Chemistry and Environmental Sciences 2010 Senior Thesis Symposium

Poster Presentations:  3:00 p.m.  Friday April 16, 2010

Crawford Hall Upstairs Gathering Space


Oral Presentations:  9:00 a.m.  Saturday April 17, 2010

Crawford Hall Room 306

9:10-9:30 am

Chuck McCready, Sault Ste. Marie, MI

 B.S. Applied Geographic Information Science

A Geospatial Distribution Analysis of Michigan Applicants to Lake Superior State University from 2003 through 2008

Lake Superior State University currently tracks admission application inquiries in a flat file database using Excel and lacks the ability to perform spatial analysis on the data. This project explores the development of applicant data into a spatial format and the efficacy of using geo-spatial analysis to look for trends in the geographic distribution of applicants. Using ESRI’s ArcGIS software applicant data from the state of Michigan for the years 2003 through 2008 was spatially located and combined with socio-economic and demographic data for all high schools and school districts. Analysis of the data indicates that while the number of applications varies around the state, as a percentage of total high school seniors the number is evenly distributed and decreases with drive-time distance. Analysis also indicates that a approximately two thirds of the applicants come from only 23% of schools in the state, and that these schools are mostly rural in nature.

9:30-9:50 am

Melissa Makranyi, Lewiston, MI

B.A. Pre-Professional Chemistry

Making a Methyl Ester Surrogate of Microcystin-LR as a Standard for Environmental Samples

Blue-green algae, such as Microcystis, have the potential to create a drinking water hazard because they can produce the hepatotoxin, microcystin.  In order to perform an accurate risk assessment of this toxin, a standard identification and quantification analytical method must be developed.   The primary delay in the standardization of the analytical method has been the lack of internal and surrogate standards.  The goal of this research was to methylate one of the carboxylic acid groups on microcystin to produce the methyl ester adduct in an effort to create an internal or surrogate standard.  A Fisher esterification was used to synthesize the methyl ester of microcystin-LR (MCY-LR).  Using a semi-synthetic approach is a much simpler method than the total synthesis of microcystin.    Preliminary results have suggested that the methylated microcystin is stable enough to be used as an internal or surrogate standard.    


950-1010 am

Rachael Cunningham, Novi, MI

B.S. Environmental Chemistry

Detection of Blastomyces dermatitidis in SoilUsing PCR


Blastomycosis is a rare disease caused by the fungus Blastomyces dermatitidis. There are usually only about 0.3 to 1.8 cases per 100,000 people, however there are an unusually high number of reported cases in Northern Michigan. This study aimed to develop a method of identifying Blastomyces dermatitidis in soil samples using PCR. The objectives of this study were to extract and amplify Blastomyces dermatitidis from previous cultures, show the specificity of primers, culture new Blastomyces dermatitidis and extract the fungus from soil samples. Blastomyces dermatitidis was successfully extracted from previously made cultures using the MoBio Soil Extraction Kit and amplified with PCR using Blasto I/II primers. Detection of Blastomyces dermatitidis DNA was done using gel electrophoresis. Specificity of the primers was confirmed by amplifying Aspergillus flavus and Penicillium crysogenum with the Blasto I/II primers and seeing no amplification. New Blastomyces dermatitidis cultures were attempted on sheep’s blood agar at 37o C for 1-2 weeks, however a contamination issue in the lab prevented growth. This method can be utilized to further study Blastomyces dermatitidis in soil samples from areas of high rates of infection.


10:10-10:30 am

Tyler O’Dell, Saline MI

B.S. Chemistry

High-yielding Synthesis of Chiral Imines Using a Spinning Tube-in-tube Reactor


Chiral amines are a primary precursor for a wide variety of pharmaceuticals. Developing a sustainable method for their production has the potential to amplify the economic strength of the pharmaceutical industry through increased chemical efficiency, inherently safer reactions, and decreased waste production. This study considered an assortment of carbonyls and their reaction with amines to produce imines as precursors to critical chemical targets. These reactions, normally performed at high temperatures with strong air-sensitive catalysts, were realized in a Spinning Tube-in-Tube (STT®) microreactor which allows for increased production at moderate temperatures in the absence of both solvents and catalysts. The initial results indicate that the STT® is capable of forming the desired products, through precise control of temperature, rotor speed, and flow rates, with conversion rates as high as 92 percent.


10:30-10:50 am Break 3rd Floor gathering area; coffee and doughnuts

10:50-11:10 am

Kyle Stockdale, SouthLyon, MI

B.S. Forensic Chemistry


Determination of Ephedrine Concentration in Dietary Supplements

Over the past two years this project has been testing ephedrine to determine if it would be possible to make a quicker and easier method to determine the concentration of ephedrine. The method that this project was looking to find could be easily shifted over to be used for amphetamine and methamphetamine concentrations in the forensic world. Four different methods were attempted during the course of this project to determine a suitable method, all of which ended in failure. These methods, which will be discussed in detail later, consisted of running on a high pressure liquid chromatograph (HPLC) with photo diode array (PDA) and fluorescence detection as well as a gas chromatograph (GC) with flame ionization detector (FID) and a mass spectrometer (MS). The actual determination ranged from making a fluorescent derivative to acidifying and running with a buffer mobile phase for the HPLC/PDA/Fluorescence and silyating the ephedrine at either the amine, alcohol or both to run on the GC/FID/MS.      

