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Kildonan East Students do Lab Activity at CBST

June 14, 2013

a11120+ students from Kildonan East Collegiate toured the life sciences facilities (Pharma, QA, and CBST) at Red River College.  They then participated in an Eppendorf standardization exercise with CBST faculty and discovered that analytical precision can be a challenge indeed. In addition, they also determined that a number of samples were spiked to ensure analyst integrity.  Prizes were awarded and report having a good time.

Rocket Science in Manitoba

June 7, 2013

The Chemistry/Bioscience students are away this month, working hard at their respective co-op placements. We hope to soon bring you some news about the work our students are doing, but, in the interim and just for fun, here’s some interesting information that many people

Canada's Black Brant rocket

Canada’s Black Brant rocket

don’t know about science in Manitoba.

Nestled among the canola fields of the Rockwood municipality a half hour north of Winnipeg is the Bristol Aerospace Propellant Plant. This plant is the only large scale commercial manufacturer of rockets in Canada. Opened in 1962, the plant makes a wide variety of solid propellant rockets, including the CRV7, the CL289 and the Black Brant. The Black Brant (pictured) is a so-called “sounding” rocket, used to explore atmospheric phenomena. It has been in production at the plant for decades and is still used by NASA. When combined with other stages, the Black Brant can reach altitudes of over 1000 km, allowing payloads to experience periods of microgravity or follow chemical reactions in the upper atmosphere.

As with the other Bristol rockets, the Black Brant is powered by the industry standard AP/HTPB propellant based on ammonium perchlorate mixed with polybutadiene. The Brant is particularly popular with researchers due to its very high reliability: over 800 have been launched over the years, with a 98% success rate!

AOAC Day Upcoming

May 31, 2013

On June 6th, the local chapter of the AOAC (the Association of Official Analytical aoac logo 2Communities) will hold its annual “AOAC Day” in Winnipeg, at the Victoria Inn on Wellington. The day will feature technical presentations, free training sessions, equipment displays, a buffet lunch and much more, including a fascinating talk by Dr. Ed Cloutis of the University of Winnipeg, entitled “Exploring Mars with the Curiosity rover: analytical capabilities and latest results.” Registration is only $25 at the door. For more information about the local AOAC and AOAC day, follow this link.

As well, you can find the latest (May 2013) AOAC newsletter here.

Chemical and Bioscience Technology students will present research findings at the 2013 Mid Canada AOAC day

May 24, 2013

Students working on preparing samples for their HPLC analysis

Students working on preparing samples for their HPLC analysis

One group of second year students from the Chemical and Biosciences Technology program continued the research started by faculty members Michael Judge and Curtis Aab using Ethyl Lactate (EL) as an HPLC solvent. This work was conducted as part of the new Research Project course recently added to the program. The students explored the use of EL with a new analyte which was methocarbamol , an over the counter (OTC) drug used to treat back pain.

As part of their work the students developed a research proposal, provided ongoing updates of their results, and prepared a final report and presentation. The research was successful as they were able to analyze a finished product, Robaxacet that contained both methocarbamol and acetaminophen. As a starting point the students modified an existing method from the USP (United States Pharmacopeia) for analyzing methocarbamol. They increased the efficiency of this method because the EL mobile phase yielded a shorter run time while still producing well resolved analyte peaks. This project also created the opportunity for future Chemical and Bioscience Technology students to continue this research next year.

The students have accepted the opportunity to present their research at the 2013 Mid-Canada AOAC day on Thursday, June 6th, 2013.

Chem/Bio Gains ICP Technology

May 17, 2013

The Optima 8000

The Optima 8000

The Chemical/Biosciences instrumental laboratory recently gained a valuable new tool: a Perkin Elmer Optima 8000 ICP-OES spectrometer. ICP is an acronym for “inductively coupled plasma,” while OES stands for “optical emission spectroscopy.” OES is a method of analyzing chemical mixtures or solutions to determine concentrations of trace elements. In this technique, a sample of the material being analyzed is energized to excite its atoms. Since the excited atoms of each element emit light at specific characteristic wavelengths, the presence and the amounts of various elements can be determined by monitoring the emitted light. Some instruments use the heat of a flame to excite the sample, but ICP uses a “plasma” made of ionized argon gas energized by an electromagnetic field.

One of the most important features of an ICP instrument is its very low detection limit. An ICP can typically detect the presence of analytes, such as arsenic or lead in drinking water, at concentrations below one part per billion. When you consider that one part per billion is the equivalent of one second out of a time span of 32 years, the amazing ability of this instrument becomes obvious.

The department is excited about having this new instrument on board and to be able to allow students to gain some valuable hands-on experience in this state-of-the-art analytical technology.

Canadian Journal of Chemistry Publication

May 9, 2013

Solvatochromism was used to determine the polarity of ethyl lactate.

Solvatochromism was used to determine the polarity of ethyl lactate.

Red River College encourages instructional staff to undertake original research and, last year, faculty in the chemical and biosciences program spent some time looking at ways to improve a common analytical method. High performance liquid chromatography, or HPLC, is very widely used in chemical labs and processing facilities to separate and analyze chemical mixtures. However, most HPLC systems employ liquid solvents, such as methanol, which are often toxic.

