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11-02-2015

Clarkson University Student Makes Discovery During Internship

Thanks to Clarkson University junior Lindsay Cannistra's expertise in science, a major corporation and its customers can save time, money, and a valuable element called indium.

Lindsay CannistraA chemical engineering major, Cannistra was an intern at the Indium Corporation this summer. She tackled a problem that had stumped the company’s researchers, and found a way to extract indium metal from what previously was a waste product. This was as exciting because indium -- which is used to manufacture popular products such as flat-panel displays -- is an excellent material for reuse. The Indium Corporation is committed to the development of ways to recover or recycle it.

“She did a very good job,” says Todd Ellenor, who directs research and development at Indium Corporation. “Her results are very encouraging and we're continuing with her research. Our customers are happy to get value for their waste product, and we're happy to be able to reclaim indium, which is used to make a wide variety of products.”

Founded in 1934, Indium Corporation has its headquarters in Cannistra's hometown of Clinton, N.Y. The company is a refiner, producer, and supplier of indium and its compounds. Cannistra had been there for career day in high school and had been keeping an eye on the company. In the summer of 2015, Indium Corporation offered 12 internship positions. Cannistra landed one.

“There aren't a lot of intern opportunities there, but I reached out this year and learned of an opening for a chemical engineer technician,” she said. “It's just what I wanted to do.”

Simply put for non-scientists, her project was to come up with a way to extract indium metal from plastic, so she relied on her training from Clarkson and her love of science to achieve her goal. She even wrote a 30-page report on the process she used.

“They were excited and so was I,” she notes.

Ellenor is understandably delighted at his intern's success, saying, “Lindsay's enthusiasm for chemical engineering and her ability at this age is not something we come across very often. We think it's very beneficial for interns to gain experience here and we hope they will come back and work for us some day.”

While it's unusual for a college intern to make a discovery as beneficial as Cannistra's, it doesn't surprise her teacher, Assistant Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Selma Mededovic, a bit.

“I had her in two classes, first as a sophomore in chemical engineering. I knew then she'd do very well. She really stood out. She's a top student in general,” Mededovic says. “She also excelled in thermodynamics, which is a very challenging class. Lindsay clearly is going to be a great engineer and researcher.”

That matches Cannistra's ambition. She's looking forward to starting studies in chemical engineering design next semester and says she loves to do research.

“My project at Indium Corporation was R&D, but my priority is learning as much as I can and knowing how to apply it,” she says.

In the meantime, she's active with the Society of Women Engineers, the service organization Kappa Delta Phi, a dance ensemble and sorority conference work.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Clarkson University chemical engineering major Lindsay Cannistra was an intern at the Indium Corporation this summer. She tackled a problem that had stumped the company’s researchers, and found a way to extract indium metal from what previously was a waste product. Above, Cannistra (left) and her teacher, Assistant Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Selma Mededovic.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/cannistra-mededovic.jpg .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or aharrison@clarkson.edu.]

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