From a Geological survey lab, to teaching, to Forestry, Hua Chenís skills in analytical chemistry have taken her into many academic fields in both China and the United States.
Hua first arrived at OSU in 1985 as a visiting scholar from China in the Chemistry Department, but she moved to the College of Forestry in 1993. Hua currently does chemical analysis on wood preservatives in the research group of Professor Jeff Morrell. Her work is mostly conducted in the Wood Preservatives Chemistry lab, where Hua is a member of collaborative research focusing on the utilization of wood preservatives in electrical poles.
Hua explained that many wood products used in outdoor construction need preservation, such as power poles, bridges, doors, and window frames. Huaís daily work involves the assessment of the amount of preservatives in the wood after treatment alone or after treatment and environmental weathering. To find this amount, Hua takes a known volume of sawdust and develops a chemical process to extract the preservatives out of the wood. Using one of several instruments, she is then able to measure the amount of preservatives in that volume of wood. The results produced from her work add to the team effort to evaluate the quality and usable life of wood products, and to develop more environment friendly treatments with higher efficacy.
In recent years, the research on wood preservatives has focused more and more on environmental issues. With this in mind, Hua also analyzes the leaching of preservatives from treated wood into rain water. Research in this area provides much needed information to understand and to protect our environment.
Hua left the College of Forestry at the end of 1997 because she was diagnosed with leukemia. Following treatment and recovery, Hua returned to work at OSU in 1999 as a part-time chemist in the Wood Preservatives Chemistry lab. She was happy to say that she is a cancer survivor.
Outside of her independent research, Hua also supports graduate students in their research projects by training them on special skills and by doing analysis for them as needed.
Bio of Hua Chen written by Carrie Breckel, Editorial Assistant, Forestry Communications Group, College of Forestry