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Faculty & Staff Spotlight

Drs. Don Warner and Matt King Awarded METAvivor Grant

Don Warner, Cheryl Jorcyk, Matt King

Don Warner, Cheryl Jorcyk, Matt King

Professor Don Warner, Assistant Professor Matt King, and Cheryl Jorcyk (Professor in the Boise State Department of Biological Sciences) have been awarded a $200,000 METAvivor grant to develop a potential therapeutic for advanced breast cancer metastasis to bone. Warner, King, and Jorcyk will be working to develop an anti-inflammatory therapy with minimal side-effects that would reduce or eliminate breast cancer bone metastasis and prolong lives. The full article on this team’s breast cancer research can be viewed here.

Karen Hammond Wins Professional Staff of the Year

Karen HammondKaren Hammond, Manager, Student Support, won the Boise State 2017-2018 Professional Staff of the Year Award! Karen was nominated by numerous colleagues across the university for her hard work and dedication to students, and was honored at a luncheon sponsored by the Boise State Professional Staff Association. The award recognizes an outstanding Professional Staff member who best exemplifies service to the university and the community.

Drs. Matthew King and Owen McDougal Published in BMC Bioinformatics

Publication illustration

Photo copyright: BMC Bioinformatics

Drs. Matthew King and Owen McDougal of the Boise State Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry are testing small molecule drugs for new uses by using specialized software to help theoretically “screen” molecules that can be used for a variety of therapeutic applications. Their research paper, “SPIDR: small-molecule peptide-influenced drug repurposing” in the vol. 19, 2018 edition of BMC Bioinformatics, can be viewed here.

Recipients Honored at the Boise State University 2018 Campus Awards Ceremony

Campus Awards Ceremony Group PhotoThe Boise State 2018 Campus Award recipients were honored at a ceremony hosted by the Boise State Student Involvement and Leadership Center on April 19.

Dr. Henry Charlier (pictured far right) received the David S. Taylor Service to Students Award. This award recognizes an outstanding faculty or staff member who is committed to impacting the lives of students; extends student learning beyond the classroom; inspires students to see possibilities; and seeks innovative ways to serve students in the 21st century.

Chemistry major Micah Buckmiller (pictured second from the right) received the Spirit of Boise State Award. This award recognizes students who work hard and seek to learn; do their own research; generate new knowledge; and touch lives by serving the community, all of which exemplify the true spirit and values of Boise State University.

Dr. Eric Brown and Dr. Joseph Dumais Published in Polyhedron

Eric Brown & Joseph Dumias

Eric Brown & Joseph Dumias

Dr. Eric Brown and Dr. Joseph Dumais recently published “Solution and solid-state characterization of Zn(II) complexes containing a new tridentate N2S ligand” in the June 1, 2018 edition of Polyhedron. Dr. Brown’s research team, which consists of Boise State Alumni Valerie Tran, Kate Allen, Christopher Aaron, NSF REU undergraduate student researcher Martin Chavez and Research Professor Dr. Joseph Dumais, seeks to unravel the mysteries of biochemical zinc. In this paper Brown’s team outlines the discovery of a new ligand complex of zinc(II) that coordinates with nitrogen and sulfur.

Dr. Brown and Dr. Dumais’ paper can be read in full here.

Dr. Henry Charlier Receives the 2018 University Foundation Scholar Award for Service

Henry CharlierDr. Henry Charlier was honored with the 2018 University Foundation Scholar Award for service. This award is given to Boise State faculty who demonstrate ongoing commitment, expertise, and accomplishments in professionally related service.  Dr. Charlier is dedicated to being a STEM ambassador, at both Boise State University and in the Treasure Valley community. He has reached over 36,000 individuals, mostly elementary school-aged children, through his Dr. Picklestein persona, and has visited more than 250 locations locally to engage young scientists in STEM. He also helped found the Boise State IDoTeach program which helps STEM majors become certified to teach grade school science.  Dr. Charlier also actively participates in events such as Engineering Day, STEM Exploration Day, and STEM Academy.

