Reynolds' Breakthrough Leads to Best Poster Award

Lyndsey Reynolds testing a flow-through method of pushing reactants through the palladium-soaked membrane,Albion College chemistry students working in Professor Kevin Metz’s lab have learned that patience is important through Lyndsey Reynolds’ breakthrough, which led to her winning a best poster award at the Midwestern Undergraduate Symposium on Research in Chemistry at Michigan State University.

A biochemistry and biology major from Waterford, Reynolds worked in the lab on Wednesday and Friday in fall 2010. The break in the schedule allowed enough time for small particles of palladium to soak into a plastic membrane, a feat previous students failed to accomplish when waiting a day for the palladium to adhere to the plastic.

According to Wikipedia, “A large number of carbon-carbon bond-forming reactions in organic chemistry are formed by catalysis with palladium compounds.” In the pharmaceutical and agrichemical industries, where materials are catalyzed by palladium in large vessels, the palladium will adhere to the walls.

Successfully plating palladium on a plastic membrane allowed Reynolds to move on to an organic chemistry study with Metz and Professor Cliff Harris in which they sought to make cleaner reactions with palladium. Funded by the College’s Foundation for Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity (FURSCA), Reynolds returned to campus in July and August of this year to begin testing a flow-through method of pushing reactants through the palladium-soaked membrane at faster and slower rates and at different temperatures.

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