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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 23 (2018) pp 149-158

Analysis of Footwear Co-Polymer Compositions by FTIR Spectroscopy and Principal Component Analysis: Sophomore Immersion Program in Research and Academics Program

Kerani Davidson, Valorie Danielle Chasten, Tanya Pinder, Sharon Wellman, Goldie Byrd‡,*, Zakiya S. Wilson-Kennedy§, **, Sayo O. Fakayode††,*

Department of Chemistry, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, 1601 East Market Street, Greensboro, NC 27411;Department of Biology, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, 1601 East Market Street, Greensboro, NC 27411,; §Department of Chemistry, Louisiana State University, 232 Choppin Hall, Baton Rouge, LA 70803; **College of Science, Louisiana State University, 124 Hatcher Hall, Baton Rouge, LA 70803; ††Department of Physical Sciences, University of Arkansas Fort Smith, 5210 Grand Avenue, Fort Smith, AR 72913,
Received March 27, 2018. Accepted June 5, 2018.

Published: 24 July 2018

Abstract. The transformation of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) for inclusion and broader participation is achievable through the development of sensitive, creative, student-engaging curricula and targeted recruitment and retention of underrepresented minorities and underserved population in STEM. To that end, the engagement of these students in high impact practices such as undergraduate research and other types of experiential learning is vitally important to promoting the types and forms of student engagement that can foster advancements in diversity and inclusion. Herein, the outcome of a combined use of Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and principal component analysis (PCA) for quality assurance of footwear products as part of the Sophomore Immersion in Research and Academics (SIPRA) program to promote underrepresented minority (URM) student learning in STEM is reported. Specifically, 86 different brands of footwear samples were collected from donors across the Greensboro metropolis in the state of North Carolina. The co-polymer reference standards and the insoles of the collected footwear samples were subjected to FTIR analysis both in a transmittance and absorbance mode. The obtained FTIR spectra were subsequently subjected to a PCA for pattern recognition. The result of the PCA of the FTIR spectra is capable of distinct identification and classification of the shoe samples into different categories, with over 98% accuracy. The project was used to reinforce organic polymer synthesis, the use of FTIR for structural elucidation of organic molecules in organic chemistry courses, and application of FTIR spectroscopy in instrumental analysis courses, forensic chemistry, and quality control in manufacturing industry. Besides, the project provided hands-on experience for the students on PCA in mathematics courses for real-world analysis of footwear and presented opportunity for students to present their research findings at national research meetings and conferences. Over 85% of SIPRA participants completed their success marker STEM courses without needing to repeat courses, thereby improving the retention and graduation rates of URM in STEM. Overall, the SIPRA program provided hands-on research expedience for 116 URM students. These efforts helped students to develop collaboration and team-building skills, and enhanced their critical thinking, problem solving, leadership, and communication skills.The SIPRA program also provided mentoring and research advisory opportunities from senior students, master graduate students, and postdoctoral associates, thereby improving their leadership skills. The SIPRA program also promoted interdepartmental and interdisciplinary research collaborations among STEM faculty at an HBCU.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; analytical chemistry

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (490 KB) HTML format

Supporting Materials:

One supporting file is available with a list of SIPRA Conference Presentations and SIPRA Peer Reviewed Journal Publications. (83 KB)

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