MPLX G&P donated $12,000 to Southwestern Oklahoma State University for summer undergraduate chemistry research. The grant allows two undergraduate students to conduct a 10-week full-time research program in the laboratory of Dr. Andrew N. Bigley studying the enzymes involved in degradation of organophosphate flame retardants.
“These compounds are used at rates of hundreds of tons per year to limit the flammability of durable plastic and foam products,” said Dr. Bigley. “While of obvious good while contained in the products in question, these compounds leach out over time and have become widespread environmental contaminants. Unfortunately, these compounds are developmental toxins and carcinogens. Identifying and characterizing the enzymes that have evolved to degrade these compounds provides us an opportunity not only to understand the evolutionary process, but also provides the necessary information to allow the development of these enzymes as a biotechnological solution to remove these toxic compounds from the environment.”
“This is such a unique opportunity to partner with the university, as the future of environmentally responsible and safe flame retardants is immeasurably impactful.”
The grant was awarded as a community investment focused on workforce development. This opportunity will allow students to receive extensive training in the advanced techniques available.
“One of the biggest limitations of people completing undergraduate degrees in basic sciences is a lack of training on modern scientific instrumentation and research methodology,” said Dr. Bigley. “The Chemistry Department at Southwestern Oklahoma State University is focused on preparing undergraduate students for careers in chemistry-related fields including petroleum, biotechnology and pharmaceutics.”
The department is equipped with state-of-the-art scientific equipment including broadband NMR (300 MHz), LC/MS, GC/MS, VU/Vis, fluorescence and atomic absorption spectrophotometers, anaerobic gloveboxes, and both HPLC and FPLC.
“This is such a unique opportunity to partner with the university, as the future of environmentally responsible and safe flame retardants is immeasurably impactful. The involvement also holds special sentiment as all of the employees in the Oklahoma MPLX Lab are SWOSU Chemistry alumni,” said Jennifer Hagerman, Chemist and Local Giving Ambassador.
“We know the superior hands-on education and experience the Chemistry Department offers. We are thankful for Marathon to be a part of this opportunity,” said Chemist Gabe Shepherd.