For Nico Terreros, a scientific breakthrough began with a conversation.
Working together with organic chemistry professor Andrew Roberts, Terreros created an instrument that is based on a common practice in organic chemistry known as thin layer chromatography. Thin layer chromatography is used to separate various components of compounds of a chemical mixture. This provides qualitative data related to the composition of a sample of interest. With Terreros’ instrument, quantitative data, such as relative amounts of compounds in a sample, can be accurately measured and conclusions can be drawn.
“I wouldn’t say it’s anything super big or super ground shifting or anything like that. It’s just a small little step toward convenience, and you’d be surprised how much just the little things do stack up over time,” Terreros said.
The idea didn’t come from a plan to make something marketable. Instead, Roberts remarked on wanting technology to simplify the thin layer chromatography process, and Terreros saw an opportunity to apply his coding skills. Terreros’ research took him everywhere, including to a great group of researchers who became like a family to him.
“I couldn’t have done it without my research group. It was my research group that gave me the support that I needed to move forward,” Terreros said. “You’re always just trying to get that next footing and move forward, and it was through them and through professor Roberts that I was able to really hit my stride and just move.”
Find this article and a lot more in the 2021 “Student Innovation @ the U” report. The publication is presented by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute to celebrate student innovators, change-makers, and entrepreneurs.