Plastics are all around us in materials that are used daily. Due to their usefulness, plastics are widely produced, but estimates suggest that only 9% of plastic has been successfully recycled. Much of the rest of the plastic end up in landfills and oceans where it can release toxic substances. Even for plastics that can be recycled, it is usually cheaper to make new plastic than to recycle used plastic.
Established in 1998 by Richard F. Stradling Jr. ’64 in honor of his St. Lawrence experience and to recognize his brother, Samuel S. Stradling, professor emeritus of chemistry, this fund supports undergraduate research opportunities for outstanding chemistry students.
Estimating the concentration and characterizing microplastics in freshwater clams’ tissue in St. Lawrence rivers
The aim of the research is to determine the concentration and characterize microplastics found in clams’ tissue in local St. Lawrence rivers. Microplastics are small plastic pieces that are less than 5mm in size, and they are classified into 3 categories: pellets, fibers, and fragments.
This summer I worked to create new polymers that can be efficiently recycled. Our world today relies heavily on plastics that are hazardous for the environment and their production is unsustainable. Currently used polymers cannot be efficiently turned back into their monomers, so creating polymers that can be depolymerized and recycled would be a major improvement in minimizing the harmful effects of plastics on our planet. I directly worked on synthesizing and isolating new monomers.
Plastics are widely used due to their incredible versatility and ease of manufacturing, but the polymers they are made from do not easily degrade, making recycling ineffective for most plastics. A current branch of organic chemistry research studies “self-destructive” polymers that can be broken down and reconstructed in a closed-loop cycle, hence decreasing the amount of waste produced.
Azo dyes are one of the most popular synthetic dyes used in the textile industry. An estimated 900,000 metric tons of dyes are produced annually and more than 70% belong to the azo group. Despite the textile industry playing a significant role in the economies of many countries, they are a source of hazardous environmental pollutants.
My research project this summer, titled “Examining the Wagner-Jauregg Reaction: Providing an Alternative to Morphine,” was designed to explore the possibility of synthesizing a molecule similar to morphine, but without the addictive qualities. Through my research, I looked at known chemical reactions that might provide a pathway to forming a morphine-like molecule and explored ways to change and increase the effectiveness of those reactions. My project built off of the research of several students that studied at St. Lawrence in the past, as well as Dr.
The properties of the binding pathways of intercalating chemotherapy drugs to DNA were studied through literature search and data analysis. The transcription and replication of DNA are key steps to the deadliness of uncontrolled cellular division, or cancer. Characterization of the kinetic properties of the “intercalation” mechanism, the mysterious pathway by which some chemotherapy drugs are capable of halting DNA’s transcription and replication, is where I conducted extensive reading and data analysis this summer.