Message from the Chair

Two Years in the Chemistry Department

We’re excited to bring you our first-ever web-based alumni newsletter!  We hope you enjoy the new format.  This edition of the newsletter covers information about the last two years (2020-2021 and 2021-2022), one of which was certainly unique.  

Gettysburg College went into the fall 2020 semester hoping that masking, distancing, periodic testing, and luck would prevail, but it wasn’t meant to be. COVID-19 cases on campus increased dramatically early in the third week of classes, and there was a limited amount of isolation/quarantine housing and testing capability. Therefore, at the end of the third week of classes, most upper-class students were sent home to learn remotely while first-year students were allowed to remain on campus. Fortunately, approximately half of our upper-class Chemistry and BMB majors successfully petitioned to remain on campus to benefit from in-person labs and research experiences. During the spring semester our testing capacity increased, so all upper-class students were invited back to campus while most first-year students switched to remote learning. During the 2020-2021 academic year, some faculty members taught fully remotely while others taught in-person with some students attending remotely. It was challenging for everyone involved, but we all made it through!  

Professor Funk and student, Emily Howe, in the lab.
Prof. Funk with student, Emily Howe ’23, in lab. The mask requirement in labs and classrooms in place since March 2020 was lifted for the fall 2022 semester.

Thanks to the COVID-19 vaccines, all students (who were fully vaccinated) were invited back to campus for the 2021-2022 academic year. The testing regiment was fully operational, and while there were some cases, there were limited disruptions to classes and labs, all of which were held exclusively in-person. Students and faculty quickly realized that after the last year-and-a-half of modified schedules and remote learning, the stamina required for a traditional college semester was higher than we remembered.

Nonetheless, we made it through a year that looked much more like pre-pandemic times than the previous three semesters. We even returned to in-person conferences, with five Chemistry Department faculty and 14 Chemistry and BMB students presenting their research at the Biophysical Society Meeting in San Francisco and/or the American Chemical Society Meeting in San Diego in the spring 2022 semester.

Seven Chemistry majors graduated in May 2021. To ensure social distancing, the ceremony was held in Musselman Stadium, with students and faculty spread out on the field. We were able to resume in-person summer research in 2021, and 20 students did research with seven Chemistry faculty. Overall, the 2021 X-SIG summer research program had 72 students doing research in the sciences with 28 faculty advisors! In May of 2022, 13 Chemistry majors graduated, including one student who finished in fall 2021. A total of 11 students did research with three Chemistry faculty during the summer of 2022; the numbers were smaller than usual due to some faculty sabbaticals and other variables. It was another good year for the X-SIG summer research program with 71 students doing research with 25 faculty advisors. 

Due to scheduling challenges caused by the pandemic, we did not have our annual Musselman Visiting Scientist lecture series the last two years, but we hosted speakers both in-person and remotely. The remote option allowed us to connect with speakers across the country and the world! Please see the article about Speakers in the last 2 years and in the future for more information.   

The Chemistry Department hosted an event for both current students and alumni during the 2021 Homecoming Weekend, and it was wonderful to see so many familiar faces!

We will be hosting a Homecoming Reception again this year on Friday, October 14, 2022, from 5:00 – 7:00 pm on the patio of the Science Center. Chemistry alumni and friends (Chemistry majors, BMB majors, others…) and current students are welcome. Please join us if you are in the Gettysburg area that weekend!

Photo of Professor Kuhar cooking for the crowd at the Chemistry  Department Homecoming Reception in 2021
Jeremy Kuhar prepares one of his famous dishes during the Fall 2021 student/alumni Homecoming reception.

We love hearing from alumni and friends of the Chemistry Department, so please keep in touch with us as you move through your careers and your lives! You can find a link to a form to submit an update on the Careers and Alumni page of the Chemistry Department webpage.

Chemistry Department Faculty & Staff
Back Row (L to R): Prof. Suvrajit Sengupta, Lea Czar (Administrative Assistant), Prof. Katherine Buettner, Prof. Donald Jameson, Prof. Lucas Thompson, Prof. Shelli Frey, Prof. Michael Wedlock.
Front Row (L to R): Prof. Jeremy Kuhar, Prof. Timothy Funk, Prof. Gregory Suryn

Be sure to scroll back to the top of this page to find a menu with links to more news about the Chemistry Department in the last two years and our future plans!