Chemistry Department procures new spectrometer to aid research

Sarah Gauthier

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The Southeastern chemistry department will gain a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectrometer by spring 2014. The spectrometer is part of a process that allows students to examine how atoms are connected through signals and determine the structures of molecules.
“A Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectrometer is like an MRI for molecules,” said associate professor of chemistry Debra Dolliver. “With this instrument we can irradiate molecules with low-energy wavelengths while they are in a magnetic field.”
 The department acquired this specialized piece of equipment by a $274,000 grant from the National Science Foundation through the Major Research Instrumentation program. Associate professor of chemistry Dr. Jean Fotie and Dolliver were the primary applicants for the grant along with Dr. David Norwood, Dr. William Parkinson, Dr. Thomas Sommerfel and Dr. Zhengrong Li. The department has to demonstrate a need for the instrument to the MRI program. Those who will use it include students and professors in organic chemistry lab classes, instrumental analysis classes, physical chemistry classes and inorganic chemistry classes. The new spectrometer will allow greater flexibility in all classes.
“We have built a very successful undergraduate research program over the past decade,” said Dolliver. “We’ve had several students progressing to graduate school in chemistry [57 percent over the past five years] and they’ve been placed in some of the highest ranked programs in the country; we’ve had several undergraduate co-authors on peer-reviewed journal articles [30 undergraduates over the past five years]; and we’ve had greater than 180 students’ research presentations at national meetings around the country.  We also have the Student Entrepreneurs as Active Leaders program where students work on projects for local industry under the direction of faculty members at Southeastern.  All of these students and their faculty mentors need the NMR to continue to do this high caliber work.”
Students work on real-world science projects from industrial clients through the Southeastern SEAL program. This requires use of analytical instruments such as the spectrometer. It is also a requirement for accreditation through the American Chemical Society.
“An NMR is arguably the most important analytical tool available to chemists today,” said Dolliver. “It is also essential for active research programs to have an NMR.  In other words, all work in chemistry now relies on the great amount of structural information that can be gleaned from NMR data.”
The new spectrometer will require six months of installation, and will be available in the spring 2014 semester.

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Chemistry Department procures new spectrometer to aid research