Research Poster by Augustana Senior Earns Regional Award

Augustana University senior Skyy Pineda

A research poster by Augustana senior Skyy Pineda, a biochemistry major from Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, was recognized at the American Chemical Society (ACS) Midwest Regional Meeting, held Oct. 18-20 in Lawrence, Kansas.

Pineda's poster, titled "Calibration of dye laser using laser absorption spectroscopy of iodine," was one of five posters selected to receive awards in the Undergraduate Student Poster Competition. Pineda worked with Augustana's Dr. Andrew Klose, assistant professor of chemistry, on the research project last summer

For his project, Pineda built a spectrometer, using a tube filled with iodine gas and a laser, that allows him to observe how atoms and molecules react to the laser light. (See right, more information below) Collaborating with researchers at Michigan State University's National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL), Pineda was able to study the properties of rare isotopes, or variants of elements. 

"These rare isotopes live for fractions of a second, and you need to study them in a special facility where they can be produced, and then study them before they decay," Pineda said, "There are only a handful of facilities in the world where such research can take place." 

This kind of high-precision research can, Pineda said, help scientists test models that help them understand what happens when, for example, a star explodes.

After graduating from Augustana, Pineda plans to go to graduate school to pursue a doctorate in physical chemistry and wants to do scientific research as a career.

Above image: iodine gas glows when in contact with the laser in Pineda's spectrometer.

Mike Shafer '18 Intern, Augustana Marketing and Communications