Another year of great student projects

This is the time of the year where we wrap up student projects and being new projects. This year I had four students graduate finishing up their Senior Experience projects.

David Jumes ’17 – Senior Experience: Toxins in our backyard: PCB analysis using GC-MS 

Melissa Rooney ’17 – Senior Experience: Diving into the Barrel: Tracking pH and titratable acidity in mixed fermentations

Lauren Welton-Arndt ’17 – Senior Experience: An Analytical Study of Caffeine Supplements

Sarah Zaccarine ’17 – Senior Experience: CO2 Uptake Capacity of Porous Carbonaceous Biomass Material

While I am sad to see these student move on to their next adventure I am excited to welcome two new students into my lab Small Fry Intia and Nicolette Puskar. We are going to have a great summer working with ARTEMIS out at Adams Farm.

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Looking forward to the Fall

It’s been about two weeks since I had my last day of summer work. The last few days before I left we had put everything back into ARTEMIS and checked to see if the power system worked. To my delight, and I’m sure Deanna’s as well, everything worked as expected. Besides a few slight adjustments to wires and labeling, it felt like a big accomplishment for the first time all summer. We repackaged the instruments in new foam layers.

It became almost immediately that some of the wires connected will eventually fall out, most likely in the field, which is a pain but manageable. The last two days a power test was being run, and the solar panel was working. We were unsure if it was the panel, which would have been a whole bunch worse, or if it was the solar controller. It appears to have been the solar controller, which makes everything easier (and cheaper). Everything seems to be working out to be able to head out and actually start a long term campaign.

I am excited to start the actual field campaign, but this summer was helpful and formative. I got experience in a lot of areas that I did not expect to. It was nice to see everyone progress in their own work this summer across disciplines. I am looking forward to running into problems in the field. I don’t think that optimism will carry through the fall, but I am looking forward to collecting data.

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Goodbye for now

So far not much has changed since my last blog post. We still have no idea what is wrong with the HPLC. So I started over and dried the caffeine standard. Hopefully next week these caffeine standards will work. One thing I have learned this summer is that I need to narrow my question. At first I had this grand vision of just putting a compound into a instrument and getting results right away. I eventually decided to do just one compound. The compound I choose to measure was caffeine. I will continue to do this research during the school and use the results for my senior experience. Since this is my last post for the summer I may right again during the school year. So goodbye for now.

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I love what I do !

It’s been a whole year since I posted and a bunch of things have changed. For one I graduated from Lawrence University and will be attending graduate school in couple of weeks so I’m really excited about that. Lil APOLLO (Air Pollutant Observation and Logging on Land by an Open  source system) which is the name of the air pollutant monitor that I was working on. It underwent some  major reconstruction as we had a couple of issues with it. However, I’m proud to say Lil APOLLO worked and the team that went on campaign was able to collect real time data. I attended up to about 3 symposiums presenting the data and I got some really great feedback.

So you are probably wondering what that title is about, well, I was missing working as a scientist during the summer and I wished I was back at Lawrence University tinkering away or figuring out how to fix some problem. I was back at home in Jamaica and because I was unable to get a chemistry related job my Mom had decided to grant me the opportunity to work at a bank. OMG. Let’s just say the financial world is not something I particularly enjoy. However, I think I’m learning how to be receptive to all types of personalities and to better able to assist persons when they are learning something new. One of my jobs was to assist customers at the ATM/ABM by teaching them how to use it. It’s always great to hear that they would like me to evaluate how they do next time. 

I’m currently at my new graduate school and I’m excited for the future. I’m assisting my professor to design and create an instrument that can be used in surface chemistry applications. Which is so up my alley in the kind of chemistry I like to do! I’ll also be a Teaching Assistant for the first year chemistry labs which might be a little nerve wracking as I’ll be the only authoritative figure in the room.yikes. It’s been an awesome experience and I wish the current Donohoue research lab assistants all the best.

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Changing the power supply

In order to make ARTEMIS more independent in the field we have revamped its power system. This has been a project we have been working on for the past few weeks, but it has mostly been dealing with ordering parts and odds and ends. We are almost done with the power system change, which means getting the trailer back outside and data collection. I have learned that I do not like working with 6 AWG wire, but I am excited for this change to be almost complete.

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Still No Idea What Is Going On

This week all I have been doing is trying to see if I could get the HPLC to work. On wednesday I ran ran the standard with the old column. When I did this the standard from last week was not showing any of the aromatic compounds. So I switched back to the new column and got a new standard. This time I could see all four peaks. Next I tried to ran caffeine in the HPLC. Sadly I got no caffeine peak. This makes me think that something is wrong with the column guard. If some thing was wrong with the column then my standard would not have worked.

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HPLC Problems

At the end of last week my HPLC data was not looking so great. Instead of the nice straight baseline I wanted I had a very messy baseline. So on Monday we tried to figure out what was wrong by rerunning part of my samples I had tried to run the week before. This did not work and my base line was still messy. Next we had the flush the column and that took a long time. Then we switched out the phosphate buffer I made and put the old one back on. This seemed to fix things until we run the mello yellow. We think there was something in the mello yellow that messed up the baseline. So mostly my week has been flushing the HPLC column with water and methanol to try and clean the column. On friday I ran a standard and the baselines were almost perfect. After that I tried running two caffeine standards, but the baselines were very messy.

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