Natural Science and Mathematics Blog
The Science of Brewing, one of the newest courses in the Science Department, generated a LOT of interest among the students last spring. That is, until they saw the prerequisite – general chemistry. Although the name might cause one to wonder about the academic nature of the course, the students who took the course found out that it is indeed a serious science course. The course was conceived by assistant professor Dr. Garth Patterson to study the wide range of biological and physical processes that take place during the brewing process. Just like any other course offered at the Mount, Dr. Patterson aimed to make the course content connect to other courses being taught in other classrooms. “It was my intent to provide context to the same type of material that is taught in other classes, allowing students to have a better understanding of why we might ask them to be more fully engaged with a topic.” The laboratory portion of the course involves experiments devoted to water analysis using atomic absorption, gas analysis of hops’ aromas, ultraviolet-visible spectrometry analysis of alpha and beta acids in hops, and liquid density analysis to confirm alcohol content. The experiments developed for this class have exposed students to scientific instrumentation that they might not otherwise have access to as part of their required coursework.
As well as being a professor at the Mount, Dr. Garth Patterson is also Chief Executive Officer of Cherry Lane Group, LLC, an analytical chemistry company. He holds 15 U.S. patents and has several international patents which mostly focus on the development of novel designs for mass spectrometers and related components. Mass spectrometers are widely used for many applications from detecting traces of explosives at airport check points to analyzing food and beverage products. Dr. Patterson is thrilled with the success and popularity of his new course and is currently serving as the faculty advisor of the new Brewing Club. He hopes to build on the interest of this course by adding related courses that would be accessible to a larger group of students. Dr. Patterson explains, “Students in the brewing club are coming from all academic disciplines at the Mount, discussing the context of the beer we brew and their own areas of interest. The students are making connections on their own, without intervention or contrived exercises.”
Over 40 8th grade students from the Mother Seton School travelled to Mount Saint Mary's to enjoy a day of science. The SNSM supported this day by providing activities for the students to participate in that would expand their knowledge into the world of science. Both students and faculty contributed to this learning experience by holding presentations and experiments for the 8th graders. The students learned about polymers, bones and muscles, and even had the opportunity to create GAK which is a cross between putty and jell-o. The students also learned about the profession of psychology from our very own psychology professors.
Our wish is that the students enjoyed their day of science and we hope to host the Mother Seton School students again in the future!
Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Dr. Chris Bradley, has recently received two grant awards for the 2014-2015 year. Two pieces of equipment have been obtained through these awards, a UV-visible Spectrometer and a Potentiostat, that will aid in enhancing the educational and research experiences in green and renewable energy science.
The funding for the UV-visible Spectrometer is provided by The John J. Leidy Foundation. This instrument is an important piece of equipment for use in laboratory courses and undergraduate research in the Division of Chemistry. The spectrometer could impact the studies of more than 500 students annually over the next 15+ years. The funding for the Potentiostat is provided by the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh. This instrument, too, is an important piece of equipment in the Divison of Chemistry. The Potentiostat could impact the study of more than 500 students annually over the next 15+ years.
Congratulations to Dr. Bradley and the Chemistry Department for receiving these prestigious awards!
8 students and their faculty advisor, Dr. Chris Bradley, from the American Chemical Society (ACS) Student Chapter at Mount Saint Mary's performed interactive demos for K-5 students at a local science fair in Walkersville, MD, outside of Frederick. Over 200 children experienced demos involving chromatography, catalysis, as well as cross-linked and super-absorbing polymers. Students were even able to take home their own slime they made!
Dr. Bradley organized the program at the National American Chemical Society (ACS) Spring meeting in Dallas, TX. Dr. Bradley invited several prominent speakers from academics and industry to give talks on their research, serve on career panels, and participate in workshops with students involving professional skill development, including resume writing, networking, etc. Over 2,100 undergraduates attended and participated in the undergraduate program at the meeting.
A few months ago, two blog posts focused on chemistry students receiving travel awards to attend the National (ACS) Spring meeting in Dallas, TX. Nicole Vanagas and Jordan Desilva presented posters at this meeting and attended a variety of skills workshops, ACS student chapter events, among others.
The SNSM is very excited to announce the addition of a new piece of equipment in the Chemistry department. The X-ray diffractometer, acquired through a multi-institutional grant involving Gettysburg College, McDaniel College, and Towson University, allows for the determination of the solid state structure of a molecule. This analysis provides accurate bond angles and distances in organic and inorganic molecules. Characterization by X-ray diffraction supplements the information other common techniques provide. The instrument will be used primarily for research purposes, but will also be integrated into upper level chemistry courses at all partner institutions.
Dr. Chris Bradley, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, is pictured with the X-ray diffractometer in his laboratory.