Russell and McNeill seminars

September 29, 2009 at 11:04 pm Leave a comment

Two environmental chemists have visited campus in the last two weeks to present seminars.

Prof. Lynn Russell of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography came on Sept. 17 and spoke about “Organic Functional Groups in Marine and Continental Atmospheric Particles“. Her research involves collection of aerosols at different locations around the globe and then characterizing the molecules that make up these aerosols using spectroscopic techniques. Her work shows that aerosols vary greatly in their composition. Some aerosols arise mostly from natural products while others arise from factory and car emissions.

The following week, Sept. 24, saw a return to campus by Prof. Kris McNeill (Reed ’92) of the ETH in Zurich, Switzerland (formerly of the U. Minnesota) who spoke about “Incineration or liquid handsoap: Which is the larger source of dioxins to the aquatic environment?“. His presentation, which was given in honor of emeritus professor Tom Dunne, showed how scientists are tracking what happens to triclosan, the “anti-bacterial” ingredient in anti-bacterial soaps, when it enters the environment. His research shows that triclosan decomposes to form dichlorodioxins. More worrisome is his recent research which  shows  that triclosan (and the dioxins derived from it) can become further chlorinated when it flows through a water-treatment plant that uses chlorination technology.

If these projects are typical, it appears that graduate students in environmental chemistry can expect to combine field work (ocean cruises, mountain hikes, and river paddles) to collect samples and lab measurements to solve a research problem.

Several Reed students were able to have lunch with the speakers (courtesy of the Chemistry department) including members of the Green Science Project. This “lunch with the speaker” tradition applies to all department seminars, so please take advantage of this opportunity.

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Meeting notes (9/10): biochar and CO2 Next Meeting – Th, Oct 1, noon

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