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Chemistry students travel off campus

Barry McNamara
As the recently completed spring semester wound down, Monmouth College chemistry students were busy with more than final exams.

Several students participated in the American Chemical Society (ACS) Women’s Chemist Committee Undergraduate Research Symposium at the University of Illinois on April 24, while others took part in the 1st Annual Knox-Monmouth Demo-Off on April 29. Two students – senior Whitney Maher of Bartonville and junior Blake Lyon of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa – participated in both.

“This is the fourth year that we have attended and presented at the research symposium,” said assistant professor Audra Sostarecz, who noted that students from Eastern Illinois University, Olivet Nazarene University and the University of Illinois also attended.

Maher gave one of five oral presentations at the event, speaking on “Synthesis and Analysis of Metoclopramide Using a Model Membrane: The Damaging Effects of Acid Reflux in the Stomach.”

Holly Morris, a junior from Knoxville, presented a poster on “Langmuir Monolayers as Model Systems for the Bacterial Cell Membrane.”

Other Monmouth students who presented their research included Lyon, senior Noah Hendricks of Wataga and junior Angie Morris of Knoxville.

Five days later, students in Monmouth’s ACS chapter were invited to Knox College to participate in the “demo-off,” which Sostarecz said consisted of “a series of chemistry demonstrations that each college performs at local schools.”

Three ACS chapter officers – president Matt Jefferson of Andalusia, vice president Taylor Koss of Manalpan, N.J., and Lyon, the treasurer – made the trip to Galesburg, along with Maher, sophomore Sam Nania of Tinley Park and freshman Pat Corrigan of Peoria. Sostarecz and assistant professor of chemistry Brad Sturgeon accompanied the students.

Demonstrations included such spectacles as exploding balloons filled with gas such as hydrogen and oxygen, “elephant’s toothpaste,” and methane soap bubbles that light on fire.

“It was a night of lab memories, pizza and explosions,” said Jefferson.

“As an adviser to the MC chapter, I was thrilled to see the two schools working together for the improvement of their demo shows,” said Sostarecz. “These shows are very important to the local elementary, middle and high schools. This year, we went to five schools, so we need to keep working on improving our show for next year.”