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.
After completing their work our students have presented at:
- Annual University of Saint Francis Research Exhibition
- American Chemical Society Conferences (local, regional, and national)
- Ohio Valley Unified Malacologists Meetings
- Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physical Sciences
- Butler National Undergraduate Research Conference
- and more!
Our students were even taped as part of a biography on the Tippecanoe River Valley by PBS Emmy Nominated producer Angel Hernandez!
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:
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. ( Mentor, Dr. Andrea Geyer)
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 fuels (BTEX) which stands for benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes. The soil from the area was moved to a site on campus for further remediation. Undergraduate students, Nick Swanson, Emily Ottenweller and Anya Kutsenok, endeavored to determine the degree to which the soil had been remediated. Detection of these four compounds was studied with Gas Chromatography. The samples were sent to an analytical lab to verify their findings. (Mentors: Sr. Carol Meyers D.A., Dr. Jean Elick and Dr. Gary Bard)
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 research project of Andrew Fiengo (Mentor, Sr. Carol Meyers D.A.)
Chemical Research on Crooked Lake, Columbia City, IN
The Geyer and Pryor laboratories have collaborated on many projects focused on analyzing a variety of parameters that could influence the mussel population. These projects have included:
Alex Boyle, Ashley Cross, Alexander Diaz, Nirupama Devanathan, Jenna Euchre, Holly Green, Conner Powell, Kaitelyn Vachon studied the nitrate, phosphate, and chlorophyll levels of Crooked Lake along with collecting conductivity and turbidity data.
Ashley Taylor, Alexandra Meyer, Ariel Quickery and Jessica Black used Bomb Calorimetry Combustion to determine the energy content of plankton. Plankton is the food supply of Lampsilis siliquoidea, a mussel. Read More…
(Mentors, Warren Pryor, Dr. Andrea Geyer)
Examining Housing Envelope by determining Air Infiltration
The rate of air exchange and conservation of heating and cooling of houses was measured using a “blower door” designed and built by students. This research was done by J. Chambers, S. Hamric, B. Weaver. (Mentor, Dr. Paul Schmidt)
Lead in mussel shells
Freshwater mussels are an indication of the quality of water. USF student Zachary Beiswanger, 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. The evidence of environmental pollution of lead and copper can be detected. The layers of mussel shells also allows the age of the mussel to be determined. (Mentors, Warren Pryor and Dr. Jean Elick)
Lead Paint Testing and Awareness Campaign
The importance of lead (Pb) awareness and exposure prevention is exemplified by the recent Flint, MI Pb contamination in waterways. Dr. Andrea Geyer leads a Pb testing campaign in Fort Wayne with her environmental chemistry students to increase awareness of the presence of Pb in local households. Read More…
These widely used pesticides are applied to plants. They are addictive to honey bees like nicotine is to humans. This research by Richard Wood studied their persistence in plants and soil. (Mentor , Dr. Jean Elick)
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 researched this topic) For the future a group is being formed to continue this interesting research with small non-vertabrated animals. (Mentor, Sr. Carol Meyers D.A.)