JMS_v52_i10_CoverThe Analytical chemistry group at UT recently received a very pleasant and well-deserved recognition: the paper MALDI‐FT‐ICR‐MS for Archaeological Lipid Residue Analysis J. Mass Spectrom. 2017, 52, 689-700 led by research fellow Dr Ester Oras was selected by the editorial board as the cover article for the Oct 2017 issue of the Journal of Mass Spectrometry!

Ester_OrasEster’s research demonstrates that tiny (and to a large extent degraded) food remains on ceramic potsherds, dating back many hundreds of years, can still tell interesting stories about the food practices of our ancestors. The key to these results is clever usage of high-resolution FT-MS with MALDI ion source.

The developed methodology is expected to lay foundation to further studies of ancient food practices in Europe.

 

(Photo on the left: cover of the Oct 2017 issue of the Journal of Mass Spectrometry; photo on the right: Ester Oras)

 

Validation_of_LC-MS_Methods_Online_CourseWe are glad to announce that the second edition of the online course LC-MS Method Validation is open for registration at the address https://sisu.ut.ee/lcms_method_validation/ !

The course will be offered as a Massive Open On-line Course (MOOC) during Nov 28, 2017 – Feb 09, 2018. This is the second edition of this MOOC and, differently from the last year’s edition, the number of participants is not limited this time. So, whoever is interested is welcome to register!

This is a practice-oriented on-line course on validation of analytical methods, specifically using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry as technique, mostly (but not limited to) using the electrospray (ESI) ion source. The course introduces the main concepts and mathematical apparatus of validation, covers the most important method performance parameters and ways of estimating them. The course is largely based on the recently published two-part tutorial review:

The course contains lectures, practical exercises and numerous tests for self-testing. In spite of being introductory, the course intends to offer sufficient knowledge and skills for carrying out validation for most of the common LC-MS analyses in routine laboratory environment. The real-life analysis situations for which there are either examples or self-tests are for example pesticide analyses in fruits and vegetables, perfluororalkyl acids in water, antibiotics in blood serum, glyphosate and AMPA in surface water, etc. It is important to stress, that for successful validation experience (both in analytical chemistry as such and also specifically in validation) is crucial and this can be acquired only through practice.

The course is free of charge. Receiving digital certificate (in the case of successful completion) is also free of charge. Printed certificate (to be sent by post) is available for a fee of 60 EUR. Registration is possible until the start of the course. The course material is available from the above address all the time and can be used via web by anyone who wishes to improve the knowledge and skills in analytical method validation (especially when using LC-ESI-MS).

 

DSC_0294Mass spectrometry is currently probably the No 1 technique for determining trace-level components in complex (especially biomed-related) mixtures. The key issues in such applications are sample preparation, sample introduction to MS and ionization of components of interest (analytes). Big efforts are continually made to improve any of them.

In his recent development – Sponge sprayMax Hecht, an AMS graduate, now PhD student at UT attempts improvements in all of the above issues. The elegant approach proposed by Max utilizes a volumetric sampling device – a hydrophilic sponge, which after absorbing a predetermined amount of sample (e.g. blood or urine), can be directly used for sample introduction to MS and ionizing the analytes.

The seriousness of the work has been demonstrated by the fact that it was accepted for publication by Analytical Chemistry, the top journal in the field. The published article Sponge Spray – Reaching New Dimensions of Direct Sampling and Analysis by MS is now available from the journal website.

Further developments of this approach may lead e.g. to fast medical diagnosis MS methods that, contrary to the current situation with MS in medicine, could be applied as “bed-side” diagnosis tools in hospitals.

(Photo: Max Hecht working with the sponge spray ion source)

 

Introductory_Meeting_with_EACH_and_AMS_Students_2017This week was the first study week for the new students of Applied Measurement Science and EACH Erasmus Mundus Joint Programme. Altogether 23 students started their studies. The countries of origin of the students are Vietnam, Philippines, Hungary, Serbia, Nepal, China, Hong Kong, Georgia, Romania, Mexico, Indonesia, Venezuela, Pakistan and Turkey. During the introductory meeting an overview of the programme was given (see the slides) and a large number of questions were asked and answered, accompanied by tea/coffee and cake.

