Tuesday, April 17, 2018

What is Tyvek?

In the summer of 2012 (definitely 6 years ago) we purchased a season pass for the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The pass came with an envelope made of Tyvek. I have been using that for a wallet ever since.

January 2018
Before this I was using a plastic Ziploc bag, so I felt this Tyvek thingy was an upgrade. People told me that was weird until I went to a stagette party in 2011 and one of the other bridesmaids was also using a Ziploc bag for a wallet. No surprise because she was also a fitness queen.

Yes, the logo is definitely faded and there are holes forming in the corners, but can you tell me another material that would hold up this well and be so lightweight and compact? We were at the movie theater January 2018 to see the movie 'The Post' and in the lobby they were selling wallets made of Tyvek.

January 2018
These wallets cost $15.00 each which kind of seemed like a lot to me, especially considering the one I've been using was given to me. ProTip: Tyvek envelopes can be ordered from USPS.com in packs of 10 for free.

If you want to make your own "Mighty Wallet" out of a Tyvek envelope, the owner of DynoMighty has posted an instructable here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Express-Mail-Envelope-tyvek-Wallet/

I was so curious, as a chemist, about what kind of material would hold up so well and it turns out that it is a form of plastic. Plastic is derived from hydrocarbons (petroleum) and this type of plastic is high-density polyethylene (HDPE). This is a common plastic in the home, one major use is milk jugs.

What makes Tyvek so strong is that the long chains are not branched. The polymer is formed into thin sheets of parallel fibers. More about the manufacturing process can be seen here.

Last year, DuPont celebrated 50 years of Tyvek and it has found many uses. If you are done with the Tyvek product, you can recycle it at any location where you drop off plastic shopping bags.

If you are interested in the Summer Pass for the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the cost is $80 for Adults and they go on sale May 1st. You get unlimited rides up Mt. San Jacinto until Labor Day.

January 2018
BTW I also bought a neon yellow "trucker hat" in summer 2013 and I still wear it almost every day. I think my mother-in-law was horrified because she offered to buy me ANY hat at the gift shop and I chose this one over all the other cute frilly girly styles. 

Even though "trucker hats" are cheap, they are durable and functional. With a plastic mesh back and a large, nearly vertical foam front, this "trucker hat" keeps me cool and I love wearing it while walking or biking because I feel safer because it's "safety yellow." Look out, I'm walking here!

August 2013
What I love about my Tyvek wallet is that I can put it in my fanny pack and hit the roller rink, I can slide it into my sports bra and go for a run, I can fit it into my seatpost bag on my road bike, I can zip it into the side pocket of my yoga pants. It goes where I go and it's slim and durable.

Also, Tyvek is water-resistant and the plastic driver's license, credit card and insurance card inside together with the emergency $20 bill aren't harmed by a little teeny bit of perspiration. So go ahead and get your sweat on! Tyvek is a durable material that can handle whatever you are into.  

Unless you're into finely dispersed iron oxide or zirconium oxide solid superacid catalysts above 700 degrees Farhenheit, in which case your Tyvek wallet could be melted down to a wax.

Shabtai, Xiao and Zmierczak. "Depolymerization-Liquefaction of Plastics and Rubbers. 1. Polyethylene, Polypropylene, and Polybutadiene." Energy & Fuels 1997, 11, 76-87.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

255th ACS National Meeting #ACSNOLA

The 255th ACS National Meeting in New Orleans had over 15,000 attendees. The conference theme was "Nexus of Food, Energy & Water" although most of the presentations I attended were about chemical education (CHED).

Sunday, March 18, 2018

CHED 37 Diane Bunce, What makes a "C" student a "C" student? What are the differences between "A/B" students and "D/F" students? Research at the US Naval Academy (USNA) reveals that general chemistry students who get "Cs" know they should be using deep study but they haven't yet fully mastered the deep study approach. "A/B" students use deep study and "D/F" students use surface study. A second study at the USNA found that "A/B" students look at solved problems in the text (self-help, individual) while "D/F" students use peer learning facilitators (PLF) and tutors (help from other people, cooperative).
ACS Board of Directors Meeting There is an ACS Scholars Program which awards renewable scholarships to underrepresented minority (URM) students majoring in undergraduate chemistry-related disciplines, and are also intending to pursue careers in chemistry-related fields. Selected recipients are awarded up to $5,000* per academic year. To date, over 3,000 students have received a funding from the ACS Scholars Program.

Keynote Speaker Lisa Balbes "Nontraditional Careers for Chemists: Thinking Outside the Beaker" Lisa started out by presenting some data: in one year there are 2704 PhDs awarded in but only 501 faculty positions available. There are a range of careers besides academia. Further, doing a post-doc is only useful if you are planning a career in academia. Doing a PhD in the chemical sciences teaches time management, ability to learn quickly, ability to manage a project that are transferable skills for careers outside of academia. Lisa showed a Chord, a cross between a bar chart and a flow diagram, showing the size and links between various categories. US Census data from the 2012 American Community Survey looked at which US college major subjects are commonly associated with employees in STEM jobs. The graph here shows that a minority of students who graduate with a STEM major end up working in a STEM occupation. The majority of STEM graduates end up in occupations such as management, health care, education, sales, business, legal, etc.

The good thing about attending the Board of Directors Meeting is that you get an overview of the conference and that can give you ideas of what you want to see. I learned about the session PRES: Science Cafes & Engaging the Public: Techniques for Hosting Successful Events. After we checked into our hotel, we came back to the convention center and I went to see

PRES 7 Science Cafes & Engaging the Public: Techniques for Hosting Successful Events by Pete Joseph Bonk, the session co-presider representing the Rhode Island ACS local section. He gave us some guidelines for planning events. (1) create a 45 minute presentation. Keep your talk on science. Tell them what we know, how well we know it, how do we know, what are the known unknowns, what are possible unknown unknowns, what are common misconceptions, what are our assumptions, are there any complications? Show humility. Avoid projections & predictions. Use unbiased sources (not news articles). Challenge your audience, don't avoid complexity. The audience has come to learn and they will trust you to inform them, you are an expert. This talk will be a basis for part (2) a large-group discussion. The total event is 2 hours, so allow for significant participation in the second part of the event. You function as a moderator, not a director, of the conversation. Above all, show your enthusiasm and have fun! Advertise your events on facebook, via email and using fliers/postcards.

