My name is Zach, I’m a sophomore from New Jersey and am delighted to be doing research in the chemistry lab supervised by Professor Helen White at Haverford College. Important facts about me: I like popsicles, watching YouTube videos about baby sloths, and doing crossword puzzles. Chemistry is pretty cool too.
The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of passionate pipetting, manic solvent rinsing, and (as the title of this post suggests) a fantastic 90′s pop music Pandora station. I am astounded by the amount of information I have digested in such a short period of time. My research this summer (graciously funded by some dead guy) investigates why we release elemental sulfur upon sequentially degrading atmospheric organic matter. Is the sulfur chemically bound to organic particulate in the air? Is elemental sulfur entrapped in some sort of macromolecular matrix (so many m’s!) which we then crack open chemically? Are we the ones creating the elemental sulfur with our sequential degradation reactions? Upon seeing its friends, does sulfur opt to sit in the front seat or kick it in the back seat?
The answers to these questions still elude us, but we will make headway tomorrow when we subject our aerosol residues to Raney Nickel catalyst, which we hope will be an effective desulfurizing agent to test if the elemental sulfur released by sequential degradation was originally chemically bound. In the mean time, enjoy these pictures of some charming creatures I encountered in the lab: