Field Trip to The Chemical Heritage Foundation Museum
Located in the heart of Philadelphia, The Chemical Heritage Foundation is a museum devoted to mapping the lineage of scientific innovation that led to the understanding of the world we have today. A link for the museum can be found here. Joined by Dr. Lance Silverman and Dr. Murray Dry of the Yeshiva University Department of Chemistry and Department of History, respectively, around twenty students from both undergraduate campuses traveled to Philadelphia to visit the CHF. In addition to a guided tour of the museum on exhibits ranging from alchemy to bloodletting, there was an interactive talk on the Philosophy of Science delivered by an expert in the field affiliated with the CHF. Later, there was a guided tour of the city, an area rich in cultural heritage. Unfortunately, there were strict rules against licking the Liberty Bell and despite persistent pleading on the part of the students, the regulators were relentless, and adamant about preserving their bell.
Maitland Jones Lecture
On February 10, Yeshiva University was honored to have Dr. Maitland Jones speak to students and faculty about his research. Dr. Jones is a renowned organic chemist, a professor at NYU, and the author of the organic chemistry textbook used at Yeshiva College. During his presentation, Dr. Jones spoke about the Cope rearrangement, a heavily studied organic reaction in which three double bonds on a carbon ring are rearranged into a new formation via an intermediate “coiled” form. Dr. Jones went on to describe several interesting chemical scenarios involving the Cope rearrangement and the rather dangerous compounds produced by it. Dr. Jones was involved in producing a dynamic molecule called bullvalene, a name which he himself coined (although there is much ongoing dispute surrounding the origins of the name). To supplement the talk, Dr. Jones brought in a sample of this organic elixir and autographed student’s textbooks.
Chemistry of Crack
On March 7, the YU Chemistry Club, in conjunction with Active Minds, was proud to present a program focusing on the potential dangers of abusing prescription stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall which are sometimes used as study aids. Opening up the evening was Dr. Barry Holzer, a psychiatrist who spoke about the chemistry and neurobiology involved in the use of these prescription stimulants. Dr. Holzer described the effects of stimulants on the dopaminergic pathways of the brain and emphasized that the overuse of these drugs could eventually lead to dependence, addiction, and even psychosis. Next up to speak was Dr. Kenneth Carpenter, a clinical psychologist and a researcher at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Carpenter spoke about some of the symptoms and epidemeology behind substance addiction and referenced some surprising statistical figures about substance abuse in the United States. Dr. Carpenter also described a research study that he was involved in which tested out the Community Reinforcement Approach, a new treatment approach for recovering drug addicts in which the patients were given extensive counseling as well as monetary incentives in order to help encourage them to stay clean. The night’s final speaker was Dr. Victor Schwartz, who spoke about how some of these prescription stimulants could negatively affect the typical college student and how the YU Counseling Center could help with such issues. The program then concluded with a couple of students’ questions about the topics discussed earlier by the speakers.
Mark Biscoe Lecture
On March 24, Yeshiva University was honored to have Dr. Mark Biscoe speak to students and faculty about his research. Dr. Biscoe is a professor of chemistry at City College of New York and has been a member of the Buchwald Group which has been conducting research on palladium and nickel catalyzed cross coupling reactions, the area of organic chemistry research for which several scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize this past year. Dr. Biscoe’s specific research focus has been on synthesizing stable and efficient palladium pre-catalysts. In his lecture, Dr. Biscoe discussed how the addition of a palladium catalyst to several organic reactions involving aryl groups could greatly increase the reaction yield. He then outlined some of the problems inherent in using these catalysts and how they could be solved by utilizing stable and effective palladium pre-catalysts. Dr. Biscoe then went on to describe some of the processes by which these pre-catalysts can be formed and how increasing the overall yield of the aforementioned reactions could greatly benefit drug development research.
Amusing Chemical Experiments For The Elderly
On April 10, 2011, the Yeshiva College Chemistry Club visited Fort Tryon Nursing Home to engage the elderly with a few amazing scientific experiments. The crew performed four tricks ranging from the highly exothermic elephant toothpaste, to giant dry ice bubbles, to burning large sums of money.
Gary Brudvig Lecture
On Thursday, April 28, Yeshiva University was honored to have Dr. Gary Brudvig speak to students and faculty about his research. Dr. Brudvig is a professor of chemistry at Yale University and a researcher for the Yale Climate and Energy Institute. Dr. Brudvig’s research focuses on producing fuel by utilizing solar energy to oxidize water into hydrogen gas and oxygen gas. In nature, the oxidation of water occurs in photosynthesis II ,where the process is aided by an enzyme catalyst. Much of Dr. Brudvig’s research focuses on determining the structure of this enzyme catalyst with the ultimate goal of being able to utilize its properties in solar fuel cells. Dr. Brudvig opened his lecture with a discussion about the importance of finding alternative energy sources and the problems that are involved in using solar energy. He then proceeded to explain the water oxidation step in photosynthesis II and how that process is aided by a specific enzyme catalyst. Dr. Brudvig then went on to discuss the research that has been conducted on this enzyme, both by his research group and by several other prominent researchers, in order to determine its exact molecular structure and how such information could be applied to the construction of solar fuel cells.