PRES 8 From science cafes to a state-wide STEAM festival by Preston John and Tara A. MacDougall. In 5 years, they hosted 11 science cafes at their Discovery Center (science museum). Lessons learned: props and demos are essential, get experienced speakers, coach your speaker on what to focus on (takaways and problem solving strategies), involve the Boys & Girls club to be inclusive of diversity, use hot topics (e.g. bioengineered mosquitos to fight Zika virus), make the event two-way engagement (get volunteers to participate, do not just lecture). There is a Science Festival Alliance at MIT that can provide you training. They have a 5 year plan to create a non-profit so that the STEAM festival can become self sustaining. Currently they rely on corporate donations in $10,000 increments. The total cost of the festival exceeded $300k. With corporate partners, they can use the event to recruit the workforce of the future (e.g. Schwann cosmetic company that has trouble finding workers). Including the arts allowed for involvement of the country music hall of fame, kids made Jason Aldean style hats out of paper. Also there was a video contest with a GoPro as a prize where kids used innovative instruments to play a B# note. Video entries were tagged with #besharp

HIST 14 "Food at the Crossroads: Chemistry's Role in Sustainability, Past & Present" This is pretty much the only talk I went to that would qualify for being at the "Nexus of Food, Energy & Water" and I didn't even stay very long, but it was at least tangentially related to my passion for gardening and the experiment we do in our second analytical chemistry course about scoville heat units of a habanero.

PRES 9 "Brewing Chemistry” in Detroit: Maintaining a long running Science Café by Meghann N Murray. Her website is here. There's funding for these events here. The ACS Committee on Local Section Activities (LSAC) funds new local section projects through Local Section Innovative Projects Grants (IPGs). Application deadlines occur twice yearly: January 31 and June 30.

At my poster (CHED 160) I got to catch up with my BFF Cheri (Barta) Rossi.

Monday, March 19, 2018

CHED 237 Amanda Holton from UC Irvine presented her work on active learning in massive lecture courses. I met her last year at the Collaborative Chemistry Conference in Oxnard, CA. 

CHED 253 Justin Carmel at Florida International University studied students' ability to (1) engage arguments from evidence (2) plan and do experiments (3) analyze and interpret data and (4) construct explanations. Students were given two graphs, see below, and asked "What if anything can you say about this data? Can you make a conclusion?" He found that students agreed that the left graph was inconclusive, but that students tended to make a conclusion from the graph on the right.

He also had some cool assessment based on Rhodamine. He showed students a UV-Vis absorbance spectrum and asked them "Based on this analysis, do you believe it? What are the similarities and differences? What would the solution look like based on the absorbance spectrum?" A third activity was based on Phlogiston theory. Data was presented to students (burning magnesium, forming magnesium oxide) and students were asked to explain their reasoning using Phlogiston theory (or not).

CHED 254 Dulani Samarasekara from Mississippi State University presented data evaluating designed laboratory partnerships. Her groups were (A) free choice (B) random (C) side to side (D) high-low and (E) cohort. The side-to-side partnerships were where the ACT math score was similar between partners and the high-low partnerships were where one person in the group had a higher ACT math score than the other. The model inputs were post-lab critical thinking questions, survey attitudes, and lecture course final exam grade. Groups (4) and (5) had the highest cooperation based on survey data, while group (4) had the highest average final exam score. This is two semesters worth of on-sequence general chemistry (FA12 and FA13) with N = 1400ish. Group (4) enjoyed the partnerships the most. Future work will examine the effect of gender and ethnicity. The audience member asked if she conducted any face-to-face interviews.

CHED 240 Nawaporn Sanguantrakun from St. Louis College of Pharmacy measured the effects of active learning and flipped classroom on the success of students enrolled in a two year integrated chemistry sequence. She used POGIL and PollEv to create the active classroom environment. A set of 3 cups was used to indicate whether a group was (Green) no problem, in progress (Red) stuck, need help or (Gold) finished, ready to move on. This is how she managed the dynamic classroom environment with a large enrollment. She provided students a team checklist to manage behavior and to allow students to evaluate their teammates (turn around, participate, focus, etc.). She also found that assigning team roles formally, as suggested by Moog, was better. There were team presentations for share-out. A reflection sheet was also used and collected for points. Her grading scheme overall was 60% cumulative exam, 25% midterms, 10% in class activity (3% quiz, 4% POGIL, 3% PollEv), and 5% outside class activity (supplemental instruction, office hours, review session). Her in-class lectures were 5-10 minutes long and interactive (or maybe that was the outside class video, IDK).

CHED 242 Monica Illies from Drexel University spoke about assigning a "Study Buddy" to students in her general chemistry (freshmen) and introduction to medicinal chemistry (seniors). She found via survey that her students were not valuing employer-desired skills such as teamwork. Her "pedagogic composite strategy" involved (1) think-pair-share (2) metacognition (3) feedback. She used flipped classroom, muddiest point, clickers, tie-ins to content from her students' concurrently enrolled courses, awarding participation points, and handwritten feedback. She teaches the "Study Cycle" as recommended by Saundra McGuire. She found that her freshmen were focused on reproducing/imitating the professor, they were motivated by GPA, and they considered feedback as criticism. By contrast her seniors were focused on being original, they were motivated by career readiness, and they perceived feedback as help. A big take-home point for me was that teamwork helped students avoid "the illusion of knowing" that can be associated with studying from a book.

CHED 244 Kalyn Shea Owens, a chemist, together with Ann Murkowski, a biologist, from North Seattle College have developed a set of interdisciplinary investigations (IDIs) with funding from NSF DUE. Three examples of projects involve (1) aquaporin for water purification (2) epigenetics to teach hybridization (3) hemoglobin to teach thermodynamics. These projects engage biology, engineering and public health majors. The model they follow is: connect --> extend --> challenge. The IDIs involve students reading primary literature and collaboration. The first week students generate a drawing (model) and teachers give a mini lecture. The second week students give seminars. They tell students "Your model does not need to be correct, just well supported!" A rubric instructs that students' model should utilize 2+ disciplines and communicate clearly. They discussed threshold concepts in biochemistry. Specifically intermolecular forces.

