Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Holiday Party Extravaganza!

The Chem Club announces it's nth annual Holiday Party Extravaganza!

Where: Rock Bottom Bar and Grill
When: Thursday Dec. 8, 2011
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: $5.00
Ticket includes a drink and appetizers!

Contact Chris (367 EH), Corey (372-3) or Marlene (273-1) for tickets!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Researchers in Chemistry and Biochemistry receive Seeds4Hope funding

Congratulations to Professor James Green, who was awarded a Seeds4Hope grant to develop compounds that have shown early success killing cancer cells.

Excerpt from the Windsor Star article:

“As a chemist, you’re so used to having long hours of work without immediate rewards, that you often think, ‘I better not hope too much,’” Green said Monday after collecting a grant to continue his research for two more years. “But so far, I’m delighted. I really hope it leads to something.”

On Monday, Green’s project was awarded $67,000 over two years by Seeds4Hope, funded by the Windsor & Essex County Cancer Centre Foundation. Also collecting research grants from Seeds4Hope on Monday were University of Windsor professors Andrew Swan, who will use $63,000 over two years to probe tumour-suppressing functions of cancer genes, and Panayiotis Vacratsis, who will use $76,000 over two years to investigate a possible link between a specific tumour growth and survival.

To read more:

In addition, Prof. Otis Vacratsis was awarded $76,000 for his proposal: Functional Characterization of hYVH1/DUSP12: A Putative Oncogene Overexpressed in Late Stage Cancers. This research project focuses on investigating a new cell survival enzyme (hYVH1), that has recently been implemented in both cell growth and division, and has been found to be over productive in many aggressive, late stage cancers.

To learn more about our department, visit http://www.uwindsor.ca/chemistry.
Click the professors' names above to visit their websites.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ultra-fast magic-angle spinning NMR probe up and running

Prof. Rob Schurko's NMR group has recently taken delivery of an ultra-fast magic-angle spinning NMR probe, which will be used for acquiring high-resolution 1H NMR spectra of a variety of different materials, including solid pharmaceuticals. The probe was purchased for ca. $110,000 using funds obtained from an NSERC RTI (Research Tools and Instruments) Grant.

To read the Daily News story on this amazing probe, click here!

Aaron Rossini awarded Governor General's Gold Medal

Congratulations to Aaron Rossini, who was awarded the Governor General's Gold Medal for top standing as a graduating Ph.D. student at the University of Windsor. Aaron worked in Prof. Rob Schurko's solid-state NMR research group; he has 11 peer-reviewed publications and 31 academic presentations at local, national and international conferences. He was awarded a Marie-Curie Fellowship, and is currently working at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Lyon, France, in the research group of Prof. Lyndon Emsley. His wife, Erin, who has a degree in oenology, is currently working at a vinyard in Provence; they are both enjoying their time in France.

To read about how Erin and Aaron met, click here to read the Daily News Story.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Scholarship Deadlines for Graduate Students and PDFs

New information is available on our scholarships page including deadlines, weblinks and application processes for all graduate scholarships, including:
and more!

Click here or contact Marlene Bezaire (graduate secretary) for more information.

Introductory NMR workshop, Oct. 13-14, 2012

The NMR faciltiy is offering an Introductory Workshop for incoming Graduate Students and Outstanding Scholars on Thursday October 13 and Friday the 14th, 2011 from 1 until 4 pm each day. Please note that this is the week of the Thanksgiving Holiday and most lab sessions are cancelled that week.

This introductory workshop is geared toward undergraduate students and/or graduate students with limited (or no) NMR experience, but who are expected to make use of the NMR spectrometers as part of their research projects. The workshop is meant as a supplement to the "one on one" training that new students receive and will allow an opportunity to go into greater depth on many topics. The schedule will consist of a lecture to start each day followed by hands-on learning sessions where participants will get the opportunity to make NMR samples as well as to collect and process NMR data.

The topics covered include:
How an NMR spectrometer works
NMR Magnet Safety
Preparation of NMR Samples
Set up of 1D 1H and 13C NMR Experiments
Processing and Presentation of NMR Data

The link to register is on the NMR Facility Web site.

The workshop is free of charge to members of the Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry; however, enrollment is limited, so please register soon!

Matthew Revington
NMR Facility Coordinator,
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Windsor
519-253-3000 Ext 3997

Monday, August 1, 2011

BioART CAMP to bring science and art together in Rocky Mountains

One is a biochemist who specializes in cell biology, vascular systems and blood platelet function. The other is an experimental artist who helped pioneer the conceptual art movement in Canada. They have a lot more in common than you might think.

