Brady Bresnahan ‘19 describes his work toward cleaner water this summer at the University of Iowa
By Student Fellowships
As the weather turns brisk, we’re looking back to what Carthage students accomplished this summer. We have a long winter ahead of us, but soon it will be time to apply for research fellowships, summer internships, and Carthage’s own Summer Undergraduate Research Experience. So during the month of October, look for stories about how Carthage students spend summer breaks.
Brady Bresnahan ’19
Summer research at the Cwiertny Group at the University of Iowa
Cleaner water was the goal this summer for Brady Bresnahan ’19 as he interned with the Cwiertny Group at the University of Iowa. He worked toward capturing and detecting an industrial waste product called perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in water supplies. These chemicals are dangerous for humans, so it’s important to develop a way to detect and remove them from the water. Brady and his coworkers did this with special polymer mats and various additives intended to absorb the dangerous PFAS.
Brady worked specifically with preparing the mats with the additives and testing which additive worked best to absorb the chemicals. On an average day he would do a variety of different work including synthesizing materials, running experiments to test the various additives, and analyzing how well each one worked. As the research continues, there will be better methods for achieving and maintaining water that is free of these contaminants. In addition to his research, Brady also had a chance to explore the Iowa City area, including the historic Amana Colonies and the Devonian Fossil Gorge.
Brady is from the town of Faribault, Minn. and is double majoring in chemistry and math. In addition, he is on the Carthage Swim and Dive Team and serves as president of the Carthage Chemistry Club and as a math tutor. Last year he participated in summer research at the University of Minnesota which led him to plan for graduate school, but he hadn’t decided on which field until this experience introduced him to chemical engineering.
Summer research can provide more than just a better understanding of a student’s field.
“Perhaps the most valuable thing I learned this summer came from the technical writing and communication workshop,” Brady said. “It really helped me refine my scientific writing and presentation skills.”
He can already see the usefulness of his newly refined skills as he works on his senior theses and starts to pursue graduate school. They emphasized communicating research so that the general public can understand the findings, which was especially important to his work regarding public drinking water. Brady says he would encourage all Carthage students considering graduate school to apply for similar summer research programs, saying “they are extremely enjoyable and give a person a feeling for what graduate school would be like.”