Greta Olsen

Photo of Greta

February 2022 Student Spotlight

Department: Chemical Engineering

Describe your research/creative scholarship in a few sentences that we can all understand: I am working as a part of Project Earth, which has the goal of separating refrigerant mixtures so that the components can be recycled instead of released to the atmosphere. I am using a view cell to visually determine how ionic liquids, which can be used as a method of refrigerant separation, change phases in the presence of these refrigerant gases.


Q: What does your research look like on a day-to-day basis? What do you spend most of your time doing?

A: Most experiments I conduct run for several days, so I come in the lab several times a day to check on the progress, load a new sample, or change the temperature or pressure of the system. Luckily a camera collects most of the data so I don't have to stay in the lab all day! Once an experiment is over, I spend time looking through and organizing all the images taken which can be the most time-consuming aspect. Then I make guesses as to what may be occurring in each image and talk about the results with my mentors. I also spend time reading literature related to ionic liquids so that I can be prepared to write a publication with my results.


Q: Who mentors your project?

A: Prof. Mark Shiflett and Kalin Baca.


Q: What surprised you about doing a larger research or creative project?

A: I think what surprised me the most about a larger research project is how open ended it is. Even when you know what questions you want to ask, designing experiments around the questions requires so much planning and research.


Q:What did you find most challenging about getting involved in or doing your project? What advice would you offer to students facing similar challenges?

A: The most challenging part of doing my project is fitting it in with school work. It can be hard to prioritize research work when the timelines are more flexible than typical assignments and tests. My best advice would be to set aside dedicated time for research work, rather than only doing research work when you don't have any other work to do.


Q: What do you like most about your project?

A: My favorite thing about my project is seeing how it has come together and evolved over the year I have been working on it. The project has gone from just a few trial runs trying to figure out equipment to a full on project with a streamlined procedure and real results.


Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not working on your project?

A: When I am not working on my project or school work, I like to read, bake, and spend time outdoors. I am also a member of KU's Division I Swim and Dive team, so I spend a lot of time in the water training and competing.


Instagram: @gretaolsn