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Ignatian Spirituality in Organic Chemistry?

Adam M. Azman, Ph.D.
Mentor: Ann Ray, Ph.D. (Biology)

As a Xavier chemistry major myself from 2001-2005, I should be well versed in the gifts of Ignatian Spirituality. Looking back on my experience, however, I recall hearing about them during Manresa… and that’s about it. I don’t remember them being discussed much in my classes, especially not my science classes. It’s possible I wasn’t attuned or paying attention to them, and it’s possible instructors in the physical sciences could be more purposeful about sharing the gifts of Ignatian Spirituality with our students.

Students taking my organic chemistry course are not necessarily expecting Ignatian Spirituality when we talk about the various reactions. But why shouldn’t they? Are the physical sciences and the gifts of Ignatian spirituality mutually exclusive? I don’t think so, and I investigated where and how students experience the gifts of Ignatian Spirituality (Magis, Reflection, Discernment, Cura Personalis, Solidarity and Kinship, and Service Rooted in Justice and Love) in the physical sciences broadly, and organic chemistry specifically, at Xavier University.

My goal with this project was to demonstrate to students that the gifts of Ignatian Spirituality are present at all times, in all places, including the physical sciences. I hoped to reach students who, like me, haven’t been tuned into these gifts since Manresa. For those students, they will at least have had the gifts presented to them a second time about halfway through college, and hopefully they will find these gifts in their other physical science courses.

My project was split into three parts. First, students were asked to choose one article written by professionals reflecting on their chemistry courses. The first article was a New York Times article by Barbara Moran1, who entered medicine as a second career and took organic chemistry in her 40s. She describes her experience and lessons from her time in the classroom. The other article was Dr. Adam Bange’s reflection from a previous year of this mentoring program2. He discusses his use of Ignatian Spirituality in his classroom. After reading one of the articles, students wrote about any gifts of Ignatian Spirituality they thought these professionals found in their experience with the chemistry curriculum.

The second assignment asked students to interview a current or former Xavier organic chemistry student. Interviewees were given a list of the gifts of Ignatian Spirituality and asked to think about them for a few days. The interviewer interviewed the interviewee about one gift of Ignatian Spirituality they have seen in their Xavier science courses. The interviewee was asked where they saw that gift in their classes and how it impacted them.

The final assignment asked students to reflect over their two semesters in organic chemistry, pick three gifts of Ignatian Spirituality they found in organic chemistry, and write about their experience with those three gifts.

Assignment #1: Writings by Professionals
Neither Ms. Moran’s nor Dr. Bange’s articles specifically mention any of the six gifts of Ignatian Spirituality; however, students had little trouble finding the fruits of those gifts in each. The most common gifts found in Moran’s article were Reflection (22% of responses) and Discernment (22% of responses). One student noted that “Moran shows resilience and determination when she makes the choice to work on organic chemistry instead of slacking off. By doing so, she shows her son how to have a good work ethic and to not give up when things get hard.” A great lesson for Moran, and hopefully one internalized by the students as they read her words.

Magis, Cura Personalis, and Solidarity and Kinship were reported nearly identically from Moran’s article (17%, 15%, and 15% of responses, respectively). Students were able to see how these values apply to classes other than just organic chemistry. In writing about Magis, one student noted that “Having this ability to work through long hours of studying, frustration, and confusion builds resilience to help us to perform at our best even in other subject areas.” In summarizing Moran’s article as a whole, another student summarized that “one does not think about which Ignatian values are being checked off each time a decision to do something is made. That is what is beautiful about the values, themselves. They inspire us to do things that align with what they stand for unconsciously. They are taught and then they become rooted within our conscience and influence our thoughts and actions.”

I found it interesting that, except for Service Rooted in Justice and Love (9% of responses), all of the gifts were cited at approximately the same response rate. I hope this showed students that all of the gifts of Ignatian Spirituality really can be found in all situations, if you choose to look for them.

When reading through Dr. Bange’s article, students found Reflection prominently represented (37% of responses). Bange attempts to show students the connection between the material in a variety of classes, and students picked up on that. “In order to prevent students from simply memorizing large amount of meaningless formulas and definitions in order to achieve a certain grade in the class, Bange promotes students to reflect on how the chemistry content fits into other disciplines of their existing knowledge.”

Magis accounted for 21% of responses. One student discussed Bange’s use of Magis by saying, “Studying the sciences isn’t just about knowledge of facts, it’s about applying those facts to solve real world problems, to think broadly, and to help others with that knowledge.” Cura Personalis tallied 16% of responses, and Discernment and Service Rooted in Justice and Love each were noted with 11% of responses. In a similar way to a student discussed Bange’s incorporation of Magis, writing about Service Rooted in Justice and Love, a student commented that Bange wants “students to discover how they can use the information learned in chemistry classes and take action to make a difference in real world issues.”

Assignment #2: Interviewing a Peer
When students interviewed another current or former organic chemistry student, by far the most commonly referenced gift of Ignatian Spirituality was Magis (40% of responses). Students often related Magis to the ability to succeed through adversity. Some representative quotes along this line include, “At its core, having a growth mindset is very similar to this aspect of Magis, as it requires you to believe that you can improve, which in turn leads to being receptive to new concepts,” “[the interviewee] noted that when students were not receptive to Magis, they ended up quitting, feeling defeated, and blaming the system rather than working with available resources to take control of one’s own situation,” and “he struggled at first in organic chemistry, but he’s glad it was so hard because it felt so much greater when he rose to the challenge.”

Solidarity and Kinship also stood out with 24% of responses. This makes sense to me on an intuitive level, especially seeing comments such as “I think the difficult nature or organic chemistry brings people together more than other subjects because people find that they need to lean on each other,” and “She doesn't feel like it is competitive here and thinks it is more of a community who wants everyone to succeed including her professors and friends.”

Interestingly, and sadly, one peer mentioned specifically that she did not see Reflection or Service Rooted in Justice and Love in her physical science classes. Indeed, those two gifts had the lowest response rate from all peer interviews (8% and 0% of responses, respectively). Clearly, this is an area of growth for me and other physical science instructors. I am surprised that reflection was not mentioned more, but the lack of seeing Service Rooted in Justice and Love is not altogether shocking. Too often in the physical sciences, especially the lower-level classes, we are so focused on cramming in more content that we forget to show students how the sciences fit in to broader justice-related themes.

Assignment #3: Self-Reflection
I was quite surprised by the results of the self-reflection. I expected reflection and discernment to be common themes, given the difficult nature of the course and the hard conversations about majors and careers that often arise. However, reflection and discernment were essentially tied for the 4th and 5th most noted gifts (15% and 14% of responses, respectively).

Those that did mention it, though, had very insightful comments. “I really didn’t realize how much I wasn’t pushing myself until that was the only option I had so I would be able to stay on top of all my work. Reflection has really shown me how much I needed to take responsibility for the things I was almost half-a**ing and start to work harder than before.” “The Ignatian value of reflection in a way that allowed me to pause, reflect, and not let a letter a grade determine my worth and my place within the world.” Reflection “challenges us to look at all the nights spent studying, all the eraser scraps from incorrectly drawing mechanisms, all the red ink, and it asks us to consider how these moments made us a better learner, a more intellectually giving person, or maybe even a more humble person.” “I know that I am going to have many times in my profession where I am faced with an unfamiliar presentation of a patient, or different molecules, and have to use what I know and what I have seen before in order to determine an adequate treatment for that patient.”

