Dr. Thelma Berquó, assistant professor of physics, led three Concordia students in research that delved into the properties of iron oxides this summer.
Berquó says the team aimed to learn more about the basics of the materials they studied.
“You want to understand the nature of the things, the fundamental properties,” she says.
The research team consisted of Kelsey Seppelt ’15, Lino Lakes, Minn.; Abdallah Shuhadeh ’16, East Riffa, Bahrain; and Casey Haack ’17, Richville, Minn.
Berquó and the students traveled to the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Rock Magnetism lab to run tests on the 20 samples they had prepared.
The team applied for an IRM visiting fellowship to fund the trip and set out for Minneapolis.
Their samples were packaged in a Godiva chocolate tin.
“(Dr. Berquó) said, ‘Sweet samples mean sweet data,’” Haack says.
The IRM lab provided equipment and resources that the team would not have had access to otherwise, Berquó says, adding that she was happy her students could conduct research there.
“It think it was important for them to have that experience in a large lab with lots of people,” she says.
Shuhadeh and Haack, who are both studying physics, looked at the basic properties of goethite, an iron oxide commonly found in soils.
As a first-year student, Haack qualified for the National Science Foundation’s STEP grant, which is reserved for freshmen interested in the sciences or mathematics.
“I feel like (the grant) is going to give me a step up later,” he says.
Seppelt is studying biology and chemistry and wants to pursue a career in pharmacy. For her portion of the research, she focused on medical applications of iron oxides.
Seppelt received funding through the Minnesota Space Grant. A network of colleges and universities, including Concordia, sponsors the Space Grant, which funds student research in the areas of science, mathematics, engineering and technology.
Seppelt says she enjoyed the time in the lab and was able to collect significant data.
“It was very cool to see the data that I had read about in the literature,” she says.
Berquó says she is proud of their work.
“I was really happy with their performance,” she says. “I think any student at Concordia can do really high-level work.”