Read more about Henry Charlier and the Boise State University Foundation Scholar Awards here.

Dr. Chris Saunders Featured in IdahoPTV’s Science Trek

Chris SaundersDr. Chris Saunders appeared as a guest scientist on two of Idaho Public Television’s “Science Trek” recent webcasts. In the webcasts he demonstrated fundamental chemistry topics such as the Law of Definite Proportions, the definition of an element and compounds, and the Law of Conservation of Mass. The demonstrations involved fan favorites such as fire, bubbling effervescence, and color changes. The Boise State University Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry’s mission is to promote student success through excellence in chemistry, and Chris’s participation in Idaho Public Television’s Science Trek is a demonstration of that commitment. According to, Science Trek seeks to ” introduce science topics to elementary-age schoolchildren; provide educational materials for teachers and parents; and inspire students to investigate science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) career potentials.”

The two webcasts that feature Dr. Saunders can be viewed at the following links:
Science Trek: Habitat Basics
Science Trek: Habitat Loss

Dr. Owen McDougal and Matthew Turner Published in Clinical Toxicology

Owen McDougal and Matthew Turner

Owen McDougal and Matthew Turner

Dr. Owen McDougal and Biomolecular Sciences Ph.D. student Matthew Turner were invited to participate in a research project by Dr. Brent Morgan, Director, Emory/Center for Disease Control/Georgia Poison Center Medical Toxicology Fellowship, Professor & Vice Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine. The project was to evaluate the blood serum and plasma for two hikers of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia that had poisoned themselves by eating what they thought was mountain leek. Botanist Dr. Wendy Zomlefer of the University of Georgia identified the plant as Veratrum parviflorum. Based on the work done with Veratrum californicum in McDougal’s lab, and a review article his team published on North American Veratrum alkaloids, McDougal and Turner were invited to analyze the plant alkaloids to determine if they were the causative agent that poisoned the hikers. This was the first reported incident of poisoning by Veratrum parviflorum and the first report of the alkaloids present in the plant. McDougal and Turner’s article in Clinical Toxicology can be accessed here.

Dr. Michael Callahan Awarded NASA Grant to Study Organic Material Found on Asteroids

Mike CallahanDr. Michael Callahan has been awarded a NASA grant to study organic material found on asteroids. The two-year, $446,413 grant will be used to develop analytical techniques to analyze the organic composition of material collected in space during NASA missions. Callahan’s research is being funded by the NASA Laboratory Analysis of Returned Samples (LARS) program. The full story on Dr. Callahan’s NASA grant can be viewed here.

Dr. Owen McDougal Receives COAS Faculty Excellence Award

Tony Roark and Owen McDougalDr. Owen McDougal was recognized by College of Arts and Sciences Dean Tony Roark during the spring college-wide meeting. The 2017 Faculty Excellence Award was given to Dr. McDougal for his strong record in teaching, research, and service, and his impressive ability to balance them all. Dean Roark’s full commentary on Dr. McDougal’s nomination can be found here.

Drs. Michael Callahan and Karen Smith Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Wine SamplesAssistant Professor Michael Callahan and Research Scientist Karen Smith were part of a multi-disciplinary and international research collaboration involving chemistry, archaeology, agriculture, environmental sciences, climatological sciences, and natural history. This research effort led to the discovery that winemaking existed 8,000 years ago, around 6,000 B.C. Callahan and Smith applied analytical chemistry methods to pot shards from the South Caucasus region near Tbilisi, Georgia. This area has a rich wine tradition, but the ancient origins of wine-making in this region were only recently verified with assistance from Callahan’s and Smith’s LC-MS research techniques, which can be read about in detail in the recently published manuscript “Early Neolithic wine of Georgia in the South Caucasus” in PNAS, vol 114, no. 46, November 14, 2017. Articles on this discovery can be read at the following links:

Employees Honored for Years of Service

Jon Scaggs and Donna HarrymanCongratulations to Donna Harryman (right), Jon Scaggs (left), and Israel Shebley (not pictured) for their dedicated years of service to Boise State University and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. They were honored at the annual, university-wide Employee Recognition Luncheon on October 30, which was presented by the Association of Classified Employees, Professional Staff Association and the Department of Human Resources. Donna, Administrative Assistant, was recognized for 10 years of service; Jon, Manager, Chem Laboratories, was recognized for 5 years of service; and Israel, Lab Services Coordinator, was recognized for 5 years of service. The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry would not function without them; their hard work and dedication is applauded!

