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Chromatography symposia bring 400 leading researchers, analytical chemists to Fort Worth May 16-21

Friday, May 15, 2015 • Media Contact: Kristin Sullivan

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NASA scientists endeavor to send humans to Mars by 2030, but first researchers need to quickly and efficiently test the chemical composition of extraterrestrial soil.

That would be possible through a new portable, rapid-detection ion chromatograph device developed by a University of Texas at Arlington team led by noted chemistry and biochemistry professor Purnendu “Sandy” Dasgupta. The prototype device was made possible by a $1.2 million NASA grant Dasgupta won in 2011 and was detailed last fall in a paper published by the American Chemical Society journal Analytical Chemistry.

Ion Chromatograph device

A UT Arlington team has developed a prototype ion chromatograph for faster, more efficient analysis of extra-terrestrial soil and tested the device in the desert.

“By creating an easily portable and robustly-designed ion chromatograph, we’re hoping to rapidly expand scientists’ knowledge of extraterrestrial geology and geochemistry,” said Dasgupta, UT Arlington’s Jenkins Garrett Professor of Chemistry. Proving organic ions exist in Martian soil could be a first step to identifying organic compounds, the building blocks of life, he explained.

Dasgupta will present his team’s work May 19 in downtown Fort Worth during the concurrent 39th International Symposium on Capillary Chromatography and 12th GC×GC Symposium. The six-day conference May 16-21 is expected to draw 400 of the world’s preeminent scientists and will showcase the latest developments in multidimensional chromatography.

Daniel Armstrong, the Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry at UT Arlington and chair of the symposia, said it is the first time the premier research meetings have been held in this part of the country. The annual symposia alternate between the United States and Europe.

“Scientists from over 20 countries are expected to attend and get a taste of Texas hospitality and culture, not to mention local scientific excellence,” Armstrong said.

The symposia will feature plenary lectures, keynote lectures by emerging scientists, a broad array of poster presentations, vendor and instrument exhibition, along with social events. Dasgupta will present “An Ion Chromatograph for Extraterrestrial Explorations — A Mission to Mars” during an 8:40 a.m. session on Tuesday, May 19. The Analytical Chemistry paper can be found at

Other symposia highlights will be plenary lectures by distinguished scientists including George Whitesides, professor of chemistry at Harvard University, and Milton Lee, professor of chemistry at Brigham Young University. Also scheduled to present is Kevin Schug, UT Arlington’s Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry and associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

 A full symposia schedule is available at For more information about the 39th International Symposium on Capillary Chromatography & 12th GC×GC Symposium, visit the event website at

Armstrong promoted the symposia in the April edition of The Analytical Scientist, in a special section devoted to multidimensional chromatography. Schug, who is a member of the local organizing committee for the symposia, also contributed to the edition with a piece about vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) technology as an alternative to mass spectrometry.

-- Greg Pederson, contributing writer

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of more than 50,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UT Arlington as the seventh fastest-growing public research university in 2013. U.S. News & World Report ranks UT Arlington fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. Visit to learn more, and find UT Arlington rankings and recognition at