CHED 319 Charlie Cox from Stanford University uses active learning in his TA training workshop. Stanford has 40-50 incoming graduate students to train, so they match 5 trainees with 1 experienced TA. Three days (8h/day) prior to the start of the semester are used (1) policy = honor code, sexual harassment (2) safety = manifolds, ppe, spills, fires (3) teaching = office hours, problem solving, microteach, prelab lecture. Day 3 format is that new grad students give their microteach, receive feedback, eat lunch, then present an improved version of their microteach. The TA training itself uses clickers and discussions to avoid "death by powerpoint." They pay experienced TAs $500 to facilitate. The Mentors in Teaching (MinT) program extends the 3 day training into a semester (1) goal setting (2) midquarter evals (3) observation (4) end of quarter wrap up. The overall goal is to create a welcoming environment, NOT a scary experience. Presiding over this session was Rebecca Kissling, the chemistry undergraduate advisor at Binghamton University, SUNY.

CHED 290 David Cartrette from South Dakota State University spoke in the session titled "ACS Award for Achievement in Research for Teaching & Learning of Chemistry" discussing a course developed jointly with an art teacher. He followed STEMtoSTEAM.org from Rhode Island School of Design. Scientists with creative hobbies (such as music, literature, art) are 1.7x more likely to be members of the National Academy of Sciences, 1.8x more likely to be members of the Royal Society, and 2.8x more likely to be Nobel laureates. The course they developed had a 400-level designation and enrollment with half art students and half chemistry & biochemistry majors. It was populated with first-semester freshmen (FTF). It came with an honors designation. First, they deconstructed stereotypes of artists and scientists, encouraged students to focus on their common creative process (concept, trial & error, problem-solving, discovery, final approach). They presented students with an image and used Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) as a framework to discuss that art can mean something different to each individual (see and discuss). Students were tasked with creating a public installation which required them to think: Who is the audience? How many people pass by? What is an appropriate scale? They settled on a kinetic sculpture in the student union.

CHED 330 Jack Eichler from University of California, Riverside used Active and Blended LEarning (ABLE) in general chemistry funded by NSF IUSE. A publication from The Coalition for Reform of Undergraduate STEM Education motivated his use of flipped classroom. A concept inventory revealed that peer instruction improves student performance. Best Practices for Flipped Classroom include (1) online pre-class videos with interactive questions (2) online pre-class simulations that are interactive. These must be mandatory! (aka. worth points). Then (3) the class time should be used for problem-based learning involving case-inspired real-world issues such as sustainability and renewable fuels. Eichler combined studio-produced videos with screencapture using the playpauseit software. For simulations, he used mathematicaCDF, Norton ChemTours, and PhET sims. A quiz through the learning management system (LMS) is an effective way to gauge student progress. Worksheets with open-ended questions were graded and returned. Eichler had undergraduate SI leaders and graduate TAs attend lecture. He lowered the DFW rate from 15% to 5%. He also used ALEKS for homework. Using a responsive approach, flipped classrooms together with collaborative discussion was found to be better than collaborative discussion alone.

CHED 331 Overtoun Jenda led the "Making to Advance Knowledge, Excellence and Recognition in STEM (MAKERS)" program in Alabama, which was an alliance between community colleges and universities. The goals of this program are to improve the graduation rate, lower the DFW rate, and get more people in the pipeline for STEM careers. Freshman-sophomore pairings focused on time management, study skills and academic resources. Junior-senior pairings focused on summer internships, GRE preparation, choosing a graduate school and writing. The program components that were deemed mandatory were: check your school email, attend all meetings, maintain a 3.0 GPA and full-time student status, attend workshops and summer programs. The issues were that obtaining an IRB for a multi-institution project was an absolute nightmare. NSF funding is great but you can't start the project without the IRB. His advice: choose faculty who love working with students, not just those who love getting grant money. It was hard to recruit students due to fluidity of community college population.

CHED 293 Amy Phelps from Middle Tennessee described the differences between wet labs and virtual labs. She found that in a wet lab, students talked about the procedure (and complained about missing and broken equipment) whereas in virtual lab students discussed the concepts and theory. **If students in CHEM 102 @ CSUN work in pairs for the VLabs, they may work better** Students who did the virtual lab tended to learn the micro and symbolic aspects better, whereas students who did the wet lab learned the macro aspects better. So it seems they are both good because students who did the virtual lab didn't learn the macro aspect and students who did the wet lab could not articulate symbolic or micro level understanding.

CHED 333 Sunghee Lee from Iona College in New Rochelle, New York described the "Development of Excellence in Science through Intervention, Resilience and Enrichment (DESIRE)" which funds 6 students per year (summer stipend + tuition/fees) for 4 years. The 5 pillars of their program are Academic (peer learning), Professional (REU, industry partner, career seminars, networking, field trips), Interpersonal (learning community), Intrapersonal (reflections on service learning, academic advising, career counseling: what do YOU want? not your parents'), Intercultural (understand, honor, value, resilience, apply a cultural perspective to solving problems in diverse teams). They offer a class called "Science Society & Self" SOC490 that is an elective for the sociology major and a core elective for the college of science & math. It is offered every spring and recommended for all science majors. She gave lots of detail about the assignments for this class (see image at left).

CHED 334 Marion A Franks from Virginia Tech spoke about his "Emporium" style general chemistry course. The shift in pedagogy was due to the fact that 89% of students were scoring below 40% on the ACS gen chem exam and only 3% of the students scored above the 50% benchmark. The emporium is a staffed 24h/day computer lab for students to use ALEKS. They found a decrease in DFW rate, an increase in the number of ALEKS topics mastered, and an increase on the score on the ACS exam. The peer tutors working in the emporium attend lecture and work through ALEKS. The emporium group had 2 lectures per week and 2 class meetings in the emporium whereas the control group had 3 lectures per week and a traditional recitation.

test   control test   control test   control
52 71 65 20 47 40
47 54 70 65 60 57
36 62 75 58 41 36
DFW rate ALEKS topics ACS Exam

CHED 1796-1800 "STRETCH your students' minds using materials to engineer ideas about water, food and energy in the chemistry classroom," a make-and-take session.

A post shared by Kayla Kaiser (@hamerk02) on

CHED 1870 "Pasadena City College (PCC) Chemistry Club" saw Veronica Jaramillo and had a great coffee talk with her the next day.