Drs. Lisa Warner, Owen McDougal, and Matthew King Receive Collaborative NIH RO1 Grant

Lisa Warner, Owen McDougal, Ken Fujise, Matt KingDr. Lisa Warner, Dr. Owen McDougal, and Dr. Matthew King have received funds through a collaborative NIH R01 grant with researcher Dr. Ken Fujise at University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. The four year grant was awarded for $1,000,000 with about $393,000 coming to Boise State University. They are very excited to begin work on their project titled “Using Fortilin Inhibitors to Block Atherosclerosis.”

The aim of this research is to attack the protein fortilin to prevent fat cells from multiplying and getting bigger, which could ultimately lead to a treatment for Coronary Artery Disease.

More information on this team’s interdisciplinary project can be found here. 

Dr. Ken Cornell Receives Collaborative NIH Grant

Cornell/Thurston Research GroupDr. Ken Cornell has received a three year, $418,000 collaborative grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the microscopic parasite Giardia. Dr. Cornell will be collaborating with Dr. John Thurston, an associate professor of chemistry at the College of Idaho, to develop and test new anti-parasitic drugs to fight Giardia infections. Between Boise State and the College of Idaho, there are up to 30 students at a time working on these new drugs.

More information about this research can be found at the following links:

Matthew Turner and Dr. Owen McDougal Published in Toxins

Matthew Turner & Owen McDougal

Dr. Owen McDougal and Biomolecular Sciences Ph.D. student Matthew Turner published a paper in Toxins that studied effective ways of cleaning up and decontaminating conotoxins. Conotoxins are neurotoxin venoms produced by predatory marine snails and are composed of disulfide-rich peptides that are particularly harmful if mishandled.

The paper, “a-Conotoxin Decontamination Protocol Evaluation: What Works and What Doesn’t” Toxins 2017, 9(9), 281; doi:10.3390/toxins9090281 can be read here.

Dr. LeMaster and Group Published in Journal of Molecular Structure

Dr. Clifford LeMaster teamed up with graduate student Jonathan Prince, alumni Keanan Cassidy, Benjamin Greenwood, and Drew Butler, and retired faculty member Carole LeMaster to publish “Gas-phase nuclear magnetic resonance study of internal isomerization in perfluoro-2-azapropene: Comparison of experimental and computed kinetic parameters” in Journal of Molecular Structure, 1146 (2017) pg.126-129. This study compared experimental measurements of spectroscopic and energy values to the group’s theoretical computer simulation values, and provided strong evidence to the exact mechanism involved in the isomer transformation process. The paper can be viewed at the following link: Journal of Molecular Structure: Gas-phase nuclear magnetic resonance study of internal isomerization in perfluoro-2-azapropene

An author presentation of the paper is also available in the following Windows Media file: Gas-phase nuclear magnetic resonance study of internal isomerization in perfluoro-2-azapropene (MP4)

Dr. Raj Nagarajan and Nicole (Frane) Cornell Published in PNAS

Dr. Nagarajan and Nicole CornellDr. Rajesh Nagarajan co-authored a paper with graduate student Nicole (Frane) Cornell in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the official scientific journal of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper titled “Molecular basis for the substrate specificity of quorum signal synthases” appears in vol. 114 no. 34. This research looked at the role of enzymes that create the signaling molecules. By understanding bacteria quorum sensing mechanisms, the research group hopes to develop other means of disrupting bacterial infection.

