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Julia Ritchie's blog

And then there were none

 As one of the last interns in the building, I can attest to the fact that it gets a lot quieter and more dull without the other interns here. And, soon, all of us will be gone. But it's been really great to be able to work here this summer. I've really enjoyed meeting and working with the people in my lab, and getting a glimpse into what other labs do and what graduate researchers do. Overall, I look back at my summer experience as a good one, even with my repetitive tasks and the HPLC acting up. It was a wonderful learning experience, and I appreciate the opportunity that I had.

Second-to-last week!

 This was crunch week for me, because we had our final presentations as interns at the end of the week. The HPLC had finally accepted its new column, and we had learned that it was possible to run the samples overnight without the HPLC doing something funny like leaking, so the first half of the week was spent with me running all of the DNAN samples we didn't have good data for, and finishing up the 65 degree experiments.

Finally some good data

Really, the biggest excitement this week was the arrival of the new column for the HPLC. I know it sounds a bit lame, but it arrived in time for me to feasibly finish some of the data before I leave, and before I have to give my presentation next week. There were a few adjustments needed to the different methods after it arrived, mostly since the 10 year old column probably had a lot of its packing material worn down, so the retention time was a lot shorter, since things could just whiz through that column.

Another week of instrument issues

 So, the good news is that the second compound (2,4-DNT) I tested in the hot water bath at the highest temperature did react. It took it most of the week to mostly be finished reacting, but it did react. This means that I'll be mostly focusing on trying to run this compound for my last few weeks. However, the results of those runs will be delayed until the new column arrives...

The trial period of research

 This last week saw me testing out the new compounds we got - 2,4-DNT and 1,3-dinitrobenzene. I started the runs with the slowest combinations - the lowest pH and temperature. By the end of the week, neither of the compounds had shown any sign of a reaction - when I did my calibration curves on Thursday and Friday, the concentrations hadn't really changed at all. So, on Friday, I tested the 1,3-dinitrobenzene in the theoretically fastest run, the highest pH and temperature to see how it would do. And it did nothing.

Last week in July, and we're running low on supplies...

 This last week (week 4) was characterized by a scarcity of vials, meaning that the number of runs I could start was limited. I already had several going that I started on Monday, and I still had the cold runs going through their second week of sampling. I think some of them might need another 2 weeks to fully finish... But, at the start of the week, we did look at some new compounds to try to see what method to use to analyze them. The nitrobenzene method is apparently pretty comprehensive, so we just decided to continue using that, since it gave us a nice peak.

Decisions, DNAN, and Day trip!

 Monday, I finished running our preliminary trials of DNAN and looked at the data I had collected to try to see how long I would need to run each experiment for. I think I have times ranging from 24 hours to 3 or more weeks! But, I couldn't start those right away, since we went on a fun field trip to Astoria on Tuesday(more on that later). So, I started them all on Wednesday, taking sample after sample, and running them all. I was very glad I brought my sweater that day - standing in the cold room all day without it would not have been fun.

Second week - the start of DNAN

 This week, I ran trials of the second munition compound we're looking at - DNAN, 2,4-dinitroanisole. We were just trying to get an idea of how long it would take for hydrolysis to take place in all of the different conditions. For TNT, the fastest complete hydrolysis was finished in under 10 minutes, apparently. DNAN was a bit slower - somewhere between 5 and 24 hours for the fastest hydrolysis, and possibly over 3 weeks for the longest one. At least there are colors to help me see how the reaction is progressing. Hydrolyzed DNAN turns a nice yellow color.

A four day first week of orientation and settling in

As the last intern to arrive, I managed to get here when Portland had decided to finally allow summer weather to appear. It seems a shame to have to spend the time indoors, but my project and the lab more than make up for the inconvenience. I'm helping with a project entitled "Assessment and Prediction of the Transformatoin Kinetics Determining the Environmental Fate of Contaminants of Concern." I'm looking at how long it takes for munition compounds to hydrolyze in an alkaline solution. I learned the process using TNT, but we're going to move onto DNAN now.

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