Mississippi State Alumni and Friends Reception at Mulate's the original Cajun restaurant. Found out that they are hiring 5 faculty without any restrictions on the discipline. A great place to solve a "two-body problem."

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

CHED 1929 Lance Shipman Young at Morehouse College spoke about Peer-Lead Team Learning (PLTL) and his conclusions were that you need (1) an "Army of the Committed" so that if some faculty or administrators leave the program will survive (2) creative funding sources, they get $12,000 per year in donation from Corning (3) and willing open-minded faculty and deans. At his school, the program actually went on a 2-3 year hiatus due to a lack of these three items, but it's revived now.

CHED 1930 Rick Moog spoke about POGIL, PLTL and Pratibha. In a talk from 2005 they were using student-centered pedagogic approaches including process-oriented guided inquiry learning (POGIL) and peer-led guided inquiry (PGLI), physical chemistry online (PCOL), problem-based learning (PBL), calibrated peer review (CPR), and just in time teaching (JITT) so these ideas are hardly new.

CHED 1940 Allison Caster from Colorado School of Mines spoke about how and why she converted general chemistry in large traditional lecture sections (250 students) to smaller class size (50 students) with active learning. Using a pre- and post-test in the traditional lecture revealed that students were coming out of the class with misconceptions and poor mastery of the material. Also, there was a 20% DFW rate. The 4 Pillars that support their work are (1) learning by doing (2) finding relevance (3) communicating (4) scaffolding = start with what they know. They noted that it can be overwhelming to implement active learning given the array of techniques in the literature. Leading students to an impasse is critical. They used whiteboards and authored (or borrowed) 60+ activities. They used the science writing heuristic (SWH). There are lots of resources here. With a class size of 263 students they were able to lower the DFW from 25% to 15%. They saw a bump in attendance from 70% to 95% even though the worksheets were worth a small amount of points. Students recognized that attending class was of value. They did intentional grouping and also allowed groups to reshuffle throughout the semester.

CHED 1941 Kimberly Linenberger Cortes from Kennesaw State University in Georgia spoke about her Fall 2016 Science & Math majors cohort. The students took chem lecture and lab as well as math class and freshman seminar together. She used GoFormative and iClicker for daily group quizzes (analogous to learning catalytics). POGIL and ChemSource were the resources for in-class activities. ChemQuest and PhET were used for simulations. Camtasia was used for flipping the classroom, with embedded quizzes in the videos. The barriers to implementation were: PLTL facilitators and rooms. Also, it was difficult to get faculty to adopt high-tech video production. Her framework was Model-Based Inquiry (MBI) which (1) anchors (2) presents initial ideas (3) engages students in an activity (4) revisits hypothesis. The activities intentionally created cognitive dissonance. Labs were paired with simulations. The learning community was found to decrease the DFW rate. The flipped classroom environment was appreciated by freshmen but a more difficult adjustment for nontraditional students. Examples of her activities were flame tests, legos for dilution, and a FlinnSci activity on paramagnetism.

CHED 1943 Scott Lewis at the University of South Florida spoke about flipped classroom and PLTL in the second semester of general chemistry. He used measurable linked content (MLC). He created 47 instructional videos together with a team of 3 people. They have an upper level chemistry course that is PLTL training. Using class-level data over 8 sections, he found that the following deviations from the mean:

flipped traditional    p value
midterm +0.25 -0.31 0.003
final +0.16 -0.18 0.008

The advantages to his approach is that it is scalable, covers the same content and presents a minimal cost to students. His future work involves longitudinal tracking of his former students and PLTL facilitators in analytical chemistry.

CHED 1944 Drew Meyer from Case Western Reserve in Ohio described several semesters worth of data where he used ALEKS, clickers and POGIL-like active learning in 40% of his lectures. Twice he also used pre-lecture videos. He had a large class (300 students) and a small class (45 students). Best practices dictate that if you plan to do active learning, you must begin on day 1. If you have a theater-style classroom, make a seating chart that leaves some rows open for you to move through the room. The pre-lecture videos get everyone on the same base of knowledge and a start-of-class quiz gets them there on time. He used Camtasia for his videos, no more than 10 minutes each. He measured students' attitudes toward chemistry.

CHED 1967 David Malik from Indianapolis University presented data on the success of ALEKS and PLTL on lowering the DFW rate from 40% to below 20%. He emphasized that remedial courses hinder student progress and decrease the graduation rate. Many students get stuck and never finish.

CHED 1968 Bobby Kunnath from Syracuse University in New York spoke about his experience with bridging high school and university. He is a high school math teacher plagued with students constantly asking why they need to learn math. He found chemistry is the perfect way to show students exactly why they need math skills. Also being an immigrant, he is sensitive to the communities of refugees from Congo, Somalia, Nepal, Burma, Yemen, Sudan, and Vietnam that can be found in New York. He reported that 80% of his students qualify for free or reduced lunch. The experience he provides for them ranges from 6 weeks to 1 year where students shadow and then do hands-on experiments to receive a $250 stipend when they turn in a reflective essay. This made me wonder: Why can't the chemistry placement test (CPT) be a part of Freshman Orientation? We already require a math and writing placement exam.

CHED 1969 Ranier Glaser from University of Missouri discussed his recent publication wherein he taught spectral deconvolution using Excel in a course about how to do science. A take-home point of his talk was that "If the essence of science is peer review, then we're not teaching science if we're not doing peer review." And also "The idea that scientists are objective is a myth. They're ego driven, especially the successful ones. Peer review constrains the egos. Arguments are necessary. Peer review is a way of communication." You can find more about this course here: Undergraduate Seminar in Chemistry (3).New Curriculum on Scientific Writing, Peer Review, Science Communication. Writing-Intensive. Methods for reading, locating and presenting chemical information; data management, presentation and analysis; scientific writing; scientific peer review; professional ethics.

CHED 2015 Emily Lauren Atieh of Rutgers University in New Jersey presented her chemistry game consisting of "Sleuth Problems." Students could choose to solve a problem by purchasing various pieces of information on a budget. Constants are free. If students get the problem correct they will gain money, if they submit an incorrect answer money is deducted from their budget. Using a Likert-scale tudents (N = 52) agree that the sleuth problems helped them self-diagnose their problem solving skills, encouraged them to work in groups, and helped them understand. The Likert-scale questions revealed that the sleuth problems did not help them prepare for the exam. Open-ended surveys also found that students were frustrated by the sleuth problems, namely where to begin. Finally, the open-ended survey uncovered that students felt the sleuth problems did not relate to the exam. Her future work will include a note in the IRB that students' solution maps will be collected as data.

