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Alum Success

Tyler graduated from Saline High School in Saline, Michigan. He has been an active leader at Anchorhouse Christian Fellowship. He completed his senior research on the use of microreactors to produce pharmaceutical precursors. He was the recipient of a GRO Fellowship for Undergraduates sponsored by the EPA. Tyler completed a summer working in Cinncinati for the EPA's National Risk Management Research Laboratory, and spent a summer in San Francisco with the American Chemical Society's Nuclear Summer School. Tyler will be pursuing his PhD at Washington State University in the Fall.

Tyler O'Dell
2010 Outstanding Graduate


LSSU chemistry students receive top awards in undergraduate student research
Senior Projects
Undergraduate Research

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 Chemisty), 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."

--Barbara Keller
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.


In the Field

Student researchers collecting sediment cores on the St. Marys River.

The Unique Properties of Sand: Its Use as Criminal Trace Evidence

Whittney Laderoute

Sand was collected and analyzed from five beaches in the upper peninsula of Michigan: The Shallows, Brimley State Park, Point Iroquois, Big Pine and Pendillís Creek. Tests were undertaken in order to determine the reliability of sand as trace evidence in criminal investigations. Size and visual comparisons were made using a compound light microscope and chemical composition was determined by using SEM-EDS analysis. Results showed several size trends and SEM-EDS trends but gave no concrete evidence to suggest that the sand used in this experiment can be used as reliable trace evidence. Further research is necessary to confirm or deny this.

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