Bulent Mutus
, a professor in biochemistry, and professor emeritus Iain Baxter&, who’s been dubbed "the Marshall McLuhan of visual art," will both participate as leaders in a two-week BioARTCAMP, an art and science fair that begins on July 19 in Banff, Alberta. Dr. Mutus will be the senior scientist at the event and Baxter& will be the senior artist.

Jennifer Willet
, a visual art professor and the mind behind the camp’s concept, said the event will bring together about 20 artists, scientists, theorists, filmmakers and students to build a portable lab and field research station that will demonstrate that art and the sciences are more alike than most people traditionally assume.

“We’re just going to put a whole bunch of artists and scientists together and see what comes out,” said Dr. Willet. “Art teaches people to construct meaning through representation and that’s what scientists do too, whether they realize it or not.”

Mutus, who likes to dabble in painting and photography in his spare time, agreed. He noted that when he’s conducting lab experiments he’s always thinking about how the data will appear visually.

“Science is all about how you present information,” he said. “Whether you know it or not, you use art almost daily in science.”

Besides helping construct the lab and assisting other artist and scientists with their projects, Mutus will work on a piece that uses silver nitrate filter paper, which operates as a sensor to detect hydrogen sulfide, a potentially dangerous gas. When the paper detects H2S, it leaves dark impressions that could be worked into artistic drawings or other pieces. He’ll set up an installation to do just that.

Meanwhile, Baxter& will spend his time stomping through the woods of his youth with a mannequin, photographing it in various settings in an attempt to conceptualize both the distances and connections between humanity and nature.

“Science and art both involve a great deal of technical dexterity and craftsmanship,” said Baxter&, who studied zoology before devoting his life to his art. “They’re both really conceptual. The whole idea of creating something artistic mimics experimental methodology.”
Willet said there will be two opportunities for members of the public to participate in the camp and view the work. She also suggested the camp may turn into an annual event.

Visit the camp's Web site for more information.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Annual Chemistry and Biochemistry Crystal Flask Golf Tournament

Annual Chemistry and Biochemistry Crystal Flask Golf Tournament

This year's Crystal Flask Golf Tournament will take place on Wednesday, August 17, with first tee time at 9:30am. Tournament will take place at Roseland Golf Club and we will play 18 holes. All skill levels are welcome, and Chemistry Club will be covering 1/2 of the green fee. For any additional information and to reserve a spot please contact me at djurdjes@uwindsor.ca no later than August 12.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Student chemist perfecting data transfer for electronic devices

Silicon-based integrated circuits currently used in cell phones and mp3 players are about as small as they’re going to get with current technology. Now, in response to consumer demand for even faster, more efficient electronic devices, chemists are racing to develop tiny molecular structures that would process data instead—and a UWindsor PhD student in chemistry has joined the race.

“Everyone knows that if we want data to be transferred faster we need to make things smaller, but we’ve almost reached the limit now with how small we can go,” said Mike Miller, who recently won a three-year post-graduate doctoral scholarship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council worth $63,000.

Miller, who works under the supervision of associate professor Tricia Carmichael, said many scientists are trying to create molecular wires and resistors by linking together chains of functional molecules that could be lined up in such a way so that one day, data could be transferred through them and they could replace conventional circuits. Miller’s attention, meanwhile, is devoted to studying ways to smooth the surfaces those molecules would bond with, as a way of ensuring better conductivity and data transfer.

Specifically, he is analyzing an industrial process called chemical mechanical planarization, which involves polishing metal surfaces with a combination of abrasives and chemical etchants to control the surface roughness and grain structure of thin films of metals such as gold, copper, silver and palladium.

“We’re studying what we can change about the molecules, but also what we can change about the surfaces and how that might affect how those molecules will behave,” he said. “It’s not quite there yet. There’s a lot of fundamental work that needs to be done.”

But if breakthroughs are made, they’ll go a long way towards creating some amazing new technologies, such as low-cost flexible electronic devices. As an example, Miller points to the possibility of electronic wallpaper. Users would be able to change the look of their room with a few simple keystrokes instead of stripping and putting new paper up on their walls, he said.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Students take top honours at natural health products conference

The son of parents from Vietnam and grandparents from China, Dennis Ma grew up in house where traditional remedies and natural herbal products were commonplace. So using a derivative from a rare plant to try to find a cure for cancer doesn’t really surprise him all that much.~

“A lot of these natural products have been used as traditional medicines for a long time, but we’re starting to see a lot more of them being used in a scientific setting,” said Ma, a second year master’s student in biochemistry who tests the effectiveness of pancratistatin, a derivative of a Hawaiian spider lily which has proven to kill certain cancer cells without harming healthy ones.

Ma and lab partner Katie Facecchia, both students in the lab of professor Siyaram Pandey, recently returned from Montreal where they attended the Natural Health Products Research Society of Canada’s annual conference. Ma took first place in the student oral presentation category while Facecchia, who studies the effectiveness of a water soluble formula of the naturally occurring Coenzyme Q10 at halting the progression of Parkinson’s disease, placed second.

