Throwback Thursday – Brockport Chemistry edition

From the Daily Eagle, courtesy of librarian Charlie Cowling, a snapshot of Chemistry instruction from the 1950s.  Apparently, Chemistry wasn’t dangerous enough to necessitate safety goggles back then, (but it was too dangerous for girls…).  How times have changed.

Back in the 1950s the College was, as its own literature stated, a “single purpose” institution, and that purpose was teacher training. Later in the mid-1960s the College would as part of its ongoing expansion become a comprehensive liberal arts college, with various majors, such as chemistry for example. But before then we still were teaching chemistry here, to aspiring science teachers, and one of the faculty was Robert Brandauer, who taught here from 1946-1970.

In a 1947 Stylus article he is described as “…the man with a million dollar smile…” He had an MS in Chemistry from Cornell (1939,) and at the time was working on his doctorate. In a curious coincidence he had previously taught at Roberts College in Istanbul, where Professor Martin Rogers had also taught. Faculty like Brandauer were in from the beginning of that incredible arc the school traveled, from a small teachers college with less than 1,000 students to a major comprehensive institution with almost 10,000 students.

Paper published

Recently, I published a paper in the Journal of Physical Chemistry, A with lead author Kyle Grice at DePaul University. He’s an inorganic chemist studying catalytic transformations using transition-metal complexes . One active area in catalysis is the development of systems that are photoactive. Using light to activate a chemical reaction (think photosynthesis) is interesting because the process is considered environmentally friendly. There are other research areas that seek to develop and better understand photochemically active systems, such as organic light-emitting diodes and solar cells. Yes, you read that correctly, better blinky-lights through chemistry.

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It’s not purple, it’s mauve…

My wife has been tending to these orchids for a number of years.  When we were in Chicago, they looked kind of sad.  They seem to like the Brockport air (which has much less traffic pollution, so I don’t blame them).

Click on the picture to get a bigger image.  The purple orchid seems to be very pleased by finally having a non-south-facing window to sit in.  Speaking of purple, today is Henry Perkin’s 180th birthday (thank you for honoring a Chemist, Google).  Perkin is known for discovering a way to produce purple dye.  His story, which is detailed in a very readable book by Simon Garfield, is worth picking up if you have a few hours to spare.


Prusa MK2S finally finished

I’ve had my MK2S printer sitting in a box for quite some time (I did have an X-carve to put together and a few assignments to grade – oh and I published a paper, but more on that later).  This is my second 3D printer, the first being a Makerfarm i3v.  I love my first printer, and it taught me a lot about the design and maintenance of these machines.  That said, I’ve always had a hard time with calibration and getting the prints just right.  My first successful 3D print with the i3v was a cube in ABS, and I was so proud.  Here’s my first successful print with the MK2S (brought to you from one of my students, Anusha Ventress, who is moonlighting as a videographer while she works in my lab):

OK, technically, this was the 3rd successful print on my MK2S, but all I can say is: wow.




Mandy – origins

I wrote this piece for a Wolfram technology blog a while back. It’s a bit Mathematica centric for that reason. The blog got delayed, then the editor left the company, then the new editor blew off the piece and I got tired of waiting, so here it is.

Not so long ago…

In 2012, the Raspberry Pi Foundation released the Raspberry pi, an affordable, credit-card sized computer originally designed to help younger students learn programming. It peels away the black-box of computers and exposes users to the fascinating world of how software controls hardware that control sensors that interact with the user’s surroundings. The computer science community refers to this idea as physical computing. As an Analytical Chemist, I call it a scientific instrument. Since much of my research and teaching deals with scientific instrumentation, the Raspberry Pi has turned out to be an excellent platform for exploring new ways to make measurements.

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