Education and Honors

9/95 - 12/96 - National Institute of Standards and Technology, NRC Postdoctoral Associate
1996 - Ph.D. University of Massachusetts. Analytical Chemistry
1994 - M.S. University of Massachusetts. Analytical Chemistry
1991 - B.S. Bucknell University. Chemistry

Barbara J. Stahl Fellow in Science and the Humanities, 2022-2024
Royal Society of Chemistry Fellow, 2017
Certified Senior Spectroscopist (Society for Applied Spectroscopy), 2016                              Society for Applied Spectroscopy Fellow - 2014
Research featured on several journal covers - Applied Spectroscopy, Analytical Methods, Spectroscopy

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 and cultural heritage samples such as ancient bronze coins, lead pipes, mortar, ceramics, and historic fabrics. A brief summary of these projects follows.

Current Projects

Portable x-ray fluorescence spectrometry, laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy and Raman spectroscopy as valuable tools for archaeology and cultural heritage (May 2008 to present). 

  • Elemental and molecular spectroscopy are applied at various archaeology sites. Samples analyzed thus far have included wall mortars, floor tiles, hypocaust tiles, hydraulic cements, plasters, lead pipes, fibula, pigments on fresco, paints, tesserae, ceramics, loom weights, and coins.
  • Elemental and molecular spectroscopy are applied to cultural heritage and art objects. Collaborators include the Msgr. Wilfrid H. Paradis Archives at Saint Anselm College, the Manchester Historic Association, and the Currier Art Museum.

Past Projects

  • Characterization of organic pollutants and metals in a local ecosystems (September 1999-May 2002)
  • 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). 
  • Development of instrumentation for mercury speciation (May 2002-December 2003, Collaboration with Leeman Laboratories Inc, Hudson NH). 
  • 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). 
  • Collection and characterization of volatile biological compounds from wood turtles and salamanders (September 2007 to December 2009), collaborations with Dr. Barry Wicklow and Dr. Lori LaPlante of the Saint Anselm College Biology Department). 


  • Mary Kate Donais, Luke Douglass, William H. Ramundt, Claudio Bizzarri, David B. George.  “Handheld Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy for Field Archaeology: Characterization of Roman Wall Mortars and Etruscan Ceramics”, Applied Spectroscopy Practica, 1(1), 109, 2023.
  • Magdalena Jackson, Doug Perrelli, Jacob T. Shelley, Mary Kate Donais.  “An Archaeometric Investigation into the Former Cataract House Hotel via Elemental Analysis”, Spectroscopy, 37(S11), 12-16, 2022.  Special issue on spectroscopy outside the laboratory.
  • Mary Kate Donais and Peter Vandenabeele.  “Portable Spectroscopy for On-Site and In-Situ Archaeology Studies”, invited chapter in Portable Spetroscopy and Spectrometry 2: Applications, eds. Richard Crocombe, Pauline O’Leary, and Brooke Kammrath.  West Sussex UK, Wiley & Sons Ltd., ISBN 978-1-119-63642-7, pp 523-544, 2021.
  • Mary Kate Donais, Mina Alrais, Kaliopi Konomi, David B. George, William H. Ramundt, Eric Smith.  “Energy Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry Characterization of Wall Mortars with Principal Component Analysis: Phasing and Ex Situ versus In Situ Samples”, Journal of Cultural Heritage, 43(May-June), 90-97, 2022.
  • Mary Kate Donais and David B. George, X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry and Its Applications to Archaeology: An Illustrated Guide, New York, Momentum Press, ISBN 978-19-4474-929-3, 2018.
  • Mary Kate Donais, Jolien Van Pevenage, Andrew Sparks, Monica Redente, David B. George, Luc Moens, Laszlo Vincze, Peter Vandenabeele.  “Characterization of Roman Glass Tesserae from the Coriglia Excavation Site (Italy) via Energy Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry and Raman Spectroscopy”, Journal of Applied Physics A, 122(12), 1050, 2016.  Special topical collection devoted to research presented at 2016 inArt Conference.
  • Peter Vandenabeele and Mary Kate Donais. "Mobile Spectroscopic Instrumentation in Archaeometry Research", Applied Spectroscopy, 70(1), 27-41, 2016.  Review paper in a special special topic journal issue devoted to cultural heritage analysis.
  • Mary Kate Donais, Monica Redente, David George. "Field Research and Experiential Learning with Undergraduates: Investigations of Roman Glass Tesserae by Portable X-Ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy", Spectroscopy 29(11), 28-33, 2014.
  • Mary Kate Donais, David George. "Using Portable XRF to Aid in Phasing, Locus Comparisons, and Material Homogeneity Assessment at an Archaeological Excavation," in Handheld XRF inArt and Archaeology. A. Shugar and J. Mass Eds. Belgium, Leuven University Press - Studies in Archaeological Sciences, ISBN 978-90-5867-907-9, 2012.
  • Mary Kate Donais, Bradley Duncan, Sara Wojtas, Antony Desmond, David George, "Differentiation of Hypocaust and Floor Tiles at Coriglia, Castel Viscardo (Umbria, Italy) using Principal Component Analysis and Portable X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry," Applied Spectroscopy, 66, 1005-1012, 2012.
  • Mary Kate Donais, David George, Bradley Duncan, Sarah Wojtas, Anna Daigle. "Evaluation of Data Processing and Analysis Approaches for Fresco Pigments by Portable X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry and Portable Raman Spectroscopy," Analytical Methods, 3, 1061-1071, 2011.
  • Mary Kate Donais, David George, Sally Roberts, Jack Roberts, Eric Wu, "Chemical Characterization of Pigments at Coriglia, Castel Viscardo using Portable X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry and Portable Raman Spectroscopy," Society for Archaeological Sciences Bulletin, 32(2), 2-5, Summer 2010.
  • Mary Kate Donais. "Portable GPS-XRF Protocols for Field Archaeology," Innov X Systems Inc. Academic Grant Series Application Note,
  • Mary Kate Donais, Bradley Duncan, David George, Claudio Bizzarri. "Comparisons of Ancient Mortars and Hydraulic Cements through In-Situ Analyses by Portable X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry," X-Ray Spectrometry, 39, 146-153, 2010.
  • Mary Kate Donais, David George. "Handheld XRF to Study Ancient Roman Drainage System (1BCE to 1CE) Lead Pipe and Connective Keys Near Orvieto, Italy," Innov X Systems Inc. Academic Grant Series Application Note,
  • Mary Kate Donais, Greg Whissel, Ashley Dumas, Kate Golden. "Analyzing Lead Content in Ancient Bronze Coins by Flame Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy," Journal of Chemical Education, 86, 343-346, 2009.
  • Mary Kate Donais, Holly Jakubowski, Cindy Lebel. "Determination of Tin in Ancient Bronze Coins by Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrometry," Journal of the Analytical Sciences Digital Library Undergraduate Research,, February 2008.

Underlined names indicate students.