dang-nguyen            Dang Nguyen has been named one of our Spring 2016 Undergraduates of the Quarter and we couldn’t be happier for him.  Dang was born in Colorado, but his parents moved to Portland when he was three-years-old, so he considers himself an Oregonian.  He attended Clackamas High School where he was first exposed to Chemistry by his OSU Alumni Chemistry Teacher, Mr. Sytsma.

Being one of the best engineering schools in the country and fairly close to home, OSU quickly became the clear choice for him however, during his freshman year, everything changed.  Dang commented on one of the turning points in his life, speaking about Dr. Richard Nafshun, who was his General Chemistry at the time.  “He has a teaching style that made me want to learn more about chemistry.  The more chemistry I took, the more I enjoyed it; so, I switched.”

Dang has been doing undergraduate research with Maduka Ogba in Professor Paul Cheong’s lab for almost two years.  He said they were working on non-classical hydrogen bonding research using computational chemistry, something he found very interesting.  At the end of the academic year, they were working on a manuscript that Dang is hoping will reach publication.

He was unable to list just one favorite instructor, but was pretty adamant that his favorite class was experimental chemistry.  “Experimental chemistry is more of an application and hands-on experience. I like this class because it’s a bridge between the two core concepts that one needs to fully understand a subject; theory and implementation.”

During his spare time, Dang is the president of the Chemistry Club.  He also is an undergraduate TA for the general chemistry 12x and 23x sections and worked in the mole hole tutoring students.  Upon graduation, he will be attending graduate school here at OSU, in the College of Education in the hopes of getting his Masters.  He plans on teaching high school chemistry and math in the future; saying his teaching style is to use a lot of demos and applications.  He feels like high school is the best place to do that.

Congratulations to Dang for being named a Spring 2016 Undergraduate of the Quarter.  We’re proud to add you to this growing list of great students!

Name: Paul Ha-Yeon Cheong

Area of study / position title: Computational Chemistry / Vicki and Patrick F. Stone Scholar Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Why chemistry? (What about it initially interested you, etc.): Because our discoveries change lives. Our materials send you to the moon and back, and one day they will send you to the stars. We conquer disease and master biology through chemistry. One day you will return to health again because of what we have labored so long and hard to achieve. From polio to cancer to all the diseases we acquire during our lifetime spent on this planet and this ecosystem, we are the ones who ultimately protect our loved ones. We are humanity’s answer and hope to the energy challenge, global warming, and preserving this green earth for posterity. And also because my mentors and teachers have shown me that we can achieve all that without losing our humanity but by cherishing it, nurturing it. One may very well ask why chemistry, but for me the question has always been why not chemistry?

Research focus (in non-science terms) or basic job duties?: I have two key aspects of my job. I see my primary job function as a friend, mentor and teacher to our research group and those around me. My goal is for their time in our research group and in my company to be transformative and wholesome: discovering who they really are, becoming professionally successful, and coming into one’s own. The second aspect is all my official responsibilities, which happens to magically complement the first aspect: publishing papers, teaching courses, mentoring students, writing grants, etc.

One thing that you truly love about your job?: I love that I get to make a positive impact in this world, one individual at a time. Plus, I get to work with (and occasionally mentor and train) some of the most amazing minds and wonderful individuals on the face of the planet today.

One interesting/strange factoid about yourself: I got my name “Paul” from a middle school foreign language teacher. He was handing back exams and when he got to mine, he couldn’t pronounce “Ha-Yeon”. After a couple of moments of what appeared like a gagging reflex trying to pronounce my name in his native tongue, he proclaimed that I was to be dubbed “Paul” from then on. True story. Love the name.

Undergraduate of the Quarter - Winter 2014
Undergraduate of the Quarter – Winter 2014

Corinne Brucks has been selected as one of our Undergrads of the Quarter for Winter 2014. Corinne grew up in Beaverton area.  She became interested in Chemistry at a young age (6-7th grade).  One of the advantages she notes from being homeschooled was that she was able to devote considerable time to her interests in Chemistry. She wrote long reports on chemistry topics and read multiple books on the subject from her local library – including a book series on each element and “The Periodic Kingdom” which she particularly enjoyed.  She initially enrolled at Cottey College in Nevada, Missouri where she got an Associate Degree in Science. It was a professor at Cottey (Dr. Ganga Fernando) who was a key mentor that got the ball rolling for Corinne, providing her first research opportunity and encouraging her to apply to summer undergraduate research internships. Corinne is particularly grateful to Dr. Fernando for her help. Corinne always planned to return to OSU to complete her BS degree because of the strong reputation for its science program, and she loves OSU and Corvallis.  Her favorite classes so far at OSU have been Inorganic Chemistry (CH 411 & CH 412) and Dr. Ji has been her favorite Chemistry instructor.  She has had multiple research opportunities at OSU.  Her minor in computer science was inspired by a summer internship through our NSF Center for Sustainable Materials Chemistry (led by OSU Chemistry Professor Doug Keszler) in Professor Paul Cheong’s lab.  Last summer, she completed another CSMC internship down at the University of Oregon in Professor Mark Lonergan’s lab. She is currently working on an Undergraduate Research, Innovation, Scholarship and Creativity (URISC) supported project with Professor Sean Burrows on applying MATLAB to create algorithms for making the best biosensors. After graduation, she wants to go to graduate school in Chemistry. Her dream job would be to be a professor where she can teach and do research. She comments that she “enjoys explaining concepts to people”.  While not studying chemistry, Corinne likes to do ballroom dancing on campus.  Corinne is another wonderful example of the high caliber students that we attract to OSU Chemistry, and we are so proud of her successes.

Update: Corrine was also the recipient of the 1st ever Keith McKennon Memorial Scholarship.  The Chemistry Department is grateful for the support of alumni and friends who established this Scholarship. Corinne, will do a wonderful job of honoring this long-time friend of the Department through her contributions to the state, nation, and world.