Another group of Dr. Pandey’s students recently garnered a considerable amount of attention for their work on a formula they developed from dandelion root extract, which also halted the spread of certain types of cancer cells.

Facecchia said attending the conference gave her a renewed sense of optimism that the scientific community is embracing the notion of looking to nature to test solutions for current medical challenges.

“People used these products back in the day for a reason and now we’re rediscovering them with modern science,” she said.

There were five presentations from Pandey’s lab made at the conference and three of them were dedicated to the memory of Kevin Couvillon, who died in 2010 at the age of 26 after a lengthy battle with cancer. His parents donated $20,000 to Pandey’s lab earlier this year. Pandey said Ma, Facecchia and fellow students Pamela Ovadje and Madona Chochkeh made high-impact presentations, which he believes contributed to the society’s decision to hold its 2013 here in Windsor.

“They responded to the panel’s questions very lucidly and defended the work very well,” he said. “We’re very grateful to Seeds 4 Hope, Joseph Sczesei and the Couvillons for generously supporting their research.”

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chem Prom 2011

Chem Prom!
All students, staff and faculty, please join us for this year's Chem Prom end of year banquet, which is taking place at the Caboto Club on April 28, 2011. Tickets are still available!

Doors open: 6:30 pm
Dinner: 7 pm
Dancing to follow
Where: Verdi Hall, Caboto Club
Students: $25/ticket
Faculty: $30/ticket

Please see Heather (EH 373-5), Chris (EH 367) or Marlene for tickets

Final presentations for Undergraduate Research in Chemistry and Biochemistry

Our honours students will be making their final presentations for their 59-410 research projects on April 27 and 28, 2011 in 186 Essex Hall from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. The full schedule for presentations will be posted here on April 19, 2011:

Please come join us and see the fantastic work that our students have done over the past year!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chemist finds valuable use for gold in molecular analysis technique

“All that glitters is not gold” is an oft-repeated adage cited throughout the ages to remind us that not everything that appears precious really is.~

For a scientist like Ricardo Aroca, the intrinsic value of real gold is not in its own brilliant luminescence – or the dollar value it can capture on the open market – but its infectious ability to make the molecules from other materials around it glitter so brightly he can capture an abundance of previously unknown information about them.

Dr. Aroca, an UWindsor chemistry professor who specializes in single molecule detection, has perfected a technique used to analyze the structure and behaviour of molecules called single molecule spectroscopy.

“Every single molecule gives off light,” he explained. “But by bringing gold nanostructures in close contact with them, you amplify their scattering and fluorescence, revealing more information about them.”

Using a state-of-the-art Raman laser microscope, Aroca and his students study the vibrational spectrum, which he refers to as the “fingerprints” of a molecule. Named after C.V. Raman, a Nobel Prize-winning Indian physicist, the microscope uses a high intensity laser to magnify and project the images of materials at the molecular level.

In an international journal called Angewandte Chemie, Aroca’s group recently reported that when tiny particles of gold are brought near the molecules they’re studying, those molecules become more excited and emit greater fluorescence. Capturing that fluorescence, means greater understanding about the molecular structure of a vast variety of materials, crucial knowledge for applications in biomedicine, chemical detection and sensor technology.

It may seem like obscure science, but it’s caught the attention of colleagues around the world. In fact, two papers he authored on the subject were recently included on the Top 10 list of most-cited papers in that field over the last year, according to the BioMedLib, a search engine that monitors biomedical literature.

“We’ve had fairly good recognition internationally on this subject,” he said.

Aroca said thanks to the technique, scientists can amass large databases of information on the molecular properties of materials that can be made available to scientists developing pharmaceuticals or building sensors that can detect trace elements of carcinogens in biological organisms.

“The technique is general, but you can develop many specific applications,” he said.

-Stephen Fields, University of Windsor Daily News

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Nick Vukotic wins Ludo Frevel Crystallography Scholarship from the International Centre for Diffraction Data

Congratulations to Nick Vukotic, who has been awarded the Ludo Frevel Crystallography Scholarship from the International Centre for Diffraction Data.

Nick has been involved in trying to create a three-dimensional, interlocking network of functioning molecular machines. The foundation of his work is built on X-ray diffraction, a process which involves analyzing the crystallized forms of chemical compounds by bathing them in a stream of nitrogen and hitting them with an intense X-ray beam in order to obtain a computerized visual image of their molecular structures.

“He’s become a real expert on this technique for analyzing the structure of solid state materials,” said Steve Loeb, Vukotic’s academic supervisor and a Canada Research Chair in Materials Science and Technology. “He’s very creative and he’s an exceptional student.”

