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San Luis Obispo County

Cal Poly students produce backup supply of hand sanitizer

Joe Johnston
Medicinal Chemistry assistant professor Scott Eagon works with a group of his research students to produce a batch of six containers of hand sanitizer.

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - It was not long ago when hand sanitizer was difficult to find.

That's when Cal Poly chemistry assistant professor Dr. Scott Eagon turned a difficult situation into a classic Cal Poly "Learn by Doing" experience.

Dr. Eagon who runs a medical chemistry lab and reached out to students still in the area to help.

Six students volunteered: biochemistry majors Spenser Platt, Eric Schwegman and Julia Gibbs; biomedical engineering major Maetja Verbarendse; biological sciences major Jessica Travis; and biological sciences and psychology major Trevan Klug.

Following World Health Organization guidelines, the team produced 25 gallons of hand sanitizer in one day to use on campus and at local hospitals.

“I was really excited, because it meant I could do something to help against the coronavirus and I could get back in the lab,” said Eric Schwegman.

“A lot of our projects take months if not years to come to fruition, but making hand sanitizer was a way to immediately able to help our community and make a difference, especially with the uncertainty of this pandemic,” said Maetja Verbarendse.

The finished product is being stored in a warehouse on campus to supplement the needs in the community.

“There is a very good chance we will need this supply before we are able to replenish stock via normal supply chain methods,” said Jude Fledderman, executive director of Facilities Operations.

Dr. Eagon said his lab has the supplies and can potentially make more hand sanitizer if there is a critical need in the community.

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Genelle Padilla

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