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OCC Home to Area's Top Chemistry Department with New Equipment Acquisition

Chemistry Equipment PhotoOlney Central College is now home to one of the area’s preeminent Chemistry Departments with the addition of two highly sophisticated pieces of equipment.

The OCC Foundation provided funding for a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometer and an Infrared (IR) spectrometer. The research-quality instruments are utilized to determine the molecular structure of organic molecules.

“Having this equipment changes my abilities to teach organic chemistry,” said Dr. Aaron Lineberry. “This is such an invaluable tool for the class. Words cannot express my thanks to the Foundation for this purchase.”

Especially beneficial is the NMR spectrometer, which utilizes radio waves to produce a magnetic field that interacts with the nucleus of the hydrogen atoms in a molecule. This is the same technology used in MRI instruments in medicine.

“With it, students can determine the structure of any compound possessing hydrogen,” Lineberry said. “It is the ultimate tool for organic compound analysis. Only a handful of community colleges have access to it. It’s a technology that has been out of reach for most schools our size for a long time. In this part of the state, we are the only community college that has access to the NMR.”

With the Infrared spectrometer, students can determine the types of bonds found in a compound by observing how the bonds stretch and bend from the applied radiation. Lineberry noted different types of bonds vibrate differently.

Lineberry began offering an organic chemistry class shortly after joining OCC in 2015. The course is required for students entering pre-professional fields, including medicine, veterinarian, pharmacy, biology and chemistry majors.

Utilizing the NMR and IR spectrometers will give OCC students an advantage as they transfer to a four-year institution to complete these degrees.

“Students in a community college typically don’t get this type of experience,” said Lineberry, who holds a doctorate in organic chemistry. “Our students will have collected data and seen the entire process from beginning to end.”

Lineberry encourages students who are interested in the pre-professional areas of science to contact him at 618-395-7777 or lineberrya@iecc.edu to learn more about the benefits of starting their academic studies at OCC.

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