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Santino Servagno, C'22, Constructs Thermal Imaging System

Nicole Patterson

Santino feature

“I chose the Mount for multiple reasons,” said Santino Servagno, C’22. “I knew the Mount had a notable chemistry program that allowed students to personally know and engage with their professors. I also believed the Mount’s chemistry program allowed students to conduct independent research as an undergraduate which is unique due to its small school setting.”

He discovered both were true.

This summer, from the first week in June until mid-August, Servagno completed his first internship and his first virtual research internship. A stipend from the Office of Competitive Fellowships provided funds to purchase equipment and support 75 hours as a research assistant for the creation of a spectrophotometer using Arduino technology with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Garth Patterson, Ph.D.

Tools for Success

Researching from his home workspace where he used an Arduino kit, a Raspberry Pi microcontroller, an infrared sensor, a soldering kit and a Peltier cooler, he said the independence and minimal supervision took an adjustment. Patterson held weekly meetings for students to share their progress, discuss challenges and plan next steps with experiments. “I hope that eventually the instrumentation I construct will impact others by providing a more efficient and cost-effective way of screening individuals,” Servagno said.

“I worked to construct a thermal imaging system,” he added. The infrared radiation detects differences in temperature. “It can be used for many purposes, including maintenance and surveillance activities conducted by law enforcement and for measuring the surface skin temperatures of humans for COVID-19 screening—and possibly determining if individuals have symptoms due to the virus,” he explained.

Lessons from COVID-19

“COVID-19 has changed a lot about my life over the past few months—especially in terms of my worldview. Over the past few months, I have learned not to take anything for granted,” Servagno reflected.

Return to the Mount

“I am very excited to return to the Mount this fall. I miss the in-person interactions with my peers and faculty. I’m very excited to go back to campus and return to the college experience again.”

 Another reason Servagno chose the Mount was because he wanted to attend a Catholic school where he could continue to live his faith. “The Mount cherishes the faith differently than others schools do,” he added.

Looking toward the future, he plans to earn a doctoral degree in chemistry and become a synthetic chemist—focusing on researching and creating improved cancer treatments.


Nicole Patterson