College of Science

Dasgupta, Schug co-author rewrite of chemistry textbook

When he agreed to help a close friend rewrite an influential textbook on analytical chemistry, Purnendu “Sandy” Dasgupta admits he had no idea what he was in for. He’s just glad he asked Kevin Schug to join him in the epic task.

Dasgupta, the Jenkins Garrett Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, wasn’t feeling up to the monumental job when his old friend and colleague Gary Christian, professor emeritus at the University of Washington, asked him to help rewrite his book, Analytical Chemistry, three years ago. But he didn’t want to turn Christian down, so he decided to ask Schug, associate professor and Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry, to help.

“I knew that this was going to take time, but I had no idea how much time it would end up consuming,” Dasgupta said. “I did not really expect Kevin to say yes. Perhaps in a way I was hoping that he would say no and then I would tell Gary no, that I wasn’t really ready to take this on. To my surprise - and to be honest, even after some subtle discouragement of how it’s going to be a lot of work, etc., - he wanted to do it!”

While Schug said the undertaking wasn’t easy, he’s glad he was given the opportunity.

“I decided to do it because I felt I could really contribute something to it,” Schug said. “It’s a big honor this early in my career. I think we’ve made the book a lot stronger and more useful. While I would not rush back to do it again tomorrow - it was a lot of work on top of everything else - I might be convinced to revisit it in a few years.”

Christian, Dasgupta and Schug are co-authors of the textbook’s seventh edition. The book was published in early October by John Wiley & Sons Inc. and focuses on more in-depth coverage and information about quantitative analysis (analytical chemistry) and related fields. The content builds upon previous editions with more enhanced content that deals with principles and techniques of quantitative analysis with more examples of analytical techniques drawn from areas such as clinical chemistry, life sciences, air and water pollution, and industrial analyses.

Dasgupta met Christian over 30 years ago while interviewing for his first tenure track position at the University of Washington. Christian became a mentor to Dasgupta after the death of Dasgupta’s Ph.D. mentor, Philip W. West. At the time, Christian’s was probably the most widely used textbook in the field and Dasgupta was very familiar with it. He used it in all of the undergraduate level analytical chemistry classes he taught.

“I had simply not appreciated the magnitude of the task this represented,” Dasgupta said. “But because of my close relationship with Gary, I decided to see it through.”

One thing the trio did to improve the textbook was to solicit university chemistry faculty nationwide to submit their favorite example questions, and incorporate them throughout the book. Schug wrote a new chapter on mass spectrometry. Dasgupta provided complete rewrites of chapters on
Taking on a full rewrite of a textbook was a first for both Kevin Schug, left, and Purnendu 'Sandy' Dasgupta.
spectrochemical methods, atomic spectrometric methods, and gas and liquid chromatography, in addition to substantial rewrites of six other chapters. He also contributed many new Excel problems and exercises, and students from his class two years ago contributed videos on how to do Excel-based problems to the textbook’s companion website.

Dasgupta and Schug finished their work on the book over the past summer. Though the project proved even more time-consuming than Dasgupta had feared, he and Schug are proud of the revised edition, and Dasgupta says it will come in handy.

“The good thing is that I put a lot of stuff that I use now and then in the book or on the website that I previously had to hunt for, and now they can all be in one place,” he said. “It will be my own resource.”

Schug is also happy with the finished product.

“I’m very pleased with the quality of the text. While I may be most enamored with and biased by the fact my name is on it, I think it is a quality product,” Schug said. “It was very nice to work with Sandy, Gary, and Wiley on this, my first of such experiences. I’ve already ordered it for my Instrumental Analysis class next semester.”

The textbook can be purchased from the Wiley website here, or from various retailers

Posted October 31, 2013