We wish successful studies to all new students!

 

EACH_Defence_Lyon_2017On September 7, 2017 the second master thesis defence session in the history of the EACH programme took place at University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 (UCBL)! Aleksandra Lelevic, Gaurav Bhardwaj, Huian Liu, Marko Jovanovic, Oleksandra Burakhovska, Olivier Etebe Nonga, Rudolf Aro and Tetiana Melnyk successfully defended their master’s theses.

Congratulations to all of you!

The topics of the theses embraced a wide area of modern analytical problems (top-down LC-MS proteomics, industrial process control with gas chromatography and Raman spectrometry, accurate moisture measurement in solids, FT-IR analysis of plasticizers in concrete, etc). The majority of the theses were performed in collaboration with industry. This choice of topics and the long-standing industrial collaboration is rooted in the world-famous industrial analysis and control study direction at UCBL led by prof. Jérôme Randon.

At a small cosy drink after the defence students shared their memories of the study period in Lyon. The students were generally very happy about their study track. They praised especially the long and serious placement in industry, which taught them a wide range of useful skills and enabled establishing many contacts. Students also spoke about their future plans. Several of them have already secured jobs/positions.

On photo from the left: Marko, Jerome (academic coordinator at Lyon), Oleksandra, Olivier, Huian, Aleksandra, Rudolf, Gaurav (Tetiana unfortunately had to leave earlier).

 

Anu_Teearu_Kristjan_HaavThis is the range of topics addressed on Aug 16, 2017 as PhD dissertations addressing these topics were defended at UT Institute of Chemistry.

 

Anu_Teearu_presenting_her_PhD_ThesisAnu Teearu (left on the photo) in her thesis titled Development of MALDI-FT-ICR-MS methodology for the analysis of resinous materials addressed the analysis of resinous materials in order to obtain the maximum amount of high-accuracy data from these complex materials. Several important methodological developments (novel calibrants, novel matrix materials, etc) were introduced to MALDI-FT-ICR-MS and its capabilities were assessed during the analysis of three case study samples originating from different types of cultural heritage objects.

 

Kristja_Haav_presenting_his_PhD_ThesisThe central aim of the thesis of Kristjan Haav Quantitative relative equilibrium constants measurements in supramolecular chemistry was development of highly accurate binding constant measurement methods. The key development was measuring relative equilibrium constants instead of absolute ones, which enables eliminating or strongly reducing the influence on several error sources. Kristjan tested the applicability of this approach on two instrumental techniques: UV-vis spectrophotometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry (NMR). Comparison of the two – completely independent – techniques showed good agreement between the obtained results and thus supports the reliability of both of them.

Kristjan Haav is an alumnus of the Applied Measurement Science programme.

UT_Students_at_ASC_Summer_School_Druskininkai_2017On Saturday 22.07.2017 The MSC Euromaster Summer School 2017 (Druskininkai, Lithuania) finished. Extensive learning programme combined with a lot of fun, meeting new people and sharing experience. The feedback from some of the UT participants is below and it indicates that the Summer School was again a success!

 

Malika_Beishanova

 

 

Malika Beishanova (Kazakhstan) (photo: taking a water sample for analysis):
MSC Summer School was as much useful as it was fun. The study program was intensive and allowed to review and apply what we have learnt at the EACH program in Tartu as well as gain new knowledge and experience. The two weeks were packed with activities and time flew by so fast. The school is truly international, and the atmosphere extremely friendly. I enjoyed a lot!

 

Nguyen Duc Khanh Tho

 

 

Duc Khan Tho Nguyen (Vietnam) (photo: during lab visit):
It was an excellent summer school ever with so much fun and a lot of works as well. It brought me not only great chance to learn more about Metrology in Analytical Chemistry but also interesting practical works. Our door activities and the trips to different laboratories were also the amazing time. Two weeks passed by in a blink of an eye, but it was just a beginning for the lifetime friendship we have made with so many interesting people. I would like to give a big thank to professor Ivo, professor Philip and all lecturers for providing us such a great opportunity.

