Long before modern medical diagnostic methods were developed, physicians used their sense of smell to help diagnose illness. Today, instrumental methods can be used to separate, identify and quantify the components in a mixture of VOCs. In cases where a specific compound or mixture is characteristic of the presence of a certain pathogen, being able to determine the relative amounts of these compounds in the mixture can ultimately help in the development of new, rapid diagnostic methods.

I am dedicated to providing undergraduate students with practical research experiences that apply instrumental techniques to study a host of different systems. Current projects include:

  1. Developing rapid medical diagnostics using Raman spectroscopy and DNA-based molecular recognition elements called aptamers.
  2. Using GC-MS to understand nematode feeding and chemotaxis.
  3. Using GC-MS to study how yeast strain selection influences flavor compounds in wine fermentation.
  4. Combining principle component analysis (PCA) with trace element profiles in coffee beans measured by wavelength-dispersive X-ray fluorescence or inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry.

Earlier projects have measured lead in soil collected near municipal airports, metals, selenium and arsenic in mine tailings from northern California and Peru,

As you can see, students working in my group can expect to use a wide variety of specialized analytical instrumentation and multivariate data analysis to address these problems.