Click here to read the whole story on the UWindsor Daily News.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Windsor student discovers promising cancer treatment option

Congratulations to Carly Griffin: Carly defended her Ph.D. thesis successfully on Jan 6th 2011.

by Meghan Scanlan — The Lance (University of Windsor)

WINDSOR, Ont. (CUP) — After her father was diagnosed with colon cancer, Carly Griffin made it her life’s ambition to find a cure for cancer.

After the devastating loss of her father and several years of research, she may have reached her goal.

“Ultimately, that fuelled my decision to study biochemistry at the University of Windsor,” said Griffin.

In her third year at the University of Windsor, she actively pursued her goal of finding a cure by inquiring about a position in Siyaram Pandey’s research lab. It is in this lab that Griffin would work on the substance of her PhD, now proven to be a promising advance in cancer research.

The key to Griffin’s success is found in the rare Hawaiian spider lily plant. The plant and its cancer-killing compounds according to Griffin “have been studied by organic chemists for decades.”

Pandey became interested after attending a weekly seminar hosted by the chemistry department. Interested in testing the plant’s anti-cancer activity, Pandey handed the task off to two volunteer undergraduate students.

According to Griffin, two very exciting things happened for Pandey, his volunteers and for the world of cancer research.

The volunteer research students found that pancratistatin, a compound found in the Hawaiian spider lily plant, was very potent against cancer cells. They also found that there was currently no other research group actively studying pancratistatin.

In 2004, Griffin joined the research group and says she has “spent the last six years trying to figure out how pancratistatin works against cancer.”

To see the entire article, please check out the following link:

Professor Siyaram Pandey receives three year CIHR grant for $302,000

Congratulations to Professor Siyaram Pandey, who as received a research grant of $302,000 over three years (2011-2014) for a research project entitled "Investigation of mechanism of neuroprotection by a water-soluble CoQ10 in a paraquat induced model of Parkinson's disease," in collaboration with Dr. Jerome Cohen (Psychology). This project application was ranked in the top three in this grant review committee.

For more information on Dr. Pandey's research, please visit:

For more information on CIHR funding, please visit:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Aaron Rossini awarded Marie Curie Fellowship for Post-Doctoral Studies

French fellowship promising for doctoral grad and wine enthusiast spouse
Published on UWindsor Daily News: Jan 21, 2011
Last Modified: Tue, 01/25/2011 - 9:09am

Aaron Rossini is thrilled to be heading to southern France to continue his research in chemistry, but thinks his new wife might be even more excited by the prospect.~

Dr. Rossini, who successfully defended his PhD in September, recently learned that he was awarded a Marie Curie fellowship which will begin next month at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Lyon, France under the direction of professor Lyndon Emsley.

The fact that the facility—described by his academic supervisor Rob Schurko as one of the best in the world—is located within several hours’ drive from the globally-renowned Bordeaux wine region wasn’t lost on his new bride Erin, a UWindsor chemistry master’s graduate who recently completed a certificate program in viticulture and enology at Brock University.

“She’s pretty pumped,” Rossini said with a grin. “She’s hoping she might get some experience with some really good French wineries.”

A local native who graduated from St. Anne’s High School in Tecumseh, Rossini studies the chemical process of how certain molecules and compounds behave as catalysts in the production of polyolefin, a polymer that’s used in the production of plastic products such as shrink wrap and plastic bottles. He uses nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) to help define the many characteristics of those molecules.

The technology used to make polymers has been around a long time, but much of the work is done by trial and error, he said.

“There’s still a lot of basic chemical understanding that is lacking,” he said. “If we can get a good snapshot of the molecular structure of these catalysts, then we can reduce a lot of the trial and error in their design and application, optimize the process and make them much more efficient.”

Throughout his career at UWindsor, Rossini has worked on the 400 megahertz NMR spectrometer in Dr. Schurko’s Essex Hall lab, but also travelled regularly to Ottawa where he used the dedicated solid-state 900 megahertz spectrometer at the National Ultrahigh-field NMR Facility for Solids. The machine he’ll be conducting his research on in France is rated at 1,000 megahertz and worth an estimated $16 million, Schurko said.

“This is one of the best research environments France has to offer,” said Schurko, who spent part of his sabbatical there in 2007. “It’s just phenomenal. This is just a huge opportunity for him.”

Rossini and his wife depart for France on January 25.

— Stephen Fields

Originally posted at the following link:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Summer Research for Undergraduates: NSERC USRA application due Feb. 3, 2011

Interested in doing some research this summer?

NSERC Undergraduate Summer Research Assistantships (USRA) are due in the Chemistry Office by Feb. 3, 2010.

For more information, please visit our NSERC USRA page by clicking here.