UMBS is pleased to introduce our new full-time Analytical Chemist, Kate Hogan. Hogan will succeed her colleague Tim Veverica, who has run the lab to great success since 2015.
Staff writer Jenny Kalejs asked Hogan a few questions about her background in chemistry, her history at UMBS, plans for her new role, and life in northern Michigan.
KALEJS: Tell me a bit about your history with Director Nadelhoffer’s lab and the analytical lab at UMBS.
HOGAN: “My first experience at UMBS was during my semester as a UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunity) student in Knute's lab in 2015. That fall, I visited the station to collect litterfall from the traps at the burnplots.
As my time in Nadelhoffer Lab wrapped up, [former Nadelhoffer lab manager] Jim LeMoine suggested that I apply to the Chem Tech position. My first summer at the station, the lab was nothing like it is now. It was on the ground floor, across from the computer lab. We only had one mass spectrometer! With such a small lab, there was only a need for one technician, so it was just Tim and myself. I returned for the following year as a chem tech for the entire time.
My third year in the lab, I split between being the teaching assistant for the chemistry course during spring term and returning to my position as a tech in summer. It was during that summer that I started analyzing lead/heavy metal samples for Freshwater Future (FWF). I had just graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Chemical Science in April (2018), and Freshwater Future and Tim were discussing starting a PFAS testing program [more about UMBS’s partnership with Freshwater Future]. I took a little time off to travel the country before returning on Jan. 2, 2019 as Quality Control Chemist for FWF.
Even though I have wrapped up my work as FWF's chemist, I still plan on supporting their efforts. The lab will continue to host a FWF chemist to run the PFAS testing program and to connect with the Pellston community over their concerns regarding local contamination."
KALEJS: What's cool about operating a sophisticated analytical lab embedded within a remote and rustic field station? What are the challenges?
HOGAN: "The coolest thing about this lab is also the biggest challenge. Being located so far north of the main campus, much of the maintenance and repairs need to be managed in-house. It just isn't convenient or time efficient to call service technicians to do the work unless all other options have been exhausted! Fortunately, I've found that troubleshooting and learning the inner workings of the analytical instruments is one of my favorite aspects of the job. I wasn't taught how to do this in college, but I've gained a new appreciation and understanding of my instrumentation because of it."
KALEJS: What excites you most about this new role?
HOGAN: "I'm especially excited to work with students again! I didn't have as much interaction with them this past year while I was focused on the PFAS work. I really look forward to hearing their ideas for research projects and helping them develop those ideas to collect meaningful data. The more creative the students are with their projects, the more exciting my work is!"
KALEJS: What do you like to do for fun in northern Michigan?
HOGAN: "Living in northern Michigan year-round, you have to develop both summer and winter hobbies. Since I'm not a skier, I get really into knitting and cooking in the winter (and any other activity that I can accomplish in front of a warm fire). I also enjoy snowshoeing, especially right after a big snowfall. Even though summer is my busiest time of the year in the lab, I still like to find time on the weekends to hang out at the beach in Sturgeon Bay and canoe in some of the smaller inland lakes. I will also be helping my partner Jac's mother get her cut-flower business going this summer, so lots of time in the garden and selling flowers at the farmer's market!"
For more about the analytical chemistry lab, visit the UMBS website.