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Senior Analyzes Oyster Shells at Brookhaven Lab

Senior Analyzes Oyster Shells at Brookhaven Lab thumbnail184498

High school research student Gianna Pillitteri presented her research paper, titled “Monitoring Environmental Changes Through the Lens of Oyster Shells From the 1600s Through Today,” on May 17 at Brookhaven National Laboratory’s National Synchrotron Light Source II and Center for Functional Nanomaterials Users’ Meeting. This annual meeting provides scientists with the opportunity to share their work in synchrotron radiation and nanoscale science research.

While participating in BNL’s Student Partnerships for Advanced Research and Knowledge program, Pillitteri has been analyzing oyster shells from the 1600s, 1800s and modern era donated by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in cooperation with Cornell Cooperative Extension Marine Program Director Christopher Pickerell. She analyzed the mineral content of the oyster shells using X-ray diffraction at the X-ray Powder Diffraction beamline at the NSLS-II. She also used X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy at the Tender Energy X-ray Spectroscopy beamline to identify light elements present in the shells. Pillitteri's data analysis is ongoing, but so far she has found that the older shells contain calcium phosphate, a mineral that is not present in the modern-day shells.

“Congratulations to Gianna and her research teacher Mary Kroll for this amazing accomplishment,” said Debbie Langone, West Islip’s director of science and engineering technology.