Brewing Up an Experiment in the Lab

Food chemistry has an appeal to almost everyone, says Breanna Miranda ‘16.

The Pacific University chemistry major used that hook to help develop her senior project — a chemistry lab that would allow future students to replicate an experiment and get experience using high-tech scientific instruments.

Miranda’s project developed a lab project in which students brew kombucha, a black tea, then use two different lab process to measure the levels of caffeine and acetic acid in each brew over time.

“The lab is relatively cheap for students,” she said. “It just requires caffeine and vinegar. Kombucha is not difficult to brew, and it’s not as dangerous as some other materials.”

One of the measurement processes required in the lab involves using high-performance liquid chromatography, or HPLC — a technology not always available to students at the undergraduate level.

“Classes don’t usually use it in lab, so if you don’t take instrumental chemistry, you wouldn’t be able to use it,” she said.

But knowing how to use such technology can allow young scientists to get jobs with just a bachelor’s degree.

“It’s really important to know how to use.”

Miranda, who plans to conduct research and eventually attend medical school, hopes that her lab will help inspire an interest in chemistry in other people.

“There’s a stigma that it’s gross,” she said. “But chemistry is so important.”

 

Apr. 28, 2016