September 30, 2023

UMW Faculty Teach “Chemistry in the Kitchen”

Join us online for virtual programming from UMW Alumni and UMW’s chemistry faculty

UMW chemistry professors will present “Chemistry in the Kitchen” in three Lunchtime Learning sessions. These sessions will feature chemistry experiments that you can do yourself at home in your kitchen. Watch and enjoy, or conduct your own experiments along with us–we will send a supply list ahead of time so you can join in, if desired.

Each session will focus on a different topic:

Tuesday: Intermolecular Interactions with Dr. Leanna Giancarlo

Wednesday: Polymers with Dr. Kelli Slunt

Thursday: Sustainability with Dr. Janet Asper

Tuesday-Thursday, June 2-4

12:00-1:00 p.m. each day


These experiments are designed for children in fourth-eighth grades, but likely will be entertaining for children outside that range as well.

Join us for one, two, or all three sessions–just pick which you want in the registration form. After you register, you will receive a confirmation email that includes a link to the Zoom sessions. You also will be sent a supply list in advance of the program.

We look forward to seeing you online!

Local teacher creating pathway to success for second, third graders (The Free Lance-Star)

Students mix potions at UMW Harry Potter-themed lab (The Free Lance-Star; Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Students Train at UMW for International Chemistry Competition (The Free Lance-Star)

Kisila and Giancarlo Publish Research

Ben Odhiambo Kisila (Earth and Environmental Sciences) and Leanna Giancarlo (Chemistry) along with their UMW undergraduate research student Taylor Coxon (EES – 16), had their research paper, “The impact of urban expansion and agricultural legacies on trace metal accumulation in fluvial and lacustrine sediments of the lower Chesapeake Bay basin, USA” published in the peer-reviewed international journal Science of the Total Environment.

Department of Chemistry Hosts Tech Tour

Student looking at a chemiluminescent reaction, tonic water fluorescence, and title image.

Top left: A student looks at a chemiluminescent reaction. Bottom right: Tonic water fluorescence.

Approximately 40 students and teachers from Chancellor and Courtland High Schools visited the UMW Department of Chemistry on Wednesday Oct. 10, 2014 as part of the Tech Tour sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce’s STEM 16 group.  Associate Professor Leanna Giancarlo and Professor Kelli Slunt introduced the students to background information on fluorescence and forensics. The students toured the chemistry department laboratory spaces and conducted experiments on the fluorescence of household items and on the reaction of luminol with bleach.

Ben Odhiambo Kisila and Leanna Giancarlo Publish Paper

Ben Odhiambo Kisila, associate professor of Earth and Environmental Science, and Leanna Giancarlo, associate professor of Chemistry, have had their collaborative study, “Sediment trace metals and PCB input history in Lake Anna, Virginia, USA,” published in the July issue of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Earth Sciences.  This research, involving undergraduate students Gayle Armentrout, Virginia Brown and Chelsea Wegner, constitutes a four-year investigation to construct a historical record of Lake Anna, extending through Louisa, Orange, and Spotsylvania Counties in Northern Virginia, by analysis of sediment cores, from seven locations within the lake and three from nearby areas, for heavy metals and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).  Chemical specific analysis of these samples enables an examination of the environmental evolution of the reservoir system since sediments sequester metals derived from both natural and anthropogenic sources and isotopic sediment chronology provides the temporal dimension.

Leanna Giancarlo

Leanna Giancarlo

Kisila, Ben05

Ben Kisila


Radio Show Features UMW Chemistry Professor

Leanna Giancarlo, chair and associate professor of chemistry at the University of Mary Washington, will discuss issues surrounding boosting student performance in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, during an interview scheduled to air on the “With Good Reason” public radio program. The program, “STEM Education in America,” will air beginning Saturday, Jan. 26. Giancarlo, one of four experts in the program, will explore the negative stereotypes of scientists in pop culture. The program also will feature Linda Rosen, the chief executive officer of Change the Education, Robert Tai, associate professor in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education at the University of Virginia and Sevan Terzian, associate professor and associate director of graduate studies at the University of Florida’s College of Education. Giancarlo earned a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania, after receiving a bachelor’s of science in chemistry from the University of Scranton. Giancarlo is a member of the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society, the Virginia Academy of Science and the American Chemical Society. A recipient of UMW’s Alumni Association Outstanding Young Faculty Member Award, she also received a School of Arts and Sciences Dissertation Fellowship while at the University of Pennsylvania. “With Good Reason” airs weekly in Fredericksburg on Sundays from 1-2 p.m. on Radio IQ 88.3 Digital. To listen from outside of the Fredericksburg area, a complete list of air times and links to corresponding radio stations can be found at “With Good Reason” is the only statewide public radio program in Virginia. It hosts scholars from Virginia’s public colleges and universities who discuss the latest in research, pressing social issues and the curious and whimsical. “With Good Reason” is produced for the Virginia Higher Education Broadcasting Consortium by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and is broadcast in partnership with public radio stations in Virginia and Washington, D.C.

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News release prepared by: Sarah Tagg