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Sara Strobel, left, and Rasha Dubuni meet regularly to perform important research as University of La Verne students, including the purification of drinking water.

Sara Strobel, left, and Rasha Dubuni meet regularly to perform important research as University of La Verne students, including the purification of drinking water.

Research That Matters

University of La Verne chemistry students Rasha Dubuni and Sara Strobel perform ground-breaking work that can improve everyone’s life.

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  • March 4, 2013

Most people don’t know the water they drink every day contains trace amounts of estrogen compounds that remain even after the purification process. This discovery has prompted scientific studies in research labs around the world, including the chemistry lab at the University of La Verne.

Chemistry majors Rasha Dubuni and Sara Strobel, undergrad students in Professor of Chemistry Iraj Parchamazad’s class, are working to address the issue of photo-degradation of organic compounds including estrogen in water, through their own research and experiments.

Undergrad students at the University of La Verne are given the opportunity to address real-life issues using teamwork in Parchamazad’s lab.

“A lot of research being done by the chemistry department has a real application in the world rather than just the scientific aspect of it in abstract,” Dubuni said. “All of the research really has applications to enhance the world, to better it in one way or another.”

Dubuni, a senior, has worked on several projects during her three years at La Verne, mostly involving solar energy and chemistry at nano-Scale.  Strobel has recently teamed up with Dubuni to continue the water research project after Dubuni graduates.

The team’s project centers on researching methods for the removal of hormones in drinking water.

“There are some amounts of it [traces of estrogen] in drinking water and currently there’s no way of getting it out,” Strobel said.

Under the supervision of Parchamazad, the research students are currently working to process two patents based on the results of their experiments.

Dubuni and Strobel both credit the University of La Verne for helping them get into the fields of science they are studying.

“There’s really so many opportunities, that, if you’re a hard worker and a dedicated student, and a dedicated person, then you can grow tremendously, academically, or even personally,“ Dubuni said.

Strobel transferred to the University of La Verne after attending a community college.

“It felt like coming here, I could figure out what I was going to do,” Strobel said. “I knew I wanted to continue taking chemistry classes because it always interested me, so I started in organic with Dr. Parchamazad and he kind of took me under his wing.”

Dubuni appreciates the support and encouragement she has received from Parchamazad for her future plans. She hopes to go into dentistry and has applied to six dental schools in California.

Also thankful for Parchamazad’s encouragement and mentorship, Strobel hopes to attend pharmaceutical school. “I may go into research and development. Doing the research with Rasha has kind of given me a taste of the excitement,” Strobel said.

Strobel said she will continue with the water research and photochemical processes at nano-scale during her junior and senior years.

“Each chemistry student is required to complete a senior project in which the student participates actively in laboratory research,” Parchamazad said. “The research areas of these projects are related to top-of-the-field topics that will provide the springboard from which students can acquire the expertise as professional graduates and become involved in high-tech activities, either at universities or industries.”

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