Clemson chemistry students put futuristic research on display at symposium
CLEMSON — More than 200 students, faculty and guests visited the 2nd Annual Chemistry Research Symposium on Saturday for a firsthand look at the various projects being conducted at Clemson University.
The attendees met with graduate and undergraduate chemistry students at the Watt Family Innovation Center for informal discussions about the exploration, experimentation and discovery that lies at the heart of science. The chemistry symposium featured more than 50 poster presentations from Clemson, Furman and Anderson universities, along with one from pupils at Clemson Elementary School.
“This is an opportunity for the students in our chemistry department to share the research they’ve been conducting over the course of several years,” said Karl Dieter, chair of the department of chemistry and professor of organic chemistry. “We also connect this to our annual recruiting program — where we make offers to new students — and this gives them an opportunity to visit the campus to get a sense of the breadth and depth of chemical research being done in our university’s College of Science.”
A committee of faculty and graduate students chaired by analytical chemistry professor George Chumanov organized the symposium.
“We designed the symposium to represent the three best pillars of our university’s mission: education, research and outreach,” Chumanov said. “Without the enthusiastic efforts of the committee — and graduate student Edward Hoegg, in particular — this event would not have been possible.”
Alumni, representatives from Upstate industry and students from local schools were among those at the event, which included a well-attended keynote lecture by Bruce McCord of Florida International University titled “The Future of Forensic Science.” McCord is a professor of analytical/forensic chemistry in FIU’s department of chemistry and biochemistry.
“This symposium is good for us as a department and also for a lot of the regional universities around here,” said Stephen Creager, professor of analytical chemistry at Clemson. “It helps a lot when different universities coordinate with each other. Plus, I’m even seeing a lot of walk-in traffic, so a variety of people from the campus community are coming by to see the research that’s going on in chemistry.”
Though the concept of community outreach is a simple one, the titles of the posters were a bit more complex. Clemson graduate research assistant Bukola Saheed presented a poster called “A Novel Miniaturized Electrochemical Cell for Electrolysis and Fuel Cells Application.” But Saheed did an admirable job of presenting his highly technical research in an approachable manner.
“Most of these kinds of studies are done by big industry,” Saheed said. “But we’ve made our research available to any electrochemistry lab. Plus, what we’re proposing doesn’t require a lot of material or high-cost instruments. We’ve been able to come up with a new, miniaturized cell that will be relatively simple to produce and also cost-effective.”
Undergraduate student Kaylee Clark’s poster, “Analytical Applications of Cellulose-Derived Fluorescent Compounds,” also was elaborate and well-presented.
“Before I started doing research here at Clemson, I wanted to get my bachelor’s and go straight into industry,” Clark said. “But after working in a lab, I really fell in love with what I was doing. And now I’m planning to get my Ph.D in chemistry.”
The event’s guests included student recruits from throughout the Southeast. The field of chemistry provides abundant opportunities for careers and vocations, such as health care, forensics, pharmacology and toxicology.
“I really admire and respect the research being done here,” said Jaclyn Lecaroz, an undergraduate student at the University of Alabama who came to Clemson to learn about its graduate program. “The number and variety of topics I’ve seen are impressive.”
For more on the symposium, including a full list of those who presented, go to http://chemistry.sites.clemson.edu/garcia/ACRS.html.