Analytical chemistry is a subdiscipline within the study of chemistry that seeks greater understanding of the chemical composition of all matter. Analytical chemists are primarily concerned with quantitative and qualitative measurement.
Lou Ann Tom, Ph.D., conducts research in the area of molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs). Each polymer is designed to remove and allow detection of low levels of the specific molecule for which it was designed. One current project involves MIPs designed to detect sulfadimethoxine, an antibiotic widely used to treat intestinal parasites in domesticated and farm animals and is a concern if detected in environmental waters. MIPs for the separation of the enantiomers of chiral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including Ketoprofen and Ofloxacin, are also being prepared to investigate this technology for the removal of the inactive enantiomers that can possibly exhibit undesirable side effects. A third project is the investigation of the use of MIPs for the removal of sulfur-containing compounds from diesel fuel for pollution concerns.
The research provides students with experience in chemical and polymer synthesis, as well as significant experience on many laboratory instruments, including the NMR, GC/MS and HPLC. Most students generate enough new information on their projects to present their findings at chemical conferences.