The two most common responses were Magis (28% of responses), and Solidarity and Kinship (25% of responses). Again, Service Rooted in Justice and Love was the least noted gift of Ignatian Spirituality found in organic chemistry (1% of responses), showing me a clear area for growth in the future. The comments related to Solidarity and Kinship, like those for Reflection and Discernment, were inspiring. “Working with other people to solve problems has made me more open to listening to other people’s ideas and taught me how to use my skills to benefit others.” Ever since the first test it has felt like the entire cohort of Organic students this year have been a sort of family.” “What has been even more meaningful is how students go out of their way to help each other rather than competing or tearing each other down.”

But perhaps the most striking comment comes from a student talking about his experience of Magis over the last two semesters of organic chemistry. “For the better part of my life, I succumbed to mediocrity. I allowed myself to be mediocre in comparison to where I knew I could take my work. That ship has sailed. I have profound new gratitude towards education and the places it can take me.”

Sure, it makes me feel good as an educator to see my students “get it.” But the demonstration of personal growth they showed in this 3rd assignment makes me feel confident that they have the tools to see the gifts of Ignatian Spirituality in the rest of their courses.

Students perceive professionals utilizing Reflection most in the physical sciences, followed by Discernment and Cura Personalis. But students find, for themselves, that Magis and Solidarity and Kinship are most prevalent. This is a big disconnect for sure, but it is less clear what the implications are. Perhaps this demonstrates a gap between what we as instructors think we are doing and what students actually take from our lessons. It could also be that, in the moment, students are concerned about self-preservation, and see Magis and Solidarity and Kinship as a refuge.

Alternatively, students could be primarily focused on grades and the immediacy of the next test, while instructors take a broader view of the course’s place in the curriculum. Students may understandably lack that perspective and don’t see the course the same way we do. Whatever the reasons, Service Rooted in Justice and Love could stand to be more prominent in the physical science courses. Overall, better communication between students and instructors, and more explicit focus on the gifts of Ignatian Spirituality will ensure students see that science courses can be “human,” too.

Ignatian Values in the Science Curriculum

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Ignatian Values in a Chemistry Curriculum

Adam Bange, PhD

Mentor: Lifang Wu, BE, BS, MBA, PhD (Management and Entrepreneurship)


The field of chemistry, like all sciences, is rapidly changing on many levels. New research is being published at an exponentially increasing rate, and the content of the textbooks changes so rapidly that there are significant changes each time a new edition comes out every couple of years. Adam Bange, PhDThe labor market for chemists is also undergoing drastic changes. Some skills that did not exist a decade ago are now in high demand, while other major industries, such as the photographic film industry, have all but disappeared. All of this flux puts uncertainty into chemistry education.

Ignatian Pedogogy

The Ignatian approach to education provides excellent insight into resolving many of the pressing issues facing science educators today. The first key element to consider is context. A number of very important questions must be answered to understand the context of a chemistry education, including: "Who are the students?", "Why are they learning chemistry?", "How will learning chemistry lead them to meaningful lives of leadership and service?". Carefully consideration of these questions regarding my students has allowed me to continually re-evaluate the content and pedagogical strategies employed in my classes.

My students come from diverse backgrounds and are studying chemistry for a wide range of reasons. Some of them are studying specifically to become professional chemists, while a much larger percentage of them are interested in a field that is closely related to chemistry, such as medicine or pharmacy. There are other students that are planning careers outside of the sciences entirely but are taking chemistry as a requirement or simply because of curiosity. Many of the students will never need to employ hands-on laboratory skills, while other students may work in a laboratory for their entire careers. The percentage of students in each of these categories varies depending on the nature of the course.

The second component of Ignatian pedagogy that I see as critical component of science education is experience. Much of the content of a chemistry course can be very abstract and may not be reinforced by observations made in everyday life. As a consequence, it is often difficult for students to understand how the different models, equations, and symbols that they learn about can be applied to explaining natural phenomena and solving real problems. While the acquisition of knowledge is important, there is much more to learning science than facts and concepts. As I outlined to my students this spring, as a direct result of the reflection stimulated by this Ignatian Mentoring Program, a combination of knowing and doing is required to be successful in chemistry. In some cases the experiential aspect of doing chemistry is reflected in a physical laboratory experiment, while in other cases it can be achieved through calculations or thought experiments.

The sheer volume of information that is expected to be learned in many science courses, especially introductory level courses, leads many students to see chemistry as a long list of items to memorize. The Ignatian pedagogical model recognizes that an essential element of true learning is reflection. By reflecting on the acquired knowledge, the student is able to connect concepts and ideas, and to ask questions that stimulate further acquisition of knowledge and reflection. There are many parallels between the Ignatian concept of reflection and the current academic buzzword critical thinking. It can often be difficult to integrate reflection into a chemistry class. Many students are only comfortable learning through rote memorization, and they find ways to avoid thinking by simply increasing the amount of material committed to memory. I continue to devise strategies that encourage reflection by exposing the limitations of rote memorization and by connecting the material to concepts that students have experienced in other disciplines.

The Ignatian concept that action is a critical component of learning is readily apparent in chemistry, and is consistent with my belief that research is an important vehicle of pedagogy. My PhD advisor once told me that any knowledge that is obtained through research that is not published or disseminated in some way is wasted. What good is a critical insight or selection of data if it is buried in a laboratory notebook somewhere and it is not used for the good of society? This sentiment encourages me to incorporate new discovery into my research efforts, and to put powerful tools that can answer real questions in the hands of students whenever possible. To this end, I have increased the role of independent research in my instrumental methods class, Chem 341. As the capstone requirement of this course, students are required to address a public health problem by developing an analytical method that can be used to detect a specific contaminant. While the analytes of interest are all very well studied and the student research is not breaking new ground, the method development experience illustrates how the application of chemical principles and techniques that students learned in their lower level coursework can be applied to address real issues. Student projects have included such diverse topics as heavy metals in drinking water, artificial sweeteners in soda, and lead in soil.

Perhaps the hardest aspect of Ignatian pedagogy for me to grasp is evaluation. I feel that it is my duty as an academic is to evaluate students on their mastery of my particular discipline, yet I would also like to recognize that chemistry does not exist in a vacuum and the ability to relate chemistry to the rest of society is a critical component of being a leader and having a successful balanced career of service. After reflecting on this dilemma, I have come to the conclusion that the most important component of what I teach in a chemistry class is how to learn chemistry. By doing assignments, taking tests, writing lab reports, and using laboratory techniques, students are forced to exercise the mental agility associated with being a scientist. Although the content itself has value, the most critical tools that the student develops in a chemistry course are the resourcefulness and discipline required to master the course objectives.


As I read various resources that explain the Ignatian approach to education, I was surprised and encouraged that I was able to recognize and appreciate many of the principles in my own Jesuit education. I have recognized that these principles are relevant both as a teacher and as a learner and that reflecting on them can make me better at both. Perhaps the most important point that this program has reinforced in my consciousness is that teaching and learning cannot be addressed using a "one size fits all" approach. Learning is a nuanced process, so teaching strategies to encourage it must also be complex. The application of teaching techniques that are personalized to engage individual students in different ways are consistent with the teachings of Ignatius and with the mission of Xavier.

