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Faculty & Staff Updates

Dr. Rick Heldrich officially retired from the College of Charleston in December 2017 after 35 years of service to the College.  Dr. Heldrich made undergraduate research a priority throughout his career at the College, having worked with ~50 students over the years on synthetic organic chemistry projects.  He served as the first Director of Undergraduate Research at the College of Charleston from 2002-2007.  In that role, he created the framework for the College’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities, a major step towards institutionalizing undergraduate research at the College.  Dr. Heldrich also served twice as Interim Chair of the Department.  Dr. Heldrich is still teaching organic chemistry post-retirement for the department and he is still mentoring students in the research lab.

Heldrich retirement

Scenes from the retirement reception for Dr. Rick Heldrich: Left: Bob Nusbaum (Geology) and Rick Heldrich.  Right: Beth Meyer-Bernstein (Biology), Mike Auerbach (SSM), Mike Giuliano, Andrew Gelasco, and Jason Overby

The Department hired Dr. Rich Himes as an Instructor in Fall 2018.  Dr. Himes earned his PhD at Purdue University and moved to Charleston after his post-doctoral position at Johns Hopkins.  His training is in the area of organometallics and bioinorganic chemistry but more recently he has transitioned to medicinal chemistry, serving as the Chief Scientific Officer of startup companies Neuroene and Lydex Pharmaceuticals, both MUSC affiliated companies.  Dr. Himes is involved in the synthesis and testing of lead compounds for the treatment of Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and leukemia.  Dr. Himes is already working with our students on this research at MUSC. 

Dr. Jennifer Fox and Dr. Brooke Van Horn were both awarded tenure and promotion to Associate Professor in 2018 and 2017, respectively.  They both work tirelessly with our undergraduate students in their research labs. Dr. Fox studies the intricate network of proteins and cofactors necessary to assemble the electron transfer protein complexes of the mitochondria.  Dr. Van Horn builds biodegradable polymers that can deliver drug cargo with the goal of exploiting these constructs to advance medical treatments.  Dr. Neal Tonks was promoted to Senior Instructor in 2018.  Dr. Tonks continues to facilitate contacts in local industry by working with area companies Kemira and Innovative Resource Management.  He also pursues his own research on the synthesis of biologically compatible bio-based drug delivery systems and bio-based polyurethane foams.  Dr. Tonks is active in the South Carolina Section of the American Chemical Society and received their 2018 Distinguished Service Award. 

Dr. Dave Boucher was awarded the Gordon Jones Distinguished Achievement Award in the School of Science and Math for his outstanding mentorship of undergraduates and productive research.  In 2018, he published four papers with seven different undergraduate authors.  Dr. Forconi spent a semester on sabbatical in Italy studying mechanistic aspects of enzyme catalysis and he also is serving as Associate Chair. Dr. Wendy Cory has been analyzing pharmaceuticals that have been on the International Space Station in a new collaboration supported by funding from NASA.  She has also transformed our Chem 112 lab (Gen Chem II) curriculum to be a classroom undergraduate research experience (CURE).  Dr. Pam Riggs-Gelasco received a superior rating for post-tenure review in 2018 and has been serving as Department Chair since 2012. She was awarded the American Chemical Society Local Section Outreach Volunteer of the Year for the South Carolina Section. Dr. Amy Rogers is working with students to determine the structure-function relationship of NO synthase and she serves as the faculty advisor for the student chemistry service fraternity, Alpha Chi Sigma.  Dr. Kristin Krantzman was awarded a superior ranking in her post-tenure review in 2017. She is exploring a new area of computational chemistry with a biological emphasis after her recent sabbatical with Yaroslova Yingling in the Department of Materials Science Engineering at North Carolina State.  Dr. Rich Lavrich has published several papers in the last two years on microwave spectra that include seven undergraduate coauthors.  Dr. Lavrich’s research student was awarded a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship. Dr. Jason Overby celebrated the release of the Third Edition of one of the top selling general chemistry texts, Atoms First (Burdge and Overby). He developed a new accelerated Honors Chemistry course in collaboration with the Honors College. Dr. Jim Deavor continues his work in administration as the School of Science and Math’s Associate Dean; he will be stepping down from that role and returning to teaching full time later this year.

Dr. Kate Mullaugh has published several papers on the environmental fate of silver nanoparticles with her three research students.  She also launched the Department’s first international study abroad course in Costa Rica.  Dr. Mike Giuliano has received substantial grant support through the State of South Carolina’s NIH-INBRE program for his structural research on neuropeptides.  Two of his research students have been recognized by the Goldwater Scholar program, one as an honorable mention and one as a scholarship winner.  Dr. Jay Forsythe has published several papers with his research students using mass spectrometry to study prebiotic chemistry.  He is leading a department wide grant effort to procure a new LCMS instrument from the National Science Foundation.  Dr. Tim Barker has also been active publishing with undergraduates on his work that seeks mechanistic understanding of new synthetic routes in organic chemistry.  He has been teaching the Synthesis and Characterization course and is the steward of our 400 MHz NMR procured through the NSF. 

The Department is still home to emeritus faculty members Dr. Marion Doig and Dr. Clyde Metz who teach biochemistry and computational chemistry, respectively. Dr. Gamil Guirgis, University Professor of Science and Math, continues to teach and work with undergraduates in his research lab, studying the structure and conformation of silicon-containing small molecules. The Department is blessed with many talented adjunct faculty members who faithfully help deliver our curriculum, including several alumni of the College-- Professors Chandra Potter, Amanda Jones, Craig Bachman, Jeff Tomlinson, and Thomas McFadden.  In the 2019 semester, we also have Professors Betsy Gailbreath, Thu Lesher, Nadee Lokupitiya, Rich Salinaro, Tom Morinelli, Blaine Groat, Phil Robinson, Stephanie Boussert, Farah Jafri, Craig Bachman, Andy Gelasco, Michael Cohen, Tom Cuff, William Veal and Lisa Barker on the teaching faculty. 

Staff:  The Department has a fantastic staff who help everything run seamlessly.  Each semester requires the coordination of some 80-100 sections of courses, which includes ~20 unique lab curricula. Our instrument manager, Dr. Stephanie Boussert, maintains the department’s research and academic lab instruments and provides training to students in courses and research. Mr. Jeff Tomlinson (an alumnus of the Department) has been our office manager for many years and helps us maximize every lab resource and budget dollar.  He is joined in the office by Ms. Shauna Kendrick, our new administrative assistant.  The stockroom and lab prep are overseen by Dr. Phil Robinson and Ms. Catherine O’Laughlin (an alumna of the Department).