Thi Duong Bui

 

Thi Duong Bui (Vietnam) (Photo: group work presentation):
MSC- Summer School 2017 in Druskininkai, Lithuania was the unique and special experience for me. It was a precious chance to practice and revise the knowledge that professor Ivo Leito taught us during the Metrology in Chemistry course and to have a deeper understanding in Metrology and Measurement.
The MSC- Summer School 2017 was far better than what I expected with intensive courses, group works, and individual works. Besides that, I had a really good time with friends from different countries from all over the world, we had great excursions to nature, explored Vilnius, Druskininkai, had fun in the Aqua Park, etc.
Thank you for giving me a good opportunity to participate in the Summer School.

Emeka Emecheta

 

 

Emeka Ephraim Emecheta (Nigeria):
I now feel quite confident as an Analytical chemist having fully participated in this practical oriented programme. I achieved beyond my expectations. However, am earnestly greatful to UT for equipping me with the underlying knowledge about Analytical Measurement which apparently gave me strong advantage during this programme.

 

Jay Pee Ona MSC Summer School

 

 

 

 

Jay Pee Oña (Philippines):
I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciated the opportunity to join the Summer school. It has been an amazing learning experience for me. I was able to meet a fellow Filipino there and I was thinking that since we have the materials we could partner up to open the topic of metrology to a wider audience back at home. Again my sincerest thanks for this opportunity!

 

The 2018 MSC Summer school will take place in Estonia.

 

 

MSC_Summer_School_2017During 9-22 July 2017 the 10th MSC Euromaster summer school in Druskinkai, (Lithuania, 130 km from the capital Vilnius).

As in previous years, a core aim of the Summer school is shifting the activities away from the classical lecture-type of teaching by increasing the share of discussions, hands-on work, teamwork. A key activity of the summer school is the contest of student teams (setting up virtual laboratories and interacting with customers), which tests their knowledge and skills in all areas of metrology in chemistry.

Five students from University of Tartu take part in the summer school. Four students are from the EACH programme: Thi Duong Bui, Duc Khan Tho Nguyen, Malika Beishanova, Jay Pee Oña. One student, Emeka Ephraim Emecheta is from the AMS programme.

We wish exciting and enjoyable Summer school to all participants!

(Photo: Philip Taylor)

 

EACH_Master_Thesis_Defence_at_Uppsala_2017On June 26, 2017 the first master thesis defence in the history of the EACH programme took place at Uppsala University! Monika Kish, Cenyi Li, Nikola Radoman, Rabin Neupane, Ru Fang, Sandy Abujrais and Santosh Acharya successfully defended their master’s theses.

Congratulations to all of you!

The topics of the theses embraced a wide area of modern biomed- and environmental analytical problems (LC-MS analysis of aggregates of antibody drug conjugates, quantification of peptide drugs, analysis of dissolved organic matter in natural waters, etc). All of them featured the use of highly sophisticated analytical instrumentation, such as high-resolution MS, liquid-handling robots, etc. This choice of topics is rooted in the world-famous biomedical analysis research direction at Uppsala University led by prof. Jonas Bergquist.

(On photo from the left: Jonas, Sandy, Monika, Ivo, Santosh, Ru, Nikola, Cenyi, Rabin)

 

Leito_LCMS_Validation_EuroMS_2017On 21.06.17 Ivo Leito gave a talk titled Review on validation of liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry methods at the Euro Mass Spectrometry 2017 meeting (London, UK). The talk focused on the two-part Tutorial review on validation of liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC-MS) methods

as well as on the related on-line course (MOOC) LC-MS Method Validation and the ValChrom validation software.

The reception of this talk was one of the warmest during the meeting! Several participants came later to say words of thank for offering such a valuable resource to the LC-MS community. There were also some interesting ideas proposed regarding topics that could be covered in the online course. LC-MS and MiC issues, such as validation, are among core competences of the UT Analytical Chemistry research group. The tutorial review, the on-line course, as well as the ValChrom software together form a nice outcome of joining these competences together.

Concerning the topics of the meeting in general, they were remarkably diverse and not so heavily dominated by biomedical MS as is often the case at mass spectrometry meetings. Interesting presentations were given on gas-phase ion processes, different laser techniques in MS (e.g. for analysis of solids without sample preparation), advanced catalysis studies by MS, LC-ICP-DRC-MS for trace element speciation, the possibility of making a high-end LC-HRMS system an “open access” system within an organization, etc.

