A Ball State student created a chemical process that both repurposes an industrial product and cleans heavy metals from water.

This win-win for the environment earned Logan Eder a spot among the nine winners at the annual Ball State University student symposium in April.

The Indianapolis native is a second-year master’s student in chemistry who started her project after hearing about the environmental-related lab research conducted by Dr. Courtney Jenkins, an assistant professor of chemistry. She saw it as an opportunity to make a tangible effect on the environment with her skills.

Her project, “Inverse Vulcanization of Sulfur and Charged Monomers to Enhance Solubility and Create Inexpensive Metal Binding Materials,” involved transforming elemental sulfur and charged monomers into a material that purifies water. Eder created high-sulfur content, water-soluble polymers powerful enough to help remove heavy metals, like cadmium, from water.

After further stages of research and experimentation, Eder and Jenkins envision the thick, goop-like material to be used at the sources of contamination — like a mining operation — to treat water before it’s released to other sites.

Eder’s passion for saving the environment was sparked by years of working at a Boy Scout camp and continues to grow, thanks to the support of her professors, she said.

“My adviser, Dr. Jenkins, and the entire chemistry department at Ball State have been conducive to my growth as a chemist. They work extremely hard to help us students succeed and find us opportunities to showcase our work at local and national levels,” Eder said. “I felt so proud to exhibit my work at the student symposium, and felt even more honored to have been recognized as one of the winners.”