RC Student Separates New Compounds

“Separation and Purification of Boron Compounds” is an Undergraduate Research Assistants Program project

Emily Looze '10 hopes to enter the field of forensic chemistry upon graduation from Roanoke College. Taking into consideration the challenge of attending graduate school or even entering the work force, Looze realized she was going to need something to make her stand out.

As a member of Roanoke College's Undergraduate Research Program, Looze is obtaining that extra edge. "This is going to put me at an advantage, not only for graduate school, but jobs, as I'll be coming in with three years of research experience." says Looze.

Working with Dr. Vernon Miller, associate professor of chemistry, Looze is researching the "Separation and Purification of Boron Compounds." In return for being paid a stipend, Looze works at least six to seven hours a week. The eventual goal of the research project is to separate new boron compounds, and characterize them for publication in various scientific journals.

Looze currently works with high performance liquid chromatography instrumentation in the lab. The goal of using HPLC is to purify the boron cations so that they can then be analyzed by nuclear magnetic resonance and infrared spectroscopy. The in-depth instrumentation training Looze will receive will prove to be a marketable skill.

The instrumentation knowledge is just one thing Looze will gain from this experience. The other is to develop into a quality researcher. Miller's goal as mentor to Looze is to get her to think about the project, develop it, see it as hers and propose new techniques.

This mentality of students actively taking on research projects has developed from Miller's 30 years of teaching at Roanoke College. He encourages student research and has had students in his lab from year one. Miller's research focuses on synthesis and characterization of boron compounds as well as environmental chemistry. Miller earned his Ph.D. from the Southern Illinois University and is a member of many professional organizations including the American Chemical Society, Virginia Academy of Science, Sigma Xi and Council on Undergraduate Research.

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