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ES 231: Environmental Analysis: Project Overview


Turn in library assignment (hard copy or via email) by September 29th

Your Research Project Outline is due by October 31st (see Project Outline Details box for more information).

Three lab periods will be dedicated to the research project.  But your project may take additional time, so keep that in mind! 

The poster presentation and formal reports are due by December 13th 

Research Project Guidelines

For the full document including all project due dates and guidelines, open the Word document included in this box.

General Assignment Overview

For the research project, students working in pairs will choose to complete an environmental measurement of interest.  A statistical comparison must be made of either two different analytical techniques or two different sample preparation techniques for the same analysis (or another relevant statistical comparison).  Three laboratory periods will be given to complete the project.  A formal write-up of the project and a poster presentation will be used to evaluate the work. 

Methods available:

  • Wet chemical techniques (titration, gravimetric analysis, etc.)
  • Instrumentation (GC, GC-MS, UV-VIS, fluorescence, AA, HPLC)
  • Sample preparation (extraction, digestion, sonication:  hot plate, microwave, sonicator)

Possible matrices:

  • Soil, water, air, biological or other environmental matrix
  • Food products
  • Personal care products
  • You name it!

Possible analytes:

  • Metals (iron, lead, aluminum, copper, etc.)
  • Organic compounds (triclosan, phthalates, BPA, etc.)
  • Ions (phosphates, nitrates, sulfates, etc.)
  • Misc. (particulate matter, allergens, etc.)

Project Outline Details

Your project proposal outline should include:

  • Analyte of interest
  • Matrix to be analyzed
  • Experimental protocol – are you comparing two sample prep techniques or two analysis techniques?  What is your hypothesis?
  • Experimental details
    • all reagents, supplies, equipment, instrumentation needed
    • number or replicates for statistical analysis
    • sampling of matrix & sample size
    • sample preparation (Do you have to grind sample?  Extract analyte?)
    • detailed procedure (bulleted form ok)
    • standard preparation, calibration
  • Reference value for comparison (so you know what concentration to expect)
  • References (using standard guidelines, MLA, ACS, etc.)

Note:  it is highly recommended that you talk to Dr. Boylan about your ideas before writing the outline.  She can help you understand if your idea is feasible, what time considerations there are, potential roadblocks, etc.