11:10-11:30 am

Leslie Dowell, Burlington, MI

B.S. in Criminal Justice- B.S. Criminalistics and B.S. Forensic Chemistry

A Test for the Presence of Melamine in Pet Food


Over the past five years there have been two outbreaks of melamine poisoning from pet foods causing renal failure.  Our goal was to develop a quick and easy procedure to test for the presence of melamine in the pet food.  Gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC/MS) is a common analytical tool.  In order to detect melamine and melamine byproduct by GC/MS, the analytes were derivatized with N,O-Bis (trimethylsilyl) trifluoroacetamide with 1% trimethylchlorosilane . The standard curves of the analytes were established and were reported from .0005 μg/μl to .005 μg/μl.  Diethylamine was shown not to be good solvent to extract melamine and melamine byproducts.  In the future the laboratory may want to try 10:40:50 DEA: H2O: Acetonitrile as recommended by the Food and Drug Administration. 


11:30-11:50 am

Marci Savage, Sault Ste. Marie, ON

B.S. Environmental Chemistry


Standardization of a Method to Detect PPCPs Using a Fluorescent Derivative

A method was developed to fluorescently detect pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in drinking water.  To accomplish this, p-nitrobenzoyl chloride was used to react with the phenol ring contained within 4-nonylphenol (4NP), acetaminophen (APAP), and triclosan (TCS).  After this reaction occurred, the product was tested by using infrared (IR) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometry to asses the validity of the reaction, ensuring that a new product was formed.  From there, the derivatized product was tested for fluorescence using an external fluorometer.  Once the specific excitation and emission wavelengths were obtained to maximize the fluorescence signal, the samples were run on the HPLC (high performance liquid chromatography) tandem fluorometer.  Unfortunately, the derivatized product strongly sorbed to the C-18 column used in the HPLC, resulting in no results for all samples run, except for one set of 4NP.  Those samples ran after the column had experienced loading after several days and produced dose-response fluorescence detection for the derivative.  This sample set, with the samples run in triplicate, produced a standard curve with an R2 = 0.998337.  After the column is changed to one containing a less hydrophobic resin, the samples should be able to be run without any loss of product.  Once repeatable data is obtained and the standard curves created and validated, water samples will be able to be run to quantitatively detect PPCP levels in drinking water. 


11:50-12:10 pm

Matt Deere, Tecumseh, MI

B.S. Chemistry


Semi-synthesis of MMPB-OCH3 from Microcystin

When bound to the Protein Phosphatase 1 (PP1) and 2A (PP2A) the cyclic heptapeptide microcystin  is virtually undetectable by current analytical methods: ELISA and HPLC-PDA.  The deuterated methyl ester form of 2-methyl-3-methoxy-4-phenylbutyric acid (MMPB) was created by cleaving the Adda moiety of the Microcystin molecule for use as standards for the total determination of Microcystin toxin.  When microcystin toxin was reacted with 2.5 M NaOH in deuterated methanol under constant ozone at -78º C for 60 min the Adda moiety of the molecule was cleaved and the MMPB-OCH3 molecule was formed.  Using GC-MS in SIM mode the m/z ratios of 222 and 225 for the MMPB-OCH3 and MMPB- OCD3 respectively can be found.  Total quantification of microcystin could be completed by using the peak ratio of 222/225.  This confirms a simple one step method for the creation of an internal standard for detection of bound microcystin, and a method for cleaving the 4-5 double bond of the Adda moiety and methylating MMPB in one step. 


12:10-12:30 pm

Chris McKeachnie,  Sault Ste. Marie, ON

B.S. Environmental Health


Geospatial Analysis of Radon in the State of Michigan


The efficiency of a geology/soil-based indoor radon predictor has been modeled for the State of Michigan. This study investigates areas of elevated radon detection with reference to specific soil properties for the future estimation of residential radon concentrations.  Primary analysis involved geocoding over 93, 000 radon records, collected from various health departments across the state, and converted the data to points on a map by zip code.  This allowed for the creation of an updated version of the state radon map which was originally developed by the USGS in 1993. These data points then allowed for further analysis by determining spatial trends through autocorrelation and directional influences.  Inverse Distance Weighting (IDW) was the primary tool used to spatially interpolate the data indicating all values in excess of the threshold limit of 4.0 pCi/L.  Additional correlations were made with respect to a few selected soil properties such as cation-exchange capacity, and permeability. Finally, Phase II of the study involved the collection of additional radon information within the County of Chippewa to assist in local interpolations at the street level. This Public Health Initiative served primarily an educational tool for local residents and in the meantime allowed to provide suggestions for mitigation in order to sustain healthier living environments.







Note:  April 22, 2010 12:00 pm Room 304 CRW


Justin Wilson, Sault Ste. Marie, MI


B.S. Environmental Health


Creation and Evaluation of Reed Canary Grass Pellets for Home Heating


This research evaluated the potential of reed canary grass as a feed material for multi-fuel pellets to be used as a sustainable and alternative fuel source. The end product is a viable pellet that was produced from a multi-faceted project that included; equipment assembly, material collection, hammer milling, mixing processes, pelleting processes, and product drying. A grass common throughout the region was selected as the raw material, and after being properly dried, was processed through the hammer mill. A range of “workable recipes” for mixing the various materials together was developed by trial and error. About 18 different recipes led to successful pellet creation. The pellets were dried to eliminate any moisture that may have created spoilage. The pellets were then burned in a multi-utility pellet stove for community demonstrations. These demonstrations were done to inform the public that it is possible to reduce their dependency on fossil fuels.  The feedback from these public demonstrations was very positive and the public seemed receptive to the idea of locally produced renewable fuels as a viable green alternative for home heating.  When comparing the highest British thermal unit or BTU output between grass pellets and hardwood pellets there is less then a 1.3 percent difference between the samples.  When choosing alternative energy technology such as pellets over fossil fuels the consumer will reduce the amount of CO2 and SOx released into the atmosphere and reduce dependence on fossil fuels (Zhang, 2010).