Paper Accepted into the Journal of Chemical Education

April 16, 2008

rettigburlinghamWhat started out as an honors project for organic chemistry turned into a paper that was recently accepted into the Journal of Chemical Education (JCE).

Co-author Joe Rettig, a senior biochemistry major from East Palestine, conducted an experiment in organic chemistry and Dr. Benjamin Burlingham, assistant professor of chemistry at Mount Union College wrote an article that explained Rettig’s experiment and findings in detail.

This experiment was pedagogical, instead of chemical.  Rettig looked at reagents and how they affect the shape of a molecule.  Through team work he determined how to test a compound and analyze how the compound was produced.  

“Rettig did all of the lab work and fundamentals for this project,” said Burlingham.  “It just took off.”   Unlike other articles, Rettig put a spin on this experiment.  It was entirely seen through a student perspective.   As a student it’s important to know how to understand an experiment, how to present it and how to learn from it.

After this experiment was conducted Burlingham wrote a paper that explained Rettig’s experiment and findings.  This article was later peer reviewed by the Journal of Chemical Education.   Their article has been accepted, but not yet published.

“Rettig made a real big contribution,” said Burlingham.  “It’s not just research, but a learning experience.”  

The introductory organic chemistry teaching lab is designed to serve a variety of students, from those interested in chemistry as a career, to those whose interest in chemistry is tangential to their major field of interest.  Burlingham incorporates labs into his course work in hopes that students will ask bigger questions.  He is designing lab experiments that do not have procedure and technique as a final goal, but rather a vehicle for students to learn the scientific process.  

The Journal of Chemical Education is a monthly, subscription-only journal available in print and online.  JCE is published by the Division of Chemical Education of the American Chemical Society.  JCE contains many short papers, detailing experiments and other techniques to teach chemistry.

Burlingham earned a bachelor of science degree in biochemistry from Grove City College and a doctoral degree in organic chemistry from Indiana University, Bloomington.

Rettig, a senior biochemistry major from East Palestine, plans on attending medical school next fall at Wright State University.  He is active in the American Chemical Society and has been named to the dean’s list numerous times.

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