New Publication out by Dr. Matthew King and Dr. Owen McDougal

Matt King and Owen McDougal

Matthew King                 Owen McDougal

Dr. Matt King and Dr. Owen McDougal contributed to work published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications. The paper describes the role of the protein fortilin in suppressing programmed cell death. Their work with collaborator Dr. Ken Fujise at University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas has led to promising National Institute of Health funding opportunities together with Dr. Lisa Warner, research scientist with the Boise State University Biomolecular Research Center. The current publication serves as a prominent first step in what is likely to be a very fruitful, multi-year, interdisciplinary team project. The publication can be viewed at the following link: Nature: Fortilin binds IRE1α and prevents ER stress from signaling apoptotic cell death

Dr. Don Warner Selected as 2017 Foundation Scholar for Teaching

Dr. Don Warner, PortraitDon Warner has been selected as one of the 2017 Boise State University Foundation Scholars for his ongoing commitment to and expertise in teaching. Dr. Warner’s combination of lectures and active-learning techniques have been known to turn difficult chemistry subjects into fun puzzles for students to solve. In addition to teaching, Dr. Warner also participates in Project SEED, the Idaho Conference for Undergraduate Research, and in mentoring numerous undergraduate and graduate students in his research lab . For the full article, please visit the following link: Warner Foundation Scholar for Teaching

Dr. Rao Kondamudi and Jacob Smith Published in American Journal of Potato Research

Rao K and Jacob S Publication

Rao Kondamudi                        Jacob Smith

Dr. Rao Kondamudi and recent chemistry graduate Jacob Smith, working in Professor Owen McDougal’s research lab, recently published “Determination of Glycoalkaloids in Potatoes and Potato Products by Microwave Assisted Extraction” which appeared online January 11, 2017 in the American Journal of Potato Research. The study presented a rapid and reliable microwave assisted extraction method for quantitative analysis of α-solanine and α-chaconine content in raw potato and potato based products.

Dr. Matt King Recognized by the American Chemical Society

Dr. MaMatthew King, Chemistry, studio portraittt King has been recognized by the American Chemical Society Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling.  His artwork depicting a computational approach to screen over 40 billion peptide structures for receptor interaction will be featured on the journal’s cover for this coming month’s issue. His research article, entitled “Genetic Algorithm Managed Peptide Mutant Screening: Optimizing Peptide Ligands for Targeted Receptor Binding”, represents a collaborative effort with Owen McDougal in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Tim Andersen and Thomas Long in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.  The article is now available at JCIM: Genetic Algorithm Managed Peptide Mutant Screening: Optimizing Peptide Ligands for Targeted Receptor Binding. The Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry congratulates Dr. King on this achievement.

ken_microscopeDr. Ken Cornell To Begin Visiting Professorship

Dr. Ken Cornell, an Associate Professor in the Boise State Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, will spend much of January 2017 on a US Agency for International Development (US AID) sponsored visiting professorship at the University of San Agustin in the Philippines.  After Dr. Cornell returns, a graduate student from the University of San Agustin will spend a year in his lab conducting research on novel compounds to reverse microbial drug resistance as part of a cooperative Philippine-US science fellowship program supported by US AID.

Dr. Ken Cornell and Dr. Don Warner Working to Create Cancer-Fighting Drug


Dr. Cornell and Dr. Warner have teamed up with GEM Pharmaceuticals to create a cancer-fighting drug that doesn’t provoke cardiotoxicity. They are currently creating and testing a third-generation of “dox”, an anti-cancer agent widely used to treat leukemia and lymphoma, among others. Their research has shown this new drug is nearly as good as “dox”, without the cardiotoxicity.

The full article on Cornell and Warner’s cancer-fighting project can be found here. 

Dr. Rao Kondamudi and Matthew Turner Featured in Natural Product Communications


Rao Kondamudi                      Matthew Turner

Dr. Rao Kondamudi and Biomolecular Sciences Ph.D. student Matthew Turner, working in Professor Owen McDougal’s research lab, recently published “Harpagoside Content in Devil’s Claw Extracts” in the Vol. 11, Issue 9 edition of Natural Product Communications.  The study examined the presence of harpagoside content in plants other than harpagophytum procumbens and sought to provide a definitive answer to a regulatory controversy for nutriceutical products containing harpagoside extract from plants other than harpagophytum procumbens.Harpagophytum procumbens, also known as Devil’s Claw, contains the organic molecule harpagoside which shows promise as an arthritis remedy.

