Success & Impact

Student Chemists Raise Funds for New Equipment

by Emmalee Eckstein

Left to right: chemistry majors Kelly Ryan ’22, Jovany Loredo ’22 and Tiana Ferko '22

The laboratories at Saint Joseph’s University are centers of scientific inquiry. Students and faculty regularly perform research using intricate and delicate equipment.

In order to continue their important work, SJU chemistry students have banded together to launch a campaign through SJU Crowdfunding that will raise funds for a new Series 400 Isothermal Gas Chromatograph, colloquially known as a GC.

“Gas chromatography is one of the most frequently used methods in the field of organic chemistry for the analysis of compound mixtures,” explains Mark Forman, Ph.D., professor and chair of chemistry. “In GC, a sample, consisting of one or more organic compounds, is injected into the instrument for analysis. The components are separated by the GC and then detected after separation by a chemical sensor.”

In the organic chemistry teaching labs at Saint Joseph’s, GC is used as an analytical tool to determine the organic makeup of a compound. But the practice is used in many other fields such as environmental, food, flavor and fragrance, all fields where knowing the exact materials that make up a compound could be useful. The tool is also used in medical and forensic sciences to discover the component parts of a drug or to detect impurities in a solution. Thus, the principles that students learn using a GC in organic chemistry lab can be applied in other courses at SJU and in many other fields after leaving SJU.

Currently, the equipment being used by students to perform this kind of study is expired beyond repair. The new GC will assist students in learning the principles of gas chromatography, chemistry and biochemistry.

"Chemical analysis and instrumentation play an important role in modern chemistry. Our basic philosophy in chemistry encourages hands-on use of our instrumentation in all of our courses,” Forman says. “Gas chromatography is a technique that students use several times in the organic chemistry laboratory, so we have to keep our instrumentation up to date and keep abreast of changes in this area."

A new GC will improve the quality of research, teaching and learning for SJU chemistry students for years to come. So far, this SJU Crowdfunding campaign has reached 58% of its $5,900 goal. To close that gap, they are asking for support from the SJU community.

“Gas chromatography is an essential technique for chemists to understand and practice,” remarks Kelly Ryan ’22. “As a sophomore taking organic chemistry, I understand the true importance that gas chromatography holds in practicing basic chemistry principles.”

To learn more about this campaign and support SJU student chemists’ crowdfunding project, visit giving.sju.edu/crowdfundingchemists .