# Celebrating expertise and experience on Chem.SE

It is very clear to see that we have a great breadth of expertise on this site, alongside a great accumulation of chemical experience across the membership. On top of that, many and varied chemistry based interests.

I am curious as to what people's actual expertise and experience are. Please feel free to share these with us (if you wish).

This was inspired by a similar meta post on Earth Science.SE here

• Ahem, I'm a humble guy with a PhD in lolic chemistry. Jun 24 '15 at 13:25
• Woo, people did chip in in this one! Jul 12 '15 at 16:56

## 3 Answers

Apparently, this user prefers to keep an air of mystery about them.

More seriously though... My undergraduate degree is in Chemistry from Frostburg State University, where I did two small research projects:

• Synthesizing a short peptide sequence to mimic the active site of a metalloenzyme
• Probing the chemoselectivity of reduction of $\alpha,\beta$-unsaturated ketones through isotope labeling.

I did my graduate studies in organic chemistry at the Univeristy of Pittsburgh under the direction of Tara Meyer. We collaborated with the research group of another Chem.SE user who then sat on my dissertation committee. I worked on two projects there:

• An intriguing, but ultimately unsuccessful, palladium-catalyzed multicomponent coupling.
• The synthesis of oligo(phenylene-vinylene)s with sequence-specific substitution using olefin cross-metathesis and Horner-Wadsworth-Emmons and characterization of their optoelectronic properties as a function of substitution sequence.

Now I teach organic chemistry, research methods, and our senior seminar/capstone courses at that same institution where I earned my BS. One of my colleagues is another Chem.SE user. My research interests remain in organic chemistry:

• Sequence-dependent properties of conjugated oligomers and polymers through synthesis and computation.
• Biorenewable alternatives to petrochemicals.
• Solvatochromism as a quantitative probe of the polarity of solvent mixtures.
• Colorimetric and fluorimetric sensing of metal ions with small organic chromophores.

I regularly send my undergraduate research students to present at local, regional, and national conferences.

However, my professional interests are straying into the worlds of faculty development through shared governance and experiential learning as vehicle for student recruitment, success, and retention.

I'm presently a scientific software developer, although I had a long and lovely trajectory through academia for a time.

My undergraduate work was straight-up liberal arts (Lehigh University), with enough chemistry and science credits to get me a spot in a graduate engineering program at the University of Texas at Austin. I earned a Master's in Geological Sciences, but my work was mostly in the area of water chemistry and thermodynamics of adsorption/desorption reactions involving high explosives and soil organic carbon. I spent a lot of time operating an HPLC and interpreting proton and carbon NMR spectra. I worked for Phil Bennett.

I switched departments at UT-Austin (again) for my doctoral work, which was in Bob Wyatt's lab. My area was mostly quantum dynamics and intramolecular vibrational energy redistribution (IVR) studies of a couple of interesting overtones in benzene. I had the good fortune to do my work during the mid- to late-1990's and thus worked on big supercomputers as well as newer clusters. I wrote a lot of FORTRAN 77 and spent countless hours on various Cray machines.

After earning my Ph.D., I went to UCSF as a postdoctoral fellow in Peter Kollman's lab (a wonderful man who passed away not long after I left in 1999). I used AMBER to do molecular dynamics studies of motor proteins in a collaboration with experimentalists at UCSF and WSU.

My second and final postdoc was at Princeton University, in Roberto Car's lab (of Car-Parrinello fame). I extended the AMBER studies to include electrons and found out some neat things about ATP hydrolysis in motor proteins. We got published in Science, which was cool (that was about kinesin, but still). I drank a lot of espresso and wrote a lot of scripts and C code. I collaborated with a small pharmaceutical company that was integrating Car-Parrinello MD into their drug discovery software. I had an on-again, off-again collaboration with said company for a number of years, and worked on neuronal nicotine receptor drug targets.

I was on the tenure-track for about a nanosecond (University of Colorado at Denver). Afterwards, I returned to Austin and lectured for a semester at UT-Austin (general chemistry), and then got into high-frequency algorithmic trading. I got exposed to neural networks and petabytes of data, paid off my student loans, and then eventually bounced into GIS (geographic information systems) and software development in python.

Anyhow, that's my trajectory. I do enjoy the community here and am enjoying being able to keep what's left of my chemical knowledge somewhat sharp :). Cheers!

• Yay! Hope you'll be a contributor here for eternity! Jul 12 '15 at 19:35

No one willing to chance being the only person to write something up here, eh? Someone needs to post first to get the ball rolling, eh? I'll take that plunge!

Beginnings

I couldn't've cared less about science in school at first, up until my first proper chemistry class, sophomore year in high school (US public school, 10th grade out of 12). At that point science became something more than just memorizing long, long, long, long lists of not particularly interesting facts: something to think about, to figure out, to do something with. With my interest finally piqued, and with all the advice I received saying, "If you like chemistry, you should start with a major in chemical engineering -- much easier to switch from ChemE to Chem, than vice versa," I entered Case Western Reserve University in 1999 planning to major in chemical engineering.

Undergraduate

Spoiler alert: I kept with ChemE, graduating in 2004 after eight semesters of classes and two 9-month internships. I enjoyed the chemical engineering material for the most part, though the physical side of thermodynamics still gives me fits (WHY is this the best control volume?!?!?). O-Chem drove me nuts, seeming mainly a more-intense version of the same maddening memorization I hadn't cared for before. My most memorable class was an elective on the electrical, magnetic, and optical properties of materials, learning all about Fermi levels and band gaps and the whys/hows of all those named Effects: Hall, Peltier, etc.

I did one term of undergraduate research, under Prof. Donald Feke, where my task was to develop a proof-of-concept demonstration of an angled flow insert for an ultrasonic resonator flow chamber, to try to facilitate ultrasonic separation of particles. Happily, I found an acoustic impedance match with (something like) LDPE and about 14% glycerol in water, making a nifty video showing particle accumulation on the nodal (anti-nodal? can't recall) lines even with the flow insert in place. I think the research ended up going in a different direction, though, so no early publication for me. <shrug> Them's the breaks! It was good for me to have the early experience, however, and the apparatus design work, though relatively crude, whetted my appetite for what turned out to be similar aspects in my graduate work.

Graduate

By the end of undergrad, I felt like I wasn't ready to be done with school yet. (What's wrong with me, I know...) After looking at the options, the deeper dive of graduate chemical engineering programs into the fundamentals of transport phenomena, thermo, and reaction kinetics really appealed to me. So, I applied to a few schools and, somewhat astonishingly to me (see "syndrome, impostor"), was admitted to MIT, where I worked in the group of Prof. William M Deen. My first-semester experience in 10.50 (MIT ChemE-ese for 'transport phenomena'), taught by Prof. Deen, drove home that the transport/kinetics combo was where I wanted to focus my learning.

The projects available at that time under Prof. Deen were all related to the chemistry of nitric oxide and its oxidative byproducts, and their toxicological effects as particularly pertains to carcinogenesis. My thesis work focused on the design and characterization of lab-scale delivery systems for reactive nitrogen oxides, to serve as tools for other toxicology researchers in studying potential carcinogenic effects in detail. Observing as the devices I constructed led to the collection of data by methods I'd adapted from literature, and then to neat conclusions to be published was tremendously satisfying. I know way more than any one person should about nitrogen oxide chemistry, though...

In addition to this main research path through transport and kinetics to a thesis, I also took an elective that first semester of Fall 2004 on quantum chemistry, 10.675. We didn't get a lot further than Hartree-Fock and DFT, but it caught my attention. I didn't do anything further with it during my graduate tenure, though.

Professional

Faced with entering the "real world," I was up against something of a quandary. I liked the thought of going into academia, but I hadn't developed a particular research interest that seemed strong enough to support a fledgling group as an assistant professor. So, after briefly surveying post-doc opportunities, I decided to look for an industrial research job. My wife and I both wanted to end up in the eastern portion of the U.S. Midwest, as that's where both of our families live. I applied to a few different companies, and was offered and accepted a position at Faraday Technology, Inc., near Dayton, OH--which, as it happens, is located only half an hour from my parents' house. Win!

Faraday's work centers around the application of pulsed electrochemical processing to a wide assortment of manufacturing and other process technologies, with the main areas of expertise in applications such as electropolishing and electroplating. One might notice that nowhere in the above did I mention anything about electrochemical experience, so the learning curve was ... rather steep. However, it's been fascinating material to learn and the team does great work there, and so it has been and continues to be a tremendous experience.

As part of one of my early projects at Faraday, I needed to assay electrolytes for metal ion concentrations such as copper and iron. In this way, I was introduced for the first time to complexometric titration (no ICP on-site at that time!) and thereupon to inorganic chemistry more generally, on which I was immediately hooked. Further reading on coordination chemistry, quantum mechanics (more on that in a bit), spin states, inorganic redox chemistry, and the like soon followed.

Personal

I'm one of those nutso people who likes reading journal articles and textbooks in my spare time. Further to that, in the last few years also the quantum chemistry has re-entered the scene, to the point where I now have a dual quad-core PowerEdge on my living room floor, running ORCA computations. In addition to some non-scientific thoughts bouncing around that might be book fodder some day, I would love for some of this personal computation work to turn out to be novel & publishable. A lot of the numbers I've crunched are ground well trodden before, but... never know!

I don't recall what post brought me over to Chem.SE from SuperUser, but I'm glad it did! It's been quite enjoyable starting to become familiar with the site and its membership--here's to many years of quality questions and answers!

• @CurtF., do I know you from MIT? Jul 8 '15 at 1:12
• I remember well a tall(er than me, at least), thin @CurtF. from my time at MIT - not to be confused with a Kurt F. or a Curtiss S. there. If our interactions were before 2004, though... I'm afraid I don't remember offhand. Jul 8 '15 at 14:08
• To chat --> chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/25620/bts-cf Jul 8 '15 at 14:17