The Intern Diaries: Derek Saxon

Derek SaxonDerek Saxon is a junior chemistry major from Iron Mountain, Michigan. He is conducting research this summer on biopolymers with Professor Dean Katahira of the Chemistry Department at Ripon College as part of his involvement with the McNair Scholars Program. He is one of four Ripon College students sharing their stories of research internships and jobs over the course of this summer.

University Research Park

This week I was able to visit the University Research Park in Madison, Wisconsin. While there, I met with the founders of a couple companies. Each gave insightful advice and I was also shown around their respective labs. The experience there was very helpful and encouraging.

In other news, summer research is coming to a close next week. As a result, I gave a presentation detailing my research this week. I also heard presentations from some of the other McNair Scholars about the research they have conducted this summer. It was a good experience to prepare me to present my research in the future.

Now back to what I’ve been doing in the present day. We put in an order for some chemicals that will help us with experiments. We concluded that 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride and 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride are good ILs to start with. We also ordered metaboric acid, phosphorus acid and phosphorus pentoxide. These three chemicals are going to be used as catalysts for the reaction. Trying different combinations of catalyst and solvent will allow us to determine which ones work the best. We are also going to vary other conditions such as temperature.

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