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October 2015:

MU Chemistry Students Participate in Research Symposium

MANSFIELD, PA—Under a constant drizzle on the morning of October 3, 327 students from around the nation began to arrive at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). For the 18th consecutive year, UMBC would become host to students from twenty states and over 50 universities for a research symposium in the chemical and biological sciences.

UMBC Sym 1Amidst hundreds of scholars toting sleek carrying cases for their posters that morning, four students from Tioga County clambered out of a pickup truck with their poster in a garbage bag. Martin Holdren, Megan Terrel, Joseph Mandeville, and Emily Edwards, all chemistry students, were at UMBC to present research on Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling and Tioga County Well Water Quality.

The four were representing Mansfield University for the first time at the symposium. Despite the unassuming garbage bag, once the poster was unfurled Mansfield would shine as brightly as any university present.

Two poster sessions with 250 unique research projects on display were held with a host of judges, professors, and guests interacting with the students behind the research.UMBC Sym 2

An array of research ranging from belly button microbiota to nanotechnology in solar cells was presented by a diverse group of undergraduate students at the symposium.

“The students not only had the opportunity to teach others about the research being done at Mansfield, but to learn from their brightest peers from around the nation,” Michele Conrad, assistant professor of Chemistry and Physics, said.

Vast networking opportunities were available at the symposium, and the students conferred with professors and research mentors from a variety of universities.

UMBC 3“Perhaps the best way to summarize the symposium experience is with a quote spokenthat day by UMBC president Freeman A. Hrabowski III, ‘Did I ask a good question today?,’” Conrad said. “This message resonated throughout the day as questions were asked and curiosities satisfied. Mansfield was proudly represented by a group of students who have no plans to stop asking questions, and have been inspired to work even harder to excel.” 

August 2015:

Chemistry Students Conduct Summer Research on Well Water Quality

Summer water testing 1 MANSFIELD, PA— Four Mansfield University Chemistry students, along with two MU faculty members and one former faculty member, collected water samples and performed well water quality analysis in Tioga County, PA through a grant from the Tioga County Commissioner’s Office this summer.Students Emily Edwards, Martin Holdren, Joseph Mandeville and Megan Terrel, supervised and assisted by Professor Shaker Ramasamy, Assistant Professor Michele Conrad, both from the Department of Chemistry and Physics, and Paul Wendel, now on the faculty in the Department of Education at Otterbein University, OH, were involved in the project.

“With the rise in number of natural gas fracking sites in the Tioga County, it is important to monitor the well water quality over the course of the fracking process,” Conrad said.

The water quality study involved the Mansfield students collecting water samples from homeowners across the Tioga County and analyzing the water at no cost to the homeowners. A total of 82 well water samples were collected.

Water quality samples were collected at the same sites in previous years to monitor the pH, specific conductivity, barium and strontium. High levels of the two elements, barium and strontium, can be indicative of contamination from gas drilling.

Summer water testing 2

This phase of the study incorporated substantially more analytes, as follows: ten cations (boron, barium, calcium, chromium, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, sodium and strontium), three anions (chloride, bromide, and sulfate), methane gas, pH, specific conductivity, and alkalinity. Samples were analyzed using Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS), Ion Chromatography (IC), Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP), and alkalinity titrations.

Out of the 82 sites sampled and tested, only two sites exceeded the recommended limit for strontium and methane and coincide with the same well water sites. The same two sites had higher barium concentrations with one exceeding the limit and the other close to the limit. The rest of the samples were below the maximum concentration limit for the key indicators (barium, strontium and methane) for gas drilling contamination.

The students’ methodology and results will be presented to the Council of Trustees on September 23 and at the annual Showcase of Student Scholarship in April 2016.

July 2015:

MU Professor Presents at International STEM Conference

MANSFIELD, PA— Mansfield University Associate Professor of Chemistry Anthony Kiessling attended and presented at the 2015 Hawaii University International STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Conference, held June 13 – 15.

STEM conference 2015Kiessling’s presentation entitled, “Impact of Video Pre-lab Lectures on Student Lab Performance and Confidence in a Two-semester Organic Course,” discussed the use of pre-lab video lectures in his organic chemistry courses.

“This led to many fruitful discussions with colleagues from the states and other countries about the use of technology to enhance the learning experience of our students,” he said.

