An Tran

Attempted Copolymerization of Epoxides Synthesized from Oleic and Linoleic Acids

April 1, 2021   /  

Name: An Tran
Major: Chemistry
Advisor: Dr. Lilliana Morris

Dr. Melissa M. Schultz Sustainability and the Environment Award

My chemistry IS project focuses on the synthesis of a biodegradable copolymer by synthesizing epoxides derived from naturally sourced fatty acids such as oleic and linoleic acid with a double metal cyanide catalyst. The purpose of creating this biodegradable copolymer is to potentially replace sodium polyacrylate, a petroleum derived material commonly used in baby diapers that has a detrimental impact on the environment due to its low degradation rate. So far, I have attempted to create this material and based on the results, I might have been able to form the targeted copolymer. But because of the lack of instruments and uncontrolled reaction parameters, I could not verify exactly what was formed in my final product. Nevertheless, the findings I made in my IS signified that it is indeed possible to synthesize a biodegradable copolymer using this project’s synthetic techniques. In the future, if this material can be successfully synthesized in the lab, it can then potentially be scaled up to produce environmentally friendly diapers in the industry, possibly even other sanitary products as well.

Click here to view An’s presentation. (NOTE: A Wooster login is required to view this presentation.)

An will be online to field comments on April 16:
2-4pm EDT (PST: 11am-1pm, Africa/Europe: evening)

52 thoughts on “Attempted Copolymerization of Epoxides Synthesized from Oleic and Linoleic Acids”

  1. Congratulation! I enjoyed visual presentation. What were some issues that you faced during your experiment when making copolymer?

    1. Hey Babita, thanks for stopping by! I mainly struggled with washing my monomers clean of impurities as the literature procedure I adapted didn’t work as well as I expected.

  2. This is really interesting and creative, chị An!! You did it!! Congratulations and best wishes for your next adventure!!

  3. Great work, An! Such a creative way to explain your work and I’m glad you found a way to integrate your skill for art in your IS.

  4. Great presentation An! I love your creativity in presenting and to hear about your work. It has been a pleasure to get to know you over the past 4 years. How have your experiences in a range of research and activities at Wooster shaped your future plans?

    1. Hello professor Sobeck! I hope everything’s going well for you. All of my previous research experiences have helped me realize what I am interested in and the field of chemistry I want to pursue in the future.

  5. What a fascinating presentation! Your research seems to have a lot of important implications. Are you planning to continue this study in graduate school or your professional life?

    1. Hi Lynette, thanks for stopping by! Yes, I really hope I can do more research on sustainability in chemistry in graduate school.

    1. Professor Morris! Thank you for coming to Wooster. It’s all thanks to you that I found out what I wan to do next. I’ve learned a lot of new things but I guess the most important lesson is realizing that there’s still a lot of things I don’t know and need to continue learning. Also, that I should be more patient with myself. While getting results are great, what matters is the learning process.

  6. Congratulations An! I really enjoyed your presentation. What inspired you to research this as your Senior IS?

    1. Hi Sarah, thanks for stopping by! I found out that I love doing synthetic chemistry after my sophomore year and when I was a junior, I got introduced to professor Morris projects, which are amazing. It’s a synthetic focused project and has practical applications so I was immediately drawn to it.

  7. An, this is such interesting and important work, especially with regard to necessary items like diapers that are also causing harm to the environment. I really enjoyed learning about your project. Congratulations!

  8. Toutes mes félicitations, An!
    Quel plaisir d’avoir travaillé avec toi ces deux dernières années!

  9. Congratulations on your great work An!! Your video really made it accessible to non-chemistry majors like me and I was able to understand your process and all the hard work in the lab! Wishing you all the best after graduation!!

  10. Great work, An! The video presentation does an excellent job communicating your work.

  11. So proud of you sis!!! It must take a lot of dedication and time to draw/edit the whole presentation!

  12. Fascinating conclusion An! Do you think you will continue research on biodegradable polymers in the future for other materials?

    1. Hey Aubry, thanks a lot for stopping by. Yes, I’ll be attending grad school next fall and hopefully could explore the world of materials a bit more!