Dr. Mike Callahan Receives Grant from NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium

Chemistry professor Mike Callahan has received a grant from the NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium. Mike Callahan with Chemistry and Biochemistry students Melissa and Alison, ISGC grant project, photo Patrick Sweeney The grant is providing students Alison Good (pictured far left) and Melissa Roberts (pictured middle) the opportunity to conduct their undergraduate research on prebiotic chemistry, which looks at how life formed on Earth. Dr. Callahan and his student researchers will focus their research on formamide, an organic compound linked to the synthesis amino acids and nucleobases. For more on their research, please visit the following link: Callahan Update Article: Grant Supports Study of How Life Formed on Earth

Welcome, New Faculty!

The Boise State Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry welcomes three new full-time faculty members. Each of these individuals bring skills and expertise that enhance the department’s strengths in disciplines from synthetic inorganic chemistry to biochemistry.

Dr. AdColson_Adam_Editedam Colson joins the department from the Dow Chemical Company as Assistant Professor. Adam was born and raised in Idaho and received his B.S. in Chemistry from Idaho State University. He completed his Ph.D. studies at Rice University where he studied the chemistry and materials science of transition metal phosphides. Adam joined the technical staff of the Performance Materials Division of the Dow Chemical Company as a Senior Chemist in 2012 and was promoted to Associate Research Scientist in 2014. He became the North American Adhesives Technology Leader for Dow’s Polyurethane business in 2015 and received the Rising Star Award for excellence in application development.

Adam is thrilled to be returning to his home state to share his passion for science and technology with the students of Idaho. His research program will focus on the synthesis of polynuclear complexes of the transition metals and rare earth (lanthanide) elements and the preparation of inorganic materials with applications in catalysis, energy production, and electronics. He is looking forward to establishing cross-disciplinary collaborations with his colleagues at the university and working to expand relationships with regional industrial partners. In his free time, Adam enjoys returning to his home town of Stanley to enjoy kayaking, hiking, and spending time with his family.

Meredith_Joe_EditedDr. Joe Meredith joins the department from the University of Denver as Lecturer. Joe grew up in Bend, OR, where he learned that playing outdoors is a lot of fun. He studied chemistry at Pomona College in Southern California, where he met his wife Emily, who is joining the Boise State Biology Department. After college, Joe and Emily moved to Seattle, WA, where they attended graduate school at University of Washington. Joe worked in the D. Michael Heinekey research group performing synthesis of organic ligands and air-sensitive organometallic complexes. While living in Seattle, Joe and his wife had lots of fun, but decided that they didn’t like the rain much, and should probably move somewhere sunnier, like Colorado.

Since earning his Ph.D. in 2011, Joe taught chemistry in Seattle and Denver: most recently at University of Denver. While living in Denver, Joe and Emily cooked complicated food, went snowboarding, foraged for wild mushrooms, caught a few fish, went backpacking in the mountains, and -most recently- welcomed their first child into the world. In July, Joe, Emily, and their daughter Luna made the move to Boise. They are all excited to make new friends and explore new places together in Idaho.

Saunders_Chris_EditedDr. Christopher Saunders joins the department from the College of Idaho as Lecturer. Christopher grew up in small-town, Idaho. His interest in science started at an early age with his 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Humble. She showed his class just how fun it can be to discover how the world around us works.

Christopher received his B.S. in Chemistry, with minors in biology and history, from The College of Idaho in 2002. It was during those undergraduate years that he started to develop an interest in teaching. Christopher worked at Analytical Labs, Inc. in Boise for two years after graduating before moving on to graduate school. He received his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Arkansas where his research focus was method development in the detection of methionine sulfoxide in proteomic samples.

