Dr. Katelynn Perrault, an associate professor of Forensic Science and Chemistry at Chaminade, is celebrating special recognition for her hard work—in the classroom, in the lab and in the community.
In June, Perrault was honored to learn she’d received the John B. Phillips Award at the annual International GCxGC Symposium. The award recognizes early career researchers making significant achievements and advancements in the field of two-dimensional gas chromatography.
Perrault received the award after presenting a lecture at the symposium titled, “A Secret Guide to Learning, Using and Teaching GCxGC.” Two-dimensional gas chromatography is a sophisticated method that allows researchers to separate what type of chemicals are present in complex samples.
In her case, Perrault is studying odors produced by bacteria associated with decomposing bodies.
She says the research could better identify which chemicals are released from a body after death, something that ultimately could help in search and recovery efforts and one day “help to bring closure to families who may not have known how, where or why their loved one passed.”
Perrault was also recently recognized for a very different type of work.
The American Chemical Society named her a 2021 Outreach Volunteer of the Year for her work to organize National Chemistry Week events in Hawaii. The week includes hands-on activities at Kahala Mall and a statewide illustrated poem contest that garners hundreds of entries each year.
“Science outreach is so important to me,” Perrault said, speaking about the recognition for her work with the society’s Hawaii group. “I believe it helps people to understand the world around them through a scientific lens. We are living through an age where being able to assess information and events around us is greatly helped by a basic understanding of science and technology.”
Perrault brings that same enthusiasm to the classroom, and was recently able to see three undergraduate researchers (Kyle Furuta, Danson Oliva and Hunter Yamanaka) from her lab—the Laboratory of Forensic and Bioanalytical Chemistry—present posters at an international conference that she also chaired. More than 300 researchers, experts, students and newcomers from around the world attended the virtual, three-day Multidimensional Chromatography Workshop in February.
“The conference gave me motivation and great ideas for the next work we will perform in my own research group,” she said, “and I am grateful for the ability to have been able to share these three days with everyone in the field. It is so important, now more than ever, that we are able to remain connected to our global network within research, even if we aren’t able to gather in person.”