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Hood gets grant for chemical process

April 30, 2001

Hood gets grant for chemical process



FREDERICK, Md. - A new technology that can separate a complex array of large and small molecules will be incorporated into Hood College chemistry classes next year thanks to a $28,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

The technique, called capillary electrophoresis, or CE, can be applied to pharmaceuticals, pollutants, proteins, DNA and RNA, said Kevin Bennett, assistant professor of chemistry at Hood.

"Laboratory experiments using CE will provide Hood students with practical experience in solving real-world problems, and the instrumental skills the students acquire will give them a competitive edge," Bennett said."It is important for our students to have hands-on experience in this modern technology because capillary electrophoresis has become the instrument of choice for many separations in chemistry and biochemistry."

"We plan on incorporating CE separation of caffeine in beverages into the general chemistry course, and some of these students may use CE separations for their end-of-the-year projects," said Sharron Smith, professor of chemistry.

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"In the analytical chemistry courses, students will gain an understanding of separation parameters through the application of CE technology in the investigation of real world problems such as water pollution. In the biological chemistry course, CE will be used to investigate amino acid charge/PH relationships and to learn more about separation of biological compounds."

Hood can incorporate this technology into the chemistry curriculum because of the college's association with Haleem J. Issaq, head of the Separation Technology Group at the Frederick Cancer Research and Development Center.

Several years ago, a Hood intern worked with Issaq in developing some of the first uses of CE technology. Since then, Issaq has arranged for Hood students and faculty to attend the Frederick Conference on Capillary Electrophoresis, the second largest CE conference in North America that is held annually at Hood College. Issaq will assist Hood in developing ways in which CE technology can best be used in courses.

Within the last five years, two additional grants from the NSF have enabled Hood's Department of Chemistry and Physics to acquire a gas chromatograph /mass spectrometer and molecular modeling laboratory equipment.

The NSF funds research and education in science and engineering through grants, contracts and cooperative agreements. The NSF accounts for about 20 percent of federal support to academic institutions.

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