AHEAD OF THE CURVE: HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS JOIN SUSAN ODOM’S LAB
- From: UKHive
- June 19, 2012
Nina Elliott and Elizabeth Walsh have assembled an impressive list of accomplishments at UK this year, from creating new derivatives of the molecule phenothiazine, to potentially increasing performance of lithium-ion batteries, to co-authoring a paper in preparation for publication. Their next task to check off: graduating from high school.
Susan Odom, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, has hosted the two Paul Laurence Dunbar High School students in her chemistry laboratory over the past semester. Elliott and Walsh assisted Odom in a project involving specific organic molecules and their utility in lithium-ion batteries.
"The idea is, phenothiazine derivatives have been used as additives for batteries to make them more efficient," Elliott said. "So we wanted to basically create different derivatives which have not been tried yet to see whether they would work more efficiently in lithium-ion batteries."
Their research has significant implications; Odom said that if the students find the ideal derivative of phenothiazine to enhance the performance of lithium-ion batteries, the product could immediately go to market.
"I'm pretty confident that we are going to have a publication about their research as a result," Odom said. "It's very uncommon for high school students to get published. It's great for them to not only be in the lab, but to be on a paper at this young age, at least a paper that I anticipate, is really great."
Despite their lack of college-level organic chemistry, Odom described the students as "gems," equally as productive as many of her undergraduate students. She said that she was very pleased to have the them working in her lab.
Elliott and Walsh have presented their research at the school, district, regional and state level, taking home second place in the chemistry category of the Kentucky State Science Fair.College of Arts & Sciences | Text by Sarah Geegan, UK Public Relations & Marketing