The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation announces the September 11 deadline for applications to the Senior Scientist Mentor Program.  The Foundation supports emeritus faculty who maintain active research programs with undergraduates in the chemical science.  The program provides an award of $20,000 over two years for undergraduate stipends and modest research support.  Additional details are given at the Foundation Web site:

You and the researchers in your department are invited to our 8th Annual BioResearch Product Faire  coming to:

Oregon State University, Women s Building Lobby

When:  Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Where: Women s Building Lobby

Time:            11:00 am   1:30 pm

Stop by the event to:

* Network with other Researchers

* View Product Demonstrations

* Connect with Industry Experts

* Discover New Research Tools

* Learn Troubleshooting Skills

* Hear About Laboratory Services

* Learn about Career Opportunities


Using the right tools for your research saves you time at the bench.


Visit the link below to find

* A list of exhibitors

* Save time by pre-registering on-line!

August 12, 2013


Scott Jaschik

NEW YORK — Why are some majors more popular than others with undergraduates? Is it the perception that they lead to good (well paying) jobs? Are certain fields naturally more attractive to new undergraduates? Will students respond to tuition incentives to pick (or bypass) some fields?

Maybe it’s much more simple: Undergraduates are significantly more likely to major in a field if they have an inspiring and caring faculty member in their introduction to the field. And they are equally likely to write off a field based on a single negative experience with a professor.

Those are the findings of a paper presented here during a session at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association by Christopher G. Takacs, a graduate student in sociology at the University of Chicago, and Daniel F. Chambliss, a professor of sociology at Hamilton College. The paper is one part of How College Works, their forthcoming book from Harvard University Press.

In their study, they tracked the educational choices of about 100 students at a college that isn’t named but that sounds like Hamilton College. Students were interviewed about their original educational plans and why they either followed through on those plans or changed them, and they were tracked over their college careers and after graduation as well.

What they found challenges the views of many experts that choice of major is “fixed” by such factors as a desire for a lucrative career. And their findings also suggest that those policy makers who want to attract more students to science and technology fields need to focus on teaching quality in those fields, not just financial benefits.

Overwhelmingly, the authors write, students’ “taste formation” in choice of major is due to faculty members, although the influence can go either way. “Faculty determine students’ taste for academic fields by acting as gatekeepers, either by welcoming them into an area of knowledge, encouraging and inspiring them to explore it, or by raising the costs of entry so high so as to effectively prohibit continuing in it,” Takacs and Chambliss write. “Faculty can positively or negatively influence student taste for a field — some compelling teachers can get students engaged in fields that they previously disliked, while other, more uncharismatic faculty can alienate students from entire bodies of knowledge, sometimes permanently.”

The research found the role of the first faculty member is strong whether the student has an intended major or doesn’t. And the interviews — up to four years after graduation — found that students remembered the professors who inspired them and those who annoyed them, and attributed their decisions on majors to those faculty members.

In interviews here, both authors said that there are clear implications for colleges and departments that want to encourage students to major (or at least consider majoring) in certain fields. And the change may be more important in departments where senior faculty members may not want to teach freshmen.

“It’s important for department chairs and deans to recognize who their more skilled teachers are, and the teachers they can use to draw students into certain majors,” Takacs said. College leaders need to go to departments and say “why don’t you get so-and-so to teach this introductory course.”

There is real danger in failing to do so, he added. Many of the students indicated that they made judgments not just on the professor or his or her discipline, but entire branches of disciplines — with a bad course in any science field, for example, leading students to write off all science. The authors, based on their interviews, talk about the phenomenon of “majoring in a professor.”

Chambliss said that there may be some fields that so many freshmen want to study that a single bad experience may not be decisive. But for lesser-known fields, or subjects thought to be challenging, enrollments are going to fall.

“English and history can probably survive a bad course, but geology can’t,” Chambliss said. Nor can subjects with sequential curriculum, where students must move from course to course in a pattern and can’t skip over a course taught by someone with a bad teaching reputation. This is the case in many science fields.

“Once they leave, they don’t come back,” he said. “It’s important to do better in your intro course than in your capstone courses.”

Of course, as others here pointed out in questions to the authors during their presentation, many departments let their senior scholars focus on the senior seminars or graduate courses. And one sociologist here, while agreeing that the authors were correct, said she wondered about the “backlash” a chair or dean would get upon telling a senior faculty member who was a skilled teacher that his or her reward was going to be teaching the intro course.

