Science is exploratory in nature; therefore, as a Chemistry student, you will be required to be involved in research or an internship. At the University of Saint Francis, we believe it is essential for you to explore and apply your classroom knowledge to projects. It is possible for the classroom setting to provide you with a false sense of the process of experimentation. In reality, not all experiments work as planned. In fact, some innovations are the result of failed experiments and would never occur if exploration was not encouraged.
You will work closely with Department of Chemistry faculty members to design and develop projects to fit your interests and the resources available to you. You may even design projects that are interdisciplinary and require you to work with faculty in Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Science.
To get an idea of the types of projects you could design, take a look at a few sample projects current or former students have created:
Quantum Dots–Making the Connection
Nanoparticles (1/billionth of a meter) of CdSe are semiconducting and when excited with UV light fluoresce in colors depending on their size. These particles were synthesized, the coated with citrate to be uptaken by radish plants. The particles could be seen in the plant using the Confocal Microscope with 405 nm wavelength excitation. (Kelsey Wright & Brittany Nelson (2013-2015) A group is being formed to continue this interesting research.
Buckminsterfullerene–the C-60 allotrope of carbon
This “soccer ball” compound can be found in carbon arc welding and furnace soot. It is soluble in toluene. Extraction and purification followed by the verification of isolation of the compound by UV spectroscopy and C-13 NMR was the work of Andrew Fiengo (2015).
Alkyne metathesis in ionic liquids
As concerns for developing a sustainable environment grow both nationally and globally, there is an increasing need to evaluate, improve and/or discontinue existing chemical processes. One green chemistry-based approach to increasing eco-sustainability involves the substitution of room temperature ionic liquids (RTILs) for traditional organic solvents. This has the potential to increase the recyclability of the reaction medium while decreasing the release of harmful volatile organic compounds. Research in the Geyer Lab with undergraduate students Lauren Mey, Talitha Frecker and CeCelia Baumgartner has focused on the use of ionic liquids as a medium for alkyne metathesis.
Lanthanide ions are used for a variety of applications including chromophores for light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and fluorescent labels in biochemistry. Pamela Lord, in collaboration with Dr. Ana de Bettencourt-Dias, has pursued the synthesis of b-diketonato ligands and exploration of their sensitization of europium, terbium and thulium. Vanessa Simpson (M.S., Vanderbilt University) has also worked with Dr. Ana de Bettencourt-Dias. This project continues today with USF students Audrey Miller and Nate James.
Lead in mussel shells
Freshwater mussels are an indication of the quality of water. Zachary Beiswanger, in collaboration with Warren Pryor and Dr. Jean Elick, developed a method to sample mussel shells. Once samples of the shells were collected, they were dissolved and analysis by atomic absorption (AA) spectroscopy was utilized to determine the amount of lead and copper in the given shells. This project can be further developed and shells from various locations in northern Indiana can be compared and evaluated for effects over time and location.
BTEX in Brownfield Site
A section of land currently occupied by the Mimi & Ian Rolland Art & Visual Communication Center at the University of Saint Francis was believed to be contaminated with diesel fuels (BTEX). The soil from the area was moved to a site on campus for further remediation. Nick Swanson, Emily Ottenweller (University of Notre Dame) and Anya Kutsenok (IU School of Medicine) endeavored to determine the degree to which the soil had been remediated. In collaboration with Sr. Carol Meyers, Dr. Gary Bard and Dr. Jean Elick, they studied methods for the determination of BTEX in soil and designed initial protocols for the collection of samples. Samples would then be analyzed using gas chromatography and compared over time for changes in the composition of BTEX in the soil.