by BRANDON UTLEY
Set the scene: sunny Orlando, Florida. The expansive Orange County Convention Center. Science nerds everywhere.
That is what myself and fellow students Andy Frantz, Meredith Boes, Halie Copley, and Mary Bernard, along with our faculty advisor Dr. Mark Sabo, got to experience when we attended the 257th annual National Conference of the American Chemical Society from March 30 through April 2.
Attending this meeting comes with many benefits for undergraduate students. The events at this conference involve students in professional work and career preparation. During the undergraduate session of the conference, students can attend certain speakers and expos geared toward chemistry, graduate school, and careers in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry.
Dr. Mark Sabo said that the conference offers over 10,000 scientists and educators from throughout North America a forum for sharing new ideas, innovations, and methodologies that not only advance industrial and academic research applications but have an impact on chemistry as it applies to our world.”
In addition to a vast number of presentations, the conference format offers opportunities to participate in group and divisional business meetings, professional development workshops, and an exposition.
“This program gives Tiffin University students the opportunity to interact, discuss new ideas, and learn about the chemistry profession with other students,” Sabo said.
At this meeting, there was a student chapter poster exposition, where student chapters of ACS from around the country could show off the work their organization has done over the past year. Our chapter here at TU has performed a number of science-based outreach programs this past year to engage the local Tiffin Columbian students.
The extracurricular activities such as judging science fairs, science demonstrations, and science activities are meant to take the fear out of science for students and encourage them to want to learn more about science. The poster for our chapter was made and presented by senior Halie Copley.
Copley was meant to present her research that she conducted during her internship with the FBI at Quantico, but due to unfortunate circumstances it had to be pulled.
“My research that I was going to present was on obtaining DNA and fingerprint evidence,” she said. Sadly, I had to pull it from the conference so I presented on our student chapter here at TU.”
“Seeing the leading scientists and future scientists come together in a conference and presenting research is always amazing,” she said. “You get to meet so many awesome people and learn about the future of chemistry- and more on my capacity, forensics- as well as see a new place.”
The research presented by Sophomore Meredith Boes and Junior Andy Frantz was a continuation of research completed by Taylor Lewis and Amanda Flotteron who graduated in 2018. The title of their poster was “Determination of the chicken organ odor profiles (COOPs) from the decomposition of chicken thighs using gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS).” The abstract for this work submitted by Boes and Frantz is as follows:
“Decaying animal tissue has been studied as a substitute for human tissue decomposition for the purpose of training canines to find human remains. In this study, solid phase microextraction (SPME) was used to sample the volatile organic compounds in the headspace above decaying chicken thigh. Gas chromatography mass spectrometry was utilized to identify the individual volatile organic compound (VOCs)s. Both regular chicken and antibiotic-free chicken were allowed to decompose in the refrigerator and at room temperature. The decomposition was studied over the course of three weeks. This presentation will detail the individual chicken organ odor profiles (COOPs) that result from chicken decomposition.”
Boes said that he believes that this was a useful experience because students were able to meet other students and professionals in the science field.
Junior Mary Bernard presented her own research in conjunction with TU professor Dr. Sushmita Ghosh. The title of her work was “Alcohol analysis in the undergraduate laboratory: A comparison of analytical methods.” The abstract for this work submitted by Bernard is as follows:
“The analysis of alcohol has been widely used as the subject of many undergraduate laboratory experiments. The method of analysis varies from chromatographic techniques to spectroscopic techniques. An acidified solution of potassium dichromate has been used with visible spectroscopy to determine ethanol concentration of unknown samples. Infrared analysis has also been used to determine alcohol concentrations. This presentation will describe an undergraduate laboratory experiment that allows students to compare alcohol analysis using two different analytical methods.”
Bernard said that this experience was worthwhile because of what she learned. “I got a chance to present research that I worked on. I enjoyed the trip by spending time with my friends, interacting with other science students and scientists from around the country while getting to learn about up and coming innovative techniques.” she said.
For my research, I did a study of perfume degradation. The full title was “A study of perfume degradation by solid-phase microextraction gas chromatography mass spectrometry,” and the abstract I submitted was:
“A perfume is a mixture that contains thousands of different ingredients in a single mixture. Perfumes are often made with essential oils and alcohol. There are three factors that can affect the quality of perfume; heat, light and oxygen. The main goal of this study is to determine how each of these can have an overall effect on the degradation of these essential oils in a sample of perfume over time, which affects the smell of the sample. To better control the variables in the experiment, a perfume sample was made with ethanol and Jasmine, Rose Abstract, Coriander, Lavender, and Sandalwood essential oils. Gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS) has the ability to effectively separate and identify the compounds in perfume samples and the individual essential oils. The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the perfume were sampled by solid phase microextraction and identified by gas chromatography mass spectrometry.”
Overall, this trip was an amazing experience that I am so happy I got to experience in my senior year. Being able to interact with so many students going through similar programs as the one here at TU was awesome. I would highly recommend this experience to any students interested in the science field.
Annual membership for the student chapter of American Chemical Society at Tiffin University is $30. For more information, students can contact Dr. Mark Sabo or one of the student researchers mentioned in this article.