Monday, June 20, 2011

Senior Year~ Blog Challenge #1

I missed you Project SEED! Remember me? I'm Marissa De Fratti, senior at Sto-Rox High School, which is in Mckees Rocks. Last year I worked in Dr. Pintauer's lab with Carol and Matt studying the Opitmization and Parameterization of IR and GC for Simple Reaction Mixture Analysis in ATRA. That all sounds quite fancy, but really it's very simple. Basically all I did was study the reaction of ATRA (Atom Transfer Radical Addition) with the Gas Chromatographer and the Infrared Spectrometer. Most of the research was conducted on the GC though, because the IR was broken for the majority of the summer. Actually, the GC broke pretty often too, but it was easier to fix. I really hope that doesn't happen this year...
The first few days of SEED weren't nearly as bad as last year. I remember walking into my lab, see everything and everyone, and then wondering what I got myself into. The whole first week I struggled to comprehend that there were even such things as ATRA, halogen atoms transfer agents, or different mol% catalysts. It felt like there was no way I could understand all of this and present it at the end of the summer. But after the first week things started to get clearer. Slowly I began to understand all the jargon and reactions. Eventually I could even run my reactions on my own (well, Phoebe was there too.) By the end of the summer I could say the ATRA reaction in my sleep. Everyone I worked with, students(undergrads, grads and high schoolers) and professors alike all ended up contributing my success and I miss everyone who didn't return this year...
In a lot of ways though, this years a lot better. Its more comforting to come back to the lab that I was already in last year, instead of starting over new; though only three people were still there since the rest had graduated. I got a new graduate student(Raj), who was there last year. The project we're working on, is loosely related to my previous one with ATRA, but the jargon and advanced technical terms have become familiar. This year we're working on Coordination Copper Complex Polymers. Technically I'm only working on coordination copper complexes since in order to make the polymer I would need to use AIBN, but I can't since it's too explosive. Overall, making the complexes is pretty simple. The difficult parts are waiting for the solutions to precipitate(assuming they do) and hoping that there's a good yield. My first one didn't go to well; we only got a 37% yield. I'm hoping the next ones I make will go a little better?
Anyway, the first weeks always the hardest and I know it gets easier after that. I'm kinda sad that Matt, Ash and Sean are gone and that Will will be leaving at the end of the week, but the new people are fun. I still have Raj and Carol comes back at the end of the week anyway. :D
And so...I hope this year ends up being even better than the last one.

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