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Wintergreen and Caffeine: Small Molecule Analysis at Shepherd University

Dr. Jacquelyn Cole, Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Thursday, February  21st, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education Auditorium

Using a variety of analytical instruments, the Department of Chemistry has been studying wintergreen essential oils to determine what chemicals are present in the samples. Wintergreen, known as a sweet mint flavor, is primarily made up of methyl salicylate which, similar to its sister molecule aspirin, is toxic in high doses. The department is in the process of determining if individual samples are mostly methyl salicylate and at what concentration it is present. In addition, the chemistry department has been working on a project to quantify the caffeine levels in the Potomac River. Caffeine concentrations are often an indicator on how effective wastewater treatment is, and the department is using the river for study as many cities and towns get their drinking water from it.

Jacquelyn Cole, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of chemistry at Shepherd University. Before coming to Shepherd, she worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland; as a postdoctoral researcher at the New York State Department of Health in Albany; and attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for graduate studies. Her work has focused on bioanalytical chemistry using mass spectrometry including studying proteins, hormones, and aptamers.