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Juniata Student's Conflict Minerals Research Honored in Washington, D.C.

(Posted February 28, 2011)

Katie Shughrue, a chemistry POE, had her research poster onnconflict minerals accepted for display on Capitol Hill.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Katrina Shughrue, a senior studying chemistry at Juniata College from New Freedom, Pa., is one of 74 undergraduate students nationwide to have her research poster displayed in the exhibit "Posters on the Hill" April 13 in the Rayburn Office Building in Washington, D.C.

The poster session is sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research, which sponsors an annual research presentation for legislators. Shughrue's research poster was chosen from more than 700 applications nationwide.

Shughrue, the daughter of Phil and Julie Shughrue, of New Freedom, focused her poster on research she has worked on under the supervision of Richard Hark, professor of chemistry at Juniata.

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 by factions in certain countries to promote armed conflict, human rights abuses and sexual violence in the Congo and other countries.

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.