Meeting October 22nd

Kentucky Lake Section ACS Meeting
National Chemistry Week Demo Show

Live from UT Martin Brehm Hall
Virtually via Zoom

Thursday, October 22nd, 2020
Dinner @ 6:00 pm, Virtual Demo Show @ 7:00 pm

Dinner: BBQ Sandwich, Potato Salad, Coleslaw, & Chips
Dinner Price is $10 (Students $5)

This year, each university SMACS chapter is invited perform a demo (or five!), ideally in line with the theme “sticking with chemistry,” and always with safety and learning in mind.  We hope to encourage our student members to challenge their professors to do some demos too — some friendly competition, if you will!  Please send all videos to Dr. Abigail Shelton no later than Wednesday October 21st 5pm.  (If the video files are too large to send by email, consider using a dropbox or google drive link)

Meeting September 15th

September 2020 Kentucky Lake Section Meeting

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020
Dinner @ 6:00 pm, Presentation @ 7:00 pm
Dinner Price is $10 (Students $5)

Live at Union University
Carl Grant Events Center
Jackson, TN 38305

– OR –
Join Virtually via Zoom
(Meeting ID TBA)

Dinner:  Caesar Salad, Beef Lasagna, Monterey Chicken, Scalloped Potatoes, Sweet Corn, Chocolate Explosion

Program: Transition metal dichalcogenides for applications in hydrogen evolution reaction, CO2 reduction, and photoluminescence spectroelectrochemistry

Speaker: Lyndi Strange, 5th Year PhD Candidate at University of Alabama

Abstract:  Transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) are semiconductors of the form MX2, where M is a transition metal (Mo, W, etc.) and X is a chalcogen atom. They are typically structured in hexagonal layers of M atoms sandwiched between two layers of X atoms. Two-dimensional TMDs (2D-TMDs) consist of a single layer of atoms have the structure X-M-X and have electronic properties that differ from the bulk material. For instance, the bandgap of MoS2 changes from an indirect bandgap in the bulk to a direct bandgap as a monolayer. In the search for better catalysts for renewable energy, TMDs have emerged as an interesting and promising catalyst for several avenues of alternate energy such as photovoltaic water splitting anodes, hydrogen evolution reaction, CO2 reduction, photovoltaic absorber layers, and protective layers for photovoltaic devices. The structure of the TMDs can also be tuned at the monolayer level to increase catalytic activity by doping and introducing defects, which has been shown increase activity towards electrocatalytic hydrogen reduction. The highly tunable structure also leads to tunable optical properties that in useful in next generation optoelectronics such as light emitting diodes (LEDs), field effect transistors (FETs), and ultra-sensitive molecular sensing due to their unique surface-sensitive optical properties. Learning how the structure affects the catalytic and optical properties serves as an important area of research in order tune TMDs to produce more efficient catalysts and serve in various optical applications. This research presentation will cover the following projects: 1) the proton reduction activity of 2D and bulk MoS2 using scanning electrochemical cell microscopy (SECM) and other electroanalytical techniques such as rotating-ring disk electrode and Tafel slope analysis; 2) examining the redox properties of 2D MoS2 using photoluminescence spectroelectrochemistry and scanning electrochemical cell microscopy (SECCM); 3) using aqueous liquid-phase exfoliation technique to produce MoS2 thin films for use in CO2 reduction and the characterization of the reaction products.

Speaker Bio:  Lyndi Strange graduated from Union University in 2016 with a B.S. in chemistry. She did two years of summer research under Dr. Joshua Williams studying guest-host relationships in dye included crystals. She also did a summer REU program at the University of Oregon under Dr. Shannon Boettcher studying the electronic properties of GaAs microstructures grown using close-spaced vapor transport (CSVT), which inspired her to pursue electrochemistry as her focus in graduate school. She is currently a PhD candidate entering into her 5th year at the University of Alabama studying under Dr. Shanlin Pan. Her research focus at UA has focused on transition metal dichalcogenides for use in alternative energy and spectroelectrochemical applications. She has co-authored and authored articles in the ACS Energy Letters, the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, and has submitted a review article Journal of the Electrochemical Society. During her tenure at UA, she also participated in a summer internship at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, NM, which lead to a year-round position. She plans to graduate from the University of Alabama in Summer 2021 and hopefully continue her Sandia employment as a post-doctoral appointee.


Meeting March 10th

March 2020 Kentucky Lake Section Meeting
Fresh Market Restaurant
2255 E. Wood St.
Paris, TN 38242

Tuesday, March 10th 

Dinner 6:00 pm ($10, $5 for students)
Presentation 7:00 pm
Kid’s Science Center 7:00 pm

Dinner:  Choice of Pork Chops, Grilled Chicken, or Pasta Primavera

Program: An Examination of Drinking Water Disparities in Tennessee: The Origins and Effects of Toxic Heavy Metals

Speaker: Dr. Sujata Guha, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Tennessee State University

Abstract:  Several toxic metals, commonly present in drinking water, are believed to play important roles in the development of cancerous tumors. Although the US Safe Drinking Water Act requires drinking water to meet health standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency, violations occur regularly. In this study, we have investigated the role of the two predominant toxic heavy metals identified in the drinking water sources in Tennessee: copper and lead. We have analyzed the levels of copper and lead, as well as the total water hardness among different counties of Tennessee, with different socioeconomic backgrounds. We determined that the effects of lead and copper in drinking water were random, although counties with typically lower average household incomes typically had higher levels of the metals. The contaminant levels were found to remain below the threshold established by the Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Tennessee. Water from the Cumberland River was harder than water obtained from other rivers in Tennessee. Furthermore, the total hardness of water did not correlate with the average household income of the various counties.

