Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Graduate education - UF

rev. 12/28/12

--This old post only covers my UF information. For newer information (UK) see here--

I am a summer '07 graduate of the University of Florida with an M.S. Chemistry. You can visit UF’s chemistry dept. website here. The webpage to the Biochem division (I specialized in Biochemistry) is useful, although I worked within the Inorganic division, under my advisor David Richardson, who served as the chair of our department for six years (until Aug ’06). Our group has this webpage, and here is the current weather in Gainesville, FL.

We moved to Gainesville in June 2004, and starting my first summer, I was able to do a research assistantship (RA) full-time. I mostly worked on building my skill set in studying the kinetics of sodium hypochlorite oxidation of a few organophosphate compounds. During the first academic year I had to TA undergraduate courses and had to take 5 graduate courses of my own. The second year I was left with one class left to take, in addition to seminar and Journal Club, and I presented research results twice in the fall of 2005: FIMS 9/24 and seminar 10/31. I also did a presentation for the biochemistry journal club and prepared our group poster in 2006. I had to TA during that fall and spring, as well as the next summer, for seven out of my total ten semesters at UF. (I was on full RA during summer 04 and 05, as well as spring 07.)

Learn more about my research right here. My first two years’ work centered around DNA oxidation with various metal-catalytic systems. Next my thesis proposal focused upon the oxidation of biologically-relevant species with chlorine dioxide, especially aqueous sulfides and allylic carbons.

I initially planned to complete the Ph.D., which takes, on average from this department, 5.1 years; of course I aimed at finishing early (like everyone else does). I had hoped to finish in 2009. I then aimed to either get an industry or government job or to procure a postdoctoral fellowship at Scripps Florida, Berkeley, or at any other high-caliber institution with great weather. If the latter scenario, I then planned to follow that up with a tenure-track position at a well-reputed university…albeit I would’ve likely settle for Hawaii. (We both love warm weather and beaches). The graduate school catalog outlines the requirements for graduation – which include 90 credits. Given that full-time status for a grad student is 9 credits in the spring and fall and 6 credits in the summer, this means that at best I could start in the summer of year X and graduate after the spring of year X + 4. I began working with Dr. Richardson's group at UF during the summer of 2004.

However, I had a change of plans (and heart) along the way. Like many graduate students, I struggled with my work, facing both intrinsic difficulty and extrinsic distraction. Although I stayed long enough to defend and could've moved on to candidacy, I questioned whether I really wanted to work in Acadème for the rest of my life. I defended my research proposal (dept. guidelines) on April 6th, 2007, and was given a “conditional pass” to be admitted to Ph.D. candidacy at the end of the spring ’07 semester. I was asked to fill in experimental details in a short paper and turn it in to my committee, at which time I should be admitted to candidacy. This would not have been a problem. 

My wife and I decided to start our family shortly thereafter. I had gone as far as I wanted to go, and was granted the M.S. degree (non-thesis) on August 14, 2007.

We moved to Columbia at that time for me to work at Hammond School. After three years there, I decided to change careers again, finding myself better-compensated and happier working as a staff scientist at the University of South Carolina and a start-up company from there, Nitek. Now we are living in Lexington, KY, where I am enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Chemistry at UK.

Here are the courses I took at UF:
  • Fall 04
    1. Chem 6304 – Biochemistry of the Cell (Tom Lyons)
    2. Chem 6620 – Advanced Inorganic Chemistry I (Adam Viege)
    3. Chem 6670 – Bioinorganic Chemistry (George Christou)
  • Spring 05
    1. CHM 6626 – Applications of Physical Methods in Inorganic Chemistry (Dan Talham)
    2. CHM 6301 – Enzyme Mechanisms (Nicole Horenstein)
  • Fall 05
    1. CHM 6302 – Chemistry and Biology of Nucelic Acids (Jon Stewart)
Here are the teaching assignments I had at UF (the parenthetical name is the professor in charge of the course):
I taught weekly "discussion sections" for both semesters of the first-year chemistry courses, which are basically a sort of study hall wherein the students come to ask me questions, take their quizzes, and watch me work out problems and explain how to solve them. They also got to listen to me razzle-dazzle them with chemicus maximus mini-lectures. I had to hold office hours in addition to the class time. In fall 04, I had 4 sections, with 3 every semester thereafter until the last summer, when I was lucky and had only one section.

Here is my UF transcript, and my overall course transcripts are here.

For more see the about me main page.