Curtis Aab and Michael Judge were curious as to whether these toxic solvents could be replaced with a different, more environmentally-friendly liquid. They used ethyl lactate, a solvent which is so safe that it can be applied as an ingredient in cosmetics and foods. Research at the College demonstrated that ethyl lactate could indeed replace methanol when analyzing different pharmaceutical compounds using an officially approved HPLC method. Subsequent work by chemical/biosciences students extended the range of pharmaceuticals which can be analyzed using ethyl lactate. These findings could potentially allow at least some of the thousands of HPLC systems worldwide to transition to a “greener” process.

The research results were accepted for publication in the Canadian Journal of Chemistry and appeared in the May 2013 issue under the title “Ethyl lactate as an environmentally friendly HPLC mobile-phase modifier in the analysis of acetaminophen, caffeine, and ASA.” A link to the journal website is provided below.

Chemical and Biosciences Students Present Research Projects

May 2, 2013

A student discusses dye oxidation results.

A student discusses dye oxidation results.

This April, the second year students of the Chemical and Biosciences Co-op diploma program presented the results of their independent research projects, representing many hours of hard work over the preceding four months. Each group of students worked independently under the supervision of a faculty member to perform a unique project designed to investigate various aspects of chemical or biological sciences. The projects were extremely varied and represented the wide array of skills taught in the program. The topics investigated were:

  • Testing rice for arsenic using inductively coupled plasma – optical emission spectroscopy
  • Environmentally-friendly oxidation of dyes in wastewater via tungstate-catalyzed peroxide
  • Antimicrobial properties of plant extracts
  • Genetically modified foods in common grocery products
  • Rates of methicillin-resistant bacteria in the general population
  • A “green” solvent for use in liquid chromatography

Students presented a number of surprising and interesting findings, including evidence that at least one brand of “organic” snack foods contained genetically modified corn. Some of the student groups may go on to present their work at the upcoming Association of Analytical Communities (AOAC) event, June 6th at the Victoria Inn, right here in Winnipeg.

Celebrate National Nursing Week with Us

April 15, 2013

Please join us for displays and a pizza lunch in the library hallway May 6th and 7th, as our students and faculty showcase Nursing: A Leading Force for Change.








Nursing Faculty Receive Awards from College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba

April 15, 2013

The College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba (CRNM) will be honouring two of our nursing faculty with awards on Thursday May 9. Winn Briscoe and Leslie Walsh will be presented with the Award of Excellence in Nursing Education.  The award presentation and dinner is at Canad Inns Polo Park from 5:00-9:00. Tickets are available from or (204) 789-0662. No reserved seating. The order deadline is May 2nd.

Congratulations Winn and Leslie!

RRC Nursing Instructors Present at WNRCASN Conference

April 10, 2013

The Western North-Western Region Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (WNRCASN) recently held their annual nurse educators’ conference in Edmonton on February 21-23, 2013. This conference facilitated the sharing of ideas, strategies, philosophies, and research findings to develop the scholarship of nursing. Several RRC nursing faculty presented at the conference and a brief description of their projects is included.

  • Building Self-Efficacy In Scholarly Writing In First Year Nursing Students (Author: Kim Mitchell)

The complex task of researching and writing a scholarly paper is anxiety provoking for students. This presentation detailed the process of developing a course in scholarly writing within the context of delivering course material to an audience of 150-200 students. Preliminary research findings regarding the course’s influence on anxiety and self-efficacy were also presented.

  • Arts-based Learning: Creating Art to Reflect on Practice, Reflecting on Art to Inform Practice (Authors: Kendra Rieger, Luanne Hill, Joanne Loughery)

Arts-based learning is an innovative teaching strategy in which learning is designed to occur through the use of one or more art form(s) integrated with subject matter from another academic discipline. This presentation discussed two arts based learning exemplars and the potential for arts-based learning in the current nursing curriculum.

  • Arts-based Learning: Analysis of the Concept for Nursing Education (Presented by: Kendra Rieger; Authors: Kendra Rieger and Dr. Wanda Chernomas — University of Manitoba)

There is a call for a significant shift in curricula away from content focused designs and towards developing environments in which learning processes are emphasized and active student engagement is fostered. Arts-based learning (ABL) is an innovative strategy which engages learners and simultaneously connects thoughts with feelings as part of the learning process.  This presentation focuses on a concept analysis of ABL within the nursing education environment.

  • Using Client Actors in Nursing Education: The Highest Kind of Fidelity (Authors: Karlene Cifuentes, Brenda Enns, Richel Roque, Jennifer Otto)

The new Baccalaureate Nursing program at Red River College identified a need to integrate a wide variety of innovative teaching approaches.  Using client actors in nursing clinical simulation was one such teaching approach. This presentation discussed the process of integrating client actors into nursing education, the difference between client actor scenarios and standard case studies, and future directions with the approach.

  • Professional Identity Development in Nursing Education: A Study in Progress (Presented by Brenda Enns; Authors: Brenda Enns, Virginia Vandall-Walker — Athabaska University)

Positive Proffessional Nursing Identity (PNI) development has been associated with greater satisfaction with one’s work and improved patient outcomes. This presentation focused on preliminary findings from a qualitative grounded theory investigation into positive PNI which has the potential to inform educational and clinical practice changes that could promote new graduates’ abilities to consolidate and enact positive PNIs in practice.