CHED 2016 Nathaniel Beres and Aaron Roerdink from Heidelberg University in Ohio teach a course where students study the chemistry in art and then take an international trip to view the art. Stateside, students made paint & pigments, degraded the paint & pigments, analyzed the samples, discussed forgeries. They also studied the effects of acid, base and neutral solutions in contact with marble, brass, copper and clay (materials used to create sculptures). A key assignment prior to the trip is that students were delegated to serve as tour guides for the group at specific times in the overseas experience. While traveling, students completed a journal prompt for each day of the trip. Tours included a museum conservatory, a university with an art conservation program, and a world-renowned ceramics studio. Collaborating with the Psychology department gave these chemistry professors a "Universality-Diversity Scale" to assess if the program ended up enhancing students' world-view. A final assignment was for students to articulate when they observe an object that they would NOT consider "art" among the pieces they viewed during their trip. The cost per student was charged upfront as "fees" for the course $2500 / student. They refunded any unused portion of the money, in this case $700.

I read an article just before attending the conference about the hashtag #scicomm. A response article, which I have not fully read, was posted on a different media outlet about 24 hours later. I definitely do use social media to promote science. What are your thoughts?

Sunday, March 4, 2018

45th Assembly Candidate Forum

CSUN Office of Government Relations in partnership with League of Women Voters hosted the 45th Assembly District Candidate Forum, Sat. 3/3/18, Orange Grove Bistro.

From Left to Right in the above photo:

Ray Bishop - vietnam vet, no special interest $
Daniel Brin - west hills neighborhood council
Justin Clark - government accountability
Jesse Gabriel - lawer, politician, transpo, enviro
Tricia Robbins Kasson - valley d'town, transpo
Ankur Patel - #metoo campaign ally

April 3rd special primary election http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/upcoming-elections/2018-ad45/
Register to vote in person or online by March 19th

Questions from the moderators...

RB - veterans, not for profit
DB - winnetka facility, rent control, new infill
JC - motel conversions, transit corridor
JG - meas H, city HHH, build it, tax cred, supply
TRK - mental health, subs abuse, obamacare
AP - coordinators at the local level, deliver

Cochran - Reseda neighborhood council president
She is a write-in candidate

Gun control?
AP - stop movement of guns across borders
TRK - gun buybacks, longer wait, health srvc
JG - prop 63, ban assult weapons in CA
JC - train & fund schools to prepare for shooting
DB - limit ammo, raise age to 21, address bullies
RB - weapons of war should not go to regular people

MeToo movement?
RB - prosecute aggressors
DB - pass ERA, protect all gender identities
JC - power dynamic, politicians not above law
JG - new people in Sac, protect victims
TRK - all women have more than one story
AP - get to K-12 ed, rape is a tool of war

Economic development?
AP - health care, enviro, transit, pay teachers
TRK - empowerment zones, vocational programs
JG - extend film tax credit, affordable higher ed
JC - small businesses, no lifelong student debt
DB - living wages, unions, empower workers
RB - small business advocate

Gas tax: senate bill 1
RB - get away from fossil fuel, clean our mess
DB - no bullet train, drives a volt, has solar panels on his house 
JC - 12 cent raised, with little action
JG - competitiveness, $ from washington
TRK - shift to clean renewable energy
AP - electrify orange line, tax vehicles/axels

What do u about the 45th?
AP - educ opportunities, diversity
TRK - beauty, big trees, mtns
JG - family-friendly
JC - kind caring protective people
DB - hiker / cyclist, plants acorns
RB - equity, cooperation

Audience questions...

How are you different / unique?
RB - experience and service, ch of commerce
DB - manages fb group, keeps it civil, open
JC - not a speed bump, an accelerator
JG - listen, advocate, represent fairly, represent
TRK - giving back, local govt, Bloomenfield
AP - people-powered, horizontal thinker

What issue would you risk your campaign on?
AP - single payer health care
TRK - housing = 10 yr problem, impacts transp
JG - climate change
JC - govt accountability / transparency
DB - enviro, clean air, w/out that whats da point
RB - nothing

RB - deportation is inhumane & undignified
DB - there should b a pathwy to citizenship
JC - does not support
JG - represents them in court
TRK - it makes us safer, crime reporting
AP - hire immigration application processors

Charter schools?
AP - does not support, will not shut down good
TRK - free ed, they're good for competition
JG - nonissue, more $ support for public ed
JC - supports family choices, special needs
DB - protect teacher's pensions, incr teacher pay
RB - high tech ed, free college, admin pay ⬇

Health care
RB - Berniecrat
DB - system is overly complicated
JC - privatize, deregulate, reform
JG - human right, universal, affordable, quality
TRK - prepaid instead of pay after a disaster
AP - focus on providing care, not profit

Closing remarks
RB - experience counts, stand by your decision
DB - experience, civil discourse among differen
JC - real reform, no prehistory, clean slate
JG - new ideas, dem supermajority, blue CA
TRK - tenacity / persistence, community
AP - get involved, you are not alone, humble

The Kaisers in CSUN's Orange Grove
celebrating 10 years of marriage this month.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

insomnia (part II)

I get seasick. I get carsick. I get sick from rollercoasters. I get sick on buses. I get sick on trains. I get sick on subways. This may be a contributing factor to why I love human-powered transportation so much! Bicycling never makes me sick.

This semester was so stressful! (see previous posts eLearning then Checking in) I was so self-involved trying to be extrordinary that I forgot it's more important to keep it simple. In 2018, I hope to leave at least 6 hours each day for empty space and see what happens (how the time gets filled in). Last semester, I was scheduled so tightly that I really had no time that wasn't already spoken for.  It was actually quite ridiculous. Anyway, that's a long way of making an excuse for how I would come home at 11pm (after night lab) and then have to teach at 8am the next morning. So I would dissolve Alka Seltzer Plus Night Cold & Flu in 4 oz of water and crash out. It would help me sleep no matter what.