 

Irja_Helm_Conducting_Dissolved_Oxygen_Measurement_Training_in_UruguayDuring Jun 12-16, 2017 research fellow Irja Helm from University of Tartu, Institute of Chemistry is conducting a training session on high-accuracy dissolved oxygen measurement in Montevideo (Uruguay). The local organiser of the training is LATU (Laboratorio Tecnológico del Uruguay). There are 8 participants in the training, from Uruguay, Argentina, Ecuador and Peru.

The training is centered around the high-accuracy Winkler titration method of dissolved oxygen concentration measurement that Irja developed during her PhD study: I. Helm, L. Jalukse, I. Leito “A highly accurate method for determination of dissolved oxygen: Gravimetric Winkler method” Analytica Chimica Acta 2012, 741, 21–31. The training is interesting in the sense that most of it is carried out in laboratory, where participants do measurements hands-on. The experimental setup was assembled jointly by LATU and by Irja. The practical orientation is well in line with the main purpose of the training – to introduce the high-accuracy Winkler method to the reference laboratories in the participant countries.

The training is organised in the framework of the project „Regional Quality Infrastructure Fund for Biodiversity and Climate Protection in Latin America and the Caribbean“ (VH-No.: 95094) coordinated by PTB (Germany).

(Photo: Irja Helm, on the left, together with training participants in laboratory)

 

University of TartuIn a recent ranking of world universities by QS, one of the world’s leading compilers of university performance ratings, the University of Tartu scored a high 314. place (up by 33 places from the last year) and maintains the highest rank among Estonian and Baltic universities.

Out of the criteria used by QS the improvement was especially strong in the category “Employer reputation”: up by 90 places from the last year. The criteria “Faculty student ratio”, “Number of international students” and “Research” also improved. Considering that there are around 26 000 universities in the world, this result places UT within the best 1.2% universities in the world!

 

Measurement_Uncertainty_MOOC_Successfully_FinishedOn May 18, 2017 the MOOC Estimation of measurement uncertainty in chemical analysis offered by University of Tartu finished successfully.
Eventually altogether 363 people registered (270 in 2014, 489 in 2015, 757 in 2016) from 69 countries (a number of participants joined after the start of the course). The significantly lower number of participants is understandably due to the fact that this year for the first time the certificate on paper was not free of charge. 219 participants actually started the course (i.e. tried at least one graded test at least once) and out of them 148 successfully completed the course (141 in 2014, 169 in 2015, 308 in 2016). The overall completion rate was 41% (52% in 2014, 34% in 2015, 40% in 2016). The completion rate of participants who started the studies was 68% (67% in 2014, 60% in 2015, 67% in 2016). The completion rates of participants who actually started the course are nicely consistent over the years and can be considered very good for a MOOC, especially one that has quite difficult calculation exercises, which need to be done correctly for completing the course.

The participants were very active and asked lots of questions. These were often very much to the point and addressed things that are really important to analysts in their everyday work. The course has several forums (general and by topic) and the overall number of posts to them during the course period reached beyond 300 (!) (overall number of posts, both from participants and from teachers) and the forums are still active and posts are still coming in.

This active participation made teaching this MOOC a great experience also for us, the teachers. The discussion threads gave a lot of added value to the course and some of them triggered making important modifications to the course materials, even during the course.

We want to thank all participants for helping to make this course a success!

We plan to repeat this course again in Spring 2018.

 

EACH_AMS_Master_Seminar_Spring_2017Today on Sat 20.05.17 the concluding event of the joint master seminar of the EACH and AMS programmes took place. Its main activities were the feedback session on employability from Prof. Salzer (TU Dresden) and concluding the Group work of helping a water production company to choose, which analytical technique to implement in their lab for analysis of trace elements in drinking water according to the EC directive 98/83/EC Quality of Water Intended for Human Consumption.

Prof. Salzer gave feedback on the CVs and motivation letters that the students wrote according to the guidance given by him earlier this week. He praised the group and gave, on the example of CVs and motivation letters of students, a number of good hints for improvements.

