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Experiences & Opportunities

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Helen Hoyt

Associate Professor and Chair of Chemistry

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401-4999



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7 Ways to Experience Your Education

1. Use chemistry to explore big questions.

Many of our majors pursue College Honors, which is modeled after the dissertation defense of many grad programs. Honors includes advanced research, culminating in the defense of that research before a qualified outside examiner. Here are a few examples that show the breadth of Honors projects completed by our students:

  • "Dinuclear Cu(II) Carboxylate Metallomesogens with 2-ethylhexanoate Ligands: Organized Fluid Phases from Ligand Substitution," Alejandro Beltran '17.
  • "Preparation, Characterization, and Reactivity Studies of Substituted alpha-Diimine Ligands and their Iron Dibromide or Dialkyl Precatalysts," Radiandra Putri Soemardi '17.
  • "Structure Function Relationships of Multinuclear Copper(II) Carboxylate Metallomesogens," Bradley Musselman '16.
  • "Preparation and Electronic Structure Studies of Iron Complexes Supported by Conjugated Tridentate Ligands," Giang Tran '15.
  • "Alpha-Hydroxy Phosphonic Acids via Lesquerella Oil," John S.P. Cusimano '13.
  • "Utilizing the Belousov-Zhabotinskii Oscillating Reaction as an Analytical Technique for the Determination of an Analyte in Complex Solution," Matthew Becker '12.
  • "Circularly Polarized Luminescence: Calibration and Calculations for Enantiomeric Excess," Toshia Zessin '09.

2. Collaborate with professors on critical research.

Professors are constantly doing vital research in the field, and more often than not, students have the opportunity to collaborate and gain hands-on experience (often with the support of the Vovis Center for Research & Advanced Study). Professor of Chemistry Diana Cermak is looking at the synthesis of organic molecules that contain phosphorus and their role in biochemical transformations. Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Andrew Mehl is researching modern protein biopolymers called hydrogels. And Larry Welch, Clara A. Abbott Distinguished Professor Chemistry, is currently developing new methods to measure the activity of radon gas, and is using these methods to probe its underground migration.

Here are a few of the ways students are collaborating with professors with their research:

  • Claire Cody '18 and Diandra Soemardi '17 assisted Helen Hoyt, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, with making new organometallic iron catalysts to form organic hydrosilylation products, a project motivated by principles of green chemistry and funded by her American Chemical Society PRF grant. Summer 2016.
  • Elyssa Glenn '17 assisted Thomas Clayton, Professor of Chemistry, with the synthesis and characterization of inorganic liquid crystalline materials. Summer 2016. 
  • Erik Stephenson '15 assisted Mary Crawford, Professor of Chemistry, in lab development of Raman experiments funded by her National Science Foundation TUES grant. Summer 2014.

3. Present (and publish) your own work.

Since 2009, members of the chemistry faculty have published 20 papers in peer-reviewed journals, and the vast majority of these include undergraduate co-authors. Many of our students present their scientific work at national and international conferences.

Here are just a few of the events they've attended:

  • 253rd American Chemical Society National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, 2017. Alejandro Beltran '17 & Diandra Soemardi '17.
  • 251st American Chemical Society National Meeting, San Diego, CA, 2016. Daniel Hong '16 & Alexander Volkov '16.
  • 249th American Chemical Society National Meeting, Denver, CO, 2015. Minda Chen '15 & Michael J. Supej '15.

4. Study off-campus.

Live a scientist's life at the Argonne National Laboratory as a research assistant. That's just one option of more than 80 opportunities to study abroad while at Knox.

5. Experience possibilities with an internship.

There's no better way to explore the possibilities of life after Knox than internships. Here are a few of our students' recent internships (found with the assistance from the Bastian Family Career Center):

  • Research Intern, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. Rebecca Katz '18 
  • Research Intern, Keck Graduate Institute, Claremont, California. Rosemary Momoh '17. 
  • Research Intern, Los Alamos National Laboratory. Sophia Click '16.
  • Summer Intern, Lockheed Martin. Nicolette Laird '16.
  • Shadow, OSF Galesburg Clinic: Kishor Patel, MD. Louisa Darko '16.

6. Join Chemistry Club.

The Chemistry Club is an affiliated chapter of the American Chemical Society. The Knox chapter has been recognized with awards at the national level and student members attend the national meeting to present their research and service (San Francisco 2017, San Diego 2016, Denver 2015, and New Orleans 2014). Other club activities include field trips, bringing speakers to campus, and going to local elementary schools to give chemistry demonstrations.

7. Mentor your peers.

As you grow in the major, apply for opportunities to assist professors with teaching laboratories as a teaching (TA) or chemistry stockroom assistant. Obtain certification as a chemistry peer-tutor with the Center for Teaching and Learning, and build communication skills by holding chemistry review sessions. Develop leadership skills by mentoring new group members who join your research lab.

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Printed on Friday, December 3, 2021