Several of the faculty members of the UAA chemistry department actively engage in research. As a result, there are plenty of opportunity for undergraduate students to pursue research interests of their own under the expert tutelage of faculty. Chemistry students have access to a full line of analytical instruments through both the chemistry department and the ASET lab.
Below follows descriptions of projects currently pursued by undergraduate students:
Student: Elizabeth Elliot
Student: Alan Osborn
Research Description: Earlier this year, Dr. Don Spalinger submitted a proposal to NSF (Arctic System Science) to investigate the effect of changing snow conditions on the arctic ecosystem, including the effect on caribou foraging on vascular plants and lichen. The goal of this proposal is to address these two questions:
1) How dominant is lichen in the diet of caribou?
2) How nutritious is the lichen?
I’m currently working in the ASET lab using the accelerated solvent extractor to extract alkanes and long-chain alcohols (LC-OH) from lichen, vascular plants, and caribou feces. Samples are analyzed using a gas chromatograph with flame ionized detection (GC-FID) and gas chromatograph with mass spectrometer detection (GC-MS). Part of my research requires me to develop and perfect the alkane/LC-OH technique for quantifying caribou diets. Also to begin chemical characterization of important forage lichens for caribou using a liquid chromatograph-quadrupole mass spectrometer.