Recently, Department Chair, Rich Carter sat down with Chemistry Undergraduate, Nate Coddington to discuss what brought him to OSU, why Chemistry, and how he feels about being named one of the Fall 2016 Undergraduates of the Quarter.

Nate grew up in Eugene, Oregon, where he attended Willamette High School in the Bethel school district. Nate participated in Willamette’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program.  Nate reported that the difference between AP and IB is breadth vs depth. AP teaches the surface of many topics, while IB intensively teaches a few select topics.  Nate spent his sophomore through senior years in high school participating in their honors and IB chemistry courses.

Nate chose OSU because he did not want to go to an out-of-state school, and because his brother was already here, studying Nuclear Engineering.  He moved to Corvallis to live with his brother while he was transitioning into college life – commenting “it was great having someone who understood his sense of humor while relating to the struggles of college life.”  While Nate admits he started as a BB major to support his goal of ultimately becoming a dentist, upon entering the program it quickly became apparent to him that Chemistry was the better choice for his interests and his career path.  So, he re-declared, with the premed option, and never looked back.

Nate told us that his favorite class was, hands down, Organic Chemistry.  “It was just so full of great professors,” he said.  But the teacher that resonates the most for him was Dr. Vince Remcho.  “Dr. Remcho taught my Honors Gen Chem class,” Nate said.  “He was always so happy when teaching.”

Currently, Nate is doing research in Dr. Sandra Loesgen’s lab.  Her research group focuses on natural products, specifically bio-active compounds like penicillin.  Nate’s research is a spin-off of Dr. Loesgen’s PhD thesis on epigenetic modifications.  He’s hoping his research will result in unlocking new genes to produce previously unseen compounds.  He’s hoping to be able to obtain some usable results very soon so he can start writing his honors thesis on this topic.

Nate still plans to enroll in dental school after graduation.  His mother is a hygienist and he says he loves working with and helping people.  Dentistry, he says, has always just clicked with him.  “It’s so revered in our culture and I’ve always just thought, ‘I want to be this.’”  He would like to do some job shadowing before graduation but says it is been difficult finding a slot due to doctor/patient confidentiality.  He is not giving up yet though.

In his spare time, Nate is the President of the OSU Chapter of the National Society for Collegiate Scholars (NSCS), a community service and professional development based society that is currently working toward being recognized as an Honor Society.

Students like Nate are part of what makes our Department so great.  We could not be more proud of him and wish him nothing but success in his future endeavors!

Name: Sandra Loesgen

Area of Study / Position Title: Assistant Professor in Chemistry

Why chemistry? (What about it initially interested you?): My high school teachers in chemistry and biology really loved their jobs and taught science with enthusiasm. In 7th grade, our class won a science fair working on allergy inducing proteins and peptides and since then, I am excited to work in a lab and look at health related chemistry!

Research focus (in non-science terms) or basic job duties? Drug Discovery. We focus on identifying new biologically active substances from rare bacteria and fungi. Most people have taken penicillin to fight a bacterial infection at least once in their life, but only few people know that this is a fungal metabolite and still one of the most used antibacterial drugs we have nowadays. Our research is focused on finding new potential drugs and to test them against pathogenic bacteria, cancer, and viruses and we are particularly interested in their chemical structures and mode of action.

One thing you truly love about your job? I love working with students and explore chemical structures provided by nature. There is noting better than collecting a sample, isolate microbes, and explore their chemistry and medicinal potential.

One interesting/strange factoid about yourself. I can eat Nutella with a spoon.

Who is your PI? – Sandra Loesgen

How did you learn about the position? – I emailed everyone I could, basically. I emailed Dr. Christopher Beaudry for a position at first, then he referred me to Dr. Sandra Loesgen & I emailed her as soon as I could & began setting up appointments. Once I learned what her research was about, I decided I wanted in immediately.

Why did you get into Undergraduate Research? – I got into UG research for a few reasons; one of them was that I want to gain experience now & have some understanding of what a potential future career may be like for me in the field of Chemistry. Another was so I could go to Grad School; research is mandatory in that regard, so I decided to get into it now. The last is that I want to surround myself with like-minded people & to me, a great way to do that is by research.

What advice might you have for other Undergraduate students thinking of pursuing research or just getting started? – Students getting into research should expect to be smothered with knowledge that they aren’t familiar with. Already being in Dr. Loesgen’s research team, there is plenty that I’ve encountered that I’m not familiar with & that I need to do some reading up on. You’ll have to do some reporting also, but that’s a 6-week sort of thing so it’s not that big of a deal. On top of that, you will be around equipment that you may or may not have used before, so it is a great idea to become acquainted with as much as you can with regards to lab equipment & lab safety.

Undergraduate of the Quarter - Spring 2014
Undergraduate of the Quarter – Spring 2014

Cassandra Lew has been selected as one of our Undergrads of the Quarter for Spring 2014.  Cassandra grew up in Rock Springs, WY where she has lived her entire life prior to coming to OSU. She graduated from Rock Springs High School and it was a high school teacher  (John Gamble) that peaked her interest in chemistry – commenting that she really enjoyed how applicable his classes were (She took 2 years of chemistry from Mr. Gamble). Cassandra accredits much of her success to the support and encouragement she has received from friends and family. She decided to come to OSU because of its reputation as an excellent science school and the generous scholarships she received. While Cassandra is only a freshman (one of the first freshmen to ever win Undergrad of the Quarter), she has already found her way into a research lab.  She has been working with Professor Sandra Loesgen where she loves how hands on the science is and the real world applications of it all. When describing her research experience to date, Cassandra said “Sandra has been awesome!”  All her professors at OSU have been helpful. She particularly enjoyed Professor Chris Beaudry’s O Chem course last term. Cassandra is excited for the future chemistry classes she will have the opportunity to take at OSU. After graduation, she would like to pursue a career in forensic chemistry and work in a lab. We are so excited to have talented, enthusiastic students like Cassandra in our program.  Congrats to her for this award and we wish her continued success during her time at OSU!

Update: Cassandra was the recipient of the 2nd Keith McKennon Memorial Scholarship.  The Chemistry Department is grateful for the support of alumni and friends who established this Scholarship. Cassandra, will do a wonderful job of honoring this long-time friend of the Department through her contributions to the state, nation, and world.