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b2ap3_thumbnail_Monogram Small.jpgThe Waynesburg University American Chemical Society chapter (ACS) was instrumental in planning undergraduate programming at the recent ACS Central Eastern Regional Meeting (CERM) held Wednesday, Oct. 29, through Saturday, Nov. 1, at the Doubletree Hotel in Greentree, Pa.

“Planning all of the undergraduate programming for CERM 2014 was a great opportunity for our ACS chapter,” said Evonne Baldauff, chairperson for the chemistry and forensic science department and associate professor of chemistry at Waynesburg University. “Our students were instrumental in designing, organizing and implementing all of the undergraduate events during this meeting.”  

Prior to the event, the ACS chapter wrote a grant and was awarded $2,800 from the ACS undergraduate office. The monetary award was used to plan and fund the meeting.

Five sessions were offered for students during Friday’s event including an undergraduate research poster session, a networking and resume luncheon, a workshop on how to be a successful student chapter, a keynote speaker and a social event for the students. 

“This proved to be a significant amount of work, yet the results were worth the effort,” Baldauff said. “The activities were successful and well-attended by undergraduates from a wide representation of colleges and universities in the region.  We are very pleased with the overall experience.”

Waynesburg University students involved in planning CERM 2014: 

•Andrew Heinle, a senior forensic science major from Brackenridge (Highlands High School)

•Cassie Gates, a junior chemistry major from Penn Hills (Penn Hills Senior High School)

•Chrissy Kaste, a senior forensic science major from Waynesburg (Phoenixville Area High School)

•Corey Rugh, a senior biology major from Smithfield (Albert Gallatin Area Senior High School)

•Dylan Matt, a junior forensic science major from Springfield, Ohio (Home schooled)

•Grant Strouse, a junior chemistry major from Millersburg, Ohio (West Holmes High School)

•Mackenzie Hammer, a junior chemistry major from McKees Rocks (Montour High School)

•Marlana Pratt, a junior biology major from Mapleville, R.I. (Burrillville High School)

•Nicolas Frazee, a senior mathematics major from New Kensington (Saint Joseph High School)

•Tara Faggioli, a senior chemistry major from Jefferson Hills (Thomas Jefferson High School)

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Ashley Wise, Senior Writer/Editor

724.852.7675 or awise@waynesburg.edu

 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Monogram Small.jpgWaynesburg University’s American Chemical Society (ACS) student chapter was recently selected to receive the “Outstanding Chapter Award” from the American Chemical Society for the fifth consecutive year. The award is a result of the chapter’s activities conducted during the 2012-13 academic year. 

More than 400 student chapter annual activity reports were reviewed by the Society Committee on Education (SOCED). As a result of the reports, 280 awards were given, including 44 “Outstanding,” 85 “Commendable,” and 151 “Honorable Mention” awards. Waynesburg University was one of only 44 chapters selected to receive the “Outstanding Award.”

Under the direction of Dr. Robert LaCount, professor emeritus of chemistry at Waynesburg University, and Dr. Evonne Baldauff, assistant professor of chemistry and chair of the Department of Chemistry at Waynesburg University, the ACS student chapter was highly involved in campus and community outreach activities throughout the year such as monthly labs for homeschooled students, a Haunted Lab open to the campus and local community and the Food Chemistry and Green Chemistry programs offered to local Girl Scout members, among many others. 

Student chapter members also provide service to the department, work to foster community within the group through social events offered throughout the academic year, and participate in National Chemistry Week including volunteering at ChemFest at the Carnegie Science Center and hosting the Periodic Table of Cupcakes on campus. 

The congratulatory letter from ACS President Tom Barton read as follows: “Professors Evonne Baldauff and Robert LaCount, faculty advisors of the chapter, deserve special commendation. Few faculty members are willing to make the great commitment of time and energy that a successful chapter requires. Professor Baldauff and Professor LaCount’s efforts certainly represent the best in undergraduate science education and mentoring around the country. We extend our warmest congratulations to the students and Professors Baldauff and LaCount for setting such a fine example for other chapters and being exemplary chemistry ambassadors!”

For more information, contact Baldauff at 724-852-3617.

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Ashley Wise, Senior Writer/Editor

724.852.7675 or awise@waynesburg.edu

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Posted by on in News

The Department of Chemistry and Forensic Science at Waynesburg University will hold its annual Science Day Thursday, Dec. 4. Organized in conjunction with the Office of Admissions and the American Chemical Society, local high school students and University applicants have the opportunity to spend the day as a science student.

Intended to excite high school students about science, participants will enjoy hands-on activities and lectures by students and faculty as well as demonstrations. A question-and-answer session will be offered to provide prospective students with the opportunity to ask undergraduates about the college experience.

Special presentations in chemistry, biology and forensic science will occur in addition to a tour of the marine biology lab, all hosted by professors and students.

Dr. Evonne Baldauff, chair of the Department of Chemistry and Forensic Science and associate professor of chemistry, believes high school students will benefit from attending Science Day.

“Science Day is important because it gives high school students the opportunity to see firsthand what it is like to study science at a college level,” said Baldauff. “While on campus, students will interact with faculty and current undergraduates and experience the exciting programs we have in the sciences at Waynesburg University.”

For more information, contact Baldauff at ebaldauf@waynesburg.edu or 724-852-3617.

