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.

In the News: Dr. Bommanna Loganathan wins prestigious Volunteer Service Award

Dr. Bommanna Loganathan was recognized at the SERMACS 2019 Awards Luncheon as the winner of the E. Ann Nalley Regional Award for Volunteer Service to the ACS. The award, instituted in 2006 by ACS Past President E. Ann Nalley, recognizes the volunteer efforts of individuals who have contributed significantly to the goals and objectives of the Society through their regional activities.

Currently, Dr. Loganathan serves as the Kentucky Lake Section (KLS) Alternate Councilor and Chair of the Chemists Celebrate Earth Week (CCEW) committee. He has been influential in promoting the ACS illustrated poem contest, in which this year’s regional K-2nd grade first place winner advanced to the national level contest and won first place.

Dr. Loganathan is an ACS Fellow and an ACS Chemistry Ambassador. He has served on the KLS executive committee, and in 2014 he was instrumental in establishing Eddyville, Kentucky as a National Historic Chemical Landmark because of the Kelly Pneumatic Iron Process.

Dr. Loganathan is currently a Professor of Environmental and Analytical Chemistry at Murray State University in Kentucky.

Congratulations to Dr. Loganathan for this much deserved honor!

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 October 17th


October 2019 Kentucky Lake Section Meeting
University of Tennessee at Martin
Brehm Hall Room 258

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Dinner 6:00 pm
Meeting 7:00 pm

Dinner:  BBQ Pork Sandwiches, Potato Salad, and Baked Beans
Price: $10 (students $5)

Program: Marvelous Metals National Chemistry Week Demonstration Show


Meeting September 24th

September 2019 Kentucky Lake Section Meeting
Union University, Jackson TN
Carl Grant Events Center

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Dinner 6:00 pm
Meeting 7:00 pm

Dinner: Sliced Roast Beef or Herb Crusted Chicken, Salad, Cheesy mashed potatoes, green beans, and Chocolate Explosion w/ ice cream
Price: $10 (students $5)

Program: “From Bean to Cup: A Chemist’s Perspective on Brewing the Perfect Cup of Coffee” by Dr. Josh Williams, Union University

Probably starting in Ethiopia, coffee has been cultivated and consumed by humans for over a thousand years, and coffee is now one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. Coffee brewing methods vary widely as well, but they all have something in common. Brewing coffee, by any method, is ultimately the process of extracting soluble compounds from the solid coffee bean material into the solvent (water). This is, fundamentally, a chemical process. Utilizing chemical ideas and principles can help us to understand this brewing process more deeply and learn to optimize the different brewing variables to achieve what any serious coffee drinker wants – a better cup of coffee. The primary purpose of this very practical presentation is to give non-chemists in the general public a clear understanding of the entire coffee brewing process, and it is designed to be understandable by anyone, regardless of their chemistry background. So, bring a coffee-loving friend and come learn how a little chemistry can help you make a better cup of coffee.

Speaker Biography
Dr. Williams earned a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Augustana College in Illinois, and then a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Oregon. He also completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Pacific Northwest National Lab in Richland, WA, working on epitaxial growth of metal oxide superlattices for photochemical activity. He gained expertise in graduate school and his post-doc in using x-ray analysis methods to characterize thin films, which led to an industry position in Research and Development at Intel Corp. in Portland, a position as an Applications Scientist for an x-ray analysis equipment manufacturer, followed by a position as Chief Scientist in an x-ray analysis equipment manufacturing start-up company. He began teaching in higher education in 2008, and has been at Union since 2011. His current research interests include analytical instrument design and fabrication, exploring guest/host relationships in dye- inclusion crystals, and chemical education.


In the News: Kentucky Lake Local Section wins two ChemLuminary Awards

This year, the Kentucky Lake Local Section was selected as a finalist for four ChemLuminary Award(s).  Winners were announced at the ACS Fall 2019 National Meeting & Expo on Tuesday August 27th in San Diego, CA.  The section secured two awards:

The ChemAttitudes Partnership Award

“The Kentucky Lake Local Section conducted 5 hands-on science events, serving over 500 children across their rural region using the Let’s Do Chemistry kit. They partnered with Discovery Park of America to offer a free chemistry program; with the University of Tennessee Martin STEM Center to ensure that science had a prominent role at Martin Elementary School’s Family Fun Night; and with the ACS Student Chapter at Tennessee Martin to host a chemistry merit badge clinic for area Boy Scout troops.”

Outstanding Performance by a Local Section – Small Size Category Award

“Being a small section in a rural area is particularly challenging because members may have to drive upwards of 100 miles (each way) to attend meetings, activities, and events.  The Kentucky Lake local section met this challenge—and maintained good attendance—by rotating programming through four regional locations and providing consistent, high quality programs that engaged students, academic, and industrial members.”

Congrats to everyone who made these awards possible!

You can read more about this year’s ChemLuminary awardees here.