Penn State Fayette student presents research at international conference

LEMONT FURNACE, Pa. — Rachel Hartley, a former Penn State Fayette student from Dilliner, Pennsylvania, recently presented undergraduate research at an international conference, completed under the supervision of Ajaya Warrier, assistant teaching professor of chemistry.

Hartley and Warrier presented their research, titled “Comparative study on the efficiency of metal oxide mixtures for photocatalytic decomposition of organic compounds,” at the Undergraduate Research Poster Symposium at Penn State University Park. They presented additional research, “A combinatorial approach to develop mixed metal oxide photocatalysts consisting of TiO2 and other metal oxides,” at the International Conference on Photochemistry 2019 in July at Boulder, Colorado.

“Effluents from textile, agrochemical, petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries are a major cause of water pollution in developing countries,” said Warrier. “We studied the potential for light to decompose these chemicals. We are trying to develop novel metal oxide catalysts with better optical and semiconductor properties to improve photocatalytic efficiency in decomposing organic pollutants in water. Our strategy is to prepare multiple catalysts and test their efficiencies in a single template.”

Warrier is also conducting research in the areas of organic chemistry, organic photochemistry, and heavy metal remediation of water. Currently two freshman students are continuing this research with Warrier.

Hartley, a graduate of Mapletown Junior/Senior High School, is now a junior biology and psychology student at University Park.

“Dr. Warrier’s mentoring has taught me the importance of scientific research and improved the quality of my laboratory techniques,” said Hartley. “Taking my interests from a lecture setting to physically developing a catalytic system has been incredibly rewarding. Presenting at an international level has been one of my greatest achievements.”

For more information on undergraduate research at Penn State Fayette, visit