Waynesburg University’s chemistry and forensics departments have benefited from a donation of high-end equipment.
An anonymous donor provided the department with a Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometer (LCMS), a Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometer (GCMS), and a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectrometer. The NMR should arrive this summer, while the other instruments are in service at the school.
To better explain the instruments, NMR helps the chemist understand what a molecule “looks like”, while LCMS and GCMS help find traces of important molecules.
Mike Cipoletti, director of the forensics program, said the donor didn’t provide many details about why he wanted to donate the instruments, but he said he spoke with the donor about the challenges faced by the little ones. schools to get updated equipment.
“He has said many times that he likes the good work we do, likes the way we do it, likes that we are a small school, but wants to give students opportunities that they can get in different places. bigger schools with deeper pockets,” Cipoletti said. “He saw something in us that he wanted to support and obviously we’re very grateful to have him there.”
Waynesburg will be the first small school in the area to have this caliber of NMR when it arrives.
“It’s the newest to market from this company for this particular type,” said Dr. Evonne Baldauff, chair of the department of chemistry and forensics. “So we’re really excited to have a lot of new stuff for students to possibly work on here in little old Greene County. I think it’s something special.
The new equipment offers students the opportunity to work with the quality of equipment used at the professional level and can give them a great advantage in their job search. Also, more students can use the equipment at the same time than was the case with the old equipment.
“I always had to divide them (students) into small groups, have them come at different times,” Cipoletti said. “Now they can collaborate because they can all sit in front of a microscope at the same time. It’s a small thing, but it’s a big deal. It really helps us teach these students with a lot more continuity. This makes the training process much more efficient.
Senior Andrew Gordon, a biochemistry student from Strongsville, Ohio who plans to go to medical school, used the equipment for research and his instrumental chemistry class.
“These instruments help me because a lot of what’s done in a hospital, a lot of this lab work, is done primarily with instruments like these,” he said. he declares. “It prepares me because I have the opportunity to work directly with these instruments. Few physicians can have in-depth knowledge of the operation or care of these instruments. I developed an appreciation for it. Everything that goes into lab work in a hospital is so important, and a lot of that lab work is done with instruments like these.
Additionally, the chemistry department will be able to collaborate with the state police crime lab in the analysis of samples for illicit opioids using two undergraduate researchers.
“What we find is that illicit drug users are always coming up with small modifications to the molecular structures of these things,” Cipoletti said. “NMR is a tool that allows you to identify these molecular changes before you have standards against which to compare them.”
The hope is that eventually the college will be able to provide service to the crime lab.
“Being one of the only NMRs in the area, we not only want to help our students, but we try to help the community. It also gives our students the chance to collaborate with professionals in some of the jobs they seek,” Cipoletti said.
The new LCMS is being used in an undergraduate research project to detect the presence of herbicides as a service to local organic growers.
“It’s a way for local producers to tell potential buyers that what they say about their products is legit, that they’ve been vetted,” Baldauff said. “They are able to provide assurance that what we are telling you is true.”
In addition to undergraduates, the new equipment will be available to high school students during outreach with local schools as well as events such as a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) camp.
“We really want to work with high school teachers, middle school teachers, even ambitious elementary teachers who want to expose their students to more science,” Baldauff said. “I think we’re pretty good at reaching out to students at different levels to give them exciting reasons why science could be a great career and why they should give it a try in their math and science classes.”