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MRI: Acquisition of an Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometer: A Hub for Fundamental Interdisciplinary Chemical Research, Applications, and Research Training


An award is made to Hampshire College (Amherst, MA) to acquire and install an inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometer (ICP-MS). The new generation ICP-MS will make possible a wide range of research projects, particularly focused on pollution and nutrition, while training a diverse group of undergraduate students in interdisciplinary research. Some of the advances that will benefit the general public include the identification and quantification of toxic trace metal pollutants such as arsenic, antimony, cadmium, and lead in present and past environments and analysis of the tissue-level uptake and incorporation of nutritionally important elements such as zinc and iron in human teeth and hair. ICP-MS will also be used to develop novel methods to track the fate, transport, and translocation of toxic metal contaminants and metal nano particles in the environment and in biological tissues. These analytical chemical advances will facilitate better environmental monitoring methods for water and food systems that will improve public health and will support food security. The ICP-MS will allow the researchers to engage and support new and existing research partnerships across the Five College Consortium, as well as to enhance collaborations with broader regional and international academic institutions to address larger environmental health research questions of national and global interest. <br/><br/>This project is driven by a team of core faculty, who seek to achieve three planned undergraduate research and curricula advances: (1) incorporation of the ICP-MS, with accompanying advances in atomic spectrometry techniques [laser ablation (LA)-ICP-MS, ion chromatography (IC)-ICP-MS], as part of the proposed interdisciplinary research projects; (2) expansion of the scope of undergraduate interdisciplinary research projects based on the ability of ICP-MS to investigate possible toxic metalloid adsorption properties of clay supported nano zero valent ion particles, the fate and transport properties of engineered nano particles (ENP), tissue level distributions of toxic metals in archived tissues of teeth and hair to unravel past exposure events, elemental bioimaging of staple food grains to gain insight on nutritional benefits and health risks at tissue level, the geo-microbiology of rock varnishes; and (3) incorporation of state-of-the-art atomic spectrometry methods across the undergraduate curriculum, including within courses and independent projects. Proposed projects center on analytical atomic spectrometry, analytical method development, and validation. The developed methods will be applied in a variety of innovative interdisciplinary research projects conducted by student-faculty research teams that will advance the environmental health monitoring efforts. Major findings and data from research will be presented by students and faculty at national and international meetings and published in peer-reviewed journals. As well, the results will be disseminated to the public via local outreach efforts and popular media forums.

Amarasiriwardena, Dulasiri; Goodman, Alan
Hampshire College
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