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Chemical Analysis Students Develop Potentially Patentable Product

Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2008

Westminster College students in a chemical analysis class have developed a "Mole Balance," a potentially patentable product, under the supervision of Dr. Helen Boylan, associate professor of chemistry and a 1995 Westminster graduate.

The "Mole Balance" is an electronic interface between a computer and balance that can produce a digital readout in moles rather than grams, along with several other secondary applications. The mole is a universally standard unit which is a fundamental component of chemical calculations. The educational tool can be worked into chemistry curricula to enhance learning and understanding of difficult and/or abstract concepts.

The students designed a working prototype instrument and completed the paperwork for a provisional utility patent. Westminster's Drinko Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning provided a grant to cover the costs associated with the provisional patent application fees.

The students presented their research at a poster session for Westminster's Chemistry Department in December.

"This wasn't a traditional chemical analysis research project, but it was still a great learning experience for the students," Boylan said. "The students proved to be very innovative and were definitely thinking outside the box."

Students in the class are:

Christopher Bodle, a sophomore chemistry major, is a son of Kenneth and Dorothy Bodle of Clearfield and a graduate of Clearfield Area High School.

Lori Katrencik, a sophomore chemistry major, is a daughter of Lilian Katrencik and the late Lawrence Katrencik of Washington and a graduate of Fort Cherry High School.

David Mills, a senior neuroscience major, is a son of Stephen and Janet Mills of Latrobe and a graduate of Greater Latrobe High School.

Michael Romeo, a senior biology major, is a son of David and Devina Romeo of Bessemer and a graduate of Mohawk Area High School.

W. Fred Romeo, a junior environmental science major, is a son of Frederick and Kim Romeo of Lowellville, Ohio, and a graduate of Poland Seminary High School.

Patrick Thomas, a junior biology major, is a son of Joseph and Justine Thomas of Struthers, Ohio, and a graduate of Struthers High School.

Kimberly Worst, a junior chemistry major, is a daughter of Paul and Maria Worst of Butler and a graduate of Butler Area High School.

The Drinko Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning was created to enrich undergraduate education at Westminster through advancing world-class teaching as well as by participating in collaborations that address community and regional needs including strengthening K-12 education. Visit for additional information about the Drinko Center.

Contact Boylan at (724) 946-6293 or e-mail for more information about the project.

Dr. Boylan, Lori Katrencik, Patrick Thomas, Chris Bodle, David Mills, Fred Romeo, Kim Worst, Mike Romeo