Sovell presents research in Pierre, S.D.

Natalie Sovell of Marshall was among the South Dakota State University undergraduate research presenters Feb. 26 in the Capitol Rotunda in Pierre, S.D.

Legislators learned about South Dakota State University undergraduate research that seeks to prevent obesity among college students and develop environmentally friendly solvents at the Student Poster Session. Four juniors enrolled in the Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College discussed their research.

Pharmacy students Sovell and Kaila Kuehn of Brandon, S.D., and biochemistry/biotechnology major Camille Massmann of Cold Spring, adjusted the formula of a commonly used solvent, decreasing its toxicity so it can be considered a green solvent.

Deep eutectic solvents (DES) are mixtures of two or more chemicals that when combined have a lower melting point than the individual components, Sovell explained. These solvents have a wide range of applications, from batteries to biodiesel and zinc electroplating, as well as chemical analyses.

Sovell, Kuehn and Massmann studied a DES that was a mixture of choline chloride and ethylene glycol and reduced the solvent’s toxicity by substituting propylene glycol for the ethylene glycol. Their experimental work involved optimizing the choline chloride-to-propylene glycol ratio using a variety of instruments to measure parameters, such as melting point, viscosity and conductivity.

“As undergraduates, we had never been exposed to analytical chemistry,” said Sovell. “After working in (adviser) Dr. Douglas Raynie’s lab, we have a much better understanding of green chemistry and its applications for everyday life.”