Lake Superior State University
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Alum Success

Rachael graduated from Novi High School in Novi, Michigan. Rachael completed their senior research project by developing a method of detecting blastomyces dermatitidis in soil using PCR. This study lays the foundation for further studying blastomyces dermatitidis in soil samples from endemic regions in northern Michigan. Rachael is a member of the Alpha Chi Honor Society. Rachael recently was selected to go to MSU to train in qPCR techniques and assisted in their cow bacteroides project. Rachael plans to attend graduate school in the future to study biochemistry.

Rachael Cunningham
2010 Outstanding Graduate
Forensic Chemistry

Chemistry

LSSU chemistry students receive top awards in undergraduate student research
Facilities

The Departments of Chemistry & Environmental Science maintain a full compliment of modern chemical instruments.  Our undergraduate students and faculty use these instruments both in their laboratory experiences and to support their research. 

Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GC-MS): Analysis of volatile and semi-volatile analytes, characterization of organic moleculesGas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GC-MS): Analysis of volatile and semi-volatile analytes, characterization of organic molecules Fourier Transform - Infrared Spectrometer (FT-IR): Structural determination and identification of functional groups in organic molecules, identification of unknown organic substancesFourier Transform - Infrared Spectrometer (FT-IR): Structural determination and identification of functional groups in organic molecules, identification of unknown organic substances Research Fume Hoods: Dedicated synthetic space for student/faculty research. Hoods are equipped with Schlenk Lines (vacuum & inert gas, etc.) for preparation and handling of air sensitive moleculesResearch Fume Hoods: Dedicated synthetic space for student/faculty research. Hoods are equipped with Schlenk Lines (vacuum & inert gas, etc.) for preparation and handling of air sensitive molecules Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer (NMR): Structural determination of organic moleculesNuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer (NMR): Structural determination of organic molecules HEPA Filtered Trace Metal Prep Hood: Contamination free sample preparation for trace metal analysisHEPA Filtered Trace Metal Prep Hood: Contamination free sample preparation for trace metal analysis Microwave Digester: Microwave assisted digestion of solid sample matricesMicrowave Digester: Microwave assisted digestion of solid sample matrices High Capacity Centrifuge: High capacity refridgerated centrifuge with rotors accomodating up to 250 ml sample volumesHigh Capacity Centrifuge: High capacity refrigerated centrifuge with rotors accommodating up to 250 ml sample volumes Thermocycler for Polymerase Chain Reaction: Amplification of DNA and RNA for separation by gel electrophoresisThermocycler for Polymerase Chain Reaction: Amplification of DNA and RNA for separation by gel electrophoresis Fluorescence Microplate Reader: Automated biochemical assay of up to 96 samples, screening of environmental contaminantsFluorescence Microplate Reader: Automated biochemical assay of up to 96 samples, screening of environmental contaminants Microbalance: Mass determination of sub-milligram samplesMicrobalance: Mass determination of sub-milligram samples Level II Biohazard Facility: Contamination free manipulation of Level I and II biohazardous materialsLevel II Biohazard Facility: Contamination free manipulation of Level I and II biohazardous materials Automated Block Digester: Thermal decomposition of multiple solid sample matricesAutomated Block Digester: Thermal decomposition of multiple solid sample matrices UV-Visible and Fluorescence Microplate Reader: Automated biochemical assay of up to 96 samples, screening of environmental contaminantsUV-Visible and Fluorescence Microplate Reader: Automated biochemical assay of up to 96 samples, screening of environmental contaminants Lyophiliser: Lyophilisation (freeze-drying) of solid and liquid samplesLyophiliser: Lyophilisation (freeze-drying) of solid and liquid samples Polarized Light Microscope with CCD Camera (shared with Geology): Imaging and examination of trace evidence, mineralogy and petrologyPolarized Light Microscope with CCD Camera (shared with Geology): Imaging and examination of trace evidence, mineralogy and petrology Gas Chromatograph with Flame Ionization Detector (GC-FID): Separation and quantification of volatile organic mixtures, quantification of hydrocarbons in environmental samples, analysis of accelerants in arson investigationsGas Chromatograph with Flame Ionization Detector (GC-FID): Separation and quantification of volatile organic mixtures, quantification of hydrocarbons in environmental samples, analysis of accelerants in arson investigations Automated Discrete Colorimeteric Analyzer: Automated colorimetric determination of ions and nutrients for water quality and soil science applicationsAutomated Discrete Colorimeteric Analyzer: Automated colorimetric determination of ions and nutrients for water quality and soil science applications Class 100 Clean Room: Contamination free laboratory for sample analysis and manipulationClass 100 Clean Room: Contamination free laboratory for sample analysis and manipulation Graphite Furnace/Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer (GF/FAAS): Major Ion and heavy metal quantification in aqueous samplesGraphite Furnace/Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer (GF/FAAS): Major Ion and heavy metal quantification in aqueous samples Fourier Transform- Infrared Spectrometer (FT-IR) with ATR Accessory: Structural determination and identification of functional groups in organic molecules, identification of unknown organic substancesFourier Transform- Infrared Spectrometer (FT-IR) with ATR Accessory: Structural determination and identification of functional groups in organic molecules, identification of unknown organic substances Gas Chromatographs with Thermal Conductivity and Flame Ionization Detectors (GC-TCD/FID): Separation and quantification of volatile organic mixtures, analysis of accelerants in arson investigations, analysis of inorganic gas mixtures, hydrogen carrier gas method developmentGas Chromatographs with Thermal Conductivity and Flame Ionization Detectors (GC-TCD/FID): Separation and quantification of volatile organic mixtures, analysis of accelerants in arson investigations, analysis of inorganic gas mixtures, hydrogen carrier gas method development Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS) and Class 100 Clean Room: Trace analysis of heavy metals in environmental samples, elemental analysis of trace evidenceInductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS) and Class 100 Clean Room: Trace analysis of heavy metals in environmental samples, elemental analysis of trace evidence Rotary Evaporators (2): Removal of excess solvents from samplesRotary Evaporators (2): Removal of excess solvents from samples Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction Fluorescence Spectrophotometer (q-PCR): Amplification and quantification of DNA and RNA, quantification of environmental pathogens, rapid detection of DNAQuantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction Fluorescence Spectrophotometer (q-PCR): Amplification and quantification of DNA and RNA, quantification of environmental pathogens, rapid detection of DNA HEPA Filtered DNA Prep Hood: Contamination free DNA sample preparationHEPA Filtered DNA Prep Hood: Contamination free DNA sample preparationGas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GC-MS) with Purge and Trap Sample Introduction System: Trace analysis of volatile and semi-volatile analytes, forensic toxicology, arson investigation, analysis of pesticides and persistant organic pollutantsGas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GC-MS) with Purge and Trap Sample Introduction System: Trace analysis of volatile and semi-volatile analytes, forensic toxicology, arson investigation, analysis of pesticides and persistent organic pollutants Portable VIS-NIR Diode Array Spectrophotometer: Measurement of VIS-NIR (350-1000nm) absorption or emissions using a fiber optic probe. Portablity permits easy relocation and application to a variety of experimentsPortable VIS-NIR Diode Array Spectrophotometer: Measurement of VIS-NIR (350-1000nm) absorption or emissions using a fiber optic probe. Portability permits easy relocation and application to a variety of experiments Soxhlet Extractors: Extraction of organic compounds from solid sample matricesSoxhlet Extractors: Extraction of organic compounds from solid sample matrices Ion Chromatograph with Conductivity Detector (IC): Separation and determination of anions in aqueous samplesIon Chromatograph with Conductivity Detector (IC): Separation and determination of anions in aqueous samples Scanning Electron Microscope with Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (SEM-EDS): High magnification imaging and elemental composition analysis of vacuum stable samplesScanning Electron Microscope with Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (SEM-EDS): High magnification imaging and elemental composition analysis of vacuum stable samples Double Beam UV-Visible Spectrophotometer: Quantification and characterization of organic and inorganic chromophores, trace environmental analysisDouble Beam UV-Visible Spectrophotometer: Quantification and characterization of organic and inorganic chromophores, trace environmental analysis

