Allena Nguyen

Research Assistant (Co-Op) at AFCC
Executive at UBC Undergraduate Chemistry Society

I am a highly motivated third year UBC chemistry co-op student with strong interests in materials chemistry, nanotechnology, and climate change. Ultimately, I am hoping to research and develop products and technology that contribute to climate mitigation.

I am currently working as a research assistant at AFCC, and am involved with developing and performing experiments to design and characterize anode catalyst inks for PEM fuel cells.

More About Me

I am a highly motivated third year UBC chemistry co-op student with strong interests in materials chemistry, nanotechnology, and climate change. Ultimately, I am hoping to research and develop products and technology that contribute to climate mitigation.

I am currently working as a research assistant at AFCC, and am involved with developing and performing experiments to design and characterize anode catalyst inks for PEM fuel cells.

You can contact me at allenanguyen@gmail.com

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mj-the-scientist:

astrodidact:

via All Science, All the Time

Stars are colossal fusion reactors, burning hydrogen into helium. As the nuclei fuse lighter elements into heavier elements, massive amounts of energy are released. A new game sets you the task of nucleosynthesis, building hydrogen into iron, and it’s surprisingly fun.

"The game is a stellar variant of 2048, where you fuse elements together along the reaction pathways that power stars." (Read: you’ll never get another thing done)

Play it here: http://newbrict.github.io/Fe26/

http://space.io9.com/stellar-fusion-is-shockingly-addictive-1564152075

This is wonderfully addictive.

I’m a fan!

Reevaluating Risk(s) of NPs?

Nanotechnology is undoubtedly a growing area of research. However, while the use of nano particles (NPs) in various goods is becoming more common, the amount of regulation on the use of these NPs fails to keep up. With an increased use of these NPs comes an increased concentration of NPs being released into the environment. As a result, the interactions between NPs and the environment (e.g. in the presence of natural organic matter (NOM)) need to be questioned.

As an example, Loosli et al. investigated TiO2, the most abundantly produced NPs, and its interactions with aquatic organisms. While Loosli et al. recognized that agglomerated NPs pose a smaller threat, in terms of toxicity, to the environment, Loosli et al. point out that NOM may disperse these NPs, thus potentially increasing their toxicity. Loosli et al. specifically looked at TiO2 NPs in the presence of alginate (found in the cell walls of brown seaweed) and Suwannee River humid acids (both at typical environmental concentrations). As predicted, Loosli et al. found that NOM promoted the disagglomeration of the TiO2 NPs. As a result, Loosli et al. suggest that the risk and hazards of nano material assembles be reevaluated.

Photo courtesy of UCLA.


Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2014,1, 154-160
DOI: 10.1039/C3EN00061C

cenwatchglass:

Look and listen. Hughes Aircraft scientists show their miniature radiation detector. In top photo, one of them takes a close look at the heart of the new device—a thin wafer of highly pure silicon. When a charged particle strikes the silicon, it emits a pulse that can be measured and analyzed. In lower photo, Dr. S.S. Friedland listens to the response of a detector packaged in a cigarshaped tube with battery and amplifier. Hughes believes the detector will be useful in exploring space, in nuclear research, therapy, and industrial processing.

Chemical & Engineering News, February 8, 1960

Mimicking the Iridescence of Beetle Shells

Due to cellulose’s abundance, there is an increasing interest in using it as a basis for “developing renewable technologies… in areas including biofuel production and nanotechnology.”[1] From (bulk) cellulose, under the right conditions, cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs), or nanocrystalline cellulose, can be isolated. Some of CNCs’ interesting properties include “their exceptional strength, high surface area, ease of functionalization, and self-assembly properties,” all of which have sparked various areas of research, including photonics.[2] Photonics includes the study of the “generation, emission, transmission, modulation, signal processing, switching, amplification, and detection/sensing of light" Examples of phototonic structures in nature include iridescent (i.e. appears to change colours as the angle of view changes) insect shells (e.g. jewel beetles).

Recognizing that “coloration in nature plays essential roles in signaling, mimicry, or mate choice,” researchers have become increasingly interested in “developing new materials with controllable structural color for applications in sensing and optoelectronics [a sub-field of photonics]”.[2] CNCs’ property of fast self-assembly (e.g. helical structures in water) make them good candidates in being used as a template for developing these structurally colored materials.[3]

Dr. MacLachlan, from the University of British Columbia, and his research team found that “by using nanocrystalline cellulose and combining that with a glass precursor, [they] could transfer this structure, this helical structure of the cellulose into a porous glass.”[3] As a result, Dr. MacLachlan and his team have been able to develop extremely unique glasses that mimic the iridescent shells of beetles, thus giving these glasses photonic properties, which they can control.[3] One application Dr. MacLachlan and his team are looking at is coating building windows to reduce the amount of heating that occurs inside of the building, ultimately reducing the amount of air conditioning needed.[3] I highly recommend watching this short clip of Dr. MacLachlan talking about his work with these unique glasses.

Photo courtesy of Gianfranco Merati


[1] K.E. Shopsowitz, J. A. Kelly, W. Y. Hamad, M. J. MacLachlan. Adv. Funct. Mater. 2014, 24, 327 
[2] M. K. Kahn, M. Giese, M. Y, J. A. Kelly, W. Y. Hamad, M. J. MacLachlan. Angew. Chem. Int. 2013, 52, 8921 
[3] NSERC Presents 2 Minutes With Mark MacLachlan (2012)

Moth Study Suggests Hidden Climate Change Impacts

A 32-year study of subarctic forest moths in Finnish Lapland suggests that scientists may be underestimating the impacts of climate change on animals and plants because much of the harm is hidden from view.

A study found that while temperatures increased, “moth populations are either staying the same or going up.” While these results may seem promising, in actuality, ecologist Mark Hunter of the University of Michigan explains, “… overall, most of these moth populations are either stable or increasing, so the only possibility is that something else other than climate change — some other factor that we did not measure — is buffering the moths from substantial population reductions and masking the negative effects of climate change.

What’s the significance of these results?

If unknown ecological forces are helping to counteract the harmful effects of climate change on these moths, it’s conceivable that a similar masking of impacts is happening elsewhere. If that’s the case, then scientists are likely underestimating the harmful effects of climate change on animals and plants.

Studies similar to this one are of interest to us because while these critters are small, they play large roles in our lives, including “agricultural pests, pollinators, food sources for vertebrates, vectors of human disease and drivers of various ecosystem processes.”

(via R&D Magazine)

mucholderthen:

Study Serves Huge Blow to ‘Any Remaining Climate Change Deniers’
By Hannah Osborne April 14, 2014   International Business Times

Climate change deniers have been dealt a huge blow following the release of a study that says the natural warming hypothesis can be ruled out with 99% accuracy.

Scientists at McGill University, Montreal, have said they can say with overwhelming confidence that climate change is the result of man-made emissions. Published in the journal Climate Dynamics, the researchers analysed temperature data since 1500. Their findings almost completely rule out the possibility that global warming in the industrial era is a natural fluctuation in the planet’s climate.

Continue reading …

IMAGE: Scientists are seen during a study of Arctic sea ice in July 2011 Reuters/NASA

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