AASU Receives a $308,000 National Science Foundation Grant


(August 6, 2009) Armstrong Atlantic State University (AASU) has been awarded a $308,000 National Science Foundation - Major Research Instrumentation grant to purchase a liquid chromatography mass spectrometer - time of flight (LCMS), a specialized laboratory instrument.

Brent Feske, AASU assistant professor of chemistry and the principal investigator (PI) for the grant, explained that the LCMS is capable of determining the "fingerprints" of most chemical compounds. Scientists used these fingerprints, or patterns, to assist with compound identification and verification.

AASU will become the only university in the southeast Georgia region that has an LCMS available for both teaching and research.

"This instrument will become a very important part of our teaching and research activity at AASU," Feske said. "Students will be able to use it in many upper level chemistry and biology courses to enhance learning outcomes in the curriculum. It will also be a valuable tool in supporting many undergraduate research projects carried out by the faculty in collaboration with their students. It will allow for significant research advances that were not possible prior to this."

The co-principal investigators on the grant are Richard Wallace, Delana Nivens and Will Lynch, all faculty members in chemistry; Alex Collier and Scott Mateer, both biology faculty; and Karla-Sue Marriott, faculty member in chemistry at Savannah State University. They all have research projects planned:

· Feske and Mateer will use the instrumentation to support their NSF-funded project that focuses on novel methods to synthesize pharmaceuticals. Similarly, Marriott will use it to assist her work to synthesize obesity drugs.

· Nivens will study the binding of metals and pollutants to organic matter, using the LCMS to learn about the processes that the environment uses to manage pollution.

· Lynch will investigate plant decomposition as well as the DNA and protein damage caused by light.

· Wallace will study plant "hormones" in roses, grapes and bananas. He is looking for the compounds that serve as natural pesticides in plants that make them resistant to nematodes.

· Collier will study compounds released in the environment that form an "early warning system" for prey such as tadpoles swimming with predator bass.

Feske added, "This instrument is designed to study large molecules that are often difficult to analyze. It is a very precise instrument and there are only a few of them in the state of Georgia. We are the only university in the southeast Georgia region that has an LCMS available for both teaching and research."

Once installed in AASU's chemistry instrumentation lab—in the late fall or early next year—the LCMS will be made available for use by other colleges and universities in the area.

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