Sophomore Wins Top Prize Among Analytical Chemistry Presentations at ACS Regional Meeting


MACON – Mercer University sophomore Kaydren Orcutt received the first-place prize among analytical chemistry poster presentations at the 2014 Southeastern Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). The research conference was held Oct. 16-19 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Orcutt is a 2013 Stamps Scholar pursuing a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish in the College of Liberal Arts.

Her poster, titled “Analytical Investigation of a New Biosurfactant,” reported on recent findings about a more environmentally friendly option for the cleanup of oil spills. Specifically, the research pertains to biosurfactants, which are naturally produced, soap-like molecules that enable water and oils to mix. Producing biosurfactants from harmless strains of bacteria may lead to a wide range of agricultural, industrial and environmental applications.

Orcutt presented new data that demonstrates that the biosurfactants produced by a particular bacterial strain perform better than many chemical surfactants already on the market.

This research was performed with Dr. Kathryn Kloepper, assistant professor of chemistry, and in collaboration with Dr. Garland Crawford, assistant professor of chemistry, and Auburn University. The work is supported by the 2013-14 Undergraduate Analytical Research Program Grant, which was awarded to Dr. Kloepper by the Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh in May 2014.

“This award to Kaydren is great recognition not only for the project but also for all of the work she put in to preparing for this research conference. She is a dedicated research student, and I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in the coming semesters,” said Dr. Kloepper.

Two additional Mercer undergraduates, Arthur Paden King, a senior pursuing his Bachelor of Science in chemistry and Bachelor of Arts in English, and Justis Ward, a sophomore pursuing his Bachelor of Science in chemistry with a minor in creative writing, contributed to this research project and were co-authors on the presentation. Orcutt and Ward are students in the University Honors Program.

The American Chemical Society is a congressionally chartered independent member organization that represents professionals at all degree levels and in all fields of chemistry and sciences that involve chemistry. For more information, visit

Kyle is senior director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he serves as editor of the Mercerian alumni magazine and News@Mercer e-newsletters, and he coordinates hometown and university news releases.