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10th Annual Young Chemist Award Winner, Colby Ott

Metrohm USA has presented this esteemed award for over 10 years and continues to reward outstanding research performed by the brightest of minds throughout the United States and Canada.
Colby Ott

West Virginia University’s Forensic and Investigative Science Department

Research Title: Forensic Identification of Seized Drugs Utilizing In-situ Electrochemical-Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (EC-SERS)

Summary: The entrance of fentanyl analogs and other novel psychoactive substances into the drug market made accurate screening and identification of these drugs using typical methods difficult. Rapid and reliable detection of illegal drugs is an essential task to deliver timely investigative information, inform future analyses, and improve the safety of laboratory personnel, first responders and crime scene investigators.

Using electrochemistry and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (EC-SERS), Colby’s research aims to provide an effective and selective method for detecting fentanyl, its analogs, and other drugs of abuse in seized samples. EC-SERS is a fast, inexpensive, and more efficient platform than current methods, improving positive identifications and reducing laboratory backlogs and costs. Future applications may include use in forensic, clinical and point-of-care analyses and settings.