LATROBE, PA – Saint Vincent College’s Herbert W. Boyer School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Computing recently received a $10,000 grant from the Pittsburgh Conference Memorial National College Grants (PCMNCG) program that will be put toward the purchase of a potentiostat/galvanostat in order to add an increased focus on electrochemistry to its curriculum. In addition to the $10,000 grant, the Saint Vincent chemistry department will also put forth approximately $13,000 for the purchase of the new instrument.
This purchase will enable the chemistry department to enhance its teaching of electrochemistry and will incorporate multiple hands-on electrochemistry modules into upper-level chemistry courses including Quantitative Analysis, Advanced Physical Methods and Advanced Chemical Methods. With the addition of this equipment and the added focus on electrochemistry in the curriculum, it is also anticipated that multiple students each year will elect to pursue projects focused on electrochemistry for their independent senior research project, required of all science majors at Saint Vincent College.
The incorporation of electrochemistry into the curriculum will be developed by the team of assistant professor Dr. Ian Mitchell Taylor, associate professor Dr. Steven Gravelle and Dr. Jason Vohrs, associate professor and chair of the chemistry department.
“Electrochemistry is an important subdiscipline of chemistry that is often neglected in the undergraduate curriculum, either due to a lack of modern instrumentation or instructor expertise on the topic,” said Taylor, who has more than 10 years of experience in electrochemistry teaching and research. “The acquisition of this equipment will allow me to bring my experience in electrochemistry research to the students at Saint Vincent both through structured lab coursework and through independent research.”
In the Quantitative Analysis course, the lecture curriculum will be reconfigured to include a more detailed discussion of basic electrochemistry theory and incorporate multiple laboratory module experiences to provide students with the opportunity to perform electrochemical measurements
In Advanced Chemical Methods, a six-hour/week laboratory course for juniors and seniors, electrochemistry will be incorporated into a variety of existing laboratory modules, such as multistep synthesis of ferrocene and in allowing students to electrodeposit freshly synthesized gold nanoparticles onto an electrode surface to illustrate a controlled surface modification technique.
In Advanced Physical Methods, also a six-hour/week laboratory course for juniors and seniors, multiple laboratory modules will be incorporated focusing on introducing students to advanced electrochemical measurement techniques. One such module planned will require students to determine the optimal electrochemical detection technique and operating parameters for the quantification of heavy metal ion concentration in drinking water. Students will then be able to apply their methodology to an ongoing study in collaboration with the Loyalhanna Watershed Association.
“This research-quality instrument will allow students to detect trace quantities of a wide variety of electrochemically-active chemicals in diverse samples ranging from drinking water to brain slices,” Taylor. “In addition, it will be used to both characterize conductive materials and electrodeposit nanocomposite coatings onto conductive surfaces.”
Founded in 1974, the PCMNCG program is co-sponsored by The Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy, The Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh and The Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh. Grants are awarded to science departments at colleges with enrollments of 5,000 or less for the purchase of scientific equipment, audio-visual teaching aids and/or library materials for use in the teaching of science at the undergraduate level. Saint Vincent is one of 10 PCMNGC recipients for 2019 and was chosen from a pool of approximately 60 applicants.
PHOTO: Dr. Ian Mitchell Taylor
YouTube: Saint Vincent College