This semester my favorite class is Analytical Chemistry. The basic premise of this class is to learn how to use analytical methods and lab equipment for experimentation. In our lecture section, we discuss theories and the mechanics behind a huge variety of tools and methods of analyzing chemicals and reactions, and then in the lab section we use all of these techniques applied to solving real problems. Some of my favorite things we have done was a colorimetric titration to determine the composition of ions in sea water, and currently we are using different forms of spectrophotometric techniques to analyze the iron content of vitamins. Practicing the techniques discussed in class reinforces all the concepts and applying them to solve problems in a context make them really interesting.
Another reason I really like this class is that it has really helped me in my research project (which you can read about here and here). We use a lot of the equipment that I’m learning about in detail in analyzing the quantum dots we make, especially UV-Vis spectrophotometers and photoluminescence machines. Last year I had to just trust my mentor Zach when he told me all the settings to use and what was happening, and it has made my research much more exciting to actually understand all of the science behind what I’m doing and why I’m using certain methods for different things.