Restek Holds 1st Annual Student Research Symposium

Andrew Murtha

Jovan Livada

Latisha Franklin

Roman Jaramillo

Restek recently held its 1st Annual Student Research Symposium at its global headquarters in Bellefonte, PA, as part of our commitment to developing the next generation of scientists.

During the event, Restek chemists and leadership gave talks on gas chromatography in space, olfactory detection, and bile acid analysis by liquid chromatography, but more important, in addition to learning more about STEM careers, students prepared and presented posters on a variety of topics. Posters were judged by a panel of Restek technical experts, who were impressed by the high quality of work on display.

Although all of the presenters are deserving of accolades, the organizers especially wanted to congratulate our winners:

First Place ($1,000) – Andrew Murtha, “Communication Between Vibrio fischeri Populations within the Squid Light Organ”
Second Place ($500) – Latisha Franklin, “Inborn Errors in Purine Metabolism Result in Neuromuscular Deficits: A Comparative Metabolic Approach”
Third Place ($250) – Nathan Yu, “Homogeneity of Packing in Silica Separation Column”

This year, undergraduate and graduate student researchers from Penn State were invited to network and showcase their work. Next year, Restek plans to expand the program.

Are you a student interested in applying for next year’s symposium? Watch for an announcement later this year or email Alex Pavkovich.

Restek Partners with Girl Scouts for STEM Expos

Picture of Girl Scouts at STEM event.

Two Girl Scouts conduct experiments with
Restek’s Titus Morehead at Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania’s recent STEM Expo at Pennsylvania College of Technology.

Alexandria Pavkovich, an R&D chemist at Restek, watched the face of a young girl light up when she created a mini lava lamp by adding an Alka-Seltzer tablet to her 40 mL vial mixture of colored water and mineral oil.

It was Feb. 17 at the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, PA, and the experiment was one of two Restek brought with them to the first of three STEM Expos that the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) will host this year. Restek also had a gumball separation demo.

“It felt like a big hit and they were excited they could take their lava lamps home to show their friends and family.” Pavkovich said. “I take a great interest in getting girls into science. Some of them are coming from a smaller area and it’s fun to broaden their experience and spark an interest in science.”

More than 1,500 Girl Scouts in grades kindergarten through 12 have registered to attend the free expos featuring dozens of activities provided by program partners that bring science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skill-building opportunities directly to girls. Another Expo was held recently at East Stroudsburg University and the final one will be Saturday, May 19, at Millersville University.

“Girls are learning about STEM because of companies like Restek. The dedication of employees in giving their time and expertise never ceases to amaze me. GSHPA’s mission is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. We are successful because supporters like Restek invest in our girls and help create the next generation of successful female leaders,” Ellen M. Kyzer, President & CEO of GSHPA, said.

Restek is committed to supporting local STEM programs and often attends elementary and middle school STEM fairs.

“You don’t get this kind opportunity at every company. It’s great that we get to spread our love of science to the younger generation,” Pavkovich said. “You see their minds spark with curiosity as they engage, understand, and begin to see possibilities unfold. It’s pretty inspiring to watch them find joy in both scientific discovery and also in the realization that they have the potential to become anything they want to be.”

Accompanying Pavkovich from Restek were Joe Windell, Jana Rousova, and Titus Morehead.

Other exhibitors include Pocono Environmental Education Center; Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders; Association for Women in Mathematics; Wildlands Conservancy; Lincoln Caverns; AccuWeather; and Da Vinci Science Center.

For more information about Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania, visit www.gshpa.org.

Restek Inspires Future Scientists at STEM Fair

Teaching the concepts of chromatography to elementary and middle school students in Central Pennsylvania is another way Restek connects with and gives back to the community.

An auditorium full of middle schoolers may seem like a tough audience for teaching new scientific concepts, but in Restek’s experience, they are quite attentive and engaged. So, employees at Restek love taking the opportunity to share their knowledge with area youth.

“I could go through a slide show presentation, but something tells me you wouldn’t be that interested in it. So, I’m going to get you involved and teach you through action,” Scott Grossman, a content development specialist at Restek, told an auditorium of more than 200 students in April.

For years, teams at Restek have presented a variety of interactive performances to elementary and middle school students about chromatography. This past April, Grossman, with his colleagues Samantha Harter, Fang-Yun Lo, and Titus Morehead, visited Park Forest Middle School to present during the school’s STEM Fair. The annual event encourages student involvement and future careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

“We keep inviting Restek back because their presentation is high quality and they do a good job at communicating what they do at an appropriate level for the students,” Mike Bierly, an eighth-grade science teacher at Park Forest, said.

This year’s presentation teaches chromatography by comparing it to a party. The presenters invite dozens of students on stage to create a party atmosphere that will function like a chromatography column’s stationary phase. Then, other students pass through the party—some having been instructed offstage to interact extensively with other partygoers, while others were instructed to interact very little and “elute” quickly, ignoring the party and passing straight to the food table. As students reach the food table, “peaks” in an illustrative chromatogram are generated. Grossman explains that analyzing these different types of partygoers is very similar to how chemists use chromatography to analyze the contents of liquid and gas samples—compounds interact with the column’s stationary phase to different degrees, allowing them to be separated and, ultimately, identified.

“It’s fun to see the students engage and start to understand the concepts,” said Harter, a process engineer at Restek.

Lori Dundon, a Restek marketing communications manager, kick-started Restek’s engagement with local elementary and middle schools in Central Pennsylvania years ago when her kids were attending Park Forest Middle School.

“I wanted my kids to understand what I do for work,” she said.

Grossman took on the challenge of developing a presentation and has since offered it, and others, to many local schools and thousands of future scientists.

“It’s like I always tell the students—it doesn’t matter what you end up doing in your career, you need to be a good communicator,” he said.

To learn more about Restek Corporation, visit www.restek.com

Restek Encourages Bellefonte Middle Schoolers to Think Outside the Beaker

Nearly 30 students will attend an after-school science education program at Penn State, thanks to a donation by the Bellefonte-based business.


For the next five weeks, students from Bellefonte Middle School will participate in Think Outside the Beaker, an after-school science program hosted by Penn State’s Science Outreach Office—thanks to a donation from Restek.

“We’re proud members of the Bellefonte community and are excited to offer this opportunity to our local middle schoolers,” Restek President, Bryan Wolcott, said. “As a technical company, we love science, and we love being able to encourage youth who share our passion!”

On Mondays, from September 21 through October 19, students from grades 6 to 8 will be bused from Bellefonte to nearby Penn State to learn about biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, neuroscience, and more from University scientists, engineers, and students. The program is held yearly by Penn State’s Science-U.

“We’re thrilled to have Restek as a partner in offering this program every fall and are having a blast fostering the next generation of STEM professionals,” Michael Zeman, Director of Science Outreach, said.

By participating in the brand-new workshop miniseries, students will focus on a variety of STEM topics (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) while improving their critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving, and communication skills.

For more information, read the coverage by the Centre Daily Times or visit the Science-U website: www.sciencecamps.psu.edu

To learn more about Restek Corporation, visit www.restek.com