By Catherine Sutton
This summer at NDSU from June 13-16, the Dr. Mukund Sibi-CSMS team became involved in the NATURE program. The NATURE program, funded by the ND EPSCoR program, is in place to promote the experiences of Native American Students in STEM careers.
As enthusiastic college students, Connie and Kimberlee were a part of the NATURE+ program which afforded them a more in depth experience into a STEM field of their choosing. In this case, the students chose to learn about Biomass-derived chemistry with graduate students Eric Serum and Catherine Sutton from Dr. Mukund Sibi’s CSMS research group.
The biomass of choice out of the three available for Connie and Kimberlee’s mini-projects was cellulose, more specifically fructose from which the foundational compound 5-hydroxymethylfurfural is derived. HMF is the basis for the starting materials used in the reactions run by Kimberlee and Connie, facilitated by the graduate students. The goal product for Kimberlee’s reaction was the formation of 2,5 diformylfuran while Connie’s was a dimethylnaphthalene.
Connie and Kimberlee learned about the process of running a reaction and analyzing the products of such a reaction by:
- Gathering materials
- Reacting the materials under specific conditions
- And analyzing the products
Committed to their respective projects, Kimberlee and Connie learned as much as they could in a four-day period about the theory behind Thin-layer chromatography, column chromatography and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance in order to properly analyze their results.
At the end of their successful four-day projects, Connie and Kimberlee, having learned a great deal of new information, presented their projects to other NATURE camp students on the last day of their time here at NDSU.