Seniors explore mineral content in vegetables

Christina Garcia
News Editor

Roughly 30 people attended the Natural Science Division Senior Symposium in LaFetra Lecture Hall Wednesday.

Senior biology and chemistry majors presented their senior projects. The Symposium included six presentations from individual and group senior projects.

“It’s styled after a professional science seminar,” said Jennifer Tsui, symposium committee chairwoman and assistant professor of biology.

“We think that it’s really good professional development to get a sense of how it really works when you have your own project and you need to present your results.”

Tsui said that the question and answer part of the presentation is very helpful for students as the attendants are a mix of biology and chemistry professors and students.

Senior chemistry majors Myriam Castaneda and Jordan Stokes presented their research project titled “Determination of Mineral Content in Organic vs. Non-organic Vegetables Using Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy.”

Castaneda and Stokes measured the mineral content in organic and non-organic kale, spinach and broccoli.

Castaneda said the idea for the project came from her project adviser Mark Nelson, professor of chemistry, as it was something that he wanted to study.

“I feel so much relief, it’s like everything that I’ve been working toward is finally up there,” Castaneda said. “Standing up there I was like ‘Oh my God, this is actually happening, this is it.’ It’s a bizarre feeling of relief and excitement of what will be next.”

Castaneda said that she wants to attend graduate school to earn a doctorate degree after taking a gap year.

Tsui said that students typically begin their senior projects a year in advance, but there are some that begin as early as two years in advance.

Students are given the opportunity to select their own topic or they are able to work in a project that is similar to projects that are currently being researched by their professors.

Senior chemistry major Alexander Malinick presented his research titled “Synthesis and Characterization of Bimetallic Magnetic Nanoparticles For Further Application in Cancer Treatment.”

Malinick said that he got he idea for his research based on other similar research projects that use elements different from the ones that he selected, like platinum. Malinick said he chose to use iron and manganese as they are elements already found in the human body.

“I’ve been working on this a little over two years now,” Malinick said.

“I started the summer of sophomore year and I’ve been working on it since so we’re approaching three years.”

Malinick said that the synthesizing of the bimetallic nanoparticles was completed in the University of La Verne in the chemistry lab and the analysis was completed at the University of California, Riverside using a transmission electron microscope.

“It was an amazing experience,” Malinick said. “I have all this knowledge of what I’ve been researching and it was an amazing experience having the physics department, the biology department and the chemistry department, all these students come to help me out and talking to them. Having different minds all come together to help me with this.”

Malinick also said that his advisor Ricardo Morales, associate professor of chemistry, was a large influence for him while working on the project and that he would not have been able to get so far in his research without his assistance.

Christina Garcia can be reached at

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