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A scientist's journey to a career in technology

Nicole Lee Snoeberger '09 addressed summer research students in the sciences thanks to the Alumni in the Classroom program. During her lecture on May 31, "Leveraging Research in Chemistry into a Career in Technology Transfer," Snoeberger spoke about the process of technology transfer and how her research led to her career.

After graduating from Grinnell College, Snoeberger stayed on campus as a Mellon Post Bac in the lab of Professor of Chemistry Elaine Marzluff, then she entered graduate school at Yale University and earned a doctorate in chemistry. Snoeberger is currently working as a technology licensing associate in the MIT Technology Licensing Office.

During her visit, Snoeberger also met informally with students after her talk and had meetings with Marzluff's current research students (pictured) and several chemistry faculty. 

Summer Research in Chemistry is Underway

Chemistry summer research has begun! Thirty-five students are working with ten faculty mentors in the chemistry department on a variety of projects, such as conductivity of lithium electrolytes, dynamics and synthesis of biological molecules, biogeochemistry in aquatic systems, and the use of metal oxides as photocatalysts.

Safety training is a priority before lab work commences. One session involved all participating students practicing to use a fire extinguisher. 

Besides literature searches and bench work, chemistry's summer program also involves presentations from research groups and a culminating poster session. The department will host two social picnics throughout the summer as well. 

Research projects are funded by various sources, including Grinnell College's MAP program and Erickson fund, and grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation's Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation. 

Chemistry Alumnus in the Classroom

Nathaniel Rosi '99 lectured in the Department of Chemistry thanks to the Alumni in the Classroom program. Rosi's visit included two days with Professor of chemistry Martin Minelli's CHM-423 Advanced Inorganic Chemistry course, lunch with the CHM-423 students, dinner with chemistry faculty, a presentation during the weekly chemistry seminar, and a side trip to Pella and the Neil Smith Wildlife Preserve. During class, Rosi showed a crystal structure of one of his large clusters, which was best viewed with 3D glasses.

Nathaniel Rosi '99 in front of a large sundial and yellow tulips in Pella, IA.

Rosi is professor of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh, where his research focuses on developing methods for controlling the structure and function of nanoscale materials. His seminar talk was titled "Building Structural and Functional Heterogeneity into Mesoporous Metal-Organic Frameworks."

Chemistry Research Presented at National Meeting

Every spring, chemistry and biological chemistry students and faculty from Grinnell College present research discoveries at the American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting. This spring the meeting was in San Diego.

Eighteen students and six faculty participated in the poster session and many other events. For students, the meeting also provides an opportunity to network with alumni who have chosen careers in chemistry. 

Sparking Interest in STEM

Faculty from the Department of Chemistry presented demonstrations and information as part of the nearby Tama County Family STEM Festival 2016, held on April 3. This outreach event used interactive activities to introduce children and parents to careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Grinnell College's representatives engaged the public with several demonstrations. 
Erick Leggans ’05, assistant professor of chemistry, demonstrated the density of invisible gasses by pouring carbon dioxide into a container with lit candles. The candles need oxygen in our air to keep burning. If the carbon dioxide is lighter than oxygen in the air, the candles will stay lit, but if the carbon dioxide is heavier than oxygen, it will sink to the space around the candles and they will go out. Observers could see for themselves what happened.
Blown-up balloons and liquid nitrogen, which is extremely cold, were used by Cori Ortiz, assistant professor of chemistry, to show how volume is related to temperature. This relationship is known as Charles' Law, named after the scientist who came up with the formula in the late 1700s. 
In the activities led by Elaine Marzluff, professor of chemistry, color was used as an indicator to test the pH of liquids. Being able to see a change in color is also helpful for knowing when chemical reactions change the acidity of liquids. Red cabbage was used as the indicator to test different liquids such as water and juice. In one experiment, dry ice was added to tap water to observe a change in pH. 
The demonstrations chosen by the chemistry faculty for this festival were intended to be accessible concepts for young minds and to get them thinking about science in everyday experiences. 

Changing State, Federal Roles in U.S. Electric Power Sector

David Kathan ’78, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), will present “Changing State and Federal Roles in the U.S. Electric Power Sector” a noon Friday, March 11, in Robert N. Noyce ’49 Science Center, Room 2024. David Kathan holds a doctorate in public policy and management from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He is an economist in the Office of Energy Policy and Innovation at FERC.

Recent developments in environmental and energy sustainability policy, along with the creation of a modern grid, are changing the relative roles and jurisdictional responsibilities of states and the federal government.

Kathan will provide examples of shifts in state and federal governance of these issues. He will focus on several recent Supreme Court cases and decisions that have the potential of further blurring the lines between state and federal jurisdiction, such as the recent FERC v. EPSA demand response decision. Kathan will discuss the implications of these blurred lines and shared responsibility for future environmental and energy policy.

Kathan joined FERC in 2002 after more than 20 years in energy consulting. At FERC, he works on market design issues, including demand response, smart grid, scarcity pricing, and resource adequacy.

Kathan has been the project lead for the commission’s annual demand response reports required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and was the FERC staff lead on the National Action Plan on Demand Response. During 2013, he was on temporary assignment to the White House Council on Environmental Quality, where he focused on federal agency demand management issues, and was responsible for the issuance of a Presidential Memorandum on federal agency energy management in December 2013.

