I was in my junior year at USD. Both the professors at USD, that really
got me excited about the field of chemistry, and the experience of tutoring
other USD students and local high school students inspired me to become a professor
myself. In graduate school I really enjoyed the research side of learning and
teaching chemistry and developing new ideas. I then decided that I wanted to
be at a school that emphasized both teaching and scholarship.
What classes do you teach at WWU?
At Western Washington University I will primarily teach the organic chemistry
series (lectures and labs). I also plan to teach advanced electives such
as organic reaction mechanisms and organometallic chemistry.
Can you describe your research program?
My research is focused on the applications of organometallic chemistry to organic
synthesis and new reaction development. I plan to use transition metal complexes
to catalyze organic reactions that are not possible through traditional organic
What stands out for you about your time as a student at USD that most
prepared you for your career at WWU?
During my time at USD, the consistently high expectations imposed by the faculty
to always work harder, delve into the material, and develop a deeper understanding
of chemistry was instrumental in preparing me for my career at Western Washington
University. The faculty expected me (and the other students) to work very hard,
but they were also highly invested in my success. The faculty’s interest
in my success was the key to my desire to become a professor at a predominantly
undergraduate institution so that I could provide a similar experience to undergraduate
students. In my limited experience as a professor, I have found that those
qualities that I found so vital to my education have guided my approach to
the students I am teaching. I have very high expectations for my students and
I truly expect all my students to achieve their goals.
What advice would you give to current USD students considering graduate
school and a similar career path?
The best advice I can give USD students is to be prepared to work hard. This
may sound ominous, but I think it is just realistic. Sure you can “get
by” doing relatively little at USD, or even in graduate school, but
the less you excel, the more you will be limited in your choices down the road.
If you stay focused and do well at USD, you will have better luck getting into
a graduate school that will be well suited for you. By finding a graduate program
that is well suited for you, you will be more likely to excel in the program
and more readily find a job that you are interested in taking. I want to point
out that working hard does not preclude enjoying your life. I highly recommend
balancing school with leisure activities. My time at USD and at UC Irvine was
among the most enjoyable years of my life.
What do you most value about your USD training?
What I value most about my USD training is the emphasis on a fundamental understanding
of chemistry. In particular, I value the approach that my instructors took
to understand organic chemistry from a physical perspective. From the organic
chemistry series to the advanced electives, I feel that I was given a solid
foundation to understand organic chemistry and to apply that understanding
to my future studies.
Clark and his research group at Western Washington University.
Faculty Research Highlights
De Haan Research Update
Dr. De Haan's group continues to unravel the chemistry of smog haze. In
December 2006 he traveled with two of his group members, Ashley Corrigan and
Sean Hanley, to San Francisco where all three presented posters at the Fall
Meeting of the American Geophysical Union. They discovered that glyoxal,
a common aldehyde in the air in Southern California, can form haze particles;
even at very low humidity through a reaction with amine compounds. Yes,
they’re in the air in Southern California, too. The 2007 members
of his undergraduate research group – Ashley, Dan Stroik, Frances Lee,
Amanda Conley, Joanne Phan, and Jake Turley - are attempting to identify the
deeply colored products of these reactions and are developing a sensitive glyoxal
detection scheme. They will use the scheme to try to find out why the
Henry's Law (gas/solution) equilibrium constant of glyoxal isn’t
at all constant under atmospheric conditions.
Dwyer Research Update
Our project on structural studies of DNA duplexes containing non-hydrogen
bonding isosteres in collaboration with Dr. Tahmassebi has really taken off
in the last year. I have had one research student, Danielle Pfaff, working
for over a year on the project and she has made tremendous contributions. Danielle
beautifully designed molecular dynamics protocols using NMR derived distance
constraints to model the structures of two DNA duplexes. One duplex
is has 10 base pairs with a GT wobble pair in the center and the other is identical
except for it has a guanine-difluorotoluene non-natural pair in the GT position. We
have completed the structural analyses of these biomolecules and we are currently
writing a manuscript on which three undergraduates and one alumna (Kristy Clarke,
Chemistry ’02) have contributed. The comparison of these structures
has yielded some very interesting results that suggest an important role for
backbone flexibility and conformation in the recognition and repair of mismatch
sites in DNA. We have more promising data to analyze on some one-of-a-kind
DNA duplexes that will come together as I enjoy a yearlong sabbatical. I
am spending most of my time at the Scripps Research Institute in the laboratory
of Dr. David Case who generously me an office and gives Danielle and me access
to his tremendous computational facilities. Another goal in the coming
year is to assist Danielle in finding the right graduate program and to wish
her well on graduation. We’ll miss you!
Danielle Pfaff explains her work to Dean Healy
at Creative Collaborations
Iovine Research Update
Since the last edition of the Spin newsletter the Iovine research group has
been very busy. In terms of research funding, the San Diego Foundation
recently awarded our group a one-year grant totaling $47,000 to investigate
the chemical modification of renewable resource, lignin, with the long term
goal being the development of eco-friendly plastics. The Iovine research
group has dabbled in polymer chemistry for some time now but this award solidifies
our commitment to move in that direction. The funds from this award
were used to purchase a state-of-the-art gel permeation chromatography system
that is designed to measure polymer molecular weights. This instrument
greatly expands our research capability but it will also impact the capabilities
in the upper division laboratory classes. It seems likely that the
next generation of upper-division students will be doing experimental polymer
In addition to our eco-friendly plastics project, we continue to investigate
fundamental organoboron chemistry especially in the area of dendrimers. We
have a longstanding collaboration with our theoretical friends in the Kua group
and several new external collaborations have recently germinated.
