Chemistry majors pass national accreditation exam



Three Bloomsburg University students in the B.S. Chemistry – Biochemistry option passed the national American Society for Biochemistry and Biochemistry Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Accreditation Exam.

Stepan Budkin, Tara Full, and Jason Stone were among 926 students nationwide that took the rigorous exam in spring 2020 and among the 40.4% (374 students) who passed. Additionally, Stone was awarded certification with distinction for extraordinary success on the exam. Including this year’s cohort, nine total BU students have earned the national certification recognition and three have earned high distinction. Bloomsburg’s 50% certification rate exceeds the national average of 43.8%.

“The ASBMB has routinely validated what we have always known,” said Michael Borland, ASBMB Accreditation Coordinator and professor of chemistry and biochemistry. “Small class sizes, hands-on laboratory experiences, use of cutting-edge instrumentation/methods, and the high impact practice of one-on-one faculty-mentored research experiences creates students ready for nationwide success in whatever path they choose.”

BU was also the first PASSHE program to garner ASBMB program accreditation in 2014. Only 85 programs nationwide hold ASBMB accreditation, including 5 others in Pennsylvania alongside BU. “It is a great testament to the hard and dedication of our students for BU to regularly earn national recognition alongside other prestigious ASBMB programs; I am proud that BU, and our department, provides this opportunity to our students,” said Borland.

Stone, a senior from Dresher, plans to attend medical school with the goal of becoming a cardiovascular surgeon. Jason has conducted research with Matthew Polinski, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, investigating the understudied chemical bonding patterns in f-element containing materials. Stone’s work studying these uncommon ligands and donors will shed light on new modes in which f-element chemistry can be harnessed.

“All the professors have been very supportive and encouraging,” said Stone. “Due to the small student to teacher ratio you really get the chance to interact with your professors and get to know them. Several of my professors were constantly available to help me work on my medical school application and provide valuable insight into the processes and how I could make myself stand out. For me personally, research has taught me several valuable lessons about science and about life, but most importantly it has taught me how believe in myself and work towards my goals.”

Tara Full, a senior honors student from Mountain Top, will graduate this fall and plans to attend medical school to become an emergency medicine physician. Full conducted her two-semester honors research project with Kate Beishline, assistant professor of biology, to study the regulation and role of telomere dynamics in aging and cancer. Full’s research was also supported by a chemistry and biochemistry Department Summer Undergraduate Research Experience.

“The chemistry program at Bloomsburg has taught me more about myself in four years than I ever thought possible,” said Full. “It has taught me to reach outside my comfort zone and shown me that my potential in this field is much larger than what I originally thought as a freshman. I would like to specifically thank Dr. (Michael) Borland and Dr. (Matthew) Polinski for encouraging me to pursue my dreams and change those dream into a very real possibility for my future.”

Stepan Budkin, a Hazleton resident who was born in Russia, praised the access to laboratory experiences at BU. “The BU chemistry program is focused on giving students lots of laboratory experience, which becomes very important when students are searching for jobs and graduate schools,” said Budkin. “Students spend over four hours a week in a lab when they are taking multiple chemistry classes. Labs meant for more advanced classes are stuffed with unique equipment.”

Budkin conducted research with Dan McCurry, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, in generating high surface area electrodes for sensitive molecular analysis. He has been able to alter fabrication conditions to modify geometry on the hundreds of atoms scale. Budkin plans to attend graduate school in the biomedical sciences as a mechanism to apply his knowledge to solving real-world science diagnostic issues.