Lab Tours   |   CMSI   |   Educating Tomorrow's Chemists   |   Orpheum Children's Science Museum   |   Science Olympiad   |   SOPS   |   Online Outreach

Moore Group Public Engagement

Moore Group Philosophy

The Moore Group is involved in many activities to promote science to the greater community.

workshop attendees

2016 NSF Chemistry Early Career Investigator Workshop Attendees
Co-chairs: Malika Jeffries-El and Jeff Moore


OLLI Course:

As researchers continue to identify important genetic factors in many diseases and conditions, conversations about genetic testing have grown. Acquiring personal genetic data is affordable and offers information about one’s ancestry, traits, and disease risks – but also opens up new questions. There is a growing need for education on how to interpret the data and the benefits and risks of acquiring this information. This course will provide valuable information about the analytical chemistry of the method, the reliability of the analysis, and the use of various resources to interpret one’s own data. Students registered for this course will be given the option to confidentially research their own genome sequence using data acquired via an established "direct-to-consumer" genotyping service. An optional orientation meeting will be held in mid-December for those who have registered for the course. After discussing risks, benefits, and uncertainties associated with genetic data, participants will be given the option to obtain their personal genotype data, at no cost to the students. Of course, students will have the choice to participate in this confidential exercise – and the course itself will focus on the broader questions surrounding the information that is now available through such advanced technologies.

Olli class

Course Materials:

The Genome – A Book of Information that We All Share
Human Genetic Variation
Trait-Associated SNPs Influence my Appearance and My Senses
How Does My Genome Compare to GRCh37, and What Does it Mean?
DNA Ancestry: Comparisons to Identify Our Shared Inheritance
Nutritional Genomics Suggests the Diet for My Genes
Of Disease – and of Health: Variants in Vulnerable Locations
Pharmacogenomics Describes My Response to Drugs

Beckman Institute Open House 2015

Lab Tours and Demonstrations

The Moore group regularly gives lab tours in which we share our research. We have prepared “pac men” samples to demonstrate our work on self-healing polymers. These samples (a) are made of epoxy polymer and contain microcapsules with a self-healing core liquid. The “mouth” of a pac man sample is used as a pre-crack and guides mechanical damage. Upon fracture and healing, the sample “bleeds,” showing where crack damage occurred (b). The two halves of the specimen are shown after it has been fractured into two pieces (c). On the crack faces, red healing agent is observed as it is released from ruptured microcapsules embedded in the epoxy (d).

pacmen samples

Polymers containing covalently bound spiropyran mechanophores have also been prepared for demonstrations. As shown in the image to the right, when a polyurethane dogbone sample is stretched, it becomes purple as the colorless spiropyran reacts to form its colored merocyanine equivalent. Using irradiation with visible light, this color change can be reversed. The merocyanine reverts to its spiropyran form, and the reaction can again be induced by stretching the polymer specimen. Doug Davis shows how a load frame can be used to test the change of color in samples while measuring applied force (far right).

We have also used these demonstrations at Beckman Institute Open House and in lab tours for students from University High School (Urbana, IL). To the right, Mary Caruso demonstrates how healing efficiency is measured using a load frame. Wintergreen-filled microcapsules are shared at the open house (far right).

Chicago Museum of Science and Industry

In May 2010, Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry opened a new exhibit called Science Storms. The Atoms portion of this exhibit features an epoxy polymer sample containing microcapsules with cores that are dyed red for enhanced visualization. The samples, which are shown below, are part of this permanent exhibit. Additionally, we have supplied the museum staff with pac men samples and mechanophore-containing polymers, which they have used in demonstrations with high school teachers from around the country.

Educating Tomorrow's Chemists

Educating Tomorrow’s Chemists (ETC) is a program in which the UIUC chemistry department collaborates with the Urbana Middle School faculty. Graduate student and postdoc volunteers prepare and direct lab demonstrations and experiments. Approximately 350 students from 13 science classes participate in the experiments (which include Properties of Matter and Chemiluminescence) each year.
Moore group member James Herbison currently serves as the director of the UIUC Outreach Committee, which also organizes Robeson Elementary School Science Night in which about 300 visitors each year visit and perform various experiments. Moore group graduate students Michael Evans and Preston May, shown below, are helping children make slime.

Orpheum Children's Science Museum

Moore group members Alex Prokup and Susan Odom have been involved in summer science camps at the Orpheum Children's Science Museum in Champaign, Illinois. Alex and Susan designed and organized experiments for the museum's Food Science and Forensic Science day camps. As pictured below, children in a Food Science day camp are learning how to use simple kitchen ingredients - with a little help from dry ice and liquid nitrogen — to perform science experiments. After the organized experiments, which included making ice cream with liquid nitrogen and volcanoes from baking soda and vinegar, the students in this age group seemed most fascinated with making witches' brews by combining dry ice with various liquids.

Illinois Science Olympiad

Moore group has been involved in educational outreach within the community. Graduate students (Catherine Possanza, James Herbison and Michael Evans) organized events at the regional and state levels for the Illinois Science Olympiad Forensics Science Competition. Around 20 (regional level) and 50 (state level) high school students participated this event. Graduate student (Catherine Possanza) participated in Bonding with Chemistry: A Day Camp for Girls, an event where ca. 100 middle school girls attended for a variety of science experiments.

Society of Postdoctoral Scholars

Prof. Moore and several postdocs in the Moore group are actively involved in UIUC’s Society of Postdoctoral Scholars (SOPS). Former postdoc Susan Odom, now Assistant Professor at University of Kentucky, was the founding member in 2008, and current participants in the organization now also include Charles Diesendruck, Bora Inci, Pin-Nan Cheng and Nagarjuna Gavvalapalli. Susan and another former postdoc Aaron Esser-Kahn, now Assistant Professor at University of California at Irvine, co-organized the University of Illinois` first Postdoctoral Research Symposium in January 2011. The symposium featured 15 oral presentations and over 25 poster presentations by postdoctoral researchers around Illinois campus.

SOPS hosts a range of social and professional development activities. For a social outlet, SOPS organizers coordinate pub nights in Urbana and Champaign and group participation in events such as Taste of Champaign. For professional development, Susan and Aaron EK co-organized the University of Illinois' First Postdoctoral Research Symposium in January 2011. The symposium featured 15 oral presentations and over 25 poster presentations by postdoctoral researchers around Illinois' campus. Pictured to the right are (L-R) Aaron Esser-Kahn and Susan Odom standing in front of the winning poster for "Best Poster Award" which Aaron co-authored.

See for upcoming events and links to useful information for postdoctoral researchers and graduate students.

Online Outreach

Moore group members have been initiated outreach to elementary schools throughout the country via the internet. We have sent microcapsule samples to elementary schools so that they can perform experiments in their own classrooms. Susan Odom is shown giving a live demonstration of the pac man self-healing experiment (right) to a group of 5th grade students at Bahia Vista Elementary School in San Rafael, CA (far right).


PhD. candidates, Hefei Dong and Preston may gave talks on their work to the Chemistry and Biochemistry Departments at Andrews University in September 2012.


Heritage School: Homer, IL (November 9, 2012)