Then, on dear husband's birthday (see previous post behind the curtain) we boarded the Catalina Express and spent the weekend out driving around in a golf cart and in cars throughout Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange counties. My mother-in-law gave me Dramamine so that I wouldn't get motion-sick. I took the maximum recommended dose in the morning, and then took another dose 6 hours later. I felt just like I had drank an entire bottle of red wine. But also, I felt a similar feeling the next day as I felt when I had taken the Alka-Seltzer Plus Night Cold & Flu, which made me wonder about the active ingredients in each.

Antihistamines and the endogenous ligand
Doxepin at low doses used to treat insomnia due to its binding to the histamine H1 receptor. Meclizine is sold under the name Dramamine II (Less Drowsy Formulation). Doxylamine is a first-generation antihistamine, part of the formulation NyQuil. Chlorphenamine is part of Kirkland Signature Day/Night Time Cold Multisymptom Relief Rapid Release Gelcaps (from Costco). Dimenhydrinate (a combination of diphenhydramine and 8-chlorotheophylline) is Dramamine I. Diphenhydramine alone is sold under the trade name Benadryl among others. In college, after the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, I had a hard time sleeping. The student health center recommended Benadryl as a sleep-aid.

Dale discovered histamine,1910
Antihistamines, including diphenhydramine, were introduced in the 1940s. Dale isolated histamine and discovered its role in nerve signal transduction. Bouvet together with his student Anne-Marie Staub synthesized and tested the first antihistamines. These compounds were too toxic; not until 1942 were the first medically useful antihistamines developed by Bernard Halpern.

I have written about the histamine H2 receptor in a previous post. There are histamine H3 and H4 receptors also, but this post is going to stay on the topic of compounds that block the histamine H1 receptor.

Bouvet discovered antihistamine, 1937
Second-generation antihistamines cross the blood–brain barrier to a much lower degree than the first-generation antihistamines. Their main benefit is they primarily affect peripheral histamine receptors and therefore are less sedating.  These are newer drugs, but this post will continue to focus on the first-generation antihistamines, which are available over-the-counter at an affordable cost.

An advantage to the use of antihistamines for treatment of insomnia is that tolerance does not occur during regular use. A disadvantage to the use of antihistamines for treatment of insomnia is impairment of alertness, cognition, learning and memory. Overdose is possible, leading to death via respiratory depression. Diphenhydramine overdoses (0.5-1 g) whether accidental, suicide or homicide, are a common event in the United States. Therefore, poison control centers have guidelines for triage and management for antihistamine toxicity after overdose.

This research and writing has inspired me to devote my next chemistry-related post to drugs that are stimulants of the xanthine class. Dimenhydrinate, for example, is a combination of diphenhydramine and 8-chlorotheophylline. The stimulant counteracts the calming effects of the antihistamine.

Anne-Marie Staub wins Ehrlich Prize, 1969

Church, M. K. and Church, D. S. Pharmacology of Antihistamines, Indian Journal of Dermatology, Volume 58, Issue 3, 2013, Pages 219–224.

Mahdy, Amr M. and Webster, N. R. Histamine and antihistamines, Anaesthesia & Intensive Care Medicine, Volume 12, Issue 7, 2011, Pages 324 - 329.

Mitchell, H. A. and Weinshenker, D. Good night and good luck: norepinephrine in sleep pharmacology, Biochemical Pharmacology,Volume 79, Issue 6, 2010, Pages 801-809.

Simons, F. E. R. and Simons, K. J. Histamine and H1-antihistamines: Celebrating a century of progress, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Volume 128, Issue 6, 2011, Pages 1139-1150.

Stojković, N., Cekić, S., Ristov, M., et al. Histamine and Antihistamines / Histamin i antihistamini. Acta Facultatis Medicae Naissensis, Volume 32, Issue 1, 2015, pp. 7-22.

Yanai, K; Yoshikawa, T.; Yanai, A.; Nakamura, T; Iida, T.; Leurs, R and Tashiro, M. The clinical pharmacology of non-sedating antihistamines, Pharmacology & Therapeutics, Volume 178, 2017, Pages 148-156.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

insomnia (part I)

Valium launched in 1963. Ativan opened for US sales in 1977. Klonopin opened for US sales in 1975. Rohypnol launched in 1974, but was never marketed in the US. Xanax launched in 1981. 

In the mid-1950s, chemists at Hoffman-LaRoche intended to discover new tranquilizers. Valium was among the first pharmacological and commercial successes. By 1980s, it was known that this class of molecules resulted in chemical dependence (addiction). However, use of these compounds for short-term relief from anxiety have not significantly dropped. Dependence and tolerance, coupled with dosage escalation and withdrawal symptoms, may appear after as little as 3 weeks.

Benzodiazepines work by binding to the GABAA receptor, at a site adjacent to the binding sites for GABA. The native ligand, GABA, inhibits nerve action by flooding the cell with chloride ions so that the nerve cannot "fire." Binding of benzodiazepines opens the ion channel even more, letting in more chloride ions, assisting in hyperpolarization, shutting the neuron "off." This is why benzodiazepines have the effect of a general nervous system depressant, muscle relaxant, and interfere with the formation of memories.

Treatment of insomnia can be achieved using benzodiazepines, however there are significant adverse-effects. Benzodiazepines are controlled substances and can lead to cognitive impairment, falls/fractures, delirium/dementia, anterograde amnesia, altered sleep activities (e.g., sleep-eating, sleepdriving, sleep-walking), and carryover sedation. Lack of memory formation is a contributing factor for Rohypnol's use as a date rape drug.

Long term use can result in permanent changes in the quantity of GABAA receptors and/or the configuration of GABAA receptors. This may be why rebound anxiety or rebound insomnia is a common withdrawal symptom. Overdose is possible, resulting in death by cessation of breathing. Benzodiazepines may cause or worsen depression. Upon cessation, seizures similar to delirium tremens are observed.

This class of drugs is still in use to alleviate pre-surgical nervousness, as they are fast-acting and potent. All are available as generic versions, but all require a prescription.

Wietholter, J. P. and Coetzee, R. "FDA-Approved Nonbenzodiazepine Receptor Agonists for the Management of Insomnia." US Pharm. 2017;42(1):29-32.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

behind the curtain

This month was an adventure! We headed to Catalina Island for dear husband's birthday, then to Northern California for Christmas.

