The pharmaceutical industry is littered with different drugs and different versions of those drugs. While most ingredients serve a purpose, sometimes, the pharmaceuticals manufacturers buy ingredients that are of low-quality or even inactive that lower the effectiveness of the drug.To solve this issue, Saint Mary’s professor of chemistry and physics Toni Barstis worked with Notre Dame professor of chemistry and biochemistry Marya Lieberman, Notre Dame Duda Family professor of engineering Patrick Flynn and a team of Saint Mary’s researchers to develop a device that detects these ingredients — a device which received the first patent ever awarded to Saint Mary’s.The patent is for a Paper Analytical Device (PAD), a chemically-treated card-like device that can can detect multiple chemical components in a pill or capsule, including substitute drugs or fillers that may be added in place of an active ingredient.The PAD is first treated with reagents, chemicals which help detect the chemical composition of pharmaceuticals. It then is scraped across the suspicious drug and subsequently dipped in water. The water moves up the device and allows the chemicals and the drugs to mix. This reaction produces colors which indicate the composition of the pharmaceutical.Barstis said she was inspired to research the PAD after she audited a fabrication course at Notre Dame.“I simply fell in love with devices,” she said. “I wanted to explore ways to combine my love of chemistry with my new love of fabricating devices, so I reached out to my friend at NDnano, affiliated faculty member Dr. Marya Lieberman. Together, we developed what is now referred to as the ‘PADs Project.’”Receiving a patent for the first time felt “fantastic,” she said.“For me, this was a dream come true.”According to Barstis, the Saint Mary’s team that worked on the PADs project is currently working on two more projects. They are screening over 600 pharmaceutical samples collected in Nepal this past summer and examining a second patent application for the College, which involves a different fabrication and design of a PAD.Tags: PAD, paper analytic device, patent, saint mary’s
Sammy Walker is decidedly content for a man who, forty years ago, nearly had it all.Walker had two records out on a major label and his work drew comparisons with the likes of Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie. And then, things changed. His label and the whimsy of the fickle listening public shifted their attentions away from folk music and towards disco and pop in the mid-seventies and, suddenly, Sammy Walker’s music wasn’t drawing much attention anymore and he found himself without a record deal.Fast forward some twenty years. Walker moved to North Carolina to care for his wife’s mother in 1996, his music career seemingly a thing of the past. Walker soon crossed paths with Dolph Ramseur, who would later found Ramseur Records and play an instrumental role in sending The Avett Brothers to greatness. Ramseur was a fan of his music and asked Walker to play his thirtieth birthday party. Thus began a nearly two decade friendship and another record from Walker, 2008’s Misfit Scarecrow.This month, Ramseur Records released Brown Eyed Georgia Darlin’, a collection of songs and demos Walker recorded forty years ago.This record, which should have sparked a keen interest in Walker’s music, shall now – four decades later – lead new listeners back to one of Americana’s unsung folk heroes.I chatted this week with Sammy Walker about his music, the past, and what the release of this record could mean for him.BRO – Can you describe how you felt when you held your first very own guitar and began your musical journey?SW – We had guitars around the house since I was a little kid. I had a small one when I was four or five years old, but I had never really learned to play. I got my first real guitar at Christmas when I was thirteen. My mom and dad sent me for guitar lessons at a little music store, but that only lasted about a year, because I broke my hand playing baseball. But I had always loved music. From the time I was really little, I would spend hours and hours listening to records. Early rock and roll, country, and pop music. When I finally learned to a few chords a could play a little bit, it was really exciting to me. I just kept at it all through my life.BRO – How important has Dolph Ramseur been to you and your music in recent years?SW – I made my first record in 1975 and by 1979 had made three more. I didn’t have record another until 1990. That was a long hiatus and I wasn’t doing much musically. But Dolph had gotten his hands on my records. The first time he heard me, he was in a record store in Winston-Salem. He knew the guy who ran the store, and the guy told him that he had a record Dolph needed to hear. It was the first record I had cut for Warner Brothers. The guy played some and Dolph really fell for it. It was the kind of music he liked it and the guy gave him the record. He didn’t even make him pay for it. I’m not sure he got my number, but he called me in 1999 and told me he had my records and asked me if I would be interested in playing at his 30th birthday party. I did, and we have been friends for seventeen years. Dolph credits me with giving him a push into the music business. He was interested in starting his own company and I told him he should do it. And he did. For me, this is my second record that he has put out. He is doing it for me, not for commercial success, and I am