  13. Congrats my friend on finally finishing. I know I don’t say this enough but I’m very proud of you and the work that you’ve done. I don’t think I get to see enough of the scientific side of An and am glad for the reminder that my friend is a super talented chemist whose work has actual impact on the world. I don’t think this is actually possible but I learn a little more about you today. And I’m really happy that you get to showcase who you are through this video. I enjoy watching it so much.
    On a side note, what was something that made you struggle the most while working on this project? I know we talked about your failed experiments many time but I would like to listen to your struggles in light of the context from this video.
    Congrats again. Good luck with grad school and adulting. You’ll do great and I’ll be there whenever you need me.

    1. Ok, totally missed the question but one of my biggest struggles is not knowing anything about polymer before starting this project. I was too impatient about wanting results that I didn’t thoroughly understand what I was doing most of the time. Science takes time and I should have processed everything more carefully. I hope I can be more patient with myself when I’m in grad school though.

  14. Chị iu giỏi quá!!!!! The fact that you can apply your knowledge and interests to better the world is really inspiring. The presentation and the drawings are amazing! Congrats on finishing your IS and thank you for all your hard work!

  15. What an amazing work and creative presentation! I know you will achieve great things after Wooster.

  16. You are an environmentally friendly, chemist / CEO in the making. It’s great working with you. Congrats!

  17. Absolutely wonderful work! The style of presentation was very thoughtful and fun to watch. It must have been very exciting to finally be able to do your copolymerization reactions and watching the catalysts change color like that!

    1. Hey Nosh, thanks for watching. Yep, color changes was the one thing that draws me to chemistry.

  18. Hey, An! It was great working with you in lab freshman year!

    Congrats on your award and your research are important to helping the environment. I enjoyed your presentation style–very creative, accessible, and engaging! How did you decide on this method of presentation?

    1. I just love drawing and did something similar when I was in high school. So, I thought, this is my last semester here, why not go the extra miles?

  19. Amazing! Good job, chị đẹp. “Honestea,” it was my honor to follow your project from Jr. IS to symposium. Even though I have never seriously said that I am proud of you, I really am. Good luck with your next journey in Chemistry!

  20. Congratulations sis. The project seems so cool. Love the presentation. I am proud of you sis.

  21. Wow, an IS topic brimming with hope for a cleaner and more sustainable planet! An, this is an inspirational project, and it speaks volumes about your decision to pursue it without knowing how successful the outcome would be. Congratulations to you, Dr. Morris, and the College of Wooster – the pursuit of Science is in great hands!

  22. Great job, An! You’re an excellent communicator in your field as well when writing essays. Congratulations!

  23. Well done, An! This was the most creative and engaging IS Symposium presentation I have seen during my four years at Wooster. Congrats on finishing such a cool project!

    1. Aww thanks a lot Georgia! Congrats to you, too, your IS was also really creative!

  24. Congratulations on completing your IS, An! Your presentation is awesome and you creativity helps to explain your research to non-chemists like myself.

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for all your guidance throughout my years here as a Peer Mentor.

  25. As a proud assistant of your presentation video, I am confident that you had been the best Chemistry crash course instructor to a dummy like me.
    As a novice artist myself, your project inspires me with my future IS format.
    As an avid environmentalist, I am so happy that you chose a project with this close radius to achieving a greener habitat. If possible I would love to have my babies wear this diaper in the future.
    As a new friend who learnt just a little context about your goals in life, I believe you will continue to sail a great journey. Best wishes to you in Texas and future industrial jobs!

  26. Hey An!! Sorry for my late comments, but CONGRATS on your great work!!! I LOVE your presentation video. It’s super creative and easy to understand! Even I, a non-chemistry major student, understand what you’ve done easily! Good job again! I’m so proud of you!

  27. I’ve always known that you’re great at what you do. But your knowledge, passion, dedication, and talent in both chemistry, art, and storytelling truly shine through this year long project. Congratulations on an excellent finish at Wooster, dear. I’m so proud of you!

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