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Rebecca Skibo '23

2021 SOAR Profile

Properties of Brooker’s Merocyanine (MOED): a Solvatochromic Compound

Major and Minor: Chemistry, Management Minor
Hometown: Quakertown, PA
Project Advisor(s): Dr. Carl Salter

Briefly describe your project.

The goals of this project are to measure Log P of Brooker’s Merocyanine. To obtain a very solid experimental procedure and plan for Brooker’s we used a very common dye compound known as Methylene Blue, which does not have the same characteristics as Brooker’s. We used this compound because the values that are well-known are easily found when researched. To find Log P, which is also referred to as the Partition Coefficient or K!, is obtained from partitioning two immiscible liquids. For this project, we used octanol and water, because they separate when added together. We will use the samples and obtain data from them using a spectrometer. From this, we will see the absorbance and wavelength. We could then calculate Log P for Brooker's Merocyanine. Brooker’s is a unique compound and there is not a compound like it in the world. There is not much information compiled on the internet about this compound.

skibo soar
Rebecca Skibo '23

Describe the origin of your project. (E.g., did you pitch the idea and choose a faculty member, or did they come to you with an idea?)

When I contacted Dr. Salter about doing research with him during SOAR, he informed me about this ongoing research and fascination with Brookers’ and its outstanding qualities. There were many areas of the project that Dr. Salter did not test, and he was eager to explain his knowledge about this very special compound. And so was I. After discussing some aspects of the project, we both got our brains rattling about new concepts, approaches, and ideas that would result in some interesting findings.

What’s the best part about working with your faculty mentor? What valuable insights have they brought to your project?

Working on this project with Dr. Salter was very eye opening to me. He taught many tips and tricks in the lab that I wouldn’t have learned anywhere else. He gave me the confidence in the lab that I needed. In addition, he pointed out that making mistakes or having ideas not work out is okay. I was always so scared to mess up, but he encouraged me to work through those tough times. The best part, for me, was Dr. Salter teaching me how to use all the technology and tools required to be successful with the project.

What has been your biggest obstacle so far?

Just like many people, I would dislike seeing non-reproduceable data or results that we weren’t expecting. It was really discouraging sometimes. We would compare our results to the very limited amount of research completed on this compound and we weren’t getting the same results. We worked through these issues, thus obtaining different data that, mathematically, made more sense. Another obstacle was the fact that there was not really much research on this topic. It was hard to compare results, due to the fact that the few results were all different. There were no set answers, so finding reliable sources was difficult.

What has been your biggest takeaway from this experience?

The biggest takeaway for me was getting the experience in a lab doing research. Being a student that went to school during the pandemic I was unable to get as much lab time compared to others. I was happy to work through problems individually and work hand and hand with someone. Building confidence using lab materials and technologies was also a great takeaway as well.

What was the result of your project?

Although our project had some bumps in the road, we were able to come up with some interesting and accurate data. Some of our bigger accomplished results were observing the wavelength shift (on the spectrometer using visible light) when Brooker’s is in different solvents. Most of the solvents that we used were successful and we were able to see the plateau within graph as water was added to the mixture. Another result we found was the 𝑝𝐾 of the compound was around 8.5, which is what we expected and researched as well. One thing we wanted to improve on, though, was finding a better buffer to use during the measurements. The pH of some of the buffers were not resulting in accurate results. The last result from this project that we found was when using the cuvette method of finding 𝐾 it was very successful and financially better as well (Brooker’s is expensive).

In your own words, how do you feel about being awarded this opportunity? Why should other students take advantage of the SOAR program at Moravian University?

I was beyond grateful to be a part of the SOAR program. It was a wonderful and great environment to be a part of. I was thrilled to be working alongside professors and other students. SOAR really helped me on so many aspects of my academic career and on. The experience was like no other. I was not just able to learn about studies that are familiar to me, like Biology, physics, and chemistry, but also gender studies, psychology, and history. I learned so much valuable information from all fields. SOAR opened so many doors for me. I was able to connect with peers and my professors on a different level that I wouldn’t be able to during the school year. It was a great stepping stone into the next chapter of my academic career.

Now that SOAR is over, do you plan to expand upon your research? If so, how?

During this next school year, I plan on working with a different professor on their research doing an independent study. This will offer me a different experience to expand my horizons. I thought that working on different research will give me the chance to be well versed in the lab and research.

Have you, or do you plan to present this research outside the SOAR presentations? If so, where? Be specific, if possible.

I have not yet presented my research outside of SOAR, but I would love to in the future.