Analytical chemists earn national recognition for metals research

University of Cincinnati chemists traveled from New Orleans to San Francisco this month to present results on a vareity of research projects ranging from sensors to detect pathogenic microbes to an analysis of a common dietary supplement.

Joseph Caruso, professor of chemistry and dean of UC's College of Arts and Sciences, went to New Oleans with several graduate students for the PittCon meeting, one of the most important gatherings for analytical chemists each year. Caruso provided an overview of the field while his graduate students presented details on two specific studies.

Graduate student Claudia Ponce de Leon reported that an analysis of selenium food supplements showed wide variation among tablets, even within the same bottle.

"We haven't found anything to indicate they're unsafe, but it does appear there is variability in these nutritional supplements," said recent doctoral graduate Kathy Ackley who contributed to the study.

Those supplements typically are prepared by growing yeast enriched in selenium. Ponce de Leon is now working with UC biologist Charlotte Paquin to identify how selenium is used by the yeast and what conditions might produce the most consistent and reliable yields.

A second study, reported by graduate student Judith Brisbin, looked at the use of microwave energy to reduce the time needed to prepare biological samples for further analysis. Traditional methods can take hours, but UC chemists found that a special laboratory microwave oven can reduce the sample preparation time to mere minutes.

"It really speeds up the process. There's a drastic time reduction in sample preparation," said Ackley.

Professor Caruso noted that his lab isn't the first to use microwave sample preparation, but they have extended the technique to several biological systems, including seafood and sea plants.

"Seafood and sea plants tend to accumulate arsenic," said Caruso. "We're interested in the way in whic

Contact: Christine Curran
University of Cincinnati

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