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Dasgupta receives prestigious national award from ACS


UT Arlington chemist Purnendu "Sandy" Dasgupta is being honored by the world's largest scientific society for pioneering advances in the field of chromatography, a process used in water quality studies, air pollution monitoring, drug development and more.

The American Chemical Society this week named Dasgupta the recipient of its 2011 Award for Chromatography. Award winners are chosen based on nominations from peers and expert reviewers in their field. Dasgupta will receive $5,000 along with the chromatography award, which is sponsored by Supelco Inc.

Dasgupta's work has greatly strengthened methods of ion chromatography. That is the process of separating and detecting ions - molecules bearing a net electrical charge - for analysis.

"The American Chemical Society's national awards are among the most respected in the worldwide scientific community. We are delighted that Dr. Dasgupta is being recognized to receive this high honor," said Donald R. Bobbitt, UT Arlington's Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. "His dedication and innovative approaches to improve complex chemical processes benefit not only the students fortunate enough to work with him, but society at-large."

Dasgupta is the Jenkins Garrett Professor of Chemistry at The University of Texas at Arlington. He came to the University in 2007, after a distinguished career at Texas Tech University. He has written more than 300 books and papers, holds 20 U.S. patents and has garnered more than $18 million in federal, state and private research grants. Some of his most noted research is on the presence of perchlorate, a contaminant, in the environment - a subject on which he has briefed the U.S. Congress.

Dasgupta's contributions to the field of chromatography, like much in his substantial and varied body of work, grew out of a desire to find more efficient, cost-effective ways to achieve a scientific goal. He then seeks to share those methods with others.

He invented the electrodialytic eluent generator used in modern ion chromatographs as a way to electrically generate high purity alkali hydroxides, thereby making results more reliable. The reagent generator also simplifies the Sandy Dasguptamethods of changing concentrations of that chemical. He also developed suppression technologies that use electricity to stimulate the continual replacement of alkali metal ions with hydrogen ions, eliminating the need to interrupt the chemical process.

"Other than Hamish Small (the first developer) no one has had a greater impact or made more contributions to modern ion chromatography (IC) than Sandy Dasgupta," Daniel W. Armstrong, UT Arlington's Robert A Welch Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry and the 1999 of the ACS's Award for Chromatography, said in a nomination letter to the ACS.

He continued: "Sandy's inventions (practical and theoretical) are the cornerstones of modern, state-of-the-art ion chromatography. Indeed, thanks to Sandy, today's ion chromatograph is more effective, more efficient, more compact and more broadly applicable than anything Hamish Small could have imagined possible."

Currently, Dasgupta's research team is using chromatographic methods to explore the presence of nitrophenols in urban air and its possible connection to harmful elevated ozone levels in morning hours. He also continues work in developing less-expensive and time-consuming methods of testing whether women of child-bearing age are getting enough iodine for proper fetal neural development.

"I've never really thought of myself as a chromatographer, so I'm really just tickled and honored by this award," he said. "My attitude has always been to look at a problem and see what solution you can bring to that problem."

Though he is the first faculty member to win an ACS national award while at the University, Dasgupta is certain that he will not be the last.

"UT Arlington is on its way to becoming a Tier One institution," he said. "We are fortunate that we have many eminent scholars and researchers here. Such awards will become one day commonplace among our faculty."