Tuesday, April 18, 2017

URSP Student Benjamin McDowell Researches the Use of Chemically Modified Electrodes ad Biosensors

This semester I am working with Dr. Peixoto on the use of chemically modified electrodes as biosensors.  My research project focuses on a chitosan – catechol modified electrodeto be used in the sensing of dopamine, as an alternative to carbon fiber electrodes.  These electrodes may offer a more cost effective methodology for dopamine concentration sensing than is offered by the commonly used carbon fiber electrodes.  Currently I am specifically focused on the aging of these electrodes, and how consistent their measurements can be over time.  Understanding this reproducibility is important for the practical application of these electrodes.

I became interested in this project based on the concepts of chemistry applied in the work, and have learned a great deal throughout the project’s evolution.  Originally, my research was focused on the practicality and efficacy of this chemical modification, but has since expanded to include what is now my OSCAR project this semester.  After graduation from George Mason, I hope to use what I have learned from this research experience to pursue a graduate degree in chemistry, of which research will be a central component.

On a weekly basis, I test the functionality of various electrodes that I have modified, as well as modifying additional electrodes for testing.  This involves fresh preparation of solutions and reagents, chemical modification of electrodes, and electrochemical testing of the modified electrodes.  Overall I have learned a great deal from this experience, not only on the science being applied, but also on the development and evolution of pursuing a research question.