Chemistry students present research

Four chemistry students recently presented their research results at the 11th Annual Research Week held on the Nicholls campus from February 29th – March 3rd.

Courtney Beamer, Michael Kramer, Shane Swan and Cyrus PIcou each presented posters on a variety topics, ranging from environmental chemistry to molecular modeling.  

Courtney Beamer showcased her work in developing liquid phase microextraction for the detection of polyaromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) compounds in Bayou Lafourche.  Many of these compounds are carcinogenic and pose a health hazard.

Michael Kramer investigated the presence of inorganic pollutants in Bayou Lafourche using the newly acquired ion chromatogaph.  This instrument is capable of measuring ions and carbohydrates on the order of parts per million or lower.

Shane Swan presented his results of investigations of organic pollutants in Bayou Lafourche.  He used the newly acquired gas chromatograph – mass spectrometer (GC-MS) to identify compounds related to the weathering of oil from oil spills.

Cyrus Picou investigated the use of molecular modeling techniques to develop a simple model that allows the prediction of physical properties of hydrocarbons based on calculated molecular surface areas and volumes.


picou courtney et al

Chemistry department acquires powerful new instrument

The chemistry faculty are celebrating the installation of a powerful new instrument that will allow researchers to study the chemical structure of molecules. The new 400 MHz NMR Spectrometer will be used to study physical, chemical, and biological properties of matter and has applications in many areas of science.

The molecules under study are placed in a high magnetic field and exposed to pulses of radio waves.  Specific atomic nuclei then absorb and re-emit radio waves at specific frequencies  The frequency emitted depends upon the electronic environment of each atom and allows scientists to know how the atoms are connected together within the molecule.   

The main component of the instrument is a superconducting magnet that is cooled to a bone chilling temperature of 4.2 K (-269 ºC), which is just above the temperature of deep space.

Students in chemistry laboratories will gain valuable hands-on experience with a powerful, high-tech instrument that previously was not available to them.  In addition to use in the teaching labs, the instrument will be used by Nicholls State University faculty and students to study the structures of synthesized molecules, such as biomedical polymers and organic solar cells.  Other research will involve studying the structure of catalysts for the synthesis of stereo-specific antitumor drugs and in the identification of the microbial metabolites of pesticides, petroleum hydrocarbons and explosives in the environment.  The chemistry degree at Nicholls is accredited by the American Chemical Society and opens the door for many careers in industry and teaching, as well as graduate and professional schools.  Acquisition of this special instrument is important for this accreditation.The instrument was purchased with assistance from the Louisiana Board of Regents Support Fund and Nicholls State University.

A student analyzes a sample on the new NMR.

Students and Professors attend chemistry conference

Nicholls students in Chem 405 attended PittConn in New Orleans last week (March 12th). Shown left to right are Chao Dong, Dr. Wayment, Alex Rivere and Linpeng He. Not pictured is Dr. Chauvin, who also accompanied the group. The students are shown overloaded with goodies and appear to be in a daze after observing the many “cool” instrumentation available for chemical analysis.