Speaker Bio:  Dr. Guha is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at Tennessee State University in Nashville with expertise in atmospheric chemistry, computational modeling of atmospheric processes, kinetics of atmospheric reactions, spectroscopy, photochemistry, and free radical reaction mechanisms.  She received her B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Dubuque in Iowa, and both her M.S. and Ph.D. from Purdue.  Dr. Guha has served as Chair of the Nashville Section of the ACS and is currently the Graduate Program Director at TSU.

Meeting February 27th

February 2020 Kentucky Lake Section Meeting
Dry Ground Brewery
3121 Broadway St (Next to Mellow Mushroom)
Paducah, KY 24003

Thursday, February 27th

Dinner 6:00 pm
Presentation 7:00 pm

Dinner:  Pizza from Mellow Mushroom ($10, $5 for students)

Program: Controlling CRISPR-Cas Enzymes with Chemically Modified Nucleic Acids
Dr. Keith T. Gagnon, Southern Illinois University

Abstract:  Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR) RNAs (crRNAs) and their associated effector (Cas) enzymes have revolutionized basic biotechnology and are a promising technology for treating genetic diseases. However, CRISPR-Cas enzymes have some unwanted properties, such as off-target gene editing, and are not ideal for drug development. To better understand the role of the crRNA component and the requirements for making CRISPR-Cas enzymes more drug-like, we have explored a variety of chemical modifications to the crRNA. We uncovered rules for modification, such as A-form-like helical structure, flexibility, and moieties with low bulkiness as keys to chemical compatibility. We also identified several critical positions that seem to require a 2′ hydroxyl on the RNA ribose ring and are working to understand this dependency and ultimately remove all labile RNA nucleotides from the crRNA. Using chemically modified nucleic acids, we have also created potent inhibitors of the CRISPR-Cas9 enzyme. These small nucleic acid-based inhibitors (SNuBs) bind with very high affinity and can block gene editing inside of cells. CRISPR SNuBs are being further optimized for even greater potency and testing in animal models of gene editing. Together, these studies have improved our understanding of enzyme activity, identified ways to control CRISPR-Cas enzyme activity, and are contributing to safe and practical development of CRISPR as a human therapeutic.

Speaker Bio:  Dr. Gagnon is currently an Assistant Professor in both the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry AND the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology in the School of Medicine at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL.  He also serves as the founder and CEO of Guide BioSci, Inc..  Dr. Gagnon received his B.S. and Ph.D. (in Biochemistry) from North Carolina State University—his graduate work being completed under the supervision of Dr. E. Stuart Maxwell—and, he completed a post doc with Dr. David R. Corey at the UT Southwestern Medical Center.  Among Dr. Gagnon’s many awards, he has been recognized with the Outstanding Young Alumni Award from North Carolina State University in 2016 and the Oligonucleotide Therapeutics Society Outstanding Young Investigator Award in 2017.

Meeting January 30th

January 2020 Kentucky Lake Section Meeting
Murray State University
1212 Jesse D Jones Hall
Murray, KY

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Dinner 6:00 pm
Presentation 7:00 pm

Dinner:  Massaman Curry with Chicken, Vegetable Fried Rice, Fruit, Tzatziki with Chips, and Dessert.  ($10, $5 for students)

Program: Slide-Ring Polymers: Molecular Pulleys with New Material Properties
Dr. Tyler Graf, Assistant Professor at Murray State University

Polyrotaxanes are a type of mechanically interlocked molecule consisting of a polymer chain with several cyclic ring molecules threaded onto it, similar to the beads of an abacus. Slide-ring polymers are formed by crosslinking polyrotaxanes through the ring molecules. Each crosslink takes the form of a figure eight or handcuff shaped molecule composed of two covalently bonded rings. This unique morphology allows the position of the crosslinks in the polymer matrix to change in response to applied stress, resulting in radically different physical properties compared to conventionally crosslinked polymeric materials. The properties of slide-ring polymers are attracting interest in their use as extremely stretchable gels, surface coatings, and vibration damping materials.

Speaker Bio:

Dr. Tyler Graf is an Assistant Professor of Organic Chemistry at Murray State. After a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 2012, Dr. Graf taught Physical Chemistry at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and Organic Chemistry at Trinity University. His graduate research involved the development of novel sulfur-containing degradable polymers for drug delivery and improvement in the lifetime extension of gold catalysts. As a faculty, he supervised students on fluorescent polymers as a detection method for biological molecules. Dr. Graf’s post-doctoral research at Bucknell University involved designing inflatable blisters and muscle fascia that can be utilized in surgical training mannequins. Currently, Dr. Graf’s lab is investigating the unique properties of slide-ring crosslinking polyrotaxane molecules.

