Chemistry Week: Energy now and forever

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The sun is Earth’s greatest source of energy and scientists at Caltech are hard at work figuring out how to put it to good use.

On Tuesday, guest speaker Dr. Nate Lewis from the California Institute of Technology kicked off National Chemistry Week by giving a lecture on his latest research on artificial photosynthesis at the Harberson Hall.

The purpose of his research is to create a system for renewable energy via the oxidation of water. He is trying to replicate photosynthesis, the process plants use to take light from the sun to create energy.

His group, Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, focuses on creating prototypes of the actual hardware that will drive this idea. However, they are not exactly sure of what components will go into the hardware.

PCC Chemistry Club Co-President Natalie Martinez was grateful such an accomplished chemist was able to visit and talk to students about what is currently going on in the world of science.

“What I took from this presentation is that it’s really important that we find a new energy resource in order to save the planet,” said Martinez. “There’s great opportunities for students going into the science industry to look into this type of research because its energy for the future.”

Lewis has received many honorary science awards in chemistry, according to the Caltech website. He has published over 300 papers and has supervised over 60 graduate students and postdoctoral associates. His research interests are artificial photosynthesis and electronic noses.

This week is National Chemistry Week and in honor of it the PCC Chemistry Club is hosting a number of events around campus that all PCC students are encouraged to attend.

Natural Sciences Instructor Veronica Jaramillo hopes to spark an interest of chemistry in the students through the activities planned.

“National chemistry week is a week designated for chemists to promote chemistry and its benefits to society at the local community and in our case the PCC campus,” said Jaramillo. “This year the theme for national chemistry week is energy, now and forever.”

There will be a scavenger hunt for hidden moles in the Science Village on Wednesday Oct 23 beginning at 6:02am to 6:02pm in honor of the mole, a common unit of measurement used in chemistry. Prizes will be raffled off for those who manage to locate the moles on Thursday after the magic show.

Faculty members will be teamed up with students to conduct mysterious demonstrations that involve chemistry in the form of a “magic show” on Thursday Oct 24 from 4:30pm to 6:00pm in the Jameson Amphitheater.

Computer Technical Support Specialist Marilyn Johnson is a co-coordinator of the Bridges to the Future program, which supports underrepresented students in achieving advanced degrees in the U.S. and she loves all the effort to get students involved.

“I am a great supporter of the PCC Chemistry Club,” said Johnson. “A great addition to the NSD, their Distinguished Speaker series has and continues to provide amazing scientists, innovative technologies, and an up close interaction with world-class educators in a variety of disciplines.”

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