News

Tabor College students attend international chemistry conference

March 10, 2014

Categories: General News

Dr. Norman Schmidt, Tabor College Professor of Chemistry, attended The Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon) hosted March 2 – 6, 2014 at the McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill. Dr. Schmidt was accompanied by his research group of five Tabor science students, whom all presented posters at the conference. Poster presenters were; Tyler Dort (Senior), Kristen Harris (Senior), Diane Krehbiel (Junior), Amy Maphet (Senior), and Zachary Willems (Junior). Students have logged numerous hours in the instrumental laboratory performing research on a number of diverse chemistry projects.

The purpose of this trip was to expose the students to the latest in scientific research and to gain experience in presenting their own research to others. Approximately 15,000 people attended this conference; most of whom are research chemists, while some work in academia or chemistry related fields.

“This conference exposes students to the latest trends in the science field,” said Schmidt. “The students get experience in presenting their own research to others. From this they get new ideas for future research and learn more about how to conduct research themselves. Students get to interact with students from other schools and see how other schools conduct teaching and research.”

This conference draws people from all over the world.

“One thing that the students commented on was the international flavor of the conference,” added Schmidt. “Probably one-third of the attendees were from outside of the United States. This helps them realize that science is not limited to only the United States.”

The students enjoyed getting the opportunity to present their work to an international audience.

“It is great to collaborate with others who have researched similar projects to share ideas and help take the project to the next level,” said Kristen Harris, who presented her research about garlic and garlic vapors. “I had chemistry enthusiasts from Sweden, Germany, Nigeria, California, Illinois and many others from the United States approach me asking questions about my garlic chemistry project.”

The students attending this conference said it was beneficial for them in many different ways.

“The benefit of going as a student is the preparation for public speaking,” said Diane Krehbiel, who presented her research on essential oil in pine tree leaves. “It was initially difficult to explain your research project to complete strangers, but as the night went on, you became more comfortable and confident when talking to others.”

Tyler Dort, who also presented research on essential oil concentration in leaves and in the fruit of the Osage Orange tree, added, “This important to go to Pittcon because it presents an excellent opportunity to showcase the research we have been working on for several years to a large scientific audience. We benefit greatly from this type of atmosphere because it gives us practical experience in the field, as well as exposing us to a larger scientific community outside of Hillsboro that gives helpful feedback. We gain a greater understanding of the importance of advancements in the field of science and the extremely difficult, but necessary process of approving new technologies.”

A conference like this prepares students for their future.

“Pittcon certainly gives us practical experience for the workplace, as it allows us to interact with great minds in the field and take advice from such individuals, as well as becoming familiar with presenting research and the critiquing process,” added Dort.

For students from Tabor College to get this type of experience and exposure is huge.

“In visiting with professors from other schools, I again realize how blessed Tabor College is to have the chemical instrumentation which we have,” said Schmidt. “Without it, this research would not be possible. Many other schools our size do not have such equipment and consequently the students do not have the experience working with it and are not as prepared for post-graduate work as are the students here at Tabor College.”

Life lessons outside of a chemistry laboratory make a student’s college experience that much more meaningful.

“I hope that the experience motivates students to become even more excited about science and share that feeling with others,” added Schmidt. “Science is not dull and boring. Science is exciting and is all around you. Too often today students avoid science and math because it is hard. Science may not be easy, but it is fun. Also, science and math majors generally have very little trouble finding jobs once they graduate.”

The following Titles were presented:

GAS CHROMATOGRAPHY-MASS SPECTROMETRY DETERMINATION OF THE ESSENTIAL OIL CONCENTRATIONS IN THE LEAVES AND FRUIT OF OSAGE ORANGE (Maclura pomifera)
Tyler R. Dort and Norman E. Schmidt

ANALYSIS OF GARLIC (Allium sativum) AND ELEPHANT GARLIC (Allium ampeloprasum) VAPORS WITH SOLID PHASE MICROEXTRACTION GAS CHROMATOGRAPHY-MASS SPECTROMETRY
Kristen L. Harris and Norman E. Schmidt

GAS CHROMATOGRAPHY-MASS SPECTROMETRY DETERMINATION OF THE ESSENTIAL OIL CONCENTRATIONS IN PINE TREE LEAVES (Pinus ponderosa)
Diane J. Krehbiel and Norman E. Schmidt

GAS CHROMATOGRAPHY-MASS SPECTROMETRY DETERMINATION OF THE ESSENTIAL OIL CONCENTRATIONS IN CEDAR TREES LEAVES (Juniperus virginiana) IN A DROUGHT YEAR AND A “NORMAL” YEAR
Amy Jo Maphet and Norman E. Schmidt

SOLID PHASE MICROEXTRACTION GAS CHROMATOGRAPHY-MASS SPECTROMETRY ANALYSIS OF ONION (Allium cepa) VAPORS TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN ONION CULTIVARS
Zachary M. Willems and Norman E. Schmidt

Next year, Pittcon will be hosted in New Orleans and Schmidt is working with students that he hopes to take there.