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ES 231: Environmental Analysis

General Assignment Overview

Cartoon of Pusheen cat with the following text: Pusheen the cat making some chemistry. That cat is not wearing safety googles, he hasn't even bothered to clean up that spilled solvent, and he si holding that Erienmeyer flask way to close to his face.  Pusheen the Cat, more like Pusheen the limits of lab safety

Image Source: 2014. Memebase. https://cheezburger.com/8160540672/do-you-not-remember-what-happened-to-carol-pusheen

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 another 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 of 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.