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Jesuit Education and Ignatian Pedagogy in Chemistry

Roy J. Cohen, Ph.D.

Mentor: Margaret King, Ph.D. (Nursing)

Roy J. Cohen, Ph.D. Jesuit Education is a multi-faceted approach to forming students "intellectually, morally and spiritually, with rigor and compassion, toward lives of solidarity, service, and success." (From the Xavier University Mission statement)

Jesuit Education has a number of goals that help fulfill the Mission of Xavier University:

The goal of Ignatian Pedagogy is three-fold:

These three goals are implemented by teaching in a style that does the following:

As can be seen, the Ignatian model of education is far more than teaching the "3-R's" and just passing students through a system. Ignatian education is student-centered, and is concerned with individual growth and development, not just academic success. Students who are exposed to a good college experience that is centered on the principles outlined above will be a force for good in a world that desperately needs young people who can make a difference. That is my goal as an educator.

Plan for implementing ignatian teaching strategies

For the 2005-2006 academic year, my goal has been to implement as many of the Ignatian pedagogical strategies as possible into my Chemistry in Society 2 course (taught in Spring semester). This outline was developed for that purpose:

Chemistry in Society 2 is an "Ethics, Religion and Society" (E/RS) course, so there is much potential for implementing teaching strategies that allow students to contemplate how their decisions and actions affect not only themselves, but the community of which they are a part, and possibly beyond that community.

This course deals with several over-arching and inter-related topics: Energy, the Environment, Health (Diet and Exercise), poisons, pharmaceuticals (OTC and otherwise), and disposition of waste. During the course of the semester, several interactive research and brainstorming discussions will take place. These may include any of the following topics:

For each of these topics, the class may be divided up into groups of 3 or 4, and given 10-15 minutes to brainstorm responses. Then each group will share their responses for 5 minutes. At the conclusion, we will examine responses for similarities and differences between groups, which may engender further discussions. In addition, each student will be asked to write a paper on one of the following topics:

The students may prepare a poster on their paper, and present the posters on the last day of class. The poster session will allow all students to see the results of everyone's research.

Summary of Activities that Integrated Ignatian Teaching Strategies in Chemistry in Society 2 Class, Spring Semester 2006

1. Research Papers assigned to all students.

Each student selected a topic of interest and is currently finalizing a research paper on that topic, which will be submitted in late April. These topics are listed above. Sample papers from last semester are available for review.

2. In-class discussions occurred that encouraged students to share their views, and to consider how their actions affected themselves, their families and friends, and society in general. Class discussions were centered around these topics:

* At this time, the semester is not yet concluded, so other discussions are likely on topics of diet, exercise, drugs and household chemicals. *

Student Responses

The students in the class were surveyed to obtain feedback on the success of the Ignatian strategies that were implemented in the course. Four questions were asked, and the students responded anonymously. Responses to the four questions included:

1. Have there been topics that have been of special interest to you? If so, which ones?

2. Have you made any personal lifestyle changes based on anything you have learned so far? If so, what are they?

3. Are there any topics that you wish to learn more about in the future? If so, which ones?

4. Any other thoughts on the topics covered so far?

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Undergraduate Research: Mission Integration in a Chemistry Laboratory

Craig M. Davis, Ph.D.

Mission Academy

The 2011-2012 Mission Academy was comprised of nine faculty members who met for six sessions under the guidance of Dr. David Burns (Director of Faculty Programs, Center for Mission and Identity). Our objective was "to explore the integration of Xavier's Ignatian Mission into the classroom". Before our Mission Academy I was admittedly skeptical that I could find a way to incorporate our mission into classes on an empirical, physical science. Reflecting on our discussions, I was able to see how broadly and thoroughly one requirement for our majors did indeed achieve the goal of integrating Xavier's Ignatian Mission into the Chemistry curriculum: undergraduate research.

Undergraduate Research in the Chemistry Department

The Xavier University Catalog entry for our research course is as follows:

CHEM 400 - Research/Seminar

(1) Credit Hours

Capstone course for the chemistry and chemical science major. Undergraduate research performed under the direction of a faculty member. Students share the results of their research and interact with outside speakers during weekly seminar sessions. A written thesis is the final product of these activities.

Our Chemistry majors must register for CHEM 400 a minimum of three semesters, while our Chemical Science majors need a minimum of two semesters. This is a genuine capstone experience for our students, as they need to (a) apply the principles they learned in their lecture courses, (b) use the techniques and chemical instrumentation they encountered in their laboratory courses, and (c) employ the skills needed to search the literature that they learned in CHEM 300 (Intro. to Chemical Research).


During the six sessions in our Mission Academy three main tenets were deemed essential for successful integration of our Ignatian Mission into the classroom: (1) The principle of cura personalis is paramount. (2) The ability to think critically must be cultivated in our students. (3) The desire for service can be instilled within an academic setting. Consequently, this essay will be organized around those three themes.

Cura Personalis

At the heart of Ignatian spirituality is cura personalis--care for the entire person--and undergraduate research is an ideal setting for the faculty to fully engage our students. Each Chemistry professor has a small research group, typically three-to-four students. This permits one-on-one contact at many stages in the student's research experience. When a student first joins my research group we sit in my office to so I can explain the project's scope and impart the relevant principles/models. After a few such sessions we move to the laboratory, where I can teach the students specific synthetic techniques (for example, students in my group need to learn how to manipulate a dual-manifold Schlenk line to handle air-sensitive compounds) and the use of the Chemistry Department's state-of-the-art instrumentation (especially our multi-nuclear NMR spectrometer). It is very gratifying to observe each student progress to the point where they can synthesize and characterize compounds independently, usually a month or so after they join my group. Even after they can work independently, they still begin each research session by briefly sitting in my office to plan that day's activities, and later they bring in their spectra or other data so we can discuss their results. The constant mentoring ensures they mature as scientists and that their time in laboratory is as productive as possible.

It is important to note that the mentoring is not limited to the students' "hands-on" activities in the laboratory. We hold a weekly department seminar, featuring both our student researchers and outside speakers from both industry and academia. Within a few weeks of joining my research group each student must present a seminar to the faculty and their fellow research students; in this initial talk each student outlines the objective of their project, shares previous work done by their group or other researchers, and lays out the plans for their portion of the project. Quite a bit of guidance from the faculty mentor is necessary because the students have not yet become familiar with the concepts or jargon specific to their area of research. Towards the end of their research experience the students construct a poster summarizing their work to present at Xavier's annual Celebration of Student Research and Creative Activity, again with the guidance of their faculty mentor. Finally, as stated in the course description, each student must submit a thesis as a requirement for graduation, a process that normally involves two-to-three drafts that are edited extensively by their mentor.

The mentoring even extends the beyond the project. A research laboratory is a wonderful venue for long personal conversations. A common topic is the student's career goals, principally the immediate concern of whether to go to graduate school or work in the chemical industry right after graduation. If the student opts for the former, the faculty member can help the student navigate the graduate-school search and find the right fit for them; if the latter, the faculty member can suggest employers and sometimes name a specific contact person (often one of the department's alumni). Furthermore, these laboratory conversations allow the faculty to learn more about the students, their families, and their life stories. Often tales of personal or financial struggles emerge, and the students appreciate having a concerned adult listen to them.

