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Chemistry at the Universite de Sherbrooke.

The 76th annual conference of the Canadian Society for Chemistry is being hosted this year by the department of Chemistry of l'Universite de Sherbrooke. This is a fitting occasion for the Department which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and the conference has been placed under the honorary chairmanship of Professor Aldee Cabana, FCIC, rector and well known spectroscopist, previously a member of the Department of Chemistry.

Since its founding in the early 60's by Jean-Marc Lalancette, FCIC, the department has developed into a mature organization, dedicated to teaching and research with a staff of 20 faculty members. The department dispenses courses to about 150 chemistry majors and 200 other undergraduate students, and advanced training is also provided to about 50 graduate students.

At the undergraduate level, students can take advantage of either a regular, or a cooperative program. The latter is very popular and is largely responsible for the high quality of the students enrolled in chemistry, as well as in other disciplines. Undergraduates can register in a chemistry honors program, with optional specialization in pharmaceutical chemistry or materials chemistry; a minor in education is also available. As in most Quebec universities, a BSc is obtained after 90 credits, spread over six trimesters. In the first two years, all courses are common, whereas in the last year, students are allowed to specialize in any of the areas mentioned above. In the last trimester, all students are encouraged to undertake an advanced laboratory project, within one of the research groups in the department.

Although still a young and relatively small department, the chemistry department of l'Universite de Sherbrooke distinguishes itself by having one of the highest average research grant per staff member in the country. Two of its members, Pierre D. Deslongchamps, FCIC, FRS, and Andre D. Bandrauk, FCIC, FRSC, are recognized as world authorities in their respective disciplines. Deslongchamps' Laboratoire de Synthese Organique specializes in the synthesis of large complex organic molecules. Applications in bioorganic and medicinal chemistry have recently been initiated in collaboration with Luc Ruest (organic chemistry) to study the chemical structure - biological activity relationships of some natural compounds and synthetic analogs.

Finally the group of Normand Voyer has been pretty active in the area of molecular recognition and supramolecular chemistry.

The department has also distinguished itself in the area of colloid and solution chemistry through the work of Carmel Jolicoeur, FCIC, previous holder of a NSERC Industrial Chairs in Asbestos and Mineral Surface Chemistry. The vitality and quality of the research in the department has also been recognized through the participation of two of its members in the new federal Network of Centers of Excellence. Thus, Bandrauk is actively involved in CEMAID, Center of Excellence in Molecular Dynamics, whereas Jolicoeur is active in the Sherbrooke-based Center of Excellence on High-Performance Concrete.

Following the initiatives of several physical chemists, a new research group in the field of "Materials Chemistry" is emerging. The new industrial materials aspect of the project is being developed by Jolicoeur through collaboration with several industrial organizations and the Network of Centers of Excellence on High-Performance Concrete. The other members involved are: Pierre D. Harvey (inorganic chemistry), Serge Lacelle (NMR), Andre Michel (X-ray crystallography), and Yue Zhao (polymers). This new research group will foster the development and application of new industrial materials.

The department has also recently strengthened its position in the field of electrochemistry. A research center in electrochemistry and electrocatalysis (CREE) headed by Jean Lessard, FCIC, (who has been given a chair dealing with hydrogen) which regroups Andrzej Lasia, MCIC, Hugues Menard, MCIC, two senior members, Gessie Brisard, MCIC, Gregory Jerkiewicz, Pierre D. Harvey and Louis Brossard, has been recently created. This center enjoys wide collaboration with other faculty members from l'UQAM, l'Ecole Polytechnique (Montreal) and the INRS.

In recent years, the Department has invested in upgrading and modernizing its undergraduate and graduate teaching facilities, especially in the area of computational chemistry (A.D. Bandrauk) and molecular modelling (A. Michel, MCIC). Thanks to an IBM-University collaborative project, over half a million dollars' worth of computer equipment has been brought into the department for educational purposes. Michel's Laboratoire de Modelisation is equipped with sophisticated graphic stations. This recent introduction of extensive computational facilities in the department has upgraded the undergraduate chemistry curriculum at l'Universite de Sherbrooke into a modern and attractive chemistry program. Jacques Giguere, MCIC, has recently been mandated, with a special university grant, to implement the computerization of every undergraduate lab. Both regular and co-op students benefit from this "computerization" of the undergraduate laboratory curriculum.

Take time during your stay in Sherbrooke to get better acquainted with the Sherbrooke staff and their chemistry.
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Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Date:May 1, 1993
Words:773
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