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American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund Supports Undergraduate Research, Student Learning

Ferris State University studentsZackary Hren, of Muskegon (left), and Chad Lazarock, of Whitehall (right), students in Ferris State University's College of Arts and Sciences are involved in petroleum products research with assistant professor of Physical Sciences Luis Rivera (center)

A Ferris State University Physical Sciences instructor is leading a study of fundamental simulations of excited ethane molecule relaxation in high-pressure bath gasses. This study is supported by a $55,000 grant from the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund.

Luis Rivera, an assistant professor, successfully gained support from the society and will lead two College of Arts, Sciences and Education students in this two-year research effort.

“This is one of 25 undergraduate research awards distributed nationally, each year, which comes from the ACS’ Petroleum Research Fund,” Rivera said. “We will be monitoring energy transfers in future fuel molecules when those materials are at high temperatures and at high pressures. An important part of a successful application is demonstrating that undergraduate students will be active participants in the research process, as the society seeks to train the next generation of scientists and researchers.”

Zackary Hren, of Whitehall, and Chad Lazarock, of Muskegon, are the student researchers currently involved with Rivera in this study. Rivera noted that Hren was his student researcher in a 2018 Summer Research Fellowship project, which was funded by Ferris’ Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

“The American Chemical Society requires a report on our progress each year, along with a presentation of the study results at a conference each summer, and in peer-review publications,” Rivera said. “The grant allows our student researchers to work through the summer on this study. I am likely to add another student for the Spring 2020 semester, and all of them will serve key roles in the laboratory and on our presentations to come.”