Catalina Island was full of Smart Cars. This came as a surprise. Upon returning home, I found that a smart car classifies as an "autoette." There are only 1,000 parking spaces in Avalon, so there is a long waiting list to import a car (if you move there, expect to wait 14 years or so). Since the island is space-limited, the Smart Car is very popular. Given that Catalina is known for its eco-mindedness, it is a surprise to me that electric cars are not mandated. The noise of the golf carts alone really disturbed the peaceful retreat atmosphere, not to mention to pollution left behind.

what seems like paradise
The birthday adventure included driving 300 miles in automobiles, 80 miles on a ferry, and 12 miles in a golf cart. Tickets on the Catalina Express are $37.75, unless it's your birthday (which is free).  Best case, gas is $3/gal and we get 40 mpg, so that cost $22.50 in gas (7.5 gal).  Worst case, gas is $4/gal and the inlaws' car gets 20 mpg, so that cost $60 in gas (15 gal).  The boat burned 160 gal of diesel fuel. For the golf carts, estimates range between 10-30 mpg, using a price of $4/gal that would mean we spent $2.40 on gas, but $90 for a 2 hour rental period.

3584 lbs carbon dioxide from the boat
    44 lbs CO2-equivalent GHG emissions from the steak dinner
    30 lbs carbon dioxide from the car
    12 lbs carbon dioxide from the golf cart
3670 lbs carbon dioxide from the weekend (1.66 metric tons)

Weather Disasters are costing us Billions... and devastating events are increasing in frequency!
A carbon offset is a credit that is purchased to negate carbon emissions. One carbon credit is equal to 1 metric ton of carbon emissions. It costs $10 per ton to purchase carbon offset from the Arbor Day Foundation.  I'm thinking about all this because at Thanksgiving, my dear sister-in-law told her recurring story/joke that our low-car lifestyle offsets their carbon-hungry lifestyle.  All the bicycling we do is negated by their dry-cleaning.  And they laugh about this.

$150.00 in ferry tickets (for 4 people)
$300.00 in beef (for 8 people)
$ 60.00 in gas for the car & golf cart (for 4 people)
$ 90.00 in rental fee (for 4 people)
$600.00 total cost

Not only that, but we ate steak for dinner.  It's interesting how eating that steak seems so luxurious.  Well, that's because of what it takes to produce the meat. It was disgusting driving up to Nor Cal and seeing (smelling) feedlots. I'm not sure, but I think it was Harris Ranch, which supplies I-N-Out Burger among others. The smell was so bad, and stretched for miles, I almost vomited. If you're considering a New Year's Resolution, consider that substituting one beef-based meal a week for beans, you can avoid releasing 331 kilograms (730 pounds) of carbon dioxide every year. One quarter-pound of beef results in 5.5 pounds of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

behind the curtain you find this
One mature tree absorbs carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 pounds per year.  This means it would take 76 trees a whole year to consume the carbon dioxide we generated in one weekend.  I'm concerned about this in light of stories I'm hearing about Nebraska farmers cutting down mature trees to plant a few more rows of crops. This is alarming coming from the birthplace of Arbor Day.  So if you want to do me a birthday present, purchase carbon credits and let's stay home and go for a walk.  And I've purchased a pressure-cooker to cook my beans in 1/3 of the time.

While in Riverside, we stopped at our old favorite Winco Foods to buy bulk grains and dried beans.  Then we stopped at IKEA Burbank to get some reusable storage containers for said grains and beans.  Then we visited the $10 Bookstore to find a used cookbook that is all about using whole grains.

$100 at IKEA
$177 at Winco
$  27 at Best Buy (rice cooker)
$  20 at Bed Bath & Beyond (pressure cooker)
$    6 at Bookstore (whole grains cookbook)
$330 for home-cooking

I really hope 2018 is a year of home-cooking and bike riding and car-free travel. Let's make it happen. FYI the 2nd Annual Women's March in Los Angeles is happening on Saturday, January 20, 2018.  Let's remind Donald Trump that we disagree with him.

TRUMP: We’re going to win another four years for a lot of reasons...they basically have to let me win. 

Link to New York Times Interactive

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Salty & Sweet Car-Free Travel

We had a fantastic car-free November. Metrolink saved us from sitting in freeway gridlock, and welcomed our bicycles and our dog on board.

Sweet Santa Ana

Our packing list was kept simple: We brought lots of lights for our bicycles, three headlights and three taillights each bicycle.  We had 2 rear panniers each bicycle and 2 front panniers for one bike and 1 dog carrier for the other bike. 
Instead of a purse, I brought my camera bag. I brought two hair bows, which ended up being used as a belt and neckerchief. I had a half-shirt that I wore underneath the dresses. I wore an extra dress and yoga pants on the way down there. I felt like a few things were missing, but we made it despite.

Thanksgiving day, we biked to family's house using the Peters Canyon Trail and the San Diego Creek Trail (10.5 miles mainly on the Mountains to the Sea Trail & Bikeway). It was a bit warm, and the ride felt long, but by the time we arrived we were so relaxed and ready to enjoy catching up with family.

Black Friday we walked to have brunch at the "Yellow Basket" at the corner of Main & Dyer while scoping out the bus and bicycle traffic. We decided to stay inside during the remaining daylight and take OCTA buses to access downtown Santa Ana.

Route 55 took us from Halladay & Dyer to First & Main. The bus fare was $2 per person, if we had planned on being on buses all day, we could have purchased a day pass for $5 per person. We walked West to Broadway and then North to 2nd St and discovered a Promenade (which is where we spotted the map & directory below). We saw Grand Central Art Center, which was not open, but we peeked in the windows. There was a fountain and a few trees were decorated with lights.

There was a cute roundabout at 3rd and Bush street, which isn't even visible on Google Maps Satellite View yet. The upgrade was paid for by Active Transportation (ATP) funds from the State of California.  I definitely felt safe walking there, there were very bright streetlights that had a vintage look and the few cars that were entering/exiting the parking lot were traveling very slowly. There were secure bicycle parking facilities called Bike Huts, which require monthly or yearly membership, probably installed to support residents of the lofts in the downtown area.

We walked East through the alley between 3rd and 4th streets past some gorgeous murals towards the Yost Theater. We encountered another fabulous Promenade called "Fiesta Plaza."

