Barry McNamara  |   Published January 17, 2016

PittCon grant

Monmouth College received $10,000 to purchase ion chromatography equipment
  • Associate professor of chemistry Brad Sturgeon will have even more opportunities to work with Monmouth College students when the college’s new ion chromatography equipment arrives this spring. Half of the cost of the instrument will be covered by $10,000 from the Pittsburgh Conference (PittCon) Memorial National College Grants Program.
    Mike Roemer
Monmouth College has received $10,000 from the Pittsburgh Conference (PittCon) Memorial National College Grants Program to purchase ion chromatography equipment.    “This is another piece of equipment that will add to our students’ hands-on experience,” said associate professor of chemistry Brad Sturgeon. “Teaching students through research is something we stress very heavily at Monmouth. It helps our faculty engage more with our students, and it gives our students more experience that they’ll be able to fall back on in their academic and professional careers.”
  General areas that will benefit from the new instrument include testing water quality in general chemistry lab sessions and enhancing the educational experience for biochemistry students.   “Educating students about ion concentrations in the local water supply will expand the application of the general chemistry course material, as well as provide hard data to the general community,” said Sturgeon, who said the “research-grade” instrument is not commonly found in municipalities the size of Monmouth. “With hard data in hand, we envision a public presentation addressing water quality issues.”   The instrument will also facilitate collaboration between the chemistry department and the college’s biology/environmental studies department.   Specific uses for the acquisition include the college’s innovative Monmouth Coffee Project, an interdisciplinary science/business collaboration that has evolved into a financially self-sustaining business.   “One of the first projects planned for the ion chromatography system is to perform a comprehensive analysis of local water resources,” said Sturgeon. “The outcomes from this project will impact decisions well beyond the quality of brewed coffee. Connecting ion concentrations with perceived water/coffee quality will engage many members of our campus and community.”   Sturgeon also anticipates that the equipment will be helpful in analyzing the effects over the next several years of a recent ferrous sulfate spill on the edge of town.   One of 13 colleges to receive a 2016 PittCon grant, Monmouth will match the $10,000 grant from its pool of science funds earmarked for chemistry to purchase the “major piece of equipment,” explained associate professor Brad Sturgeon.   “Once you have received a PittCon grant, you have to wait four years to apply for another one,” he added. “We take turns in the department applying for the grants to help expand our departmental resources, following in the footsteps of (the late chemistry professor) Doc Kieft.”   Applying for PittCon grants is a process started at Monmouth by Kieft in the 1990s, and Sturgeon added, “The program continues to have a significant and lasting impact on the development of our teaching and research strategies at Monmouth.”
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