Collaboration key to research cover article

By Megan Bradshaw on August 29, 2018

Paper co-authored by TU undergraduates, alumnus, and faculty members appears in cutting-edge industry journal

Marella Schammel
Marella Schammel is one of three undergraduates who co-authored the paper.

Jess & Mildred Fisher College of Science and Mathematics undergraduates Ryan Dias ’18, Kayla Martin-Culet ’18, Marella Schammel ’20 and alumnus Nicholas Race ’15 —along with chemistry professors John Sivey and Keith Reber—co-authored a paper selected for publication by the prestigious Environmental Science Water Research and Technology journal.

Read the abstract for “1,3,5-Trimethoxybenzene (TMB) as a new quencher for preserving redox-labile disinfection byproducts and for quantifying free chlorine and free bromine”

Published in July, the paper shares results of hands-on research conducted by Dias, Martin-Culet, Schammel and Race with compounds synthesized by Reber’s research group.

“It was synergy on full display,” said Sivey. “Dr. Reber’s group is able to make compounds that are not sold by traditional chemical suppliers. Such chemicals are very important for answering research questions at the interface of environmental and organic chemistry.”

Reber is a Fisher Endowed Chair; Sivey recently completed a three-year college endowed chair appointment.

The students designed and conducted many of the experiments and interpreted the results using gas chromatography and high-performance liquid chromatography with instruments in TU’s labs.

John Sivey
John Sivey oversaw the work of the students during the project, which was part of his NSF CAREER grant.

The work was part of Sivey’s ongoing National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER grant. One of the components of the grant was to develop new methods of determining how much chlorine or bromine is present in water samples using a quenching agent called 1,3,5-trimethoxybenezene (TMB). Being able to distinguish between chlorine and bromine is a step forward and has important implications for a wide variety of water types—drinking, pools, spas, waste water as well as household cleaning products.

Schammel has been a part of Sivey’s research group since she was a rising sophomore in the summer of 2017. She played a part in compound testing, specifically with the herbicide diamethenamid, a compound with which she has prior experience.

The Honors College student calls her first published paper “very exciting” and says she has three more articles in the works. Schammel values the experience since it taught her the steps involved in doing research for publication—a key component for a career in scientific research.

Aside from conducting research that fulfills a project already recognized by the NSF, “it’s hard to think of a more impressive line on a resume than to be published, much less as a cover article,” Sivey said. 

“Less than 10 percent of accepted articles end up on a cover. Very, very few are driven by undergraduates,” he continued.

An independent reviewer of the article had high praise for it.

“The experimental work is of very high quality, and the level of detail provided is exceptional in comparison to many other investigations of this type. Overall, the authors present a compelling case for the use of TMB in chlorination and bromination studies, and I fully expect to see its increasing adoption as a quenching reagent/probe following publication of this work.”