Former Iovine lab members Sasha Neuwelt, Erik Raaum, and Jason Loera graduated
in the spring of 2007. Sasha was the recipient of the prestigious Fulbright
Scholarship and will spend one year studying in Poland. Sasha leaves
the Iovine group with a fantastic record of research and publication. Erik
Raaum, a fantastic experimentalist, also graduated in the spring 2007. Erik
is known for his intuitive approach to experimental organic chemistry and these
skills were recognized by a local start-up. Erik accepted a position
at San Diego-based Actimis Pharmaceuticals and is greatly enjoying his work
there. Jay Loera, a co-author on an Iovine research article studying
chemotherapeutic agents, traveled for a year and plans to attend medical school
in 2008. As always, I am interested to hear from former students and
research group members.
Kua Research Update
The Kua research group is continuing to progress in several areas of self-assembly.
Keaton Tomlin ('08) is running simulations to watch antimony trichloride
and dioxane self-assemble. Charles Gyselbrecht ('09) has finished electronic
structure calculations on boroxine heterotrimers and is working on parameterizing
a reactive force field to simulate the assembly of boronic acid molecules
into covalent organic frameworks. (Charles' first paper on boroxine kinetics
was published this past summer.); Both Keaton and Charles presented
posters at the MSC Conference at Caltech this past Spring. Dan
Stroik ('08) is running quantum calculations to study the oligomerization
of methylglyoxal. He is also working on related experiments in David De Haan's
research group. Dan is continuing a project started by Sean Hanley ('08)
on the oligomerization of the smaller glyoxal molecule (manuscript recently
submitted to the Journal of Physical Chemistry and under review). Our newest
member is Sara Hansen ('08) who has just started calculations to explore
the chemistry of a boronate ester framework.
Malachowski Research Update
As synthetic organic chemists, we love to make new compounds. As such,
we shifted our work from modeling biological systems into synthesizing new
compounds that can serve as building blocks for coordination solids. Our
group has made some nice progress in the synthesis of dipyrromethenes’ that
complex to metal ions like copper. In the lab, Chelsea Davis and Randy
Yale, have returned to “holding it down” while Alex Dru and Stephanie
Kishbaugh are “ramping it up”! Everyone is working hard at
mastering the challenges of crystallization. This year, we have published, “Synthesis,
Structure, Redox Properties and Azide Binding for a Series of Biphenyl-Based
Cu (II) Complexes,” in the Journal of the Chemical Society, Dalton Transactions;
from work of former USD students Ryan White, Zachary Thawley, and Angie Thayer.
This year, I have also published two papers in this area, conducted workshops
and talks expounding these ideas.
Mills Research Update
The Mills research group is making initial steps toward understanding how metals
are inserted into proteins. Over the summer, Laura Murphy (’08) spent
her time developing conditions to express a copper amine oxidase from Saccharomyces
cerevisiae (Baker’s yeast). By the end of the summer she made
some initial attempts to purify this protein. She will continue to tweak
this system this fall and hopes to begin evaluating the protein in the spring.
She has been joined by Kaitlyn Dang (’10) this semester. Joey Schneider
(’09) spent the summer working with a local biotech company to develop
an instrument that will help him understand the metal binding properties
of the Ferric Uptake Regulator (Fur) from Pseudomonas aeruginosa (a
bacterium). He is joined by Julie Becherer ('09) in this project. Julie
will be developing an expression system for the Fur protein from a different
bacterium, Lactobacillus plantarum.
Tahmassebi Research Update
Work in the Tahmassebi lab has recently been focused on two major projects,
both involving non-natural nucleosides synthesized in our lab. In one
project, which is collaborative with Dr. Tammy Dwyer, Danielle Pfaff (a senior)
continues to study the structure of DNA duplexes containing non-natural nucleosides
using 2D-NMR and computational methods. On another project, Will Porterfield
(junior) with help from April Stanley (freshman) has almost completed the synthesis
of a fluorescent dideoxynucleoside in order to study the motion of the DNA
Polymerase enzyme complexed with a DNA primer: template as it binds incoming
nucleotides. On another aspect of the same project, Calvin Schneider
(junior) and Chad Amador (junior; not pictured) are working to correlate the
distance dependence of the quenching of a fluorescent nucleoside by a quencher
molecule for use in DNA Polymerase studies.
Calvin Schneider, April Stanley and Will Porterfield
New External Grants Obtained by Chemistry and Biochemistry Faculty
David De Haan/
Scott Anders (Law)
San Diego Foundation Blasker Grant
Determining Solution Pathways to Reduce Greenhouse Gas
Emissions in the San Diego Region
San Diego Foundation Blasker Grant
Biocompatible Green Materials from Renewable Agricultural
American Chemical Society – Petroleum Research
Boron-containing Covalent Organic Frameworks: Simulating
Dynamics of Self-Assembly
National Institutes of Health
Hunter-Killer Peptides and Their Membrane Interactions
Fluorescence Studies of Polymerase-DNA Complexes
Faculty and Student Co-Authored Research Publications in 2007 (students designated by *):