Prior to joining FERC, Kathan was a principal at ICF Consulting, where he consulted on economic, environmental, and quantitative issues related to the electric power industry, with a focus on demand response and electric system modeling.  He has also held posts at National Economic Research Associates, Synergic Resources Corporation, and the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment.

The Department of Chemistry is hosting the free, public event.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities.  You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

Danforth Chemistry Seminar

Dale BogerDr. Dale L. Boger, Department of Chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute will present a free, public talk, “Discovery of a New Therapeutic Target in an Academic Setting” at noon Thursday, Nov. 12, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.

In this general talk, he will discuss how a new therapeutic target for the treatment of pain was discovered in an academic setting by curiosity-driven research.

Professor Boger is internationally recognized for his work in organic synthesis, heterocyclic chemistry, natural products total synthesis and biological evaluation, synthetic methodology development, and medicinal chemistry, and has made seminal contributions to improving the glycopeptide antibiotics and the understanding of DNA-drug interactions of naturally occurring antitumor-antibiotics. 

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center Rooms 101 is looped to supports telecoils. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations.


So You Want to Become a Doctor?

Grinnell College is a perfect springboard for students who plan to become future physicians, veterinarians, and other health professionals.

Grinnell students receive expert guidance from faculty and staff and rigorous courses that help them enter the nation’s top medical and graduate school programs. Factor in Grinnell’s liberal arts focus and diverse research and learning experiences here and abroad — Grinnell students are well prepared to enter the competitive programs of their choice.

“Sometimes prospective students and their families think that there is some great advantage to going to a big university where there’s a medical school, but there’s really no demonstrated evidence that’s the case,” says Dack Professor of Chemistry Jim Swartz.

Ninety percent of Grinnell graduates who applied to M.D. and D.O. programs with a grade-point-average of 3.6 or higher are accepted into medical programs within five years of graduation, according to data from 2002-2014.

Queenster Nartey ’16 is a biological chemistry major. Last summer she helped with the development and design of the user interface for an app that will allow Type 2 diabetics to learn how certain changes to their diet or exercise could affect their blood glucose levels. She enjoyed studying in Denmark where she worked with doctors who introduced her to hands on exercises like suturing, inserting and IV, and other techniques. She has also enjoyed working with a professor on a Mentored Advanced Project about the effects of copper alloy surfaces in minimizing the growth of bacteria in hospital settings.

“I have truly fallen in love with research and hope to pursue it with a combined M.D./Ph.D. program after graduation,” she says.

Grinnell faculty and staff begin working with students as soon as they show an interest in a health profession to help them get the most out of their four years at Grinnell.

  • Students receive an introduction to the Health Professions Advisory Committee (HPAC), which assists students who are considering a health career and need an advanced degree.
  • Faculty help students plan which courses to take.
  • Students interact with the Center for Careers, Life, and Service, which offers preprofessional advising, job shadowing, internships, graduate school guides, dedicated computers that contain medical school requirements, and career preparation books.

A peer student network, Students on Health Oriented Tracks (SHOT) works with students and collaborates with the HPAC.

  • SHOT leaders strive to know the program entry requirements to medical, dental, and pharmacology schools. They explain to students how to get recommendations and how best to navigate the process.
  • SHOT regularly brings experts to campus such as veterinarians, midwifes, and others.

So You Want to Become a Doctor, Veterinarian, Physician Assistant or …

There’s an abundance of graduate programs in a variety of areas beyond just medical school. Selective programs look favorably upon students who take rigorous courses, study abroad, and have a liberal arts background, says Shannon Hinsa Leasure, associate professor of biology.

Medical schools and graduate level programs want well rounded students who engage in diverse learning experiences here and abroad, Hinsa Leasure says.

  • Students can apply to Off Campus Study programs to gain field experience and work with health professionals in Denmark, Costa Rica, and beyond.
  • Grinnell College students can participate in the Master of Public Health Cooperative Degree program while at Grinnell. The cost of the program completed while at Grinnell is covered under tuition. For the remaining year, students will pay tuition at the University of Iowa.
  • Students can become certified nursing assistants and work in local facilities in Grinnell to obtain the number of patient contact hours they need for some health graduate programs.
  • Research opportunities abound in campus laboratories.
  • Alumni generously offer their time to advise students about program requirements and provide them with real-world information.

“It’s important to be open-minded when thinking of health professions — students likely have not been exposed to all of the options available and it is important to find the right fit for each student,” says Hinsa Leasure. “The experiences you have in your classes here and doing research may change your mind about your future career. We try to prepare students for things that they do not anticipate upon arriving at Grinnell, but get interested in along the way.”

Artemis Gogos ’14 is pursuing an M.D/Ph.D. in a medical scientist training program at the University of Illinois-Chicago. She says laboratory experience at Grinnell solidified her plan to pursue a career in research, and participating in an off campus study program in Costa Rica convinced her also to pursue a medical degree.

Prospective students who are considering a career in the health professions should focus on getting a wide variety of experiences during their four years at Grinnell, Gogos says.

“Accept all opportunities that come your way. Every decision you make will shape your perspective in a new way, and you will start to see a multitude of possibilities in the field of health care,” she says.

Artemis Gogos ’14, Lincoln, Neb.
Queenster Nartey ’16, Chicago, Ill.