Meeting highlights: ‘What’s new in the analysis of complex environmental matrices?’

The 2017 RSC meeting on environmental analysis entitled ‘What’s new in the analysis of complex environmental matrices?’ was held on the 3rd of March, at the RSC’s Burlington House in London. The meeting was organised by the RSC SSG, the Environmental Chemistry Group and the Water Forum, and was sponsored by Agilent Technologies, Anatune Ltd., Hichrom Ltd., Imspex Diagnostics Ltd., Kinesis, Markes International and Thames Restek Ltd., as well as by the Environment Sustainability and Energy Division of the RSC. A full meeting report will be published in the next Environmental Chemistry Group Bulletin, but for now, here is a brief summary of the meeting (click on the links for full .pdf versions of each talk).

The meeting began with Dr Leon Barron (King’s College London, UK) discussing his recent work involving the screening of complex forensic and environmental samples using high resolution analysis and in silico data mining tools.

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After Dr Barron’s presentation came a talk by Dr Andrew Sweetman (Lancaster University, UK), on the use of passive samplers as a potential compliance tool within the EU Water Framework Directive. Prof Colin Creaser (Loughborough University, UK) then spoke about the use of ion mobility spectrometry in environmental analysis. The mid-morning coffee break was followed by a thought-provoking presentation on the use of brominated flame retardants in consumer waste by Prof Stuart Harrad (University of Birmingham, UK). Then Prof Jaroslav Slobodnik (Environmental Institute, Slovak Republic) gave the morning’s keynote lecture on the NORMAN network’s assessment of environmental pollutants in European river basins.
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Between the morning and afternoon sessions, attendees enjoyed their lunch in the beautiful setting of the Burlington House library, and engaged with instrument vendors, including Agilent, Waters and HiChrom.

The afternoon session began with the second keynote lecture of the day, by Prof Jacob de Boer (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands). Prof de Boer spoke about the use of direct probe time-of-flight mass spectrometry to study human exposure to indoor environmental pollution. Gavin Mills (Severn Trent Ltd., UK) then discussed recent advances in the determination of taste and odour compounds in drinking water, after which Prof Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern (University of Bath, UK) highlighted the importance of urban water profiling to inform our understanding of the state of the environment and public health. Finally, Dr Mark Perkins (University of York, UK) presented his recent research using  Selected Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometry (SIFT)-MS for the measurement of volatile organic compounds in ambient air. Prof Roger Reeve (University of Sunderland, UK) then brought the meeting to a close.

We are grateful to all speakers, sponsors and participants for making this another successful meeting, and we look forward to our next environmental analysis gathering in 2019!

Win the SSG poster prize at ExTech 2017!

The 19th International Symposium on Advances in Extraction Technologies (ExTech) will take place on between the 27th and 30th of June in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The symposium series was started in 1999 by Prof. Janusz Pawliszyn (Canada) and since then has become a unique and vital platform for the exchange of information and ideas in the growing field of sample preparation. The 2017 Symposium will feature sessions on fundamental developments and new technologies of extraction and sample preparation in different areas of analytical sciences, highlighting environmental issues, food quality and safety, pharmaceutical and personal care products analysis, bioanalysis and natural product chemistry

In 2006, the SSG launched a prize for the best poster presented at an ExTech meeting. Previous winners were awarded a cash prize and invited to attend the subsequent ExTech meeting. This year, the SSG will award three prizes (£200 each) for the best posters presented by junior scientists, so good luck to those of you presenting! Registration information and further details regarding the conference and the poster prize can be found here.

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Knox Medal application deadline 12th May – nominate someone today!

The Knox Medal is awarded by the SSG to honour individuals deserving special recognition of their innovation or influential work in the field of separation science.

If you wish to nominate a deserving separation scientist to be considered for the 2017 Knox Medal, please send appropriate paperwork to Prof John Langley by Friday May 12th, 2017 for consideration at the June committe meeting.

Anyone, from any sector (academic or other), whose work in the field of separation science is innovative, influential and has recognised excellence in development, application, training and/or dissemination of information and results is eligible for this award. Nomination is via an open nomination system from within the scientific community. A nominee must be proposed and seconded by separate individuals, each of whom must produce a one-page justification for the award that meets the defined criteria. Self-nominations or nominations for persons from within the nominator’s own institution are not eligible and will not be accepted. The committee of the SSG will judge the nominations for the award in line with the criteria published on our website. The decision of this group is final.

Meeting highlights: Advances in Clinical Analysis 2016

The 2016 Advances in Clinical Analysis meeting was organised by the SSG together with the Chromatographic Society, and took place on the 30th of November 2016, at the RSC’s Burlington House venue. The meeting featured speakers from the UK, US and Europe, and showcased recent advances in analytical approaches and methods in the clinical laboratory setting. Nearly a hundred delegates attended the all-day event, with speakers from the UK, US and Europe presenting their research in the impressive surrounds of the library room at Burlington House, vendor booths from companies including Waters, Shimadzu and ThermoScientific, and posters presented by attendees.

