BHSU students present chemistry research at State Capitol

Author: BHSU Communications/Tuesday, March 8, 2016/Categories: 2016

Michael Hurst (center), senior biology and chemistry major at BHSU from Spearfish, met with Rep. Fred Romkema (left) and Dr. Mike Rush, executive director and CEO of the South Dakota Board of Regents, at the State Capitol recently. Hurst presented his team's chemistry research on the effectiveness of copper photoredox catalysts in the synthesis of chiral molecules during the Student Research Poster Session. Photo credit: Andrew Turner, SD EPSCoR

Thomas Trimble (center), junior chemistry and biology major at BHSU from Spearfish, met with Rep. Fred Romkema and Dr. Mike Rush, executive director and CEO of the South Dakota Board of Regents, at the State Capitol recently. Trimble presented his team's chemistry research on the effectiveness of copper photoredox catalysts in the synthesis of chiral molecules during the Student Research Poster Session. Photo credit: Andrew Turner, SD EPSCoR

Two students from Black Hills State University met with state legislators in Pierre during the Student Research Poster Session at the South Dakota State Capitol recently.

Michael Hurst, senior biology and chemistry major from Spearfish, and Thomas Trimble, junior chemistry and biology major from Spearfish, presented their research "Analyzing the Effectiveness of Copper Photoredox Catalysts in the Synthesis of Chiral Molecules." Hurst and Trimble are conducting research with Dr. Katrina Jensen, assistant professor of chemistry at BHSU.

Hurst says the team's research uses the visible light of a standard household lightbulb to fuel reactions. A goal of the research is to create complexes using copper rather than ruthenium, a rare and expensive earth metal currently used in industry.

"Compared with ruthenium, copper is earth-abundant, cheap, and nontoxic. Our findings show that these copper complexes work in the reactions we are testing, but they are not yet as effective as those formed from ruthenium," said Hurst.

The research team is focusing on optimizing conditions to provide a yield comparable to reactions achieved with ruthenium, says Hurst.
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