Children are welcome and will attend a special Science Center during the program.

Meeting November 14th

November 2019 Kentucky Lake Section Meeting
Bethel University, McKenzie TN
Vera-Lowe Center

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Dinner 6:00 pm
Meeting 7:00 pm

Dinner: Deli Sandwich Buffet
Price: $10 (students $5)

Program: “The Chemistry of Whisk(e)y” by Dr. Andrew Evans, Bethel University

Abstract:  The Chemistry of whiskey, or, alternatively, whisky, is a complex topic that we will attempt to explore during this seminar. We will start by looking at a variety of spirits, but by the end we will focus mainly on whiskey, as most of the science that goes into making whiskey can be directly applied to a variety of spirits, including brandy, rum, sake, tequila, vodka, and the like. Much like beer, these spirits are made from the fermentation of any starch containing plants, from barley, wheat, and rye to rice, sugarcane, agave, corn, fruit, and even potatoes. These starchy grains are mashed, their sugars extracted into a solution called mash and the mash is fermented into an ethanol/water solution containing a complex mixture of byproducts. Here is where Liquor and beer go their separate ways; distillation serves both as means to concentrate the ethanol and flavorful byproducts, but to remove some of the more harmful ones. Different techniques can then used to add flavors or subtract them to create neutral spirits like vodka or various flavored liqueurs. Then maturation adds further complexity to the mixture through addition, subtraction, and reaction with the alcohols, acids and other functional groups to create subtle new flavors through complex equilibria reactions that generate these trace congeners. This talk will look briefly at the production of spirits of all types and how they differ, but it will focus on whiskey and its key technique responsible for its highly complex flavor, the science behind barrel maturation, and finally it will look at some of the ways science is trying (and not always succeeding) to bypass nature by catalyzing this maturation process.

Speaker Biography: Dr. Evans earned his Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Bradley University in Illinois. While at Bradley University, he briefly worked for the USDA Agriculture Lab studying plant proteins. He later went on to earn his MS and Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry at Purdue University in Indiana studying biofuel catalysis and magnetic nanoparticle synthesis. For the past five years, he has been teaching various chemistry subjects at Bethel University, including Inorganic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, and Organic Spectroscopy. While being a moderate imbiber of whiskey since grad school, he has since become extremely interested in the chemistry behind aqua vitae. He is currently using his time to find out as much as he can about the chemistry of spirits.


Meeting February 8th

February 2019 Kentucky Lake Section Meeting
University of Tennessee at Martin
Watkins Auditorium, Boling University Center
Martin, TN

Friday, February 8, 2019

Dinner 6:00 pm
Presentation 7:00 pm

Program: “The Disappearing Spoon”
Sam Kean

Speaker Bio:


Sam Kean spent years collecting mercury from broken thermometers as a kid, and now he’s a writer in Washington, D.C. His stories have appeared in The Best American Science and Nature Writing, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, Slate, and Psychology Today, among other places, and his work has been featured on NPR’s “Radiolab,” “Science Friday,” and “All Things Considered,” among other shows. “Caesar’s Last Breath” was named the Guardian Science Book of the Year in 2017, while “The Disappearing Spoon” was a runner-up for the Royal Society book of the year. Both “The Violinist’s Thumb” and “The Dueling Neurosurgeons” were nominated for PEN’s Literary Science Writing Award.

The presentation will be followed by a book signing in the Welcome Center.

Children are welcome and will attend a special Science Center during the program.

Meeting January 24th

January 2019 Kentucky Lake Section Meeting
Murray State University
1212 Jesse D Jones Hall
Murray, KY

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Dinner 6:00 pm
Presentation 7:00 pm

Dinner:  Massaman (chicken) and panang (Vegetarian) curry, jasmine rice, fruit tray, cookies ($10, $5 for students)

Program: Phosphines as Mild Reducing Agents:  Synthesis of Alkenes from Alkynes
Dr. Rachel Whittaker, Assistant Professor at Murray State University

Few mild and selective alkyne reduction methods have been reported, but the resulting alkenes are important functional groups found in many biologically and industrially useful compounds. Thus, a mild and tunable partial reduction of alkynyl carbonyls was developed, utilizing readily available phosphines as the reductants. Tuning of the reaction conditions allowed for either the cis- or trans-diastereomer to be formed with high selectivity. These reaction conditions demonstrated good functional group tolerance and high yields.

Speaker Bio:

Rachel grew up in Cartersville, GA before obtaining her B.S. degree in Biochemistry from Abilene Christian University in 2011. She received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin in 2016 with Professor Guangbin Dong working on rhodium-catalyzed C-C activation. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor at Murray State University where her research is focused on the development of mild redox methodologies.

Children are welcome and will attend a special Science Center during the program.