We gave in to temptation to do some shopping and entered R&R Western Wear 'Casa Del Sombrero.' There were the blingingest shirts, belts, boots, and hats that you can imagine! We picked up one belt and 6 colorful bandanas. According to Yelp, R&R has been in Santa Ana for 58+ years! It felt great to support a small business instead of heading towards The District at Tustin Legacy, which we assumed would be packed with people (and speeding cars).  It felt great to do some walking and not have to worry about driving/parking our car, which we couldn't have done anyway since we didn't bring it.

Exiting R&R Western Wear on the North we walked to the corner of 4th and French St to take some pictures with the large decorated Christmas tree at Plaza Calle Quatro. The appearance of some gentrification along 4th Street became evident as we passed Wursthaus and mLovewell and were chased by some people from the Santa Ana Restoration Church asking for cash donations.

We passed The Frida Cinema and ducked into the 4th Street Market to take advantage of the public restrooms and free smells. The market had a cool space on its North side that had what looked like a kid's play area, a DJ and a bunch of picnic tables. I wanted to go in and play with the oversized Jenga blocks and Connect 4, but it was getting late and we had Thanksgiving leftovers to eat back in our hotel room.

There were so many awesome shops, restaurants and cultural venues in Downtown Santa Ana that I could have stayed longer, but we decided to end our walking tour there and took the OCTA 53 bus back to Main & Dyer (the Yellow Hat). I would love to return to Santa Ana on the night of an Art Walk (First Saturday of each month from 6pm-10pm) or the morning of a Farmer's Market (Sundays 10am-2pm on 2nd St Promenade).

This walking adventure was inspired by Jonathan Gold's LA Times supplement on the 101 best restaurants in LA. As I was thumbing through the glossy food photos, a phrase caught my eye, "newish restaurant row in downtown Santa Ana" and it must have stuck in my mind because when we extended our Thanksgiving Trip by an extra day, I knew I wanted to explore the area.

We biked from our house to the Northridge Metrolink station along Reseda Blvd and Parthenia St (2.2 miles). We took Train 116 to LA Union Station at 2:52pm. We took Train 686 to Tustin, arriving after the sunset at 4:49pm. We biked along Edinger Ave to Kensington Park Dr to Valencia Ave to Tustin Ranch Rd to Barranca Pkwy which turns into Dyer Rd (4.2 miles). There were bike lanes most of the way. 

Coming home we took Train 663 from Tustin to LA Union Station at 12:25pm. We took Train 265 to Sylmar/San Fernando arriving at 2:46pm. We biked along Hubbard St to Laurel Canyon Blvd to Rinaldi to White Oak to Devonshire to Reseda (8.3 miles). If there were weekend trains on the Ventura County Line, we could have biked fewer miles. Parthenia and Hubbard are not great for cycling, they could be improved with bike lanes.

Salty Santa Barbara

Contrasting the Santa Ana trip with our other November travel adventure, where we visited my sister at UC Santa Barbara on Veteran's Day, downtown Santa Ana is humble in comparison to downtown Santa Barbara.  In both cases we stayed at La Quinta Inn & Suites, due to their welcoming pet policy.

We took our car with us to Santa Barbara because it's not yet possible to take dogs on Amtrak and Metrolink only goes as far North as Ventura. It would be possible (in theory) to bike from Ventura up to Santa Barbara (32 miles) but since our 10 mile bike ride was more grueling than enjoyable, I don't see us biking our dog and loaded bicycles against the ocean headwind anytime soon.

In Santa Barbara, we walked from our hotel to Cantwell's Market & Deli for provisions. We took a short dog walk along State St from Arrellaga St to Anapamu St. In a future visit, I would definitely explore more of State St on foot or on bikes.  The hotel had free bike rental, which we didn't use. We did a longer walk to the Mission Santa Barbara, about 1 mile from our hotel.  It was a great feeling to climb that hill and look out over the ocean imagining what it was like for early California settlers.

We did an epic walk from my sister's hotel to the UCSB campus.  We headed South on Storke Rd and then East on El Colegio to a bike path along Ocean Rd. We passed Pardall Tunnel on the way to a scenic overlook at Ocean Rd and Del Playa Dr. We ate at Dumpling King, avoiding large chain restaurants nearby. Making our way back to the Courtyard by Marriott on Storke Road it was about a 4 mile round trip walk.

I had never fully appreciated the "party school" reputation of UCSB until that moment. This walk was on Friday night, under cover of darkness. We saw students coming up from the beaches with surfboards and students playing beer pong on the lawns of Camino Pescadero. There were bicycles outfitted with cages navigated by older men for collecting the beer cans and bottles left behind by party-goers. There were many students walking from house to house, and others cruising through the neighborhoods on bicycles. A few young people drove through in cars, but they were severely in the minority. For how can one find the party by following the music when car engines interfere?

Another fabulous walk was had the following morning. We tried to rent free bikes from her hotel, but they had only 2 and couldn't locate them at 6am when we wanted to borrow them. My sister and I walked North on Storke towards The French Press, which unfortunately did not open until 7am on Saturdays. We headed West on Hollister Ave and then South on Santa Felicia Dr.

Just past Best Buy, we smelled something wonderful. We thought it was coming from Costco, but as we got closer to the big-box retailer, the smell went away. We turned Northeast and followed our noses to Anna's Bakery which opens at 6am seven days a week. We got coffee, doughnuts and breakfast burritos, all of which were heavenly and fresh. They had outdoor seating and a steady stream of locals came through for their morning fix.

We passed through Girsh Park on the way back to the hotel. Also noteworthy was "Ice in Paradise" a skating rink. Although it would have been great to explore Santa Barbara by bicycle, we sure did see lots of sights on our walks.

If we went back to Santa Barbara, I would know that there are buses that we could have taken from downtown (State St) to the UCSB campus. If Amtrak allowed dogs, or if we were willing to bike 32 miles and travel only on weekdays, we could have done that trip car-free.

In conclusion

It was great to spend time in cities (Santa Barbara, Santa Ana) that have invested in bike lanes and improvements to make pedestrians feel welcome. These cities are walkable and bikeable, as evidenced by the many cyclists and pedestrians we saw during the day AND at night. It was great to be a tourist in these cities and spend some of my hard-earned money on these unforgettable experiences at small businesses. The sights and smells from the plants and sea air are giving me the energy to keep going and finish this semester strong!