Adan Villeda

Class of 2023-2024

Wabash College

Why did you choose ESTEEM?

I chose ESTEEM because it allows me to blend my technical chemistry skills with my interest in business. The program's multidisciplinary approach aligns perfectly with my desire to leverage my scientific expertise within a business context.

What is your Capstone Project and why are you excited about it?

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) encompass thousands of human-manufactured chemicals containing fluorine that persistently linger in the environment and human body, potentially causing adverse health effects. The current state-of-the-art technique for quantifying PFAS presence in water samples is liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). This requires developing numerous native and isotopically labeled PFAS standards across a spectrum and extensive chromatographic separation to pinpoint specific PFAS compounds out of a library of known chemical structures. Consequently, LC-MS/MS is inherently expensive and slow due to these meticulous sample preparation and separation steps prerequisite to PFAS identification. Moreover, LC-MS/MS is limited to detecting only PFAS compositions it has been calibrated for, blinding it to thousands of unidentified PFAS varieties. Many such undetected PFAS may be precursors that degrade into well-characterized, regulated PFAS over time. Forever Analytical Services (FAS) has pioneered a novel, patented technique for swift, affordable high-throughput PFAS screening in water using particle-induced gamma-ray emission (PIGE) spectroscopy. Their streamlined approach entails solid phase extraction of water samples, followed by proton beam bombardment to incite gamma-ray emissions. By quantifying total fluorine, PIGE sensitively measures overall PFAS content without necessitating a library of PFAS standards for identification. This game-changing technology enables rapid proactive screening for PFAS contamination.

What do you hope to do after ESTEEM?

After ESTEEM, my goal is to develop the necessary skills to bring new innovations into the world, in a way that can benefit my community, field, and career.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time I enjoy working out, golfing, and literally sitting down enjoying the outdoors.

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