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Ashley Wise, Senior Writer/Editor
724.852.7675 or awise@waynesburg.edu

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Posted by on in Alumni

Chemistry

R&D Scientist at Celanese Cellulose Derivatives

Blacksburg, Virginia

Additional Info:

  • Head General Chemistry Graduate Teaching Assistant at Virginia Tech
  • Bachelor of Science, Waynesburg University, 2011
  • Master of Science, Virginia Tech, 2013

“My time at Waynesburg University prepared me to tackle graduate studies and a professional life in many ways. Small class sizes and outstanding chemistry professors made the transition to life as a graduate student a little easier. Furthermore, WU provided me with ample opportunities to connect with professionals in the chemistry field. I am very fortunate that the chemistry department promoted opportunities that allowed students to travel to conferences and attend professional meetings in the city of Pittsburgh, an opportunity that I discovered not many universities encourage. WU and the opportunities afforded to me played a crucial role in helping me get to where I am today and will guide me to future successes.”

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Onifer_Tiffany_4.jpgTiffany Onifer, a senior chemistry major at Waynesburg University, had no idea that a brief, chance meeting in March 2013 at PITTCON, the world’s largest annual premier conference and exposition on laboratory science conference, would lead to an internship and eventually, graduate school at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. 

Not knowing who they were until after the conversation, Onifer met the retired chair of Vanderbilt's Chemistry Department and Centennial Professor David Hercules and his wife at the conference. They spoke casually about the day’s session and about Onifer’s ambitions of pursuing an M.D. /Ph.D. degree. 

When the evening ended, Onifer invited the couple to attend her poster session, “The characterization of prepared immobilized β-cyclodextrin beads and their binding affinity with enkephalin neuropeptides in microdialysis sampling,” later that week. 

Onifer presented her poster session with Dr. Heidi Fletcher, assistant professor of chemistry at Waynesburg University. She and Fletcher’s Waynesburg University research on β-cyclodextrin beads has gained regional and national attention. The duo has given numerous presentations across the nation about the beads and their binding affinity. Despite her experience presenting research, Onifer was still surprised that she garnered the attention of Mr. and Mrs. Hercules. 

“They came to my session! I gave them my resume and within a week I was contacted by the head of graduate admissions at Vanderbilt,” Onifer said. “Admissions asked that I compose a list of names of faculty that I was interested in conducting research under.”  

After consulting with Hercules, Onifer created a list of four people including Dr. John McLean, associate professor of chemistry at Vanderbilt. A few days later, she received an email stating that McLean saw her resume and wanted her aboard his team.  

Just two months later, in the summer of 2013, Onifer began conducting significant research for the Systems Biology, Biological Physics and Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate Research Experience (SyBBURE) program within the Vanderbilt Institute for Integrative Biosystems Research and Education (VIIBRE) as well as analytical chemistry research under the McLean Research Group.

"My relationship with Jesus holds utmost precedence in my life; I firmly believe that God ordered my steps that day at PITTCON when I met two wonderful people from Vanderbilt,” Onifer said. “At that time, I had several health problems and could have withdrawn from the semester at Waynesburg.  God had a greater plan in mind.  He made a way for me to come to Vanderbilt and since day one in Nashville, indescribable favor has saturated me and Proverbs 22:29 has come to pass."

Her research, entitled, “The Structural Characterization of Polyurethane Precursors: Methylenedianiline Trimer and Tetramers,” analyzed polyurethane precursors using matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization ion mobility mass spectrometry (MALDI-IM MS) at Vanderbilt University.

According to Onifer, the significance of the research lies in utilizing ion mobility to identify underlying conformational isomers that could be present in the trimer and tetramer methylenedianiline (MDA) sample.  MDA is a precursor to polyurethane - a versatile substance used in the creation of medical devices and consumer products.

“Each day that I interned was a blessing because I was mentored by one of the top researchers in the country,” Onifer said. “I am growing and being molded into a real researcher, one that can take the gift of knowledge and run with it.”

She collected, tested and presented upon the data collected at Vanderbilt and communicated with other interns about the research. She also presented at the Vanderbilt institution of chemical biology.

Onifer invested hundreds of hours into her research that summer, often working late into the evenings and arriving at the lab before the 39 other SyBBURE program interns. Each day, she recited the football legend Jerry Rice’s famous quote, “Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can't,” to focus herself. 

“The most challenging part was the amount of new material I had to learn to fully grasp the fine intricate details regarding my project,” Onifer said. 

Despite the challenges, Onifer eagerly dove into her research, refusing to quit, quite literally. She asked her internship supervisor, or principal investigator (PI), if she could stay an additional two weeks to extend the standard 10-week program. 

He obliged with an even better offer, asking Onifer if she would apply for graduate school at Vanderbilt and stay long-term. Onifer received her official acceptance into Vanderbilt’s Doctoral Chemistry Program last fall, but is still investigating her many graduate school options.  

Dr. John Williams, assistant professor of chemistry at Waynesburg University and Onifer’s academic adviser, is sure that Onifer will do well no matter where she ends up in life. 

“She is very energetic and enthusiastic about her studies,” Williams said. “She never shies away from challenges, and she genuinely learns from her mistakes. There is a wide-open future for her no matter what she wants to do.”  

Aside from the technical and scientific knowledge Onifer has gained from professors like Williams, she said that one of the greatest lessons learned at Waynesburg University is “upending the pyramid.” The concept challenges students to place others first in order to become a leader. 

“I found that at Vanderbilt, being a leader takes on many forms: being a friend, a role model, a hard worker, an honest researcher and a strong academic,” Onifer said. “But mostly, leadership is about putting others before oneself. Influential leaders at Waynesburg taught me how to integrate faith, serving and leading in a Godly way.”

 

 

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