t is time to come home – at least come to ASU’s homecoming and the Department’s homecoming reception on November 13. While last academic year was highly productive and eventful, this year is shaping up to even be more eventful – and we are only a quarter of the way through. We are extremely proud of our accomplishments and activities, of which I will relay only a brief synopsis of what has occurred over the summer and the beginning of the 2008-09 academic year, since our last newsletter. To catch up on most other events, and old newsletters, I recommend that you visit our web site: http://chemistry.asu.edu/
The department continues to grow at a breathtaking rate. We now have more than 1,000 undergraduate majors, and proudly announce our largest freshman class ever, i.e., 305! This continues our growth trend since the year 2002 of an average of 20 percent per year. The chemistry degree majors (B.A and B.S.) have grown steadily, but modestly, and now comprises 200 undergraduates. Our principal growth is in biochemistry, which numbers 800 bachelor of science and bachelor of arts majors. Much of this is due to the introduction of our medical chemistry concentration three years ago. This program now has almost 400 students enrolled and has proven to be highly popular, especially for those interested in careers in the health sciences.
The department is also experiencing rapid growth in course enrollment and, as a result, has driven us to develop new and better methods of delivering instruction. We are especially proud of launching our Chemistry Collaborative Learning Center (CCLC). This facility, which is described in this newsletter, has revamped the old, drab laboratory recitations we used to have in our introductory and general chemistry courses and pumped them up on technological steroids. The emphasis now is to reinforce new concepts of chemistry and to develop certain skills via non-lab hands-on activities and computer exercises. The students work in small groups and teach one another within the context of a highly mediated environment of computers, projection screens and other high tech facilities. Student acceptance and enthusiasm has been extraordinary, already pointing to success.
Research-wise, we are racking up an impressive list of important results, funding awards, and recognition. All point to the hard work of our students, staff and faculty, and the vibrancy of the department. In brief: Assistant Professor John Chaput won a highly prestigious EUREKA award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH); graduate students Benjamin Sherman, Wei Wang and Zhao Zhao won Arizona Science Foundation fellowships; Professor Petra Fromme edited book on “Photosynthetic Protein Complexes;" Lecturer Dr. Pam Marks and Professor Jim Allen each published a textbook, one on “Introduction to Chemistry” and the other on “Biophysical Chemistry," respectively; Hao Yan was promoted to full professor (bypassing the rank of associate professor) and was named as a university exemplar by President Crow; Professor Ariel Anbar led a successful, multi-PI effort to land a highly coveted $7M NASA Astrobiology Institute grant; and, Assistant Professor Julian Chen won R21 grant from NIH to find potential cures for cancer and telomerase-dysfunction diseases. All of these accomplishments are indicative of the vibrancy of your department – the department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at ASU.
I hope that I will be able to see you all at our homecoming reception on Thursday, November 13, and follow that with a visit to the department on Friday.
With best regards,