Chemistry major trying to create new antibiotic


Senior chemistry major Sarah Hansen is synthesizing what could end up being a new antibiotic.

“It’s many steps to this reaction, and [I’m] trying to complete it by the end of the month,” Hansen said.

At this point in her project, Hansen is attempting to identify an unknown substance and determine whether it is pure. After determining what the substance is, she can decide whether she will be able to use it in her attempts at making an antibiotic.

She has performed several tests on the substance, including testing its polarity by adding small amounts of it to other chemicals on a test slide. By looking at the slide under UV lights, Hansen can determine how many molecules make up the substance and how polar each of those molecules are, which puts her one step closer to identifying the substance.

Hansen has been working in the chemistry lab for a year and a half, and she said she has learned “to be a good chemist and to use good technique.”

“Working in the lab has been a great opportunity,” Hansen said. “It has been very reaffirming that all of the effort I have put into the classes and into this major is going to be something that I am going to continue to enjoy doing when I have my degree.”

Maggie Clemensen can be reached at