Monday, July 7, 2014

Faces of SRAP: Brian Nussbaum and Paul Mesa

Brian Nussbaum, a senior from Green River, WY and Paul Mesa, a senior from Riverside, CA, have both found an interest in Chemical and Petroleum Engineering this summer. Brian and Paul are working in Dr. John Oakey’s lab, with graduate student Ben Noren, in the Chemical and Petroleum Engineering department, studying microfluidics.

“Right now we’re basically doing introductory experiments, like permeation, diffusion and viscosity,” says Paul. “Once we go through those we’re going to have kind of a background knowledge of chemical engineering on a microfluidic scale and then we’re going to use that knowledge to develop our own project and perform our own experiment.”

Brian enjoys learning new things, and building his project from the ground up. He hopes to gain knowledge that can be used for real-world application while in Dr. Oakey’s lab.
From left to right:
John Oakey, Ben Noren, Paul Mesa and Brian Nussbaum

“My favorite part of my project is making the devices, like cutting them out and poking holes in them,” Brian says. “I hope to learn how fluid reacts in different channels so we can make sewer systems better or pipes better for towns and cities.”

Like Brian, Paul also likes doing lab work. He enjoys working with new equipment and gaining experience with research in a hands-on way.

“It’s really neat working with all of the devices that you don’t see in high school,” says Paul. “We didn’t do any labs in the high school chemistry class I took, so it’s nice being in the lab and being exposed to research.”

Because of their research project, Brian and Paul are learning a lot about microfluidics, something that most students their age don’t get the chance to study.

“General concepts of microfluidics are something that these guys are going to become very good at, and have become quite good at already,” says Ben. “There’s not a lot of people who work on microfluidics, so it’s kind of a neat thing to learn about and get good at.”

SRAP is a six-week, intensive research program for high school students. It is based at the University of Wyoming and is sponsored by Wyoming EPSCoR. To learn more about the program, click here, or search "SRAP" in the archives. 

By Robin Rasmussen
Photo by Robert Waggener

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