Most importantly, the students gain tangible professional benefits from research: For the past several years our department has paid for most of our seniors to attend the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society to present their posters and interact with other students and professional chemists; other students have attended the annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research, which encompasses students from all disciplines. Also, my long-term observation of students (and our conversations) in the laboratory allows me to write detailed, significant recommendation letters when they apply to graduate school or for jobs. Finally, prospective employers are impressed when our students can explain their project in depth, as well as with the practical laboratory skills they have developed. One of my students who earned an M.D./Ph.D. credits experience his collaboration with me for admission to that program. (His story appears at the end of this essay.

Critical Thinking

Undergraduate research is the academic enterprise most conducive for developing critical thinking skills in our students, for one simple reason: the faculty members don't know the answers! The students and faculty are on a journey together. We have a sense of the destination, but we certainly do not have a map. Research projects do build on previous results and established theories/models; however, each system is different, and thus outcomes of new reactions or methods cannot be predicted.

The first area in which a student is challenged to think critically is performing the reactions. If a reaction fails, the student must consider new reactants (or solvent, or temperature, etc.), careful to change one variable at a time so its effect (or lack thereof) is clear. The second area is in data analysis. Students themselves use modern spectrometers (nuclear magnetic resonance, infrared, or UV-visible) to obtain their own data and learn to interpret the spectra.

It is the data analysis step that prompted me to write earlier that we only have a sense of the destination. When examining a spectrum the student certainly must look for peaks that will confirm the existence of their synthetic target. However, it is more important that the student learn to look at the spectrum objectively, and be open to signs of unexpected products. Indeed, the two articles I have published in research journals while at Xavier highlighted such results. (In the first article, our tungsten-based reactant did not bind to our borane, but rather promoted the fusion of two borane units; in the second article, our metal reactant likewise did not bind to this same borane, but rather abstracted a hydride anion, which allowed two borane units to be bridged by the phosphorus-based reactant.) The discernment of a surprising result of an experiment is an unparalleled opportunity to foster critical thinking.


The most significant insight I experienced during our Mission Academy discussions was a new perspective on service. Usually we desire an academic experience to inspire a student to perform deliberate acts of service. However, the subtle lesson I learned is the act of doing research is service. Following are brief sketches on how the research experience enables students to serve many groups of people in very different ways.

Service to the Faculty Mentor:

A synergistic relationship develops between the faculty and their research students. In the section on cura personalis I outlined ways in which we mentor the students. However, a broader view of our undergraduate research program would reveal that the students have much to offer the faculty. The students are our "hands" in the laboratory; our teams of three-to-four students can accomplish much more than if faculty worked alone. Plus, new research students who replace those who are graduating bring fresh energy and enthusiasm to the group. Most importantly to me is the fruitfulness of discussing the project with my students. Countless times I have stumbled upon the remedy to a problem or a new avenue to explore during a few minutes of conversing with a student, while long stretches of thinking alone had yielded nothing.

Service to Other Students:

Students have many opportunities to assist each other. Within a research group the veteran members willingly teach laboratory techniques and the use of the instruments to new members, and group members always encourage each other when reactions fail. At department seminars all research students evaluate each other's talk, providing valuable lessons in peer review.

Service to Other Educators:

My group has developed new laboratory exercises for Inorganic and Analytical classes. Four students (Megan Klein '99, Matt Mauck '03, Kelly Curran '04, and Bridget Dixon '09) have each been a co-author on four articles that have appeared in the Journal of Chemical Education. A fifth article (with student co-author Tyler Borg '08) will be submitted this summer.

Service to Other Researchers:

My group has contributed to the body of chemical knowledge. Two pairs of students (Ken Nicholson '97 and Megan Klein '99; Vincent Schnee '03 and Alex Hamilton '06) have been co-authors on two articles in Phosphorus, Sulfur, and Silicon. Additionally, thirteen other students have presented posters at national conferences.

Service to the Planet:

Sometimes former students have the good fortune to serve through their professional work.

Audrey Martin ('03) earned a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry (Michigan State University); she currently works at Lawrence Livermore National Labs (outside Berkeley, CA), where she develops analytical techniques to detect chemical weapons. Therese Dorau ('05) earned an M.S. in Sustainable Systems (University of Michigan), a degree that blends an understanding of technology and business to create solutions to widely-entrenched environmental problems; she now works at ICF International (in Washington, D.C.) as a sustainability consultant for corporate and federal clients.

Student Profile: Matthew Mauck, Class of 2003

Matt graduated with a perfect 4.0 G.P.A. and completed an M.D./Ph.D. program at the Medical College of Wisconsin. His sophomore year he was in my Physical-Analytical Laboratory class. One of the exercises was to measure the volume of carbon dioxide dissolved in a can of soda. Later, Matt visited my office to share an idea. During Christmas break his younger sister was eating a candy called "Pop Rocks", and the package explained how the candy had pockets of carbon dioxide at 600 pounds per square inch. Matt said he immediately thought of our lab experiment, and wanted to work out a modification of the root-beer procedure with Pop Rocks (on his own time, no less). Eventually we published this laboratory exercise in the Journal of Chemical Education. Incidentally, Matt told me that when he interviewed for the M.D./Ph.D. program, the committee was more impressed with the Pop Rocks exercise than his two-year research project with my former colleague Ed Fenlon on transition-state analogues of ribozymes that culminated in his thesis.

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Green Analytical Chemistry: Teaching Towards Sustainable and Responsible Choices

Supaporn Kradtap Hartwell, Ph.D.
Mentor: Tina Davlin-Pater, Ph.D. (Sport Studies)

Ignatian pedagogy

As a new faculty member of Xavier University who came from a different culture, I was a little worried about how to adjust into not only the western culture but also the "Jesuit" and "Ignatian" culture. I joined the "Ignatian Mentoring Program" with the aim to learn more about the mission of Jesuit universities, and Xavier's Ignatian pedagogy, in particular. After reading many books, having conversations with my mentor, and listening to various seminars, I have come to realize that the mission of Jesuit and Ignatian pedagogy are not at all foreign to me. I have come to believe that by nature, all responsible teachers everywhere already possess the same belief and strive for the same quality as the Jesuit and Ignatians do, as similarly stated by Debra K. Mooney in the Introduction on page 1 of Do You Walk Ignatian? (2012) that "In fact, you may be surprised to discover that you already, and quite naturally, serve in a manner that reflects Jesuit traditions." According to page 18 of that same booklet Do You Walk Ignatian?, I realize that just by deciding to join this program to improve my familiarity and understanding of the mission and identity of Xavier University is, in itself, already an Ignatian act called "Magis," or "Continuous Quality Improvement."

