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STEM women represent Westminster at Pittcon 2020

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Posted on Thursday, April 2, 2020

Five Westminster College students presented research posters at Pittcon 2020, a leading annual conference and expo on laboratory science held March 1-5 in Chicago.

Featured posters during the undergraduate poster session included:

• “ALLARM Team Collaborates with Local Brewery on Wastewater Testing” by junior environmental science majors Sara Small and Erin Ward (Dr. Helen Boylan, mentor). Small is from Beaver and Ward is from Euclid, Ohio.

• “Measuring the Antioxidant Level in Two Different Beer Types Using Electron Paramagnetic Resonance Spectroscopy” by senior chemistry major Mariah Hoff (Dr. Jessica Sarver, mentor). Hoff is from Vienna, Ohio.

• “Synthesis of Heterometallic Coordination Polymer Catalyst and Analysis by X-ray Diffraction and Luminescence” by senior chemistry major Emma Pollock (Dr. Peter Smith, mentor). Pollock is from Aurora, Ohio.

• “Analyzing Structure of Bone-mineralization Proteins under Molecular Conditions via UV-Vis and Fluorescence Spectroscopy” by senior biochemistry major Lauren McNany (Dr. Erin Wilson, mentor). McNany is from Emlenton.

“Pittcon was an eye-opening and inspiring experience of the many applicable fields of STEM beyond the classroom,” Ward said. “I had the opportunity to meet and network with many STEM professionals and experience their research on current topics which search for answers to many of the modern issues we face today.”

Westminster students also had the opportunity to work behind the scenes at the conference as student aides, an experience Small appreciated.

“Being able to serve the Pittconn conference wherever I was needed was great, because the large international conference needed so many people behind the scenes to make it run smoothly,” Small said. “It was a privilege to be able to travel with a strong group of women in STEM at Westminster and to present at such a largely recognized conference.”

The group connected with Westminster graduates during the conference and at an alumni gathering in Chicago, including Ian Taylor ’08, Brian Domanski ’08, Ashley Blystone ’12 and Luke Simmons ’19.

Faculty members Dr. Helen Boylan, professor of chemistry and director of the Center for the Environment, and Dr. Jessica Sarver, assistant professor of chemistry, serve on the organizing committee for Pittcon. Boylan was chair-elect of the Marketing Committee, and Sarver served on the Short Course and Activities Committees. Both assisted with reviewing the technical program for Pittcon.

Nearly 6,000 attendees from industry, academia and government from over 90 countries worldwide attended the conference.