Missouri State University
Chemistry Blog

TV chemistry personality Lee Marek to visit campus

Lee MarekAre you a fan of chemistry demonstrations? Never observed one live before? Premiere chemistry demonstrator Lee Marek, who has appeared more than 30 times on “The David Letterman Show,” will be visiting campus  April 13.

Sponsored by the Ozark Local Section of the American Chemical Society, the event will include light refreshments starting at 5:30 p.m. followed by a fun lecture with videos and demonstrations from Marek himself.

“I use what is called the ‘phenomenological’ approach to teaching science—introducing a topic with a demonstration or lab so that students have something concrete on which to focus,” said Marek. “I use demonstrations as motivators to captivate student interest and to focus on the day’s topic.”

What: Demonstrations and lecture form Lee Marek

When: April 13 at 5:30 p.m. for refreshments, lecture begins at 6 p.m.

Where: Temple Hall, Room 002

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What do gum and anti-cancer drugs have in common?

Dr. Matthew SiebertPop a piece of gum in your mouth—what’s causing that cooling sensation? It’s a compound called cubebol, which is also found in products like aftershave.

The ring structure that forms cubebol is at the center of recent research by Dr. Matthew Siebert and his team.

“We know that there are several compounds containing this ring structure, including cubebol and isovelleral,” said Siebert, assistant professor of chemistry. “Isovelleral, however, has promise as a much more important compound. It has been found to exhibit cytotoxic effects—that may be enhanced by further modification—making this an attractive anti-cancer agent.”

Siebert recently had a paper on the subject of the plurality of pathways in gold published in Organometallics.

“In this work we used quantum chemical calculations to explore the viability of multiple proposed pathways to form naturally occurring ring structures via a gold-catalyzed reaction,” said Siebert. “Before our study, researchers had determined that there are two major events that must take place, but had no justification for which took place first, nor did they understand the details of these events—each event takes multiple chemical steps.”

Ultimately, Siebert’s team found what they believe to be the pathway for developing new compounds. The study provided insight that can be used to duplicate this reaction to form other compounds with this naturally occurring ring structure. This could lead to compounds, such as isovelleral, being used in new anti-cancer medications.

Looking forward

Though the broader purpose of the research is to contribute to the larger chemistry community, Siebert says there is a more specific purpose as well.

“For this particular study, we saw that we could provide answers about which proposed mechanism of action is more likely to take place,” said Siebert. “We were also able to provide directed examples of how one could go about optimizing this reaction in their own work.”

Siebert’s research provides insight into the atomic-level transformations that must take place to synthesize naturally-occurring ring structures in the laboratory.

Siebert hopes that another scientist will take this research and test it in a wet lab, ideally confirming the team’s results.

“We would also like to see our suggestions on optimization put to good use—perhaps by increasing the efficiency with which isovelleral, or other candidate pharmaceuticals, are produced.”

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Using plants to develop, improve medicinal treatments

Sometimes, it’s the smallest step that can prove to be the biggest help during processes in nature. Dr. Matthew Siebert, assistant professor of chemistry at Missouri State University, recently published an article investigating two pathways for one plant process in developing rotenone. “Rotenone is an interesting chemical,” said Siebert. “It is used as pesticide, or […]

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Author of ‘The Disappearing Spoon’ to visit campus

New York Times best-selling science writer and author Sam Kean will visit Missouri State University on March 30 to speak about his book “The Disappearing Spoon and Other True Tales of Madness, Love and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of Elements.” The book follows the tale of each element in the […]

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Author, Science Writer Sam Kean to Visit MSU, 3/30

Author Sam Kean
Author Sam Kean

New York Times best-selling author and popular science writer Sam Kean will be giving a talk in the PSU Theater at Missouri State University on Wednesday, March 30th from 5:00 – 6:00 pm followed by a book-signing where you’ll have the opportunity to buy a signed copy of one of his books. Admission to the event is free. For further details on Sam Kean and this talk, please visit http://samkean.com/.

This talk is sponsored by the MSU Chemistry Department Advisory Board, the Ozarks Local Section of the American Chemical Society, and the MSU College of Natural & Applied Sciences.

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SAACS Event: First Meeting of Spring!

Hey everyone!

This is a reminder that the Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society will be holding its first general meeting of the semester tomorrow (1/26) at 4:30 PM in Temple Hall room 143. We will be doing our liquid nitrogen ice cream demo and talking about events coming up this semester (including the Sertoma Pre-Chili Cook-off on Saturday). We will also be holding nominations for the vacant Vice President position.

See you tomorrow!
Brennon Foster
2015-2016 ACS Secretary

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