Recently, the Department of Chemistry successfully completed its 2012 Research Awareness in Chemistry Education (RACE) program. CBU students enrolled in first year chemistry courses participated in a 4-week rotation with researchers to experience hands-on chemistry research. The students volunteered for about two to three hours per week to gain insight into the ongoing chemistry research at CBU.
Dr. Allen Britten showcased analytical chemistry research in which students assisted with the extraction and analysis of pesticide residues in soil samples from India. This international project investigates pesticide levels of sugar cane fields and helps to mitigate environmental issues.
Enzyme research is the focus of Dr. Godwin D’Cunha. First year students worked in his laboratory on the UV-vis spectrometry analysis of horse radish peroxidase for treatment of waste water and phenylalanine ammonia lyase for the treatment of phenylketonuria.
Dr. Matthias Bierenstiel, an inorganic chemistry researcher interested in transition metal catalysis, had students synthesize two new organic chemical compounds that have never been made before. “Synthetic chemistry research is really like baking a cake in your kitchen only that you do not eat the products in a chemistry lab,” says Bierenstiel. The students also used the inert-gas glovebox system which is a self-contained mini-laboratory to conduct chemistry research with compounds that are sensitive to oxygen and water.
Dr. Stephanie MacQuarrie conducts organic chemistry research on periodic mesoporous materials that contain functionalized organic molecules for catalysis. Recently awarded a $500,000 Canada Foundation of Innovation grant, she focused students' projects on the important analysis and characterization of chemical compounds using infrared and nuclear magnet resonance spectroscopy. “The RACE program is a great opportunity for our students to experience chemistry research and to see that what they learn in first year chemistry is relevant and applicable to society’s problems,” says MacQuarrie.
The students enjoyed each project as it showed what active research is about and how diverse chemistry research can be. “I am fascinated by the diversity of research at CBU and the top scientific instrumentation that we were allowed to use during RACE,” says Josh Gallagher, a first year Bachelor of Science student. “And it was fun, too!”