NOVEMBER 12, 2008

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Chemistry Professionals Prepare Lab at OPSU

The employment of professional staff for the Murphy-Brown LLC Water Quality Testing Laboratory located inside the new Science and Agriculture Building completes another step in opening the service lab in the summer of 2009. John Koehn is the new director of the lab and Deborah Ask is the supervisor/analyst. Koehn will also instruct chemistry courses beginning with the spring semester. Both highly qualified individuals hold degrees in chemistry and possess significant lab experience.

For Koehn, an analytical chemist, OPSU presented an ideal situation. With his years of expertise in operating labs, the opportunity to set up a new one that includes the latest technology as well as an opportunity to teach, his new position is a perfect fit. He was born in Louisiana and graduated high school in Illinois before heading to Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, where he graduated with a double major in chemistry and environmental science. He worked for a time, and then returned to Sam Houston for more education and more training and earned a Master’s of Science in Chemistry. A certified industrial hygienist, he worked in the petrochemical industry for years before moving to Guymon to work at High Plains Bioenergy, a wholly owned subsidiary of Seaboard.

There Koehn worked with Deborah Ask, a spring 2007 graduate from Kennesaw State University in Georgia. Born in Elk City, she holds a degree in biochemistry with a concentration in mathematics and plans to pursue a master’s when she decides on a discipline. Ask will oversee day-to-day lab operations and quality control and is gratified that she is now back in the environmental chemistry field.
The pair is currently identifying testing methods, the additional equipment the lab needs as well as working on the multitude of details involved in personal and laboratory certification.

Koehn said, “The Murphy Brown Water Quality Testing Lab will fill a vacuum in this area for municipalities, private home owners and agricultural operations. We will begin testing drinking water, and then plan to expand our service to test surface water for pesticides, herbicides, and other substances as the market demands. We hope to eventually service communities in the five-state area.”