Dozens of Claflin University students and their chemistry lab instructors – Dr. Satish Kuriyavar, Dr. Haiyan Fan-Hagenstein, Mr. Marcus Curry and Ms. Latoya Cosme – visited Albemarle Corporation’s manufacturing site in Orangeburg on Oct. 29 and 31 to see the real-life implications of what they have been learning in the classroom and laboratory.
The field trip, sponsored by a National Science Foundation grant geared toward enhancing science education at Claflin through the targeted infusion of chemical instrumentation in chemistry laboratories, was a step towards strengthening the collaboration between Claflin and Albemarle to encourage students to pursue chemistry and biochemistry degrees.
While there, Albemarle employees demonstrated the process of making ibuprofen, the active ingredient in over-the-counter pain medication, and propofol, the active ingredient in anesthetic used in medical procedures. Claflin students also toured Albemarle’s state-of-the-art process technology lab to see the company’s research and development unit for improving the chemistry of the plant processes, and visited Claflin’s instrumentation lab, which houses HPLC and GC-MS units, a particle size analyzer and moisture content analyzers. Students were exposed to not only pharmacopeias such as USP, BP and EP that are used as testing standards for the raw materials, but to the finished products, as well.
Field trips like the one to Albemarle are crucial for organic chemistry students because they provide unique opportunities for on-site learning that are not available in the classroom. Students cover various chemical reactions in the classroom – including some of the mechanisms used to make ibuprofen. While at Albemarle, they got to see the real-life application of organic chemistry in the pharmaceutical industry, and observed the commercial equipment used to make large quantities of pharmaceuticals and the challenges faced by them.
Students were excited to see various aspects of the pharmaceutical industry and ask industry experts questions while at Albemarle. Claflin’s collaboration with Albemarle includes student internships at the Orangeburg site, an agreement to share state-of-the art technical instruments such as NMR equipment, and an exchange of scientific knowledge and ideas at seminars held between the sites.