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Juniata Chemistry Student to Present Research at Council of Undergraduate Research

(Posted October 4, 2010)

Katrina Shughrue, a senior studying chemistry, will make a presentation at a meeting of the Council of Undergraduate Research.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Katrina Shughrue, a senior studying chemistry at Juniata College from New Freedom, Pa., is one of three undergraduate students nationwide chosen to make a research presentation at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. at a meeting of the Council on Undergraduate Research.

Shughrue, the daughter of Phil and Julie Shughrue, of New Freedom, will make a short presentation on a research project she has worked on under the supervision of Richard Hark, professor of chemistry at Juniata. The meeting is a celebration of undergraduate research meant to mark the merger of the council and the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. She will make her presentation Oct. 27.

She is a 2007 graduate of Susquehannock High School.

Shughrue's research, which was funded by a grant from the II-VI Foundation, is titled "The Analysis of 'Conflict Minerals' using Laser-induced Breakdown Spectroscopy: the Example of Columbite-Tantalite."

Her work focuses on using LIBS (Laser-induced Breakdown Spectroscopy) to analyze columbite and tantalite, two minerals important in the consumer electronics industry that are found in abundance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Sales of these minerals and others, called "conflict minerals," have been used to promote armed conflict, human rights abuses and sexual violence in the Congo and other countries.

Shughrue's research, which was funded by a grant from the II-VI Foundation, is titled "The Analysis of 'Conflict Minerals' using Laser-induced Breakdown Spectroscopy: the Example of Columbite-Tantalite."

The Juniata senior is using LIBS to characterize samples from individual mining sites in California, Maine and Canada as part of a preliminary study. If the LIBS instrument shows that individual samples from different sites have unique "signatures," then the instrument can be used to detect where and when minerals from conflict mines are being sold.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.