Falcon Spotlight: Chemistry

Friday, October 27, 2017

As part of National Chemistry Week 2017, we talked with three Chemistry majors to learn about their FSU experience. Check out what they would tell a first year Chemistry major, how they're taking advantage of research opportunities and what they love about Fairmont State.  

Learn more about the Chemistry Program and the College of Science and Technology here bit.ly/FSUChem.


 

Ashley HoffmasterAshley Hoffmaster​ – Inwood, WV

Q: What is your major/minor?
I'm a chemistry major with a concentration in biotechnology.

Q: What organizations are you involved in on campus?
I'm working hard to keep my studies up and my grades good. I am a member of the ACS (American Chemical Society) club here on campus. Little shameless promotion: if you like chemistry, come check it out. You don't have to be a chemistry or even a science major to participate. The more the merrier.

Q: What led you to be a Chemistry major?
I was originally a forensics major. In high school, I loved chemistry and the forensics elective that I took. So I thought majoring in forensics would be perfect, mixing the two classes I enjoyed most. In my first year here, I decided to change my major to chemistry. This was done because I knew with a chemistry degree I would have many more job options after graduation than with just a forensics degree, and if I still decided to go into forensics, my chemistry degree would allow that.

Q: What is the best part of studying Chemistry at FSU?
I like the small class sizes. They provide a great learning environment because students and professors can be more interactive with one another. I also appreciate the professors here at FSU, I feel like they all care a lot about the success of their students, especially when the students work hard.

Q: What kind of work will your research with the Coal Run Hollow stream involve?
The research involves using atomic absorption spectrometry to determine the concentration of heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, and copper, in the stream. This gives insight on how safe the water is.

Q: What was your specific interest in the research?
I needed research hours for honors and when Dr. Scanlon proposed this research to me I was excited because I've always enjoyed using biology and chemistry to determine the health of the environment since I got some exposure to it in high school.

Q: What advice would you give to a first year Chemistry major?
College is a big step in life and it's a lot different from high school. There's a good bit of freedom that comes with college so it's easy to get slack in schoolwork. Power through the procrastination and the culture shock. Creating good study habits early on will prepare you for harder courses and start you out on a solid path towards success.

Q: What would you tell a first year Chemistry major about your FSU experience?
Overall, my experience here has been good. I've learned a lot, not just about chemistry but about myself as well.

Q: What do you want to do when you graduate?
There are just so many options! I haven't exactly narrowed down my future yet, but I do know I want to go to grad school once I determine what field I want to further study. It's a hard choice, but I'm working on making it.

Q: Why did you choose Fairmont State?
I originally set out to get a degree in forensics. The three colleges I looked at in WV included Marshall, WVU, and FSU. I decided to come here for the main reason of the campus being smaller and more welcoming than WVU and because it was closer to home than Marshall. I've enjoyed my years here, so I'm glad I chose FSU.


 

Hannah HallerHannah Haller – Barrackville, WV

Q: What is your major/minor?
I'm a Biology and Chemistry double major. 

Q: What organizations are you involved in on campus?
Tribeta (Biology Honor Society), Vice President
FSU American Chemical Society, Vice President 

Q: What led you to be a Chemistry major?
I decided to add chemistry as my second major because I found the courses interesting and I loved the professors. Also, majoring in chemistry is helping me become a more well rounded science student, thus preparing me for my future. 

Q: What is the best part of studying Chemistry at FSU?
The best thing about our chemistry program is that there are research opportunities for students at every level.

Q: What kind of work does your research involve and what is the goal of the research?
Chelsey Makell and I are investigating copper-catalyzed decarboxylative fluorination reactions under Dr. Andreas Baur’s mentoring. The goal is to find a more cost-effective method for fluorine addition. Fluorine is used in a wide variety of pharmaceuticals, making this a necessary pursuit.

Q: What was your specific interest in the research?
I joined this research because I enjoy synthesis and learning new and useful lab techniques.

Q: What advice would you give to a first year Chemistry major?
I would advise freshmen to ask questions and to get involved in research that they enjoy. I’d tell them to take advantage of the opportunities FSU offers.

Q: What would you tell a first year Chemistry major about your FSU experience?
“Fail spectacularly.” as Dr. Matthew Scanlon always tells us. Never be afraid to ask questions and get things wrong. That is the only way you will ever truly learn chemistry.

Q: What do you want to do when you graduate?
I plan to attend a graduate school program in biochemistry or chemical biology and work toward a Ph.D. I hope to contribute to advances in biomedical research and to one day educate the general public on the importance of science.

Q: Why did you choose Fairmont State?
Fairmont State was affordable and close to home with a well rounded science department. There’s no place I’d rather be.


 

Allison MooreAllison Moore – Fairmont, WV

Allison Moore is a chemistry major and a member of the class of 2019.  She is involved in the Honors Program, American Chemical Society and the Solar Army.  Allison has always wanted to be a doctor so she declared biology as her major when she applied to Fairmont State.  After taking a freshman chemistry class with Dr. Erica Harvey, however, she changed her major to chemistry.

Dr. Robert Baker, Director of Fairmont State’s Honors program, states that “Allison Moore is already one of our success stories.  She has proven herself an ardent member of the Solar Army and an involved Honors student.  Last spring, she participated in the Honors 5K Run/Walk to benefit the Soup Opera and brought her father along to walk as well.  We are delighted to have Allison at Fairmont State. Her enthusiasm and energy is inspiring.”

Allison has participated in several research projects and has conducted her own research.  She began doing research with the Solar Army as part of the CHEM 1105 honors course during her freshman year.  The summer following her freshman year Allison was invited to CalTech University to mentor high school students who were also working on the Solar Army project.  Allison is currently a SciTech Peer Mentor for FSU’s chemistry courses.  During the summer of 2017, Allison conducted her own research in conjunction with two internships within SciTech involving first generation college students interested in STEM fields and science teachers working in WV schools, respectively.  

Allison is proud of her many contributions to FSU but is most proud of her work with the Solar Army.  When she joined the group progress “was getting the equipment to work twice in a row.  Now we have developed reproducible protocols for every step of the research.  The project has grown to include many branches of research with collaborators across the state of WV.”  Dr. Erica Harvey states that “Allison’s Solar Army research during the summer of 2017 was instrumental to the success of two high-profile workshops held later in the summer.”  In the last two weeks of July, Dr. Harvey hosted 15 rising first-year undergraduates in a Solar Army research internship as part of an NSF grant to increase the participation of rural, first-generation students in STEM fields.  During the first week of August, Allison assisted Dr. Harvey in providing Solar Army research experience to 30 teachers as part of the Earth and Space Science Passport program offered by Dr. Deb Hemler at Fairmont State University.  “The teachers each took home HARPOON kits, so Allison’s work with development of the improved sample holder and improved saving/database capabilities had immediate and widespread applicability.”

When asked how FSU is helping to prepare her for a professional career, Allison replied that “getting involved in research my freshman year put me a step ahead because I was given the opportunity to make presentations and professional reports of research findings early in my college career.  I learned the importance of not just knowing facts, but also being able to discuss those facts with a diverse audience and with varying degrees of background information.”  While at CalTech, Allison spoke with some of the scientists who initiated the Solar Army project.  Through local outreach initiatives, she has given presentations to groups as young as elementary school children.

Allison feels that she has a family at FSU because she knows her classmates and she speaks with her professors on a regular basis.  “I feel welcomed, my ideas are respected and my opinions matter.”