The question is then, what is the difference between Jesuit/Ignatian teaching pedagogy as compared to other institutions? Throughout the year and a half that I have been here at Xavier University, I have felt a stronger focus on the continuous improvement in teaching than was the case at other universities that I have experienced as a student or as a faculty member. Here at Xavier, The Center of Teaching Excellence welcomes new faculty members with various activities and resources to improve their teaching quality, such as the "Teaching Mentoring Pair Program" and seminars on various teaching tactics by outside and inside speakers. The Center for Mission and Identity also has various seminars and activities that promote the mission of Xavier, "Men and Women for Others." Some programs I have joined include "Xavier Service Day," where we volunteered to help out at various local organizations around Cincinnati, and "Mission and Sustainability Workshop" where we shared thoughts on world problems and learned how our university has tried to be a responsible member of the society by doing things to contribute to the improvement of these issues. Therefore, now I can answer the above question. Xavier is different from others institutions in that Xavier puts the belief and mission into practical everyday work, not just talking and believing, but actually working toward the mission. Xavier gathers great qualities and ideas and spreads them out so that all the Xavier members realize the same goal, rather than only a few people conducting the mission alone.

Ignatian pedagogy in Chemistry

For many years sciences and technologies seemed to focus only on "efficiency" with very little connection to "civic responsibility" concerning chemical exposure and pollution (from Toward a new U.S. chemicals policy: Rebuilding the foundation to advance new science, green chemistry, and environmental health, Environmental Health Perspectives (2009) 117, pp. 1202-1209 by Wilson M.P and Schwarzman M.R.). With environmental problems resulting from some irresponsible uses of chemicals and technology, especially in some factories, the chemistry community realized the importance of finding ways to use chemicals and technologies in harmony with environmental and human health. This is called "Green Chemistry" and it aims to reduce energy consumption, waste production, and the use of toxic chemicals. Already some institutions around the globe have made attempts to transform their laboratory experiments to be more "Green". The recent global economic crisis led the United Nations to announce the World Decade of Education for Sustainable Development between the year 2005-2014 and green chemistry is one of the approaches for sustainable development (From Education for sustainable development (ESD) and chemistry education, Chemistry Education Research and Practice (2012) 13, p. 59 by Burmeister M., Rauch F., and Eilks I).

I learned about various novel and advanced instrumentation relevant to chemical analyses during the time I spent in the higher education in the US. However, since I come from a developing country where teaching resources as well as social services are scarce, I have encountered situations where such highly sophisticated instrumentation cannot be put into use, either because of limited budget or unavailability of the trained personnel to run the instruments. When you actually look around, you see that those who need chemical analysis the most are the local residents who live next to factories, mines, and garbage dumps, those who live far away from the hospitals, and those who have no money or education. Most of my colleagues, having also been educated in the western world, and I have considered and discussed the relevancy of learning about highly expensive technology. What is the point of educating our students if they cannot make use of their knowledge to serve the society? Does this mean we are educating our students to be able to survive only in the rich societies? From such thoughts we realized that we require adaptation in our teaching. It is important to educate our students about the state of the art instrumentation so that they are up to date and can function at the international level. However, if the particular instrumentation is not available, it is important that students can still make use of their knowledge in alternative ways which may be more suitable in their particular future working situations.

Taking both the environmental and economic concerns into consideration, I started my chemistry research involving students in a way geared towards "Green Analytical Chemistry" by making use of natural reagents from plants and food wastes as well as developing alternative chemical analysis methods/systems that utilized lower cost materials. Here, at Xavier, apart from conducting research in this area with students, I have tried implementing the results from my research work as well as the concept of "sustainability" into teaching Instrumental Analysis Laboratory class via adaptation of some laboratory experiments. The objective is to reinforce social responsibility to chemistry students while educating them without changing the main objectives of the course which is hands-on experience on the state of the art instrumentation. I would like students to realize that whenever possible, they should make a safer choice and keep in mind the consequences of their choices and actions on the society. The chemicals they choose to use and the amount of chemicals they prepare will eventually turn into waste and have some effect on the environment and other people's health. This brings us to one of the main points of the Ignatian pedagogy known as "Discernment." It is a process for making choices, when the option is not between good and evil, but between several possible courses of action, all of which are potentially good (From Do you speak Ignatian?, 12th Ed. (2012) p.1, and A Jesuit Education Reader (2008) p.28, George W. Traub, S.J., Xavier University). Apart from thinking of "efficiency" of their scientific works, students should also broaden their thought to think about safety and cost. In addition, if students know how to adapt, they will be able to better help people who need help. Without having any sophisticated and expensive technologies at hand, can our students perform their jobs effectively using only what available? Can they actually become "men and women for others" in situations that are less than ideal? I hope that by implementing green chemistry choices into my teaching it will help improve students' awareness of the relevancy and responsibility of chemistry within our global society.

Summary of My Teaching and Research Activity on Green Analytical Chemistry and Sustainability

The Ignatian pedagogy concepts of continuous quality improvement (Magis) and making choices (Discernment), have been applied in my teaching and research. I have chosen to incorporate the Green Analytical Chemistry methodologies for the betterment of my students and society through the use of alternative teaching materials. Some aspects of these applications in my teaching/research and student learning objectives are listed below.


  • Use of tea extract as a safe chromogenic reagent in place of synthetic chemical for determination of iron using UV-Vis spectrophotometry (based on my previously published research work, Flow injection determination of iron ions with green tea extracts as a natural chromogenic reagent, Analytical Sciences (2010), 26, pp. 619-623).


    - Students have hands-on experiences on operating UV-Vis spectrophotometer.

    - Students understand and can interpret the data obtained from the instrument.

    - Students gain awareness of possibilities in performing micro-volume analysis to reduce chemical waste.

    - Students learn how to prepare pharmaceutical samples using iron supplement as a model.

    - Students learn about metal-complexing property of phenolic compounds in tea.

    - Students gain awareness that local resources may be used for chemical analysis.

  • Advanced analysis of biodiesel with gas chromatography and infrared spectroscopy techniques (based on Renewable Energy Workshop, offered by Chemistry Collaborations, Workshops and Communities of Scholars (cCWCS), Beloit College, WI that I attended on June 24-29, 2012)


- Students have hands-on experience operating a Gas Chromatograph and an Infrared Spectrometer.

- Students understand and can interpret the data obtained from the instruments.

- Students learn about making biodiesel, an important current topic on alternative energy.

- Students realize the important role of instrumental analysis in the development of sustainable energy.


- Continue research on the use of Indian Almond leaves extract for determination of aluminum ions in waste water from ceramic factories.

- Start the research topic on low pressure chromatographic separation using ultra-short column as a lower cost alternative chemical separation system to a high pressure liquid chromatograph.

- Start the research topic on investigation for the use of enzyme extracted from food waste for chemical analysis.

