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Metrohm USA Awards Young Chemist for Research in Combatting Environmental Pollutants

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Credit: Metrohm USA.
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Metrohm USA is thrilled to announce the winner of this year’s $10,000 Young Chemist Award, Ms. Katelyn Michael, a graduate student from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The award recognizes Ms. Michael’s groundbreaking research, which presents a significant leap forward in the sustainable degradation of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), a persistent pollutant in the environment.

Ms. Michael’s research, titled “Tandem Electrochemical Advanced Oxidative Processes to Effectively Degrade Perfluorooctanesulfonic Acid (PFOS),” addresses the critical environmental challenge posed by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Known as “forever chemicals” for their resistance to degradation in the environment, PFAS compounds pose significant public health and environmental risks due to their bioaccumulative nature.

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Focusing on a novel electrochemical approach, Ms. Michael’s work improves upon existing methods by significantly enhancing the degradation efficiency of PFOS. Her methodology cleverly cycles between activation and degradation phases within the same cell, resulting in a more complete degradation. A key aspect of her work is the unique mediated decoupled process to avoid side reactions.

"Katelyn's outstanding achievement in PFAS degradation research is a beacon of hope in our ongoing battle against these persistent pollutants. The urgency and complexity of PFAS pollution demand our best minds and resources, and we are proud to reward research that leads us toward a cleaner, safer future," stated Ed Colihan, CEO of Metrohm USA.

Ms. Michael’s journey continues as she seeks to refine and expand her approach. With plans to explore the degradation of other PFAS compounds and improve system scalability, her research holds promise for broader applications in environmental remediation.

A Commitment to Innovation and Sustainability

Metrohm USA is proud to support emerging scientists like Ms. Katelyn Michael, whose work embodies our commitment to fostering innovation and addressing some of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time. Through the Young Chemist Award, we celebrate the achievements of young researchers who are paving the way for a more sustainable future.