Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Alaska. New GC-MS Experiments and Experiences for College and Pre-College Students

A two-year project (proposal number 0736946) that is funded by the National Science Foundation, Division of Undergraduate Education, Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) program (December, 2007).

PIJohn Keller ffjwk@uaf.edu907-474-6042
Co-PITodd Gouin fftg@uaf.edu907-474-1966
Senior PersonnelCathy Cahill ffcfc@uaf.edu907-474-6905
 Marina Castillo ffmrc@uaf.edu907-474-7732
 Tom Clausen fftpc@uaf.edu907-474-5512
 Emily Reiter fnear@uaf.edu907-474-6748

Abstract. This is a project to enhance teaching -and student learning- of concepts and procedures of environmental chemistry at the pre-college, freshman, and advanced undergraduate levels at UAF. The project will begin with purchase and installation of an Agilent gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer (GC-MS), model 5895C Inert XL with chemical ionization (CI) and electron impact (EI) sources, and a CombiPal sample injector with headspace and SPME (solid-phase microextraction) capabilities. This instrument will significantly enhance the department's analytical capabilities and will enable faculty to offer a variety of new experiments to students at all levels.

Agilent GC-MS instrument. The machine is installed and working - June 2008.

Agilent 5895C Inert XL gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer (shown with the standard autosampler, which will be replaced by the CombiPal sampling robot seen at the right).

The CombiPal robot can inject liquid samples, vapors arising from the headspace of an enclosed sample, or a fiber with sample molecules adsorbed to it (a solid phase micro-extraction SPME fiber).

Proposed Experiments, Laboratory Courses, and Participating Faculty. Check our progress with each new experiment by clicking on the course entry. 
Course GC-MS Experiment Faculty
Rural Alaska Honors Institute pre-college chemistry (Chem 165)Analysis of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in AlaskaMarina Castillo, Todd Gouin, and John Keller
General chemistry for science majors (Ch 105)Isotopic analysis of halogenated organicsEmily Reiter and John Keller
Organic chemistry laboratory (Chem 324)Mass spectral analysis of fragrance moleculesJohn Keller and Tom Clausen
Advanced analytical lab (Chem 413)Equilibrium partitioning of POPsTodd Gouin
Physical chemistry laboratory (Chem 434)Forensic analysis of fingerprint fatty acidsCatherine Cahill


Cindy Fabbri (907-474-1558,, from the UAF School of Education, is helping design assessment instruments and write assessment reports for the project. Each proposed experiment has a different specific educational goal. The goals and proposed assessment methods are described in the Project Description (see link below). Also, each of the linked project pages does, or will, have a section detailing assessment plans or results to date.

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