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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Chemsitry Dept. Celebrates 50 Years With 9th Annual Research Day

    This year’s ninth annual Chemistry Research Day was a special one, as the department commemorates 50 years. Faculty and students participated in the many events that were scheduled for the celebration.

    The first event occurred early morning for the Organic Chemistry 321 class, where the marching band came in and played.

    “It was very exciting to get the 321 students involved, they were there to see the marching band during class,” said Professor Frank Fowler.

    Fowler has been with the department for 40 years.

    “Its been a privilege,” he said, “I’ve been grateful to teach, research, and work with students.”

    A poster session was held, showcasing 127 research projects from the chemistry department. The majority of the participants were graduate students, along with many undergraduates.

    “This year we have so many more posters,” said fifth year Ph.D student Fen Zhang from the Wong research group, “I got many more questions than last year.”

    “It’s a great experience for the first year graduate students since they can see what group they want to join,” said professor Nancy Goroff, “Even the high school students come, and they can see what it means to be a chemist.”

    “This is our third time coming,” said Division Avenue High School science research teacher Gerard Marzigliano. “In the last two years, all the students that attended research day have come to Stony Brook [for college], so apparently it has had a good influence.”

    A few projects included adjunct with faculty from Brookhaven National Laboratories.

    “Working at Brookhaven is cool because the people there are experienced and I can work with people who work in all different fields and not just chemistry,” said second year Ph.D student, Cheng Chi, “My project was a combination of many fields.” To accommodate the increasing number of posters, Chemistry Research Day has made some changes over the years.

    “It’s been refined over the years,” said professor Stan Wong. “In 2005, I modified the poster session by splitting it into two, one for the odd and the other for the even numbered posters.” The poster session is currently presented in the same manner.

    “I ran the first five chemistry research days starting in 1999,” said Goroff. “It started when I was on the recruitment committee and we tried to get people from outside the school to come to our open houses and meet the department. But we received poor response and so we made an event for people to come to see what we do.”

    “Professor [Iwao] Ojima suggested we do it in the SAC lobby, and it was fun because people would see what was going on as they were walking by,” Goroff said. “Now its very exciting to see that the number of posters have grown and that we can showcase the posters in the ballroom.”

    A symposium, titled “Stony Brook Past, Present and Future,” followed the poster session. Corresponding to these time frames, four speakers featured to talk about their work in the chemistry department.

    For the past component, founding chair and Professor Emeritus, Francis T. Bonner, was the guest speaker. Serving Stony Brook from 1958-1970, Bonner recalled the beginnings of the department.

    “I wanted to build the best chemistry department I could,” said Bonner, “There were two things I was concerned with, one was the architectural design of the chemistry building being built and the other being faculty recruitment.”

    “In 1966, there was an article in Science about Stony Brook being a struggling institution, but by 1970 there were 30 faculty showing a rapid and successful development,” he said.

    The other speakers represented alumni, who represented the present day by talking about their chemistry research. Dr. Joseph A. Frank, currently working at the Diagnostic Radiology Research at the National Institute of Health, mentioned his time at Stony Brook working with the late Professor Paul Lauterbur, the Nobel Prize Medal recipient for creating the MRI.

    “It was the most exciting time of my career,” said Frank.

    The other present day speaker was assistant professor Brian Kuhlman, currently at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. He presented his work on protein design.

    Lastly, assistant professor Elizabeth Boon represented the future of Stony Brook. She is the youngest faculty member in the department who joined in fall 2006, and receiver of the Watson award for promising junior faculty. Her presentation explained her nitric oxide research.

    “I am excited to continue on the tradition of studying nitric oxide that Professor Bonner started,” said Boon. Bonner had performed many studies on nitric oxide during his time at Stony Brook.

    “I see the new generation like Ms. Boon coming up, so I know it will be taken up by good people,” said distinguished professor Benjamin Chu.

    Following the symposium, a champagne reception was held, where President Kenny gave some welcoming remarks. “I want to say congratulations to all for all that you have achieved over the last 50 years,” said President Kenny, “how in those 50 years with such tiny beginnings you have become one of the best chemistry departments in the country.”

    The evening ended with a wine tasting dinner gala celebration, featuring a presentation “Reminiscences,” given by Professor Joseph Lauher. He presented the chemistry department over the years, highlighting memorable moments.

    Other remarks were given during dinner by the provost and chemistry chair. A special guest was Joan Dawson, daughter of the late Professor Lauterbur. She presented his Nobel Prize Medal to the department. “The most difficult stage to the development of the MRI was here,” said Dawson.

    Closing remarks were given by the Benjamin Hsiao, the chemistry chair. “This years research day was made possible by everyone in the department,” he said. “Our department will continue to do a great job.”

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