Catalysts for Water Purification—and Learning

Two OWU students presented their research at a recent professional conference—and liked it!

OWU’s Bennett Thompson ’12 and Marina Metzler ’12 were two of only three undergraduate college students participating in the tenth annual Ohio Inorganic Chemistry Conference at The Ohio State University on October 29 (Photo by Kim Lance)

Two Ohio Wesleyan students had an opportunity to share their scientific research away from OWU classrooms and laboratories at the tenth annual Ohio Inorganic Chemistry Conference on October 29 at The Ohio State University. And as their chemistry professor Kim Lance reports, they both did exceptionally well.

Biochemistry major Marina Metzler ’12 and chemistry major Bennett Thompson ’12 were two of only three college undergraduates who presented their work to graduate students and faculty members attending the event. In all, 56 posters were on display at the conference, accompanied by those eager to describe their research and receive helpful feedback.

“Our research focuses on finding a catalyst to be used for water purification, thereby eliminating the use of chlorine,” says Metzler. She explains further that harmful byproducts produced from chlorination also would therefore be eliminated. As Lance points out, this research is an environmentally-friendly approach to oxidizing potentially toxic organic materials. It was, in fact, Lance who suggested that Metzler and Thompson be invited to participate in the Ohio State conference.

Professor James A. Cowan, Newman Professor of Chemistry at The Ohio State University, with Bennett Thompson. (Photo by Kim Lance)

“They presented their posters to professional chemists—inorganic chemists—who spend their lives looking at this [kind of] work, and who have pertinent questions and good feedback,” says Lance. “Our students fielded those questions very well and were wonderful OWU representatives.” And they had a good time along the way.

“Presenting was fun,” says Metzler, admitting that she was a little nervous at first. “But once you start talking and see that people are really interested in your work, it becomes less intimidating. She noticed those attending the conference understood the research and were able to make suggestions.

Professor Jeff Rack, an inorganic chemist at Ohio University, and Professor Jeanette Krause, and inorganic chemist at the University of Cincinnati talk with Marina Metzler about her research. (Photo by Kim Lance)

“From this experience, I took away a better idea of what graduate students and professional do,” says Metzler. “I also learned there is still so much more for me to learn. The people there really knew what they were talking about. I now know what a professional scientific conference is like from both the presenting and viewing sides.”

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