Featured Research Project: Heavy Metal Research

Student-faculty research opportunities abound each summer and throughout the year. Derek Stinefield ’25 and Alex Callahan ’25 studied with Stephanie Eveland Parrot, assistant professor of chemistry, to investigate the effects of heavy metal substitution in the gemstone corundum.

“Our research used open-source software called Quantum Espresso to investigate the role of post transition metals in the stability and structure of metal-doped Corundum-type minerals,” Eveland Parrot said. “Our goal was to investigate the capabilities of this software and create a library of potential computational experiments to be later used in classroom settings.”

In the Student’s Own Words:

“I had the opportunity to explore a unique project centered around gemstones. The best part of this experience was the companionship I shared with my lab mates and the chance to interact with fellow students with chemistry and biology backgrounds during our presentations and Friday pizza gatherings,” Stinefield said. “Before the research, my knowledge of inorganic chemistry was limited, but this project allowed me to dive into this unfamiliar area. Learning about inorganic chemistry on the go was both challenging and rewarding.

“I was drawn to this research because of its distinctiveness; learning about the world of gemstones isn't an everyday occurrence in scientific research,” he added. “This summer taught me, not only about inorganic chemistry, but also about collaboration and adaptability. Working alongside friends in the lab and engaging with students from diverse scientific backgrounds broadened my perspective. I discovered a passion for a field I hadn't previously explored, enhancing both my technical skills and my ability to communicate and collaborate effectively. I'm very thankful for our chemistry and biology departments for giving us the opportunity to have this summer research experience.”

Derek Stinefield, class of 2025, from Alexandria, Indiana
Math and Biochemistry/Molecular Biology double major

“The best part of summer research is the people,” Callahan said. “The professors were all laid back, helpful, and generally awesome. The other researchers were here to do cool things and were fun to be around. The environment and the people are easily the best part of summer research.

“I've learned that research is plausible avenue for my future, and I've also learned more about what I love about chemistry. I'm more math orientated, so the analytical aspects appeal to me more,” he added. “I chose it because the properties sounded interesting and the work with computer programs seemed pretty different than all the other projects being offered.”

Alex Callahan, class of 2025, from Beavercreek, Ohio
Chemistry major

To see other summer research that was conducted last summer between students and faculty, click here.

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