ChemistryWestern Science

2009-2010 News Archives

June 2010: We are pleased to announce that Dr. Paul Rupar has been awarded a Governor General's Gold Medal Award. Paul received his doctoral degree in Chemistry from The University of Western Ontario in February 2010. Paul came to Western in the Fall of 2000 when he began his B.Sc. degree in Honours in Biochemistry and Chemistry. Paul entered the M.Sc. program in Chemistry in January 2005 and fast-tracked to the doctoral program the following year. Paul’s brilliant research in main group chemistry led to ground-breaking work on dications. His concept and synthesis of a germanium dication with no ligands was published in Science, one of the most influential scientific journals of today. Paul is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. The Governor General’s Academic medals were created by Lord Dufferin, Canada’s third Governor General after Confederation in 1873. For more than 125 years, the Governor General’s Academic Medals have recognized the outstanding scholastic achievements of students in Canada. The University of Western Ontario awards a Governor General's Gold Medal to two outstanding graduate students who have achieved the highest academic standing in a Master's or Doctoral degree program. Congratulations Paul!

June 2010: We are pleased to announce that Kevin Daub from the Wren group won the best poster/paper award for the PhD student category at the Canadian Nuclear Society (CNS) conference. It was a steep competition, beating about 50 posters with topics ranging from math, physics, chemistry, and engineering. He received a plaque and $500. Congratulations, Kevin.

June 2010: Mr. Jiacheng Guo of the Baines group wins a faculty of science TA award. Graduate students, working as T.A.s, are a vital part of all Faculty of Science programs. We value the efforts of all of our T.A.s and thank you all for the contribution you make to the Faculty of Science. Congrats Jiachen.

April 2010: We are pleased to announce that Jennifer Bates, a 3rd year chemistry honors student in the Wren lab, has been awarded one of two Canadian Nuclear Society undergraduate summer scholarships ($5000 each). Each scholarship is awarded to an undergraduate student for a specific summer work project related to nuclear science and engineering. Awards were based on the academic standing of the student and the merit of the proposed project. Congratulations Jennifer!

April 2010: We are pleased to announce that Zhaohui Dong has been awarded a Robert and Ruth Lumsden Graduate Fellowship for the 2009-2010 academic year. Contrats!

March 2010: Tomasz Czarny (exploring the structure of proteins by oxidative labelling and mass spectroscopy, Prof. Konerman), David Hall (Electrochemical kinetics of copper sulfixde/oxide films as a function of redox conditions in aqueous solutions, Prof. Shoesmith) and Kevin Venus (probing the resilience of ionic superhydrophobic surfaces, Prof. Kraatz) win awards for their presentations at the recent 38th Southern Ontario Undergraduate Student Chemistry Conference (SOUSCC) hosted by the Western ChemClub. Congrats!

March 2010: Professors Peter Guthrie, Ron Martin and Peter Norton announce their retirement, effective July 1, 2010.

Professor Peter Guthrie is a Western Alumnus having been awarded a Bachelor of Science in 1964 from this university. He went on to complete his PhD under the supervision of F. Westheimer at Harvard University in 1968. After a year as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biological Sciences at Princeton University, he joined the Department of Chemistry at UWO in 1969. He rose through the ranks and was promoted to Professor in 1978. Peter Guthrie works in the area of fundamental physical organic chemistry. The common theme throughout his research has been his search for a deeper understanding of the factors governing the rates of chemical reactions so that, ultimately, these rates may be predicted from the structures of the reactants. Increasingly, his work has involved the calculation of rate constants using, at first, Marcus Theory, and now No Barrier Theory (NBT), an approach which allows rate constants to be calculated from equilibrium information with no empirical parameters. In the early part of his career, Peter’s work was recognized by a prestigious Sloan Fellowship as well as an E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship. He won the Florence Bucke Award of the Faculty of Science in 1984. In 2002, Peter was named Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Peter has been awarded every research prize for which he is eligible from the Canadian Society of Chemistry and the Chemical Institute of Canada, including the CIC Medal (2005), the highest research honor that a chemist can be awarded in Canada. Professor Ron Martin received his Honours B. Sc. degree in 1963 and his M.Sc. degree in 1965 from St. Francis Xavier University, and his Ph.D. degree at Western in 1969. After completing two post doctoral fellowships, one at the University of Southampton, 1969-1970, and one in the Western Physics Department from 1970-1971, he joined the Chemistry Department at Western as a Visiting Lecturer in 1972 with expertise in Chemical Education. His status changed to an Assistant Professor rank in 1974, and he was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 1978 and Professor of Chemistry in 2006. Ron is a physical chemist with established expertise in interdisciplinary research using a variety of analytical methods including synchrotron radiation to examine different physical systems, including coals, metals in the environment, and mummy teeth and hair. Ron is a gifted teacher; he has used that gift effectively in a wide variety of undergraduate courses including first year chemistry, environmental chemistry and analytical chemistry. Ron's outstanding abilities as a teacher have been recognized at UWO (Pleva Award), provincially (OCUFA Teaching Award) and nationally (Chemical Institute of Canada Union Carbide Medal). Professor Peter Norton is one of Canada’s most distinguished physical chemists. Throughout his career Peter has proven to be at the leading edge of science and technology across a number of disciplines related to the chemistry and physics of surfaces. He was one of the first to perform ultra-high vacuum adiabatic calorimetry; the first to identify spectroscopically the bonding of carbon monoxide to platinum surfaces; he initiated the work on catalytic oscillations in CO oxidation in Prof. Gerhard Ertl's group in 1980, which was eventually cited as one of the 2 major areas for which Prof. Ertl was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Chemistry; he was a leader in the application of high energy ion beams to study surfaces, and in the standardization of Rutherford backscattering and nuclear reaction analysis for quantitative isotopes on noble metal surfaces. He was among the first to recognize and embrace the power of scanning probe technology for studying interfacial dynamic phenomena. He has implemented a variety of scanning microscopies to the study of problems ranging from the association of molecules on copper surfaces, the heterogeneity of polymer surfaces, the adhesion of bacteria to polymeric surfaces and the mechanical properties materials as diverse as cells, and the films responsible for the wear protection in an automobile engine (nanotribology of antiwear films). Peter has been recognized with numerous awards including a Humboldt Fellowship, Fellow of the Chemical Institute of Canada, the Parravano Award of the Michigan Catalysis Society, Fellow of the American Vacuum Society, the Polanyi Lecture Award of the Canadian Society for Chemistry, a Canada Council Killam Research Fellowship, and the Hellmuth Prize. Most recently, he was named Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