lucky to have gotten to know him.BRO – You ever spend time thinking on what might have been?SW – I used to. I recorded my first record for Warner Brothers forty years ago, in May of 1976. When things didn’t develop and take off the way I thought they were going to, it was kind of depressing for a long time. That album, I think, just didn’t get the attention it should have. It got good reviews, and I recorded with some of the best musicians in the world, like James Burton, who played guitar with Elvis Presley. I think it should have gotten a heck of lot more attention than it did. My second record with Warner Brothers was also really good. One guy wrote that there was a perfect storm of things that went wrong for me. But I don’t dwell on it anymore. I am grateful for having the opportunity to do it and I am happy my old music is getting attention now.BRO – Now that Brown Eyed Georgia Darlin’ has been released, is there a sense that the circle is now complete, or do you see this as a new beginning?SW – Time will tell if it garners new attention or not. I recorded these songs forty years ago, and almost all of them ended up on my first record for Warner Brothers. But then the music scene changed. I have been away from it all for so long, but maybe now there will be some interest from a younger generation of fans that will like it. I hope it is a new beginning.Sadly, Sammy Walker isn’t performing live anymore. Don’t let that stop you from delving into his catalog, though. Check out Spotify for his entire collection of records, and then make your way to your favorite local record shop. If you’re lucky, you might come across Blue Ridge Mountain Skyline or his eponymous debut on vinyl. Either record would be a musical journey well worth the time, and, like Dolph Ramseur, you might catch the store owner feeling particularly generous.And be sure to check out “Brown Eyed Georgia Darlin’” on this month’s Trail Mix.
I started wearing one of those fitness trackers recently—the kind of watch that monitors the number of steps you take in a day, keeps track of your various workouts and monitors your sleep patterns. I’m admittedly late to the game with these wearable fitness trackers, as it seems like every grandma in the grocery store is checking her Fitbit for a step count. I pride myself on being a late adopter to most technology, jumping on the bandwagon just as the technical trend is about to be usurped by something better. See my Napster account and state of the art VHS/TV combo as proof. But when I finally do adopt yesterday’s hot trend, I go all in. It took me a long time to acquiesce to Strava, but now I can’t imagine taking a ride without turning it on. If I’m not going for KOM, then what’s the point? So, I’ve been geeking out on this fitness tracker, digging into all of the data that it’s been collecting on me throughout each day. I’ve learned that I don’t walk nearly as much as I should. I’m lucky to reach half of my 10,000-step goal on any given day, largely because I work from home and going back and forth between the fridge and the couch doesn’t add up to a lot of steps. I’ve learned that swimming for 30 minutes and running for 30 minutes burn about the same amount of calories. I’ve learned that there’s no reason for me to be tired every day, because I actually get way more deep sleep than the average adult. It’s fun to get nerdy on all the data these fitness trackers can mine from your day, but much like Strava, there’s a dark side. It’s turning every aspect of my life into a competition. I find myself taking the long way to the refrigerator in order to log more steps than I logged yesterday. I want that digital badge the fitness tracker’s app sends me when I finally meet my step goal. I hear it’s amazing. I can take a look at a week’s worth of sleep and eliminate the factors that led to a restless night in bed. Now I know that when I have three cocktails at 10pm, I get much less deep sleep. I want that deep sleep badge, so I cut out the cocktails. This is what you’re supposed to do with a fitness tracker. Analyze the data and make adjustments to be the best version of yourself. On the surface, this sort of competition is good. The fitness tracker is making me walk more. Rumor has it that walking is healthy. But it’s also exhausting. Not the actual walking, but the caring about the walking. That’s what’s exhausting. Giving a shit. Giving every aspect of your life a goal, from your sleep to the number of bowel movements you have in a day, then obsessing over hitting those goals…that’s exhausting and I’d argue pretty unhealthy. Granted, that obsession is all on me. I’m the one that’s turning every aspect of my day into a competition. That’s a my bad situation, but the fitness tracking industry is definitely an enabler here. Still, I dig having all that data at my disposal. Although I feel there’s an aspect to these wearables that’s missing. They can count calories and log steps and measure heart rate, but they can’t quantify stoke. That feeling you get before going over a big drop on a mountain bike, or riding the first chair on a ski lift, or waxing your board on the beach before hitting the water…that combination of fear, excitement and anticipation. Imagine a wearable that tracks the number of times you’re stoked in a day. That’s a better measurement of a healthy life. Show me a tracker that can do that, and I’ll happily fork over my hard-earned money for it. Eventually. Just before it’s being replaced by something better.