  • Develop the whole student - mind, body and spirit
  • Values academic excellence
  • Encourages lifelong learning
  • Explores values and ethical issues, and examines the connection between faith and culture
  • Encourages development of moral character
  • Prepares and develops students for responsible living in a rapidly changing and diverse society
  • Encourages critical, analytical and creative approaches to solving problems
  • Incorporates global and international dimensions for growth and learning
  • Inspires students to change society and the world for the better.
  • Ignatian pedagogy seeks to develop students of compassion.
  • Ignatian pedagogy seeks to develop students of competence.
  • Ignatian pedagogy seeks to develop students of conscience.
  • realizes that each student is unique
  • presents material in a way that is personally relevant and personally appropriated
  • employs a teaching plan that is systematic, sequential, and purposeful
  • encourages students to think for themselves and think about what is good for society, then make decisions that are wise and productive
  • contains challenging and rigorous course material
  • utilizes novel teaching methods
  • includes other disciplines as appropriate
  • sees the instructor as a role model
  • makes use of clear and specific methods of evaluation (assessment)
  • helps students speak and write well
  • views teaching as service
  • What happens to your waste - the Mount Rumpke story
  • How efficient is your car?
  • How does the USA use the world's natural resources?
  • What are birth and death rate patterns in various countries, and what are the causes and effects of these rates?
  • How well do you eat- how does your intake of sugar, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol affect your study habits and your overall ability to do well in school?
  • Examine your current pattern of food consumption over a week's period of time- then analyze it based on calories, fat intake, carbs etc...and see how well you eat.
  • How does what you eat affect your moods?
  • What happens to our waste? What do you throw out each day? How can we reduce the volume of waste we generate?
  • Is consuming a lot of aspirin, Tylenol, ibuprofen and Aleve good for you?
  • And other topics of interest to the students
  • The use of radioisotopes in medicine
  • Discuss the life of Enrico Fermi
  • Discuss the development of polyethylene, and how it is manufactured today.
  • Discuss the problems that exist because of asbestos in buildings.
  • Contact the local office of EPA or the City of Cincinnati, and ask for the average and peak concentrations of common air pollutants, such as CO, NOx , particulate matter, ozone, and SOx . Are they within acceptable limits?
  • Discuss fluoride that is added to drinking water. Why is it added? At what concentration is it added? What are the benefits and risks of adding fluoride to drinking water?
  • Call your local utility office and obtain a chemical analysis of your drinking water. Present your findings in the paper, and the effects of these substances if they are above acceptable limits.
  • Discuss the four primary sources of domestic heat: natural gas, coal, electricity, and fuel oil. What are the positive and negative aspects for each one? Which one is your choice?
  • Discuss the issue of cloning. For what purposes do scientists want to create clones? What are the pros and cons of cloning? Where do you stand on the issue?
  • Keep a food diary for one week. Analyze your consumption in terms of total calories, and then break the foods down to calories from fat, carbohydrates, and protein. Is your "diet" a good one? Why or why not?
  • Discuss the pros and cons of using chemical pesticides and fertilizers in a flower or vegetable garden.
  • Examine the labels on 5 different clothes washing detergents. What are the ingredients? What are they used for? What kind of detergents are they? What form are they in? Which one(s) do you think will work better and why?
  • Many people take vitamin and mineral supplements. Why do they do this? Look up information on three popular supplements and discuss their ingredients. What is each ingredient supposed to do for the person who consumes it?
  • Discuss the history of aspirin and what it is used for. How is it manufactured today (be specific)?
  • Discuss the use of caffeine in so many beverages and foods. Why is it present or added? How does it affect the body?
  • There is a controversy raging over the use of mercury in tooth filling amalgams. Find information about this controversy and present both sides of the argument.
  • Green Chemistry - did you know such an initiative existed? What were your impressions? (A video was shown, illustrating three examples of successful green chemistry initiatives by national companies and universities.)
  • Polymers - students examined several varieties of common and experimental polymers and discussed how they are used or how they can be used.
  • Sick Building Syndrome - The class discussed how indoor air becomes unhealthy, and steps they can take to clean up the air they (and we) breathe.
  • Waste generation and disposal - Significant discussion took place regarding how much domestic waste is produced per person per year. Students were amazed at how much waste they generate, and where it ends up (in landfills). Students were challenged to keep a "waste diary" and to determine how to reduce the amount of waste they generate.
  • Population growth and effects on the earth and its resources - An entire class period was devoted to answering several questions dealing with population growth, birth rates, death rates, use of resources and effects of resource use on the environment. These questions included:

    1. What factors can result in the lowering of birthrates in More Developed Countries (MDC's)?
    2. What factors can raise AND lower birthrates in Lesser Developed Countries (LDC's)?
    3. What factors can lead to a longer life expectancy in MDC's?
    4. What factors can shorten life expectancy in LDC's?
    5. What factors can cause MDC's to use large amounts of natural resources?
    6. What is the effect of the use of large amounts of natural resources on our environment?

    Some factors to consider:
    • Socio-economic factors
    • Religious factors
    • Political factors
    • Cultural factors
    • Science/medical factors

      Students had very insightful responses to these questions, and began realizing the effect a wealthy population has on the world's resources.
  • Personal energy use - Students discussed how they each use energy every day, from driving, to electric use to water use. They were encouraged to use energy more wisely.
  • Food intake and exercise - Students examined their food intake and composition. Based on FDA guidelines, the students evaluated a week's worth of food consumption to determine the amount of carbohydrates, fats and proteins they consumed during the week, and also kept a diary of activities. At the end of the week, the students compared calories consumed vs. calories expended, as well as the nutritional value of what they ate. This was an eye-opening exercise for many students!!
  • Genetic engineering and cloning - Students had an animated discussion about the ethics of cloning and even having children to provide blood or organs to save a sibling's life. A discussion of the movie "The Island" ensued about the creation of a group of cloned individuals.
  • Global warming
  • Landfills
  • Food
  • Energy and energy efficiency
  • Organic chemistry - how antifreeze is made
  • Polymers and plastics and their uses
  • I enjoyed the topic of esters, it was interesting to know where odors come from
  • Dieting
  • Proteins and enzymes
  • I have enjoyed learning about the "do's and don'ts" of health
  • The earth and food chapters
  • Genetic engineering
  • Environmental issues, especially the class discussion on MDC's and LDC's and the availability of resources
  • I definitely think more about what I throw away, and there was an article about the greenhouse effect that I normally would pass over but instead I read it to see what was new in that theory. (Several students responded in this manner.)
  • Greater conservation of gas and oil
  • Made a conscious effort to recycle all plastic water bottles, and to use "green" plastic bags.
  • I have looked carefully at the chemicals I keep in my home and room.
  • I have told everyone about landfills and water pollution.
  • I am moving to a new house because of what I learned about indoor air pollution.
  • I am deciding to quit smoking and drink less alcohol, and to exercise and lift more.
  • I want to learn about personal changes I can make to lessen air pollution.
  • I am watching what I am eating more.
  • I have convinced my parents to use more fluorescent lighting.
  • I have discussed the issues we covered in class with my family and friends to try to inspire them to make changes as well.
  • Global warming theories
  • Nuclear energy
  • Green chemistry
  • Energy and coal
  • The body and the reactions that occur in the body
  • Water- how water appeared on our planet
  • How to lose weight and how the body reacts when weight is lost
  • Poisons - how the body deals with them
  • Good topics so far!
  • I have really enjoyed this course (more than CIS 1). Everything covered seems cool!
  • This course has been very helpful and interesting, because everything is related to real life.
  • Great course so far!!
  • I am learning much!
  • I have really enjoyed the class discussions.
  • I have really appreciated the course and how it has addressed issues that are important to us as individuals
    and as a society.

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Center for Interdisciplinary Biomolecular Studies (CIBS)
A proposal from my experience in the Ignatian Mentoring Program

Dr. Stephen Mills, Chemistry
Mentor: Dr. Justin Link, Physics

The Center for Interdisciplinary Biomolecular Studies (CIBS) is a collaborative effort by Xavier University faculty who study biologically related phenomena from a molecular perspective. By combining our individual expertise, we gain new insights how nature works. We invite students to join us in our studies so they can see the value of cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to important scientific questions. We take advantage of our Jesuit heritage to think carefully about the ethical and moral implications of our studies for each of us individually, and for our society.

