Lewis undergraduate research on display in Washington DC

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Lewis University undergraduate research on display in Washington DC

Published: May 16, 2014.

(L to R)Samantha Rinehart, Congressman Bill
Foster and Dr. Jason Keleher, assistant
professor and chair of Chemistry,
participate in Posters on the Hill.

Lewis University student Samantha Rinehart presented her team’s research in a poster presentation for the 18th Annual Posters on the Hill event on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Only 60 students in the country were selected to present posters at the event.

The Council on Undergraduate Research hosts the annual undergraduate poster session on Capitol Hill for members of Congress. The research team of Rinehart, senior Biology and Chemistry major; Jeromy Rech, sophomore Chemical Physics major; and Dr. Jason Keleher, chair and assistant professor of Chemistry, co-authored the paper that supports the poster.

The poster “Photo-active Biomimetic Nanocomposite Films for Next Generation Water Purification Applications,” investigates films that will use only solar energy to remove pollutants from drinking water. The filters are made from non-toxic compounds that mimic biological structures and degrade contaminants in drinking water into environmentally friendly byproducts.

“Dr. Keleher proposed this project to me not only because it incorporates my interests of organic chemistry and material science, but this project addresses the growing necessity for clean water in developing nations. Without clean water, the quality of life in populations is greatly reduced. Our project investigates a water purification system that doesn’t produce harmful byproducts or require electrical energy,” Rinehart explained. She is a 2013 Lincoln Academy Student Laureate, honored by the State of Illinois along with approximately 50 graduating seniors from Illinois colleges and universities for excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities.

Rinehart and Keleher were among the student and faculty mentor Poster on the Hill participants invited to a Young Professional Panel with members of the White House Office of Science and Technology in the White House executive offices. Lewis University Provost Dr. Stephany Schlachter also was in Washington to represent Lewis University where she met with various advocates of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) initiatives.

After graduation in May, Rinehart plans to attend graduate school to study material science. In 2012, she was awarded a paid fellowship as part of the Lewis University Summer Undergraduate Research Experience. Rinehart’s work focused on the synthesis and characterization of biomimetic antimicrobial nanocomposites for next generation wound management materials. Her work was presented in local and international forums, such as the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, Lewis University Celebration of Scholarship and the 2013 Tech Connect World Conference.

Lewis University is a Catholic university in the Lasallian tradition offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 6,600 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected, and socially responsible graduates. The seventh largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report. Visit www.lewisu.edu for further information.

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