Kiessling began experimenting with the production of short informational videos with the encouragement, support, and collective knowledge of MU’s Campus Technologies Department, in particular Nick Andre and Tamela Bastion.

“Nick and Tamela had the technology and knowledge of producing videos that I lacked,” Kiessling said. “I knew what needed to be said to the students in terms of being prepared for lab. So, with a few quick pointers and some equipment, I got to work one Saturday and made my first video about recrystallizing aspirin.”

When asked about the success of the first video Kiessling responded, “I was completely shocked. The students came into that first lab and I asked them if they felt comfortable just starting the lab? Each and every one of them said yes, and I turned them loose in the lab and they got busy.”

The results from that first video convinced Kiessling that the video project was worth pursuing. He noted there was a steep learning curve to producing videos and many weekends were donated to the cause. The project proved worth the time investment as the students constantly reported they were learning from the videos. Statistics gleaned from D2L showed that 70 – 80 % of the students were indeed watching the videos which had been posted to YouTube.

“When the call for papers for the conference came in my email in March, I knew it was worth sharing my experiences with a larger audience,” Kiessling said. “Besides, what better place to have an international conference?”

So, in June Kiessling presented his experiences to other attendees, many from the U.S., but also Southeast Asia, Canada, Russia and Italy, representing all levels of education from K-12 through research universities.

“I’ve never traveled so far to meet someone from Pennsylvania,” said Kiessling, referring to his first conversation with a professor from Penn State. He also attended talks from other faculty about their experiences teaching in their respective fields, hearing many unique and challenging ideas to share with his peers.


June 2015:

Environmental Workshop for Teachers Hosted by MU and Mill Cove Environmental workshop Davis

The workshop involved in a field course on the chemical and biological assessment of the Tioga River watershed and from the headwaters at County Bridge to the yellow-colored rocks of Island Park in Blossburg.

The workshop also included instruction on sources of pollution and the use of chemical tests and biological species identification to assess the water quality of the Tioga River as well as a demonstration of the complexities of groundwater characterization.

“The goal of the workshop was to provide teachers with tools to help lead their classes in understanding how to study the impact of human activity on surface water and groundwater using science,” Davis said.

MU Chemistry Professor Shaker Ramasamy shared research he is conducting on groundwater quality using the University’s Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP) spectrometer with the participants.

Several MU students participated in leading the workshop by assisting the teacher-participants in performing chemistry experiments and in the identification of macroinvertebrates from the waterways. Read more



Kiessling at Alfred

May 2015: 

Marc Kiessling Honored at Regional Chemistry Meeting:

MANSFIELD, PA— Marc Kiessling, a Mansfield University senior with majors in Chemistry and Computer Science and minors in Mathematics and Philosophy, was the “Best Poster” at the Scholes Lecture and Poster Program at the Corning Sectional Meeting of the American Chemical Society on April 28. Read more.


Mandeville Conrad at AlfredChemistry Students and Faculty Attend Lecture and Poster Session:

The April meeting of the Corning Section of the American Chemical Society is the highlight monthly meeting of the year, combining student research presentations, Outstanding Senior Awards and a nationally recognized speaker along with a banquet.

The evening began with the poster session showcasing research efforts by undergraduates from colleges and universities in the Corning Section, including Mansfield University, Elmira College and Alfred University.

Two of the MU students presented their work. Joe Mandeville, a junior from Honesdale, PA, under the supervision of Assistant Professor Michele Conrad, showcased his research on gunshot residue using electrochemical methods. Marc Kiessling, a senior from Mansfield, PA, whose poster was selected as the best of the session, highlighted his work on the spectroscopy of holmium ions in solution. He worked under the direction of Professor Scott A. Davis.

Read more.


CSI MU Crime Scene

CSI-MU: Science Students Host a Mock Crime Scene Investigation

MANSFIELD, PA— Mansfield University science students created a mock crime scene in Spruce Hall recently and invited fellow students to participate in evaluating the crime scene, examining evidence and solving the crime.

Allyson Cornwell (Levittown, PA), Catherine Emerick (Tyrone, PA), Marty Holdren (Troy, PA), Meagan McCarthy (Bellefonte, PA), Bryan McCullough (Upper Darby, PA) and Hang Nguyen (Lewisburg, PA), supervised by Assistant Professor of Chemistry Michele Conrad, created the crime scene and assisted the student investigators Several also served as suspects.