CIBS will formalize ongoing cross-departmental interactions between faculty in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. CIBS will also be open to members of other departments with interests in studying biological problems at a molecular level, broadly defined. Formalizing these interactions into a Center will provide a focal point for prospective students, donors, and funding agencies. This Center will also emphasize to our students the interdisciplinary nature of current scientific research and the benefits of cross-departmental collaborations. Having this Center will provide a more formal structure for interactions and collaborations between the faculty in the associated departments.

Membership in the Center will include faculty members from traditional departments, such as Biology, Chemistry, and Physics whose research interests cross traditional departmental lines. Members of other departments will also be welcome if their interests align with the Center, broadly speaking.

The Center will be largely virtual in nature, however, shared space in Logan 6, 7, 102 and Lindner 2 will provide a visual presence and a place for shared equipment and interactions between students and faculty within the Center. A future building would provide additional research space and opportunities for further collaboration.

As part of the Center, and in support of the Jesuit Catholic nature of Xavier University, we will develop a training program in research ethics for students associated with CIBS. This training will include a seminar course focused on the ethical conduct of research. This course will teach students about the proper conduct of research, consistent with training guidelines specified by the National Science Foundation (NSF), as well as the ethics of the types of research that can be conducted and the methods used for those studies. Students in this training program will include a chapter in their thesis or senior project dedicated to the ethical conduct of research. Upon successful completion of the training program, students will have completed the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training required by federal funding agencies, such as NSF, and may be granted a certificate of training in research ethics.

Faculty Involvement

All faculty members at Xavier University are welcome to be a part of CIBS if they have interests that broadly involve the study of biological questions at the molecular level. These interests could range from direct experimental study of these questions to a study of the ethical, moral or societal implications of biomolecular research. It is expected that the majority of the faculty in CIBS would be from Biology, Chemistry and Physics, but faculty from other departments would also be welcome. As members of the Center, faculty would be asked to contribute to the training of students through mentored research projects, as thesis advisors for students and through courses offered within the Center. Additionally, faculty would be expected to interact and collaborate with each other (formally and informally) to enhance the interdisciplinary aspect of the Center.

Student Involvement

Students from all majors would be welcome to be involved with CIBS, however the majority of the students would likely have majors associated with the departments of Biology, Chemistry or Physics. In the Spring of their Sophomore year, students will be invited to apply to join CIBS. Their application will include:

  1. A 1-page essay of what interests them about the center and what they hope to get out of being a part of this center,
  2. Their academic transcripts,
  3. The name of a CIBS faculty member who will support their joining the Center.

In their Junior year, as members of CIBS, students will take a 1-unit seminar course on research ethics (described below). In addition, students will conduct mentored research with a faculty member who is part of CIBS. Students will submit a thesis based on their research to their home department. This thesis will include a chapter in which the students reflect on the ethical and moral aspects of their research project.

Alignment with the Gifts of our Ignatian Heritage

As suggested by Self-Evaluation Instrument for Jesuit Colleges and Universities published by the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, Centers at Xavier University should have a focus on the Jesuit, Catholic values of the Society of Jesus. CIBS aligns very well with Ignatian values and the Gifts of our Ignatian Heritage, as described by the Center for Mission and Integrity.

Finding God in All Things

One of the main goals of CIBS is to provide a space where the fields of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, as well as other related fields, can work together to understand and discover the beauty and majesty of God's created world. By studying our physical world, we uncover God's design in the World, which leads us to Reverence and Devotion.

Cura Personalis

The idea of Cura Personalis asks us to care for the whole student, rather than focusing solely on that student's academic training. The integrated approach to science and the emphasis on ethical research provide students with an education for their heart and soul, as well as their mind. Additionally, a Center that integrates different scientific disciplines encourages us to look at scientific questions from different angles. A particular question may be addressable using techniques of Chemistry alone, but may be answered more completely using approaches from Biology and Physics as well.


The concept of Magis invites us to do everything with excellence for God's greater glory. Following that idea, our research should be carried out with excellence, in an ethical manner, and taking into account the impact of our research on society. The ethical training within CIBS will teach students proper research practices and instill in them strong research ethics.

Service Rooted in Justice and Love

This gift of our Ignatian Heritage asks us to keep the well-being of our neighbors in mind as we live our lives. An aspect of the ethical training within CIBS will guide students to keep the greater society in mind while carrying out their research. Faculty within CIBS will model this as they plan research projects. This aspect of Ignatian Heritage will impact the types of research project undertaken, as well as they way they are carried out.

Women and Men for Others/Whole persons of Solidarity for the Real World

Cross-disciplinary research and collaborative research invites students and faculty to learn from each other. By having Chemists, Biologists and Physicists working side-by-side, each will learn from the other's specialty. Additionally, our students will be able to see more clearly how concepts and ideas from one discipline overlap with concepts and ideas in the other disciplines. This insight will help our students better integrate information from different disciplines.

Discernment and Reflection

The processes of Discernment and Reflection will help the members of CIBS (students and faculty) to evaluate how our teaching and research impacts our students, our society and our world. Having the disciplines of Reflection and Discernment readily available keeps the other Ignatian Gifts in mind. When ethical questions about areas of research arise, these Gifts provide a way to evaluate best courses of action.

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Ignatian Pedagogy in Chem 435, Medicinal Chemistry: the Global AIDS Crisis

Richard J. Mullins, Ph.D.

Mentor: Ed Cueva, Ph.D. (Classics)

In majors level science courses, the vast amount of information to be covered leaves little time to explore issues of ethics and morality dealing with the subject matter. Very often, students taking these courses are doing so with an eye toward medical school, dental school or graduate programs in that particular area. Thus, while issues of ethics and morality are important to these students, the focus of the course must be quite specific, and narrowly defined, as this information is often required for standardized entrance exams. As a result, the possibility for incorporating Jesuit identity into CHEM 435-Medicinal Chemistry was seen as an exciting challenge.

The primary goal of CHEM 435 is to provide students with an introduction to the role of chemistry in the drug discovery and development process. Students receive extensive exposure to methods of drug discovery, synthesis, structure activity relationships and mechanism of action of several classes of drugs. The text for the course,

The Organic Chemistry of Drug Design and Drug Action,1 approaches these topics from the perspective of the organic chemist. The students who choose to take this course are ones who usually pursue advanced degrees in the medical, pharmaceutical or dental field. This class also appeals to students who plan to study chemistry in

graduate school. During the semester of this course, the class was made up of 8 students, whose interests were similar to the description above.

In addition to the science of organic/medicinal chemistry, a significant portion of the course provides exposure to the manner in which business is conducted in the pharmaceutical industry. Since drug discovery processes are constantly being evaluated in terms of their efficiency, utility and ability to provide increased profits, it

is important to educate students on these issues during this course. Understanding the manner in which the pharmaceutical companies do business then leads us to consider ethical issues which surround the industry. One such issue under consideration is the HIV/AIDS epidemic sweeping the world.

