Back to school

The hallways and parking spaces at Keene State are once again filled with students and faculty.  The summer of 2012 was much quieter in the COBRE lab than last summer. Two students, Jeff and Sam, continued to work in the lab but instead of spending most days at the Keene Recycling Center, they were at the computer analyzing data, preparing posters, and presenting at two conferences.

Nora, Jeff, and Sam made a trip to Washington, DC and presented a poster at the National IDeA Symposium and had some time to stop by the White House.

Sam and Jeff also presented a poster at the NH-INBRE meeting in Whitefield, NH.

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Chemical analysis of particles

John explaining a lab procedure to Melissa

Nora Traviss and Melissa Lombard spent a few days in the Holmen lab at the University of Vermont learning methods to extract and analyze organic compounds from filter samples collected during the summer of 2011 at the Keene Recycling Center.  John Kasumba, a PhD student in the Environmental Engineering program at UVM, demonstrated the extraction method he is developing to determine carbonyls.  Melissa and Nora also learned how to extract polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from the filters and analyze them using the thermal desorption gas chromatograph mass spectrometer (TD-GCMS) in the Holmen Lab.

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Keene State College Academic Excellence Conference


Alison, Drew, and Sam with their poster at the AEC. Photo credit: Sandy McNair

The seven undergraduate researchers working for the COBRE lab during summer 2011 and throughout the 2011-2012 academic year presented their work at the Keene State College Academic Excellence Conference.   Their work was showcased in three posters and a symposium presentation.  Nice work and congratulations to our graduating students!


Joe and Jeff explain their poster. Photo credit: Sandy McNair


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Summer 2011

We have had a busy 6 months and are long overdue for a website update!  A group of seven Keene State College students had a busy summer working for the COBRE lab, collecting field samples and real time data measurements at the City of Keene Recycling Center.

KSC students with the real time data instruments at the Keene Recycling Center

This summer’s work continued to build on previous studies conducted by COBRE to determine work place exposures from non road heavy duty diesel engines using biodiesel and diesel fuel.  Students collected samples to determine aerosol mass at different aerosol size ranges.  New additions this year were the real time instruments seen in the picture above.  These measured aerosol mass, particle concentration, and surface area concentration and will allow us to better characterize the particles in the work environment from biodiesel versus diesel usage.  Student have already analyzed some of the real-time measurements and presented the results at undergraduate research conferences throughout New England.  See the student research page for more info!  A lot of data was collected and the interpretation of results continues during the school year.

The daily installation of particle sampling devices in the workplace exposure zone

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particle analysis progress.

B20 agglomerate, magnified 71,000x. Winter is prime time for data analysis, and we’ve been busy poring through hundreds of images of diesel and B20 emissions, magnified 71,000x using the transmission electron microscope at Dartmouth College.   KSC student researcher Megan Ferm will be analyzing diesel vs. B20 primary particle diameter (a measure of the size of each individual particle within a larger agglomerate, such as the one seen here) and fractal dimension (a measure of agglomerate shape), both of which have implications for respiratory and cardiac health.    She will present her findings at the 2011 Keene State College Academic Excellence Conference.  Stay tuned for more!

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KSC research featured in Biodiesel Magazine

Our 2004 pilot study comparing diesel vs. B20 exposures at the Keene Recycling Center (which published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association this September!) is featured in the October 2010 issue of Biodiesel Magazine. Click here to read more!

Our work was also the focus of an article in The Equinox, the award-winning student newspaper at Keene State College.  Click here to find out how our biodiesel exposure research intersects with the Monadnock Biodiesel Collaborative’s plans to bring a waste-grease biodiesel factory and fuel testing lab to downtown Keene!

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collecting particle data.

Yesterday, intrepid Keene State students Allison Dreyfuss, Megan Ferm and Dustin Sciacca ventured to the Keene Recycling Center with Dr. Traviss to collect co-located diesel exhaust particle counts, particulate matter mass, and particle samples.   In the coming weeks, we’ll use the transmission electron microscope at Dartmouth College to magnify the samples 71,000x, so that we can compare diesel particle shape and size with the shape and size of particles gathered during B20 use at the Keene Recycling Center last summer.


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a visit from Senator Shaheen.

In February 2010, our students had the opportunity to share their research with Senator Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire State Senator Molly Kelly and Keene Mayor Dale Pregent, when Senator Shaheen toured the site of the future Monadnock Biodiesel Collaborative.  Click here for more details!

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Summer 2009 field season, at a glance.

Data collection has ended for 2009, and we are up to our ears in data, which we will analyze in the coming months. See below for a glimpse of Summer 2009, KSC-COBRE style.

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Biodiesel-Air Quality Research at Keene State College.

A track excavator and large front loader at the Keene Recycling Center.

July 2009 — The heavy equipment at the Keene Recycling Center has recently made the switch from petroleum diesel to biodiesel (B20 blend),  and our student researchers are setting up air quality monitoring equipment several times a week to monitor the resulting change in occupational and environmental exposures to fine particulate matter.

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