Senior Research Projects
Lake Superior State University students have demonstrated once again that they can be formidable competitors among their peers when it comes to research. Recently, three LSSU chemistry students received top awards in the undergraduate part of a competition that examined student research in their field.
Anna Kerr, a senior from Harrison, poses with a poster that details research she performed as part of the requirements for her bachelor's degree.
Christopher Gravatt is exploring a method of scrubbing petroleum hydrocarbons from soil and groundwater. Volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) associated with petroleum become trapped in soil due to their insoluble nature. These contaminants slowly leach out of soil to contaminate groundwater. One common method of removing these contaminates is by pumping out the groundwater, treating it at the surface, and then returning it via a spray application. This is a long, repetitive process. Gravatt's study proposes the synthesis and deployment of novel biodegradable organic surfactants that would isolate insoluble soil contaminants near the groundwater layer for rapid and safe removal. Gravatt is a senior in environmental chemistry from Escanaba, Mich.
"Our students received the top awards in the undergraduate competition," said Prof. Barbara Keller Ph.D., chair of the department of chemistry and environmental science. "They really did an outstanding job and seemed to surprise the competition."
Titles of a few of the senior research projects include:
- Measurement of CI/LI Additive in Military Jet Fuel by Infrared Spectrometry, Christine Larkin
- Determination and Comparison of Ca:Zn and Ca:Fe Ratios in Conversion Coatings using SEM-EDS, Nathan Morrill
- Asymmetric Synthesis Using Chiral Auxiliaries and Titanium Enolates, Michael Overbeek
- Determination of Silver in Seawater by Thin Film Hydride Generation ICP-MS, Jordan Burton
- Towards the Synthesis of a Guanidine-like Organocatalyst, Rebecca Smrke
Several LSSU Chemistry & Environmental Science students presented their senior thesis research at regional research symposia.
In October, Allissa Haney (Senior, Forensic Chemistry), and Danielle Hamann (Junior, Chemistry) presented their results at the Midwestern Symposium on Undergraduate Research in Chemistry hosted by Michigan State University, in East Lansing. Allissa (L) and Danielle (R) are shown with their research posters.
Christopher Gravatt (Senior, Environmental Chemistry & Chemistry), Chelsea Theissen (Chemistry & Biology), Rebecca Schewe (Senior, Environmental Chemistry), Adam Point (Senior, Environmental Science) and Danielle Hamann (Junior, Chemistry) presented their research at the 23rd Annual Argonne Symposium, hosted by the US Dept of Energy at Argonne National Laboratory. In addition to the research presentation, attendees had an opportunity to tour lab facilities such as the Argonne Tandem Linear Accelerator System (ATLAS) and the Advanced Photon Source. Chris, Danielle, Brandon Yanni, Adam, Rebecca, and Chelsea are shown in the picture to the left, in front of the Advanced Photon Source.
"The equipment available to students in our chemistry department is unparalleled in the state of Michigan. Here, undergraduate students get to use the equipment…They don't have to compete with research assistants as they would in other universities."
College of Natural, Mathematical and Health Sciences
Nicholas Smith Ph.D. (file photo) works in the areas of radioisotope recycling and medical isotope synthesis and isolation. He received his bachelor's degree in chemistry from LSSU ('04), then went on to graduate work in nuclear chemistry at University of Nevada-Las Vegas, where he received his Ph.D. He is a postdoctoral research fellow at Argonne, where much of the experimental work for the Manhattan Project occurred and is the site where the first nuclear reactor was built. The Argonne lab, along with Oak Ridge and Los Alamos labs, are where the bulk of nuclear research is performed in the U.S.