See for yourself!

We would enjoy the opportunity to discuss careers in the chemical sciences with you. During a campus visit, be sure to ask to speak with the Chemistry Department. We would like to show you our excellent facilities and take the time to discuss some of the exciting research projects now underway.


Biochemistry student Halley Borseth holds bacteria colonies that have been engineered to produce a protein normally found in jellyfish that glows a fluorescent green under black light. This feature provides researchers with a powerful tool that reveals whether certain genes are activated, in this case in a bacteria culture. This project is part of an introductory biochemistry laboratory class that all chemistry majors and many biology majors take while at LSSU. Students learn modern biochemical and molecular biology techniques that can be applied in research and medical careers. Borseth is a junior pre-med student from Ontonagon, Mich., studying biology with a minor in chemistry.

Supportive Faculty

"I graduated from LSSU in 2003 with a B.S. in Chemistry. I had a wonderful experience as an undergraduate student in the chemistry department. The faculty were always very approachable and eager to help me and their other students understand their course material. The small class size of the upper level classes provided a more intimate learning environment which encouraged me to engage more in class discussions and aided in my desire to learn and do well in my classes. It is obvious the faculty are passionate about providing the best learning environment possible and stimulating students to get excited about chemistry. I had exposure to an impressive variety of instrumentation which I though would only be possible at large university. It allowed me to apply the knowledge I gained through my classes and give me a better understanding of how chemistry could be used in a real world situation.

I am currently attending Johns Hopkins University where I received my masters in chemistry in 2005 and am working towards a Ph.D. degree. Initially graduate school was not even a consideration for me until some of the faculty members in the chemistry department at LSSU encouraged me to apply. I am appreciative for all the people in the department who helped me attain a great education while I was there and I thank them for the huge part they played in my academic success."

--Leslie (Machado) Bransfield
Graduate Studies,
Johns Hopkins University

 

 

 

Alternative Management of Anaerobic Landfill Bioreactors for Improved Energy Potential

Josh Kuzimski

Converting municipal solid waste to usable energy is an emergent and growing method for modern waste management. Through microbial facilitation of methanogenesis, methane gas can be extracted from landfill bioreactors to yield a significant amount of usable energy. The hypothesis was that a sufficient addition of sodium acetate to a controlled bioreactor environment would promote larger growth of methanogenic microbes and subsequently promote a greater amount of methane relative to a control (Madigan et al, 2003). In order to simulate an anaerobic bioreactor environment, the method for the study took place in modular sections to cover the design, construction and operation of laboratory scale bioreactors. Upon completion of bioreactor engineering, the biological and chemical components were scrutinized to match ideal conditions of a landfill. Methanosarcina was the chosen genus of the methanogen family to seed the bioreactors, and a total elemental analysis of the waste source was analyzed to approximate methane yield. Over 557 hours, each bioreactor produced approximately 1.3 liters of biogas with less than 1% containing methane. Given analysis through gas chromatography, the bioreactors may have had stunted methane production do to presence of argon gas in the headspace and/or low C/N ratio of the waste. The presence of argon should have been replaced with nitrogen, and the waste source should have contained more carbon per nitrogen. The generation-3 design of constructed bioreactors was successful in containing all gasses, liquids, and solids internally, however did not produce enough methane biogas to accept or reject the hypothesis.

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