Arts and Sciences Research Group Receives National Science Foundation Grant
Paul Bracher, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry; Elizabeth Hasenmueller, Ph.D.,
assistant professor of Earth and atmospheric sciences; and Daniel Warren, Ph.D., associate
professor of biology, received a grant earlier this month from the National Science
This grant will fund the purchase of an ICP spectrometer that will enable their research
teams to measure the concentrations of metals dissolved in solutions.
The total project cost (TPC) is $106,154. The NSF award is for 70 percent of the TPC,
which is $74,308. The remaining 30 percent is covered by SLU as part of the program’s
The three SLU professors came together out of a mutual need for ICP spectroscopy in
their respective research programs. The team applied for funding from the NSF’s Major
Research Instrumentation (MRI) program in January and was selected for funding after
a six-month merit review process.
Bracher’s research group is interested in determining how ions like potassium and
sodium might have affected chemical reactions that led to the origin of life on Earth.
Hasenmueller’s group will use the instrument to measure the concentrations of metals
in samples of water collected from the environment to study how human activity influences
Warren’s group will use the instrument to measure the mineral composition of bones
and study how bone tissue changes when it buffers acidosis.
“The pending installation of the Optima 8300 ICP spectrometer will enable cutting-edge
research projects across a number of departments at SLU,” Bracher said. “In my research
lab, the spectrometer will allow us to accurately measure concentrations of potassium
in water, which is a critical tool necessary in our investigation of how potassium
may have influenced the chemistry that led to the origin of life on Earth, four billion
The new instrument will also be used in a variety of courses offered in various departments
in the College of Arts and Sciences. The acquisition of an ICP spectrometer will enable
or enhance cutting-edge research projects across a variety of scientific disciplines
at the University and will have broader impacts that extend beyond SLU’s campus and
into the local community of St. Louis.
The instrument will enable hands-on, citizen-science activities for the analysis of
local water supplies, and once in operation, the instrument will be publicized and
made available to researchers beyond the SLU community.