Student investigators sketched the crime scene and then proceeded to the Forensics Crime Lab where hair was compared under microscopes and recorded and fingerprints were collected and studied under a magnifying glass. Characteristic patterns from the fingerprints, such as loops, whorls, and arches, were used to narrow down the suspects. Red stains were chemically tested for the presence of blood. Lastly, shoe prints were collected and compared.

“All these factors culminated together to reveal the perpetrator of the crime, yet some evidence were unexpectedly misleading,” Conrad said. “This sample scenario gave students the opportunity to have fun solving a puzzle, to debunk common misconceptions from television shows and to gain a better appreciation for different forensic science techniques used in the field.”


Forensics symposiumForensic Science Students attend Symposium

MANSFIELD, PA—Seven Mansfield University Forensic Science students attended the 13th Annual Forensic Science Symposium at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA on March 28.

Catherine Emerick (Tyrone, PA), Chelsea Lovell (Canisteo, NY), Joseph Mandeville (Honesdale, PA), Bryan McCullough (Upper Darby, PA), Sabrina Shrawder (Danville, PA), Jessica Towey (Oxford, PA) and Harlie Wise (Mansfield, PA), accompanied by Assistant Professor of Chemistry Michele Conrad, attended the “Falcon Files: The Next Generation” Symposium.

The symposium consisted of seven one-hour presentations from specialists in the forensics field ranging from government to industry to cutting-edge research institutions. Topics that were covered included DNA analysis in combating human trafficking, cyberstalking, 3-D laser scanning in crime scene reconstruction, technological advances in lab-quality testing at crime scenes for gunshot residue and plants of abuse and forensic entomology.  

“As students later reflected on what they learned from the symposium, they expressed that their interests were piqued as they related how their classwork is applied in the field,” Conrad said. “They were fascinated by the advances in technology that are being used at crime scenes, especially when it came to DNA analysis and materials characterization through vibrational spectroscopy and mass spectrometry. Through this experience, the students gained a better sense of their specific interests and had a fun time expanding their knowledge in a professional setting.”

NCW 2014

Students & Faculty Participate in National Chemistry Week

MANSFIELD, PA— Mansfield University Chemistry students and faculty members Michele Conrad, Chemistry, and Michele Whitecraft, Education, took part in two National Chemistry Week (NCW) events during the week of October 20.

Chemistry Club members Elizabeth Clifford, Bryan McCullough, Marty Holdren, Joe Mandeville and Education student Ashley Baker, along with Conrad and Whitecraft, visited sixth grade science classes at Warren L. Miller Elementary School in Mansfield on October 20.

They lead discussions in various applications of science and powers of observation and inference and followed up with a forensic chemistry demonstration. Students were tasked to determine the identity of the writer of a mystery note. The students used a method called chromatography to separate dyes and pigments in black markers. The way the pigments and dyes separated allowed the students to make comparisons and identify the author of the note, whether a bully, a best friend or a crush.

“Students left the event excited to try the experiment at home,” Conrad said.

On October 23, Chemistry Club students Angie Kilyan, Joe Mandeville and Bryan McCullough, along with Assistant Professor Conrad, visited seventh grade classes at Corning-Painted Post Middle School in Painted Post.

Students collected their fingerprints and understood the different features to look for. They used these skills to identify a mystery superhero’s fingerprints.

“Students were excited to use their powers of observation to solve a mystery,” Conrad said.

The NCW events included several different demonstrations from scientists in the region. NCW is a community-based annual event that unites American Chemical Society local sections, businesses, schools and individuals in communicating the importance of chemistry to our quality of life.


Chem Olympiad 2011

Area Students Attempt to Qualify for International Chemistry Olympiad:

Five area high school students took the qualifying exam to try and earn a spot on the U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad team on April 16 at Mansfield University.

Read more.




Water study

Faculty and Students conduct water study:

As the natural gas boom revs up in the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania, with all its benefits and drawbacks, local citizens are often left wondering where to turn for reliable, impartial information on a number of subjects. One of these local citizens, Paul Wendel, a science professor at Mansfield University, saw an opportunity for education.

Read more.