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Research

My research interests are focused on the use of instrumentation for analytical measurements. This broad area of study has provided me with the opportunity to work on a diverse range of samples from beer to turtles. My recent research efforts have involved analytical measurements on archaeological samples such as ancient bronze coins, lead pipes, and mortar. A brief summary of these projects follows.

Current Projects

Portable x-ray fluorescence spectrometry and Raman spectroscopy as valuable tools for archaeology (May 2008 to present, Collaboration with Dr. David George of the Saint Anselm College Classics Department).

  • Metals data were collected at an archaeology site in Italy using a portable x-ray spectrometer and a portable Raman spectrometer. Samples analyzed thus far have included wall mortars, floor tiles, hypocaust tiles, hydraulic cements, lead pipes, fibula, pigments on fresco, tesserae, and coins.

Metals in an ancient drainage system and lead pipes from Italy (September 2006 to present, Collaboration with Dr. David George of the Saint Anselm College Classics Department, Northern Analytical Laboratories Inc, Londonderry NH (2008-9), and Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH (2010)).

  • Samples of deposit material from an ancient drainage system and from a lead pipe near the drainage system were analyzed for metals content using flame atomic absorption spectrometry, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, and glow discharge mass spectrometry.  Results thus far indicate that lead from the pipe was transferred to the drainage system walls through dissolution into flowing water. Lead isotope ratio values for the pipe and deposit material are close in value, providing further support to the theory that the pipe and drainage system were connected at some point in time. Additonal lead isotope values by laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry have been collected for multiple pipe samples; further analyses are needed to make any definitive conclusions.

Metals measurements in ancient bronze coins (September 2003-Present, Collaboration with Dr. David George of the Saint Anselm College Classics Department).

  • Methods have been developed for determining lead and tin in bronze coins using a programmable digestion block followed by detection by flame atomic absorption spectroscopy (FAAS). These data are used to approximate the age and origin of coins through comparisons to published values. We plan to expand our FAAS methods to other metals such as silver and iron. As well, we plan to validate our data through analyses by a second method such as inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy.

Past Projects

Characterization of organic pollutants and metals in a local ecosystem (September 1999-May 2005)

  • Plant, soil, and water samples were collected from a pond that is located downhill from a landfill and uphill from a river. Soxhlet extraction and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry were used to characterize the organic contaminants in the soil and plants. Inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy was used to determine metals in the aqueous samples. Hydrocarbon-based compounds were determined to be present as well as many metals.

Determination of diacetyl in beer samples by isotope dilution gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (September 2001-May 2002, Collaboration with Dr. Daniel Lavoie of the Saint Anselm College Biology Department).

  • Dr. Lavoie's research group developed a fermentation procedure that was hoped to reduce the production of diacetyl. The diacetyl in these beer samples was measured by spiking samples with deuterium-labeled diacetyl and quantifying using isotope dilution gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.

Environmental monitoring at a local pond (September 2002-May 2003).

  • The pond located on a student's property was monitored seasonally for environmental parameters such as temperature, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, and pH using a submergible portable probe system. Metals were also determined using inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy.

Development of instrumentation for mercury speciation (May 2002-December 2003, Collaboration with Leeman Laboratories Inc, Hudson NH).

  • An instrument designed to measure total mercury levels in aqueous samples was altered to instead determine individual mercury species. Aqueous samples were ethylated and these volatile mercury-containing species were pre-concentrated onto solid support traps. The trapped mercury species were then thermally desorbed onto a gas chromatography column for separation and detected by atomic fluorescence spectroscopy.

Development of an arsenic speciation method using high performance liquid chromatography with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometric detection (September 2004-May 2005, Collaboration with VHG Laboratories Inc, Manchester NH).

  • A high performance liquid chromatograph was coupled to an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer for the quantification of As(III) and As(V) in aqueous samples. Separation of the arsenic species was achieved using ion-pairing reverse phase partition chromatography.

Collection and characterization of volatile biological compounds from wood turtles and salamanders (September 2007 to present, collaborations with Dr. Barry Wicklow and Dr. Lori LaPlante of the Saint Anselm College Biology Department).

  • Volatile compounds excreted by wood turtle hatchlings and salamanders are collected using solid phase microextraction and then characterized using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Swabs are also collected, extracted into solvent, and analyzed by GC-MS. Some volatile compounds have been observed for the wood turtles.