Chemical Analysis Students Develop Potentially Patentable Product

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.

About Westminster College...
Founded in 1852 and related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Westminster College is ranked 15th among liberal arts colleges, according to the Washington Monthly 2007 Annual College Guide. Westminster is a national leader in graduation rate performance, according to U.S. News Guide to America's Best Colleges, and is one of the most affordable national liberal arts colleges in Pennsylvania. Westminster is also honored as one of "The Best 368 Colleges" and "Best in the Northeast" by The Princeton Review, and was recognized by the Templeton Guide as a "Character Building College."

Nearly 1,600 undergraduate and graduate students benefit from individualized attention from dedicated faculty while choosing from 41 majors and nearly 100 organizations on the New Wilmington, Pa., campus.

Click image to enlarge.

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