Metrohm USA celebrates 10th annual young chemist award winner

Metrohm USA is pleased to announce the winner of its 2022 Young Chemist Award, Colby Ott. Colby is a Ph.D. candidate at West Virginia University's Forensic and Investigative Science Department in Morgantown, West Virginia, where his research centers around developing novel methods for screening seized drugs. His work aims to provide reliable and rapid detection in the laboratory and the field, with future applications in forensics, clinical healthcare, and toxicology.

Colby Ott, Ph.D. candidate at West Virginia University's Forensic and Investigative Science Department in Morgantown. Image Credit: Metrohm USA Inc.

The entrance of fentanyl analogs and other novel psychoactive substances into the drug market made accurate screening and identification of these drugs using typical methods difficult. Rapid and reliable detection of illegal drugs is an essential task to deliver timely investigative information, inform future analyses, and improve the safety of laboratory personnel, first-responders, and crime scene investigators.

Using electrochemistry and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (EC-SERS), Colby’s research aims to provide an effective and selective method for detecting fentanyl, its analogs, and other drugs of abuse in seized samples. EC-SERS is a fast, inexpensive, and more efficient platform than current methods, improving positive identifications and reducing laboratory backlogs and costs. Future applications may include use in forensic, clinical, and point-of-care analyses and settings.

Colby will accept his $10,000 award at Metrohm USA’s headquarters, make a brief presentation about his research work, and participate in a short Q&A session on April 19. A video of this session will be available after the event’s conclusion.

Two $2,000 runner-up prizes were awarded to Gabriel Cerron-Calle from Arizona State University for his research on nano-enabled bimetallic electrodes for sustainable ammonia production by electrocatalytic nitrate reduction, and Ivneet Kaur Banga from the University of Texas at Dallas for her work on passive breath profiling for ultrasensitive detection of endogenously produced VOCs using electrochemical methods.

Metrohm USA has awarded the Young Chemist Award for ten consecutive years. This award is open to all undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate and doctorate students residing and studying in the U.S. and Canada, who are performing novel research in the fields of titration, ion chromatography, spectroscopy and electrochemistry.


Metrohm USA Inc.

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