After finishing his Ph.D., Christopher moved back to the Treasure Valley. He taught at College of Western Idaho as an adjunct professor for a year. Since 2012 he has been a visiting professor at The College of Idaho, teaching a variety of general and upper division chemistry courses. Christopher loves every day that he gets to interact with students. His continuing research interests revolve around science education. When he is not teaching, he enjoys cooking, reading, playing board games, and spending time with friends and family.

Dr. Owen McDougal Begins Term as New Department Chair for Chemistry & Biochemistry

ThOwen McDougal, Chemistry, studio portraite Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at Boise State University is pleased to announce Dr. Owen McDougal as department chair. Dr. McDougal joined the department in 2006 after serving as an Associate Professor of Chemistry at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, OR. He earned his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Utah under the mentorship of Dr. C. Dale Poulter. Dr. McDougal’s research in Organic Chemistry, specifically Natural Products and food chemistry is focused on: 1) conotoxin peptides as therapeutic drugs for Parkinson’s disease, 2) computer-aided molecular drug design, and 3) steroidal alkaloids as cancer treatments. His teaching interests are in the areas of Organic Chemistry, Organic Spectroscopy, and introductory chemistry courses for non-science majors.

Dr. McDougal’s recent accomplishments include serving as the Editor and Chief of AIMS Molecular Sciences, past President of Boise State University Faculty Senate, two-time program chair appointments for annual conferences for the American Association for the Advancement of Science Pacific Division (AAASPD), past President of the AAASPD, liaison for the 67th Annual American Chemical Society (ACS) Northwest regional meeting, and past Chair and Councilor of the Snake River Local Section of the ACS.  He spearheads a department initiative offering analytical services-for-hire to regional businesses with the aim of educating and training the next generation of scientists and technicians for the local workforce.  Dr. McDougal strives to lead the department to “promote student success through excellence in chemical education” by insistence on quality and accountability.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. McDougal as the new Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Boise State University.

Dr. Brad Bammel Retires

Brad Bammel_EditedBrad Bammel, Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, has retired after 28 years of service at Boise State University. Brad was hired in 1988 as an analytical chemist and has spent his career devoted to teaching, research, and service. He most enjoyed teaching freshman chemistry science majors, freshman chemistry for non-science majors, and analytical chemistry. He also acted as a mentor to countless students who nominated him twice for the Outstanding Faculty Recognition Award!

In addition to teaching, Brad dedicated his research efforts to the biological applications of Analytical Chemistry, from the study of muscle function and cell membranes using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) to nervous system signaling and nutrition in fish using micro-dialysis. As for service, Brad devoted his time over the years to serving on the faculty senate as well as several committees, including the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, the Institutional Biosafety Committee, and the Tenure Review committee. He also volunteered his time at Science Competition Days.

Looking ahead, Brad looks forward to spending more time enjoying nature, especially skiing. As school starts up in August he’ll likely be hitting the slopes in Argentina! His future plans also involve trading in his teaching shoes for his student shoes to take math and foreign language classes, and spending plenty of quality time raising and training Bernese Mountain dogs.

The Department of Chemistry thanks him for his outstanding commitment to teaching, research, and service and wishes him well in his future endeavors.

Dr. Mike Callahan Receives ELSI Origins Network (EON) Seed Grant

Mike CallahanAnalytical chemist Mike Callahan has received the first-ever ELSI Origins Network (EON) Seed Grant to investigate the synthesis and breakdown of organics in meteorite parent bodies due to long-term, high-energy radiation. The internationally collaborative research project involves researchers at Harvard University, Tokyo Institute of Technology, and Boise State University (with Callahan as principal investigator). More details on Callahan’s seed grant to explore the origins of the planet can be found here.

Dr. Rajesh Nagarajan Receives NIH Grant

RajPictureBiochemist Rajesh Nagarajan has received a three-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to fund his research on the chemical language of bacteria. He is working to understand how bacteria create the signal molecules to communicate with one another. Dr. Nagarajan’s research could significantly impact the use of antibiotics to treat infectious disease. More details on Nagarajan’s research to silence bacteria can be found here.