DCU graduate wins Alltech regional Young Scientist Award
Shona Hayes, a DCU Environmental Health graduate, has won the Western Europe Graduate Section of the Alltech Young Scientist Award 2012 for her research into the measurement of pollutants in river water. Shona competed against more than 3 000 students from throughout Western Europe to claim the regional title and a prize of $1, 000.
As an environmental chemist, Shona was interested in determining the concentration of carcinogenic pollutants such as "phenols" in river water. Her project involved producing a polymer in the laboratory which has the ability to extract tiny amounts of phenols from river water so that their concentration can be measured much more easily afterwards by liquid chromatography. Shona successfully produced a small hand-held device which could be used directly at the river-side to extract the pollutants prior to returning to the laboratory for extremely sensitive liquid chromatographic analysis.
Liquid chromatography, by far the most popular technique used by scientists in laboratories around the word, is used for the separation of complex mixtures into their individual components so that their concentration can be determined accurately. Typical examples include the measurement of performance-enhancing drugs in the urine of athletes or impurities in drug products in the pharmaceutical industry. It is necessary to separate the pollutants (such as pesticides from nearby farmland) from the complex river-water sample so that the measurement can be made without interference from the other components of the sample. Often the concentration of the pollutants is extremely low in the sample, making it difficult to detect and so methods are used to increase the pollutant concentration prior to analysis.
Congratulating Shona on her win, Maria Keane of Alltech said,
'Shona beat off very stiff competition with her paper "Development of monolithic extraction devices for microscale solid phase extraction". This well-deserved Award recognises her exceptional research and practical application skills.'
Details on how to register for the Alltech Young Scientist Award for 2013 are available at: