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Students and Advisers Participate in Pittcon 2015

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Posted on Monday, May 4, 2015

Six seniors from Westminster College’s Department of Chemistry and their advisers, Dr. Helen Boylan and Dr. Sarah Kennedy, participated in the 2015 Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon 2015) in New Orleans in March.

With nearly 16,000 in attendance and more than 1,000 technical sessions, Pittcon claims the distinction as “the world’s largest annual premier conference and exposition on laboratory science.”

Four of the Westminster students presented their senior research during a poster session:

  • Brittany Majors, a chemistry major,presented “Creating a Chemometric Model in an Undergraduate Setting.”  She is a daughter of Timothy and Marybeth Elias of Ridgway and a graduate of Ridgway Area High School.
  • Cody Fagan, a chemistry major, presented “The Effect of Basis Set Choice on the Accuracy of Small Molecule Vibrational Frequencies.”  He is a son of Stacie Fagan of West Mifflin and a graduate of West Mifflin Area High School.
  • Taylor Elias, a biochemistry major, presented “Analysis of the Effects of Microwave Exposure on Glucose Oxidase from Aspergillus Niger.”  She is a daughter of Mark and Debbie Majors of Wampum and a graduate of Lincoln High School.
  • Elizabeth Waddell, a chemistry major, presented “Developing a High School Lab Experience to Analyze Environmental Effects of Ozone.”  She is a daughter of Martha Waddell of Cambridge, Ohio, and a graduate of Cambridge High School.

Fagan’s research was mentored by Dr. Peter Smith, associate professor and chair of Westminster’s Department of Chemistry, and Dr. Larry Miller, assistant professor. Boylan, professor, mentored Elias, Majors and Waddell.

Majors also presided at an oral presentation session and gave an oral presentation on her summer internship, “Evaluating Regeneration Methods on Water Treatment Media Applied to a Real-World Setting.”

All of the Westminster students, including Lance Jubic and Alex Jordan, served as aides in a variety of conference activities, including registration, short courses, international visitors’ center, science week and the Pittcon booth.  In exchange for their service, the conference covered the students’ registration and housing expenses.

Jubic, a biochemistry and molecular biology major, is a son of Gregory and Mary Jubic of Leechburg and a graduate of Kiski Area High School.

Jordan, an individual/interdisciplinary major from Bessemer, is a student in Westminster’s Lifelong Learning Program.

Boylan is a member of the Pittcon organizing committee and served as chair of the conferee networking program.  She arranged a workshop, “Innovative Learning Experiences for Analytical Chemistry and Instrumental Analysis,” during which she presented her work, “IF-AT Scratch-Offs Engage Analytical Students with the Chemical Literature.”

Boylan, a Westminster alumna who joined the faculty in 2001, earned a Ph.D. from Duquesne University.

Kennedy, assistant professor, facilitated a networking session, “Green Chemistry in Undergraduate Education,” and served as a conference week staff member.

Kennedy, a Westminster graduate who joined the faculty in 2009, earned a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Four of the students obtained multiple job interviews during the week through Pittcon’s employment bureau.  Westminster alumna, Haley Gabor ’14, secured a position with Extrel CMS after a preliminary interview at Pittcon 2014.

An alumni gathering provided an opportunity to connect with Dr. Justin Shearer ’02, Caleb Smathers ’12 and Brian Domanski ’08.  Dr. Kasey Kovalcik ’95 made contact with the students during their poster session.

Travel expenses for the students presenting their research was supported, in part, by Westminster’s Drinko Center for Experiential Learning.

Contact Boylan at 724-946-6293 or email for additional information.