All three will continue to be engaged in research after retirement. We wish them well as they start this new phase of their lives!

March 2010: Recently, Dr. Amit Chakma, University President and Vice-Chancellor, visited the Department of Chemistry as part of a meet and greet session, and as an opportunity to share some of his research visions for the university. Shown is President Chakma interacting with students in the first year chemistry laboratory.

IMAGE - President Chakma

March 2010: Professor Rob Lipson has accepted the position of Dean, Faculty of Science at the University of Victoria effective July 1, 2010. Rob has been an integral member of this department since 1986. He has made many valuable contributions to the research and teaching missions of this department, most notably as the former Chair of the Department. During his tenure as Chair, the department experienced a period of growth and renewal unprecedented since the 1960s. He was intimately involved in recruiting and hiring 13 new faculty members and several staff members, revamping our undergraduate curriculum, procuring more research space, and getting funds to build better undergraduate teaching facilities and a Solvent Dispensing Facility. We wish you well, Rob!

March 2010: Professor Leo Lau, director of Surface Science Western, receives a $1.7 million grant from the Ontario Research Foundation to study elastic polymers. See the article on pages 1 and 14 in Western News.

February 2010: Several members of the Department of Chemistry will be featured in segments of Ancients Behaving Badly which will be shown on History Television during the weeks of February 15 and February 22. Robin Abel, recent MSc graduate, was involved in the extraction of three plant poisons, hemlock, strychnine and cyanide, which were suspected to have been used in the poisoning of Nero’s stepbrother Britannicus. Christina Booker, PhD candidate, was involved in the preparation of poisons from henbane, monkshood and rhododendron one of which may have been used in the poisoning of Ptolemy by his sister Cleopatra. Mel Usselman, Professor, discussed the legend of Cleopatra serving Marc Antony an expensive meal consisting of her prized pearls dissolved in wine. Tim Erickson, University of Illinois Department of Emergency Medicine, Division of Toxicology, was also featured. He discussed which of the poisons could have actually been used.Other members of the department helped out too to make production go more smoothly, and these included Kim Baines, Sandy Zakaria, Rob Harbottle, Sue England, and Robin Hall. An abbreviated article from the Western News may be found here on page 11. Nero will air on Tuesday, February 16 at 2 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., on Friday, February 19 at 7 p.m. and on Saturday, February 20 at midnight and 10 p.m. Cleopatra will air on Tuesday, February 23 at 2 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. and on Saturday, February 27 at 6 p.m. After it airs, you can watch the show on line here.

December 2009: We are pleased to announce the promotions of Nathan Jones and Paul Ragogna to Associate Professor, effective July 1st. Congratulations on your many successes! Additionally, Nathan Jones is on a permanent leave of absence, and will formally leave Western at the end June. Nathan is moving to British Columbia to be with his family. We wish you all the best. A congratulatory celebration for both Nathan and Paul, and a farewell reception for Nathan was held for them at the Grad Club.

November 2009: We are glad to announce that Jay Dutton (supervised by Paul Ragogna) and Julie Hardwick (supervised by Kim Baines) won prizes for their talks and Jon Dube (Supervised by Paul Ragogna) and Margaret Hanson (supervised by Kim Baines and Yining Huang) won prizes for their posters at the Inorganic Discussion Weekend held November 2009, in Guelph. Congratulations on your success!

August 2009: We are pleased to announce that Professor Len Luyt has been awarded an Early Researcher Award from the Ministry of Research and Innovation in support of his research on the design of cancer-targeted molecular imaging probes. Congratulations Len!