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FGCU chemistry students, professor make hand sanitizer

Posted at 8:00 PM, Apr 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-08 20:00:25-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A small group of chemistry students at Florida Gulf Coast University is back in the lab, but not for class — they are making hand sanitizer.

"Almost two weeks ago, we decided to make a very small contribution to our community, helping to fight this COVID-19 health issue that we are experiencing," said Dr. Arsalan Mirjafari, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Chemistry at FGCU.

The idea sparked when Dr. Mirjafari realized they had the supplies needed to make hand sanitizer.

"The chemistry department was generous and donated almost 20 liters of the ingredients," said Dr. Mirjafari.

The sanitizer is made up of a mixture of alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, glycerol, and water.

"It's a very easy process for us, and this is a very efficient antiviral solution," said Dr. Mirjafari.

Grace Anderson is one of the chemistry students working alongside Dr. Mirjafari to make the hand sanitizer.

"I think that it's really great that we can use these resources to help our community," said Grace Anderson.

Anderson is also one of the students who recently traveled to Italy with the University's Chamber Choir.

"It was kind of crazy because this was happening right when the whole pandemic was really catching fire," said Anderson.
Concerns over the coronavirus cut their trip short.

When Anderson and the rest of the group returned to the U.S, they had to self-quarantine for two-weeks.

"This has kind of made this whole project here with the hand sanitizer a little more important to me," said Anderson.

David Siegel is another chemistry student helping make the hand sanitizer.

Siegel says while helping others during this crisis is their goal, it's something they could have never imaged doing while still students.

"That's kind of the goal of science; it's to help people eventually with what you learned in your research, but in a pandemic, while still an undergrad, was definitely not foreseen," said Siegel.

The students and Dr. Mirjafari have already made and donated 40 liters of hand sanitizer to student dorms.

Wednesday's batch is set to go to local hospitals.

"I mean we are not going to make enough to save the whole world but the local hospitals, the dorms, someone is getting use out of it that wouldn't have before," said Siegel.