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RU senior earns award from regional chapter of American Chemical Society

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Dennis Godward, winner of one of the Virginia Blue Ridge Chapter of the American Chemical Society, with Joe Wirgau, associate professor of chemistry at the recent ACS poster session and dinner in the Muse Banquet Hall.

Radford University senior Dennis Godward was among 11 regional undergraduate chemistry students honored at the 22nd Annual Undergraduate and High School Poster Session, sponsored by the Virginia Blue Ridge Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS,) Wednesday, April 16, in the Muse Banquet Hall.

Godward, chemistry major from Thaxton, Va., received the group's James Lewis Howe Award for outstanding undergraduate chemists as part of the evening's activities which included a talk by Sam Kean, a writer who has covered science for the New York Times Magazine, Psychology Today and National Public Radio's "All Things Considered."

"It is an honor to be recognized by people whom I respect and care for," said Godward, who will start graduate school at Virginia Tech in material sciences in June. "There are many deserving classmates, yearmates and peers who are as worthy of this recognition as I."

Joseph Wirgau recalled Godward's first day at RU and said, "It feels more like a colleague is being honored. His successful transition from a career in banking says a lot about his ability to relate to a wide spectrum of people as well as his accomplishments in the lab."

Godward is a member of the 2013 award-winning student design team at the Planet, People and Prosperity (P3) competition that earned a $90,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to develop a sustainable purification system from synthetic humic acid materials. Godward was also a Grand Champion Award winner at the 2013 Sigma Xi Graduate and Undergraduate Colloquium at George Mason University.

"RU is as competitive as any place I could have gone, thanks to the hands-on, experiential opportunities that were available to me," he said. "As a grad school candidate, it felt good to sit confidently next to graduates of top schools from across the country and talk the same language."

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Hannah Gullickson (left) and Skye Hicking (right) were one of four RU teams presenting their research posters at the Virginia Blue Ridge Chapter of the American Chemical Society poster session and dinner in the Muse Banquet Hall.

Among the 11 undergraduate student/faculty research collaborations presented at the poster session were four by RU students:

  • Mehmed Pehlic, Morgan Lusk and Professor of Chemistry Christine Hermann on "Extraction and Analysis of Oils from Peanuts and Corn"
     
  • Skye Hicking, Hannah Gullickson and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Kimberly Lane on "Mutagenic Characterization of the Bacterial Loop of the E. Coli Beta-Glucurondase"
     
  • Charles Folsom, Gina Burchett and Lane on "Mutagenic Analysis of the Oligomerization of E. Coli Beta Glucurondase

  • Dylan McKnight and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Tim Fuhrer on "Revealing the Binding Affinity of Beta Glucurondase/Ligand Complexes via Computational Chemistry"

Dylan McKnight, a biology major who is minoring in chemistry, talked about his two-year experience investigating the toxic side effects of an enzyme that is used in chemotherapy, saying: "You can't just Google this stuff. I have a greater understanding of the scientific process as a whole, learned problem solving and critical thinking skills and certainly appreciate why it is so expensive and time-consuming to bring new drugs to market."

As he browsed the poster session, the event's significance was apparent to CSAT Dean Orion Rogers, who proudly said, "These are chemists taking their first steps on a long professional journey. It is exciting to see them presenting original research, responding to questions and criticism and learning from each other as they seek to improve society and the world."

Apr 17, 2014