Finlay Dingman-Peterson discovered her love for chemistry in second year after securing a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Undergraduate Student Research Grant with Forensic Science professor Dr. Sanela Martic.
By the end of her third year, Finlay was spending the majority of her time studying chemistry. She decided to switch to a joint major in Forensic Science and Chemistry and it led her to become an award-winning undergraduate chemist.
Success at Provincial Research Conference
Finlay was among 130 undergraduate chemistry students presenting their fourth-year thesis research at the annual Southern Ontario Undergraduate Student Chemistry Conference (SOUSCC51) — this year hosted by Trent University. She took home one of the 20 prizes awarded for best presentation for her work with Professor Martic experimenting with the application of carbon dots to detect environmental pollutants.
Specifically, Finlay looked at detecting the presence of the heavy metal and atmospheric pollutant, nitroguaicol, which can be released into ecosystems and water ways through wood burning, a growing concern with the rise in recent forest fire events.
Finlay’s study showed how carbon dots -- a type of carbon nanomaterial with unique fluorescence property -- reduce their fluorescence when reacting with nitroguaicol. Her results are promising, possibly leading to the development of fast and inexpensive environmental assessment tools that can detect these pollutants in important water systems, such as rivers and lakes.
Taking Advantage of Networking Opportunities
She says that the conference was an eye-opening experience.
“It was a really valuable experience, just seeing the high level of research that is happening at the undergraduate level. And to see how many students from Trent are doing a variety of projects and just how much passion there is for research here.” Finlay said. “It's really neat to meet people where, you know, you're all doing the same thing, you're excited to talk about your research with your peers.”