Anna Feerick is earning a B.S. in Chemistry, with an Environmental Science Minor. She will graduate in May 2020, and is a two-time Undergraduate Research Award Scholar, 2018-2019 and 2019-2020.
Title of your research project: Novel passive sampling method for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances
Describe your project: Per- and polyfloroalkyl substances (PFAS) are extremely stable molecules present in a variety of consumer products (e.g. Teflon, nonstick coating, flameproof materials) and are predicted carcinogens. The goal of this project is to investigate a passive sampling method to determine concentrations of prioritized PFAS in environmental samples.
Who is your mentor(s) for your project?
My mentors are Dr. Lee Blaney and Dr. Ke He in the Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental engineering department. I was introduced to Dr. Blaney through Dr. Tara Carpenter in the chemistry department. Dr. He is a postdoctoral research who is has continued working in the lab after obtaining his PhD. I chose these individuals because they are working towards positive change within the environment, something I also aspire to do.
How did you become interested in this project?
My interest in this project stems from my previous work on contaminates within the Chesapeake Bay. I began learning about other contaminants and their health effects. PFAS are one of the more troubling groups of compounds due to their pervasiveness and health effects. This impassioned me to work with this group of chemicals.
What has been the hardest part about your research/What was the most unexpected thing about being a researcher?
The hardest part is developing a new idea. Problems are easy to find. Effective solutions are not.
What has been the most rewarding part?
Seeing my progress both personal and project wise. I have developed new research skills and have the opportunity to solve a larger problem.
How will you disseminate your research?
I will be presenting my research at URCAD and the ACS national conference in March.
What is your advice to other students about getting involved in research?
Ask early and don’t be afraid to test out a new field in undergraduate.
What are your career goals?
I am hoping to be accepted into graduate school this March and will begin working on my Ph.D. this time next fall!