But Chambliss said that this is in fact what they should do. He noted that departments spend a lot of time talking about how to make their overall curriculum more inviting, but that a “very small intervention” and one that doesn’t necessarily cost any money can be more transformative. At a large university, making sure the right person is teaching the intro course can affect the experience and future choices of 500 or more students each semester, he said. “If you put someone who is not as good, you have damaged a lot of students.” (Chambliss practices what he preaches. A senior member of Hamilton’s sociology department, he is also one of those who teaches the 101 course there.)

Chambliss and Takacs acknowledged that the impact of the first instructor may be different at some large universities, where students apply and enroll in divisions of a university focused on, for example, business or engineering or liberal arts. But they said that they suspect that within those divisions, one would find the same impact.

One of the arguments offered by proponents of massive open online courses is that they can expose students around the world to “the best professor” in a given field.

Chambliss is quick to say that this research does not back the idea that MOOCs will attract students to various fields. “Charisma alone is not the answer,” he said, noting that while part of the students’ judgments of their professors in the new study was based on the quality of lectures and presentations, far more was about the extent to which professors were engaged with students, took steps to get to know their students, were personally accessible, and so forth.

“This is about the caliber of the people you meet in the classroom,” he said.

Read more:

Inside Higher Ed
Sastry G. Pantula

Congratulations David and team!!

The Physical Chemistry Symposium at the ACS NORM ’13 was successfully held in the Trysting Tree Room at CH2M Hill on July 22nd, 2013. The morning session of “Novel Spectroscopic Tools” featured an array of technological-advance-oriented talks from renowned spectroscopists such as Richard Mathies from UC Berkeley and Nien-Hui Ge from UC Irvine. Postdocs and senior graduate students from OSU Chemistry and other prestigious institutions in the Pacific Northwest and neighboring California, e.g., UO, UW, PSU, and Stanford/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have given presentations covering the broad electromagnetic spectrum from infrared, visible, ultraviolet, all the way to the X-ray regime. The afternoon session of “Novel Molecular Insights” featured a variety of presentations on using spectroscopic tools, aided by advanced computations, to reveal the fascinating molecular world. The recurring theme was functional materials with an inquiry-based mechanism-driven physical chemistry approach. Being the symposium organizer, I am glad that the three keynote speakers (Profs. Richard Mathies, Nien-Hui Ge, and Philip Reid of UW) as well as the other 12 speakers delivered stimulating talks to engage a large audience using the ACS NORM and OSU platform, to appreciate the beauty and impact of modern P-Chem education and research in the Pacific Northwest and far beyond.


The following picture was a snapshot of the Q&A session after one of the talks in the P-Chem symposium. Prof. Richard Mathies was asking a question. The audience was actively participating in the discussion.


Santa Clara University, a highly ranked Jesuit Catholic institution with an ACS-approved undergraduate program and located in the Silicon Valley, is seeking a tenure-track assistant professor in physical chemistry commencing Fall 2014 (pending availability of funding). The successful candidate is expected to establish an externally funded and productive undergraduate research program in experimental physical chemistry, contribute to departmental research and teaching objectives, and demonstrate the ability to teach physical chemistry and general chemistry effectively. A Ph.D. and postdoctoral experience in physical chemistry or a closely allied field are required for this position. For additional information, complete job description, and instructions for submission of materials electronically, visit Completed applications must be received by October 11, 2013. Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA, has a housing assistance program and is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer.

Letter to Colleagues

Wei Luo, Xingeng Wang, Colin Meyers, Nick Wannenmacher, Weekit Sirisaksoontorn, Mike Lerner and David Ji recently published an article in Scientific Reports entitled Efficient Fabrication of Nanoporous Si and Si/Ge Enabled by a Heat Scavenger in Magnesiothermic Reactions.  Congratulations everyone and keep up the good work!!

Find attached another batch of funding opportunities posted this last month –

  • there are several updates / reminders on various NSF programs;
  • four new opportunities via NIEHS (NIH);
  • three USDA NIFA opportunities (with short turn-around times; all due end of August!),

o   Department of Defense Child Care Curriculum Development (DoD CCC),

o   National Needs Graduate Fellowship Grant, and

o   Higher Education Multicultural Scholars Program (MSP);

  • the Early Careen Research Program through the DOE; and
  • a few more misc. opportunities (USFWS, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, even NIST).

Please share with your faculty and have them contact me as needed.  As a reminder, all opportunities are posted to the  searchable webpage at and posted daily on our Facebook page which you can “like” at