Sara K. Poehlein (Pliskin)
Alion Science, Newport, IN
Research Chemist

Chemistry B.S., 1994
Ph.D. Purdue University, 1999

After I obtained my Bachelor's degree in Chemistry from Indiana State in 1994, I continued my education at Purdue University to obtain a Ph.D. I felt that I was very competitive with other graduate students and that I had obtained a strong foundation in chemistry which enabled me to conduct research and act as a teaching assistant at Purdue University. I never once felt that I was inadequately prepared for graduate studies just because I came from a smaller university. I obtained my doctorate in 1999 in analytical chemistry with a research thesis in mass spectrometry. After graduation I took a job with Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division as an analytical chemist. For the first year, I worked in the Explosive Sciences Branch which specialized in failure analysis. I worked on instruments such as HPLC, ICP, Ion-exchange chromatography (IEC), and a variety of thermal equipment (DSC, DTA, TGA) to assess the cause of munition failures.

I then moved to the Demil Technology office in the Environmental and Chemical Sciences Branch. My job required that I look at current technologies to reduce the outdated or off-spec. munition items, called demil stock, in cost-effective and environmentally-friendly ways. I also worked on methods to recover magnesium metal from illuminating candles. I had to use wet chemistry to quantify the purity of the recovered Mg. Chemistry is also used to develop technologies to determine the properties of chemicals in the demil munition items. In this job I had the opportunity to travel, and I was able to work as independently as I wanted to.

I recently turned from the government sector to the private sector. I work as a Research Chemist for Alion Science at Newport, IN. Alion Science is the contract lab that analyzes the hydrolysate end-product from the Newport VX neutralization process. My duties include method development, trouble-shooting, and business development. The lab currently utilizes GC's (FID, FPD), GC/MS, and LC/MS.