Marine Chemistry seniors reflect on their final presentations

Nair works in the Marine Chemistry lab.

Photo courtesy of Mina Nair

Nair works in the Marine Chemistry lab.

Marine Chemistry is a subject of interest for many, but only few choose to dedicate four years of their high school career studying it. For those students that are interested in Marine Chemistry, they are in luck because Bellarmine has a program just for them.

The Marine Chemistry Program is a four-year scientific research program for highly capable students who are dedicated to the protection and preservation of the environment. Students interested in the program are required to apply before they begin their freshman year and go through a rigorous, highly competitive selection process. Once the process is complete, only about 18 students are accepted into the program.

Marine Chem provides students the opportunity to do exciting, scientific research outside of the classroom. Students develop the skills necessary to write a compelling research paper to be published in local and national writing contests. The rigor of the Marine Chemistry Program allows students to distinguish themselves for acceptance into highly selective colleges and universities as well as for winning financial scholarships.

Bellarmine alumna and current teacher Dr. Emily Andresen assists director Dave DeGroot with the Marine Chemistry program. She encourages the program’s students to find their passion in the field of science and develop a research project that they will present in their senior year.

For the Class of 2022, the time to present their research projects has come. On the fateful days of Feb. 2 and Feb. 9, seniors delivered their passion projects to an audience of parents, peers, friends, and younger members of the Marine Chemistry Program.

Seniors share about their experiences researching and presenting their projects after four years of hard work and dedication.

Senior Hana Gray spent much of her time in the Marine Chemistry Program researching the efficacy of surgical masks amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Gray said, “I chose my topic because it was very relevant to today’s times. I was worried that my topic wouldn’t be relevant when I presented it, but because of the Omicron variant surge in January, I was reassured that my topic was still relevant, and so I was excited to present.”

Gray shares that while “There are things I could improve on, or rather limitations I could have further explored, I am proud of what I presented because I came up with conclusive results. The ability to present conclusive comprehensive data was an awesome experience.”

Gray would without a doubt recommend the Marine Chemistry Program to incoming freshmen because she feels “it’s a great experience, [the program allows] you [to] connect with new people, teachers, and mentors. It’s a great opportunity to push yourself and explore topics you aren’t familiar with.”

Senior Mina Nair presented on the Acute Toxicity of N-(1,3-dimethylbutyl)-N’-phenyl-p-phenylenediamine-quinone (6PPD-quinone) to Aquatic Invertebrates. Nair said she “chose this research because I was initially interested in toxicology and more specifically lab work.”

Nair knows she wants “to do more research in undergrad and graduate school, [and so she] wanted [her] research in Marine Chem to be laboratory research so [she] could start building the skills now, even though it wasn’t medical research.”

Nair said, “As I started looking more into it, I realized that this research is super prevalent to today as 6PPD-quinone was the “reason” for the mass deaths of coho salmon. So my research transformed from just lab work to something helping species and the environment and I fell in love with it and it really connected me to the Jesuit value of Magis. I took the values that I learned from my classes and my passion for the future and connected them, with the help of Mr. DeGroot and WSU’s Research Extension Center, to strive to do more, make an impact, and help the community.”