At the end of 2005, an estimated 38.6 million people are living with HIV/AIDS. This is in addition to the 25 million people that have died of AIDS since 1981. Tragically, 2.3 million of those currently infected are children under the age of 15. While AIDS is a problem in the United States, the extent of the tragedy is nothing compared to the crisis occurring in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 24.5 million people are currently living with the disease. In fact, 6.1% of the entire population (aged 15-49) of Sub-Saharan Africa is currently infected with the disease. The suffering is greater still, as more than 12 million children in Africa have been orphaned by the disease. Directly

related to CHEM 435 is the concern that of the millions living with AIDS in Africa, only 1 in 5 are currently receiving treatment.2

While the numbers mentioned above are astounding, the AIDS crisis in Africa is not unknown to the general college population. However, in order to truly grasp the magnitude of this crisis, more people need to be educated about this tragedy. Given that time would be spent this semester studying the AIDS virus, and the mechanism by which the disease can be combated with medicines, this seemed like an excellent opportunity to provide education to the larger Xavier community, showcasing the extent of this tragedy.

Dr. Carl Fichtenbaum, Director of the Infectious Diseases Center at the University of Cincinnati, was invited to the Xavier campus to provide his perspective on the disease. In addition to his infectious disease duties, he is also an avid volunteer at Aids Volunteers of Cincinnati (AVOC). Those who came to hear Dr. Fichtenbaum speak included the students enrolled in the course as well as around 30 other science majors who will likely pursue a career in medicine. Dr. Fichtenbaum educated these students on the magnitude of the AIDS crisis through facts, figures, statistics and his own personal experiences in treating the disease. The audience seemed touched by his message as Dr. Fichtenbaum inspired the audience, challenging them to view these victims as more than just a statistic. While society often vilifies AIDS victims, he stressed that these were people just like them, who happened to be victims of circumstance, be it a tragic accident, or a single ill-timed mistake which resulted in their infection.

The impact of Dr. Fichtenbaum's presentation was immediately evident. Seeking his opinions on what needs to be done to slow the spread of the disease, both in the US and worldwide, the audience stuck around well after the end of the presentation to ask further questions. One of the students in attendance mentioned later, that, because

of the presentation, he was giving serious consideration to studying this field of medicine. Toward that end, he has begun making efforts to shadow Dr. Fichtenbaum prior to applying to medical school. Another student has decided to spend her required volunteer time at AVOC during the next academic year.

Another opportunity this course had to raise awareness of the tragedy on the Xavier campus came by way of the presence of Fr. Terry Charlton, S.J. on campus. Fr. Charlton was on campus to speak with Justice Club, a group of socially aware students, committed to the Ignatian spirit of service. As this event had been previously planned by the leaders of Justice Club, the role of the medicinal chemistry class was to publicize the event. The medicinal chemistry students spent a significant amount of time advertising the event through banners, flyers, email and other means of connecting with the student body. Additionally, to increase attendance at the event, the class provided incentives in the form of refreshments, sandwiches and cookies from a popular campus deli. Based on the numbers in attendance, the message reached people, as over 70 students were in attendance at the meeting. Logan Hall, one of the larger lecture halls on campus, was filled to capacity with attendees.

Fr. Charlton spoke about an ongoing project to reach out to AIDS affected children in Kibera Slums, Nairobi, Kenya. Thanks to a grant from the Chicago Province, Fr. Charlton and the Hands of Life Society founded St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School, a school specifically for children orphaned by the AIDS virus. A video was shown documenting the mission of the high school. For most of the audience, there was a certain duality in the message delivered by the video. Principally, the video brought to life the destitution of the people living in Kibera Slums, providing a completely different view on extreme poverty. It allowed the students to experience the crisis, in a small, but significant manner. Additionally, the video showed a different set of victims of the AIDS crisis, the children who have lost their families as a result of the disease. On the other hand, the talk revealed another, more positive side of the AIDS crisis. That is, the kindness of the human spirit can do great things in the face of such tragedy. There is optimism and hope at St. Aloysius that, through education, progress can be made to slow the spread of the disease, and provide much needed support to the students there. The talk struck a note with several in attendance, as evidenced by the discussion afterward, with the students inspired to wonder what the Xavier community could do to help.

After attending the two lectures, it was now the class's turn to provide some education on the AIDS crisis. The mechanism of drug action of some antiretroviral drugs had been discussed in lecture. These drugs have been especially successful in the United States at treating the disease, and extending the lives of those that are afflicted. However, the expense of these drugs has limited their widespread usage among those that cannot afford them. The blame for the high cost of these life-extending drugs has often been assigned to the pharmaceutical industry. Our class investigated the time, effort and money expended in bringing these drugs to market. The class then staged a public debate where the industry's role in curbing the AIDS epidemic was discussed. The class was divided into two groups of four, who, after doing extensive research, took affirmative and dissenting positions on the following statement: "The pharmaceutical industry is doing an acceptable job responding to the global AIDS crisis." The groups were chosen at random, so many of the students were forced to debate a side of the issue with which they disagreed. This allowed students to step "out of the box," examine their own beliefs, and enhance the educational process. Prior to the debate, the audience was asked to answer a question revealing which side of the argument they would support in the absence of new information. Following the debate, the floor was opened to questions, with the students maintaining their assigned roles as affirmatives or dissenters. At the end of the evening, the audience was polled as to which team made the more compelling arguments.

The debate was a very positive and educational experience for the students who participated, as well as the audience that attended. The brief, informal, and non-scientific polls provided interesting results. A majority (21/30) of students came in with the preconceived notion that the pharmaceutical industry is not meeting its social responsibility in responding to the AIDS crisis. In terms of which team made the more compelling argument, the numbers were more equal with 16 out of 29 believing the dissenters made the more compelling argument. Four students that came in as supporters of the pharmaceutical industry believed the dissenters made the more compelling argument, while nine initial dissenters believed the affirmative team won the debate. What does all of this mean? In terms of our resolving the issues of the debate, it likely means very little. These statistics do indicate something about the maturity of this group of Xavier students. As a result of their diligence, the debaters were able to convince people to change their stance on what is a controversial issue. Credit also goes to the audience, who had an open mind to the arguments of both sides, and were able to declare as a winner, a team which espoused beliefs different than their own. The consensus opinion was that whether or not the pharmaceutical industry is doing enough, more needs to be done in all areas and by all parties affected: businesses, governments, educators and the afflicted societies themselves. While the debate may have further clouded the issue in terms of the majority opinion, it certainly provided the audience with new ways of thinking about the issue.

Incorporation of Ignatian pedagogy into an advanced science course turned out to be seamless, considering the initial trepidation with such a project. The students embraced the opportunity to view the material in a different manner, usually reserved for non-major science courses. Seeing the ethical and business implications of pharmaceutical research provided them with a new sense of perspective. The success of this extension to the medicinal chemistry class will result in it becoming a permanent portion of the course. Spending time on these topics did not take away from the other material in the curriculum, but rather, enhanced the educational experience of the class. Hopefully, other members of the Xavier community were positively impacted by the resources provided by the class. While the AIDS epidemic is something that will continue to plague our world, maybe now more future scientists and medical professionals will have a better understanding of the crisis as a whole.


1 Richard B. Silverman, The Organic Chemistry of Drug Design and Drug Action, 2nd edition, Elsevier Academic Press, Burlington, MA, 2004.

2 These and other statistics can be found at the website of AVERT, an international AIDS charity (

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