Dr Russell Grant from LabCorp (North Carolina, USA) opened the meeting with a inventive and interactive talk describing his recent work on the quantification of protein concentration using LC-MS methods, with a focus on method development for the thyroid protein thyroglobulin.  Dr Grant was followed by Prof Paolo Brambilla, of the University of Milan (Italy), who described his experiences with LC-MS in clinical settings across Italy, and addressed the barriers to mass spectrometry use in clinical analysis. Dr Brambilla’s talk included several examples of carcinogenic compounds and drugs of abuse quantified with great sensitivity using LC-MS, GC-MS and discussed the utility of using ion trap and ToF analyzers for clinical applications. Zuzana Škrabáková of ThermoScientific then took the floor to introduce the use of paperspray technology for the analysis of clinical samples, highlighting applications that originated in the Cook laboratory in Purdue.

After a short break, Dr Neil Spooner from the University of Hertfordshire and the Microsampling Institute Centre of Excellence (MiCE) spoke about microsampling and its implications for clinical analysis. Then Dr Renata Gorska from the Nutristasis Unit at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospital discussed the use of convergence chromatography for the analysis of vitamin K, and the improvements in cost, analysis speed and environmental impacts associated with the use of this technology in comparison to more conventional HPLC-based methods. Dr Christophe Auberger from Crawford Scientific followed this with a comprehensive overview of the various sample preparation strategies currently used for clinical samples, including supported liquid extraction, SPME, immunoaffinity extraction, SFE, liquid micro-extraction and dispersive liquid-liquid microextraction.

Next, Prof David Cowan from King’s College London spoke about the advantages of using high resolution LC-MS to the analysis of doping drugs. Prof Cowan described the challenges that face scientists when performing such analyses, given the strict criteria issued by the governing body WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) for such samples, and demonstrated how high-res MS can be used to develop sensitive and speedy assays for a wide range of target compounds. The final presentation of the day was delivered by the SSG’s Dr Lewis Couchman, on the use of ultra-rapid LC-MS/MS in high-throughput clinical analysis. Dr Couchman showed that with 5 mm columns packed with high efficiency particles, it was possible to get good separations using a 36 second gradient, without losing accuracy, precision or linearity.

All in all, the 2016 meeting highlighted the importance of continued instrumental and methodological improvements in chromatography, mass spectrometry and allied measurement techniques for clinical applications, and demonstrated the diversity of approaches being implemented to increase the speed and sensitivity of clinical analyses. The enthusiastic audience and active support of the meeting sponsors were key contributors to the success of this event, and we can’t wait for the next meeting in 2018!

 

Nominate an outstanding separation scientist for the 2017 Knox Medal

The Knox Medal is awarded by the SSG to honour individuals deserving special recognition of their innovation or influential work in the field of separation science.

We are pleased to announce that nominations for the 2017 Medal are now open.

Anyone, from any sector (academic or other), whose work in the field of separation science is innovative, influential and has recognised excellence in development, application, training and/or dissemination of information and results is eligible for this award. Nomination is via an open nomination system from within the scientific community. A nominee must be proposed and seconded by separate individuals, each of whom must produce a one-page justification for the award that meets the defined criteria. Self-nominations or nominations for persons from within the nominator’s own institution are not eligible and will not be accepted. The committee of the SSG will judge the nominations for the award in line with the criteria published on our website. The decision of this group is final.

If you wish to nominate a deserving separation scientist to be considered for the Knox Medal, please send appropriate paperwork to Prof John Langley by Friday May 12th, 2017 for consideration at the June committe meeting.

Meet the SSG: Prof John Langley

Like other RSC interest groups, the Separation Science Group is supported in its endeavours by an active committee. The members of the committee come from a range of backgrounds, in academia and industry, from across the UK; more information about current members can be found on our Committee page.

In the coming months we will be presenting videos of and interviews with individual members, showcasing their current work and scientific interests. We hope these demonstrate the tremendous diversity of interests and activities contained in the term ‘separation science’, and provide a glimpse into the working lives of scientists in the field.

The current chair, Prof John Langley, leads the Characterisation and Analytics Section at the University of Southampton, and has a long and distinguished career in mass spectrometry and chromatography research. He is also the 2016-2017 British Mass Spectrometry Society Lecturer, and Vice President of the International Mass Spectrometry Foundation. Here, John talks about the use of supercritical fluid chromatograpy (SFC) and mass spectometry (MS) to support the work of chemists at Southampton, and the importance of open-access systems in core research facilities: