Kelsey Boes, one of our current PhD students, took her enthusiasm for strong science communication to DC. With degrees in both chemistry and studio art, Kelsey passionate about both science and design. What truly excites her is not only discoveries but also sharing them in dynamic and thoughtful ways. As an undergraduate, Kelsey travelled to the 246th American Chemical Society (ACS) National Conference to present her work and became aware of the complex and prohibitive way research is often shared at such events. “Science, as a field,” Kelsey admits, “has the reputation of being difficult and uninteresting,” but she believes this can be remedied by presenting information in a more diverse variety of forms, specifically graphics. “Convincing visuals,” she says, “excel at engaging viewers of all backgrounds.”
Wanting to put these ideas into practice, Kelsey set a goal to share a poster at the ACS Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference this past summer, redesigning the mass spectrometer schema used by Vinueza Labs into a visually expressive teaching tool. She applied for and received a competitive NSF Scholars travel scholarship to attend a green chemistry workshop and to present her work in biofuels at the opening session of the 19th American Chemical Society Chemistry & Engineering Conference in Washington, DC this past June. Below you can find her graphic representation of her biofuel analysis project.
Project Summary: Economic success of a biofuel refinery requires efficiency at every step. This includes analyzing byproducts for potential value and reuse. One such byproduct is the water stream produced after pretreatment, labelled as autohydrolyzate, which contains several valuable organic derivatives of hemicellulose and lignin from within the biomass. Unfortunately, this mixture is highly complex and difficult to analyze fully with just one instrument. However, mass spectrometry (MS) with its high sensitivity and versatility can be a very useful tool in the analysis of these complex mixtures. We explored the use of dopants—sodium hydroxide and ammonium chloride—in electrospray ionization in combination with tandem MS/MS for characterization.