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Creighton is among only 90 universities in the country recognized for undergraduate opportunities for research, according to U.S. News & World Report. Here’s a snapshot of one student’s research project.

Title of Research

“Mobile Phone-Based Electrochemiluminescent Detection of Biogenic Amines”

Student Researcher

Nic Heckenlaible; junior, majoring in chemistry with a minor in computer science; Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Faculty Mentor

Erin Gross, PhD, professor of chemistry

What It Means

Heckenlaible’s research involved mobile phone technology for detecting biogenic amines in food. Biogenic amines are compounds that are found in spoiled food and can cause illness; typically, analysis in a laboratory is necessary to detect the illness-causing elements. Electrochemiluminescent (ECL) detection has been successful in laboratories, but recently a mobile phone camera ECL system, which would eliminate the need for a lab, has shown promise. A Ferlic Summer Scholarship allowed Heckenlaible to study and improve upon this new technology. He designed, 3D printed, implemented and evaluated a light-tight casing for a phone-based detection system. Development of a fully portable phone-based field kit could provide lifesaving prevention of food-borne illness, especially in developing countries.