The above mentioned group work has been going on since the beginning of the semester and its essence is that students are divided into groups and each group is a small consultation company that intends to guide a water production plant, as to which trace element technique to implement in their lab, taking into account the amount of water produced, the corresponding required number of samples per year according to 98/83/EC, the cost of the equipment, the running costs, etc. The groups had to justify their recommendations. The groups did well and came up with different suggestions: GFAAS (together with CVAAS), ICP-OES (together with voltammetry) and ICP-MS.
Both of these activities are expected also for future seminars of these prorammes.

 

Pilleriin Peets presenting at Technart 2017

Pilleriin Peets presenting at Technart 2017

On May 02, 2017, the first day of the Technart 2017 conference (Bilbao, Spain) doctoral student Pilleriin Peets from UT Analytical Chemistry group made a presentation Identification and classification of textile fibres using ATR‐FT‐IR spectroscopy with chemometric methods (Photo on the left).

The presentation outlines the recent results by Pilleriin in creating the method for quick, easy and non-destructive classification and semi-quantitative analysis of textiles using ATR-FT-IR spectroscopy combined with chemometric data analysis methods.

She investigated altogether 89 individual textile materials – Wool, Silk, Cotton, Linen, Cellulose acetate, Lyocell/Tenzel, Viscose, Polyester fibre, Polyamide fibre, Polyacrylic fibre, Elastane and their different combinations – and created a discrimination/classification model using principal component analysis (Image on the right).

Classification of textiles by ATR-FT-IR and principal component analysis, PCA (single-fibre model)

Classification of textiles by ATR-FT-IR and principal component analysis, PCA (single-fibre model)

As a side-product of this work, a collection of ATR-FT-IR spectra of textile materials containing one or two different fibres was composed and is deposited in the Supplementary data of the paper that she recently published: P. Peets et al. Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy 2017, 173, 175–181.

This collection of ATR-FT-IR spectra helps to identify different kind of single- and two-component mixed textiles.

Technart conference series is a premier scientific forum dedicated to applying analytical techniques in the field of art and cultural heritage.

 

 

Awards2017-Website&Facebook-share-1200x630On the 5th of April 2017 the European Commission and Europa Nostra announced the winners of the 2017 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards, Europe’s top honour in the heritage field.

Among the 29 laureates (from 18 countries) is also the Rode Altarpiece Research and Conservation Project (research category) of the high altar of St. Nicholas’ Church in Tallinn.

The project was coordinated by Dr. Hilkka Hiiop from the Art Museum of Estonia. This project also involves several scientists from the chair of analytical chemistry at the University of Tartu, among them Dr. Signe Vahur and her student Krete Saak, and Dr. Riin Rebane, who carried out a thorough material analysis.

The Award Ceremony will be held in Turku, Finland on the 15th of May 2017. During the ceremony, in addition to seven Grand Prix laureates also the Public Choice Award winner will be announced. Everyone has a chance to vote for 3 of their favourite projects, and thereby enter a draw to win a trip for two to Turku and take part in the European Heritage Awards Ceremony on 15th of May. The deadline for casting your votes is the 3rd of May, 2017.

Further information on the project can be found on the web page: Rode Altarpiece in Close-up.

 

CreativeEuropeLogo Europa NostraLogo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UT_Measurement_Uncertainty_MOOC_Participants_2017On Monday, March 27, 2017 the web course “Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis” was launched the third time as a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course).

Currently 336 participants from 62 countries are registered. The somewhat decreased popularity of the course is most probably due to the fact that starting from this year certificate of completion on paper is not free of charge (digital certificate is still free). Given this change, we are actually surprised that we still have so many participants! Image on the left shows the countries where the participants come from. As in the previous years, the majority of participants are from analytical laboratories, once again demonstrating the continuing need for training in measurement uncertainty estimation in analytical chemistry.

The full course material is accessible from the web page https://sisu.ut.ee/measurement/uncertainty. Some developments and improvements have been made to the course material, in particular, better description of course organisatsion a self-test on sophisticated uncertainty estimation taking numerically into account the limited selectivity of the technique (potentiometry with ion-selective electrode). Some changes are still in the pipeline. The course materials include videos, schemes, calculation files and numerous self-tests (among them also full-fledged measurement uncertainty calculation exercises). In order to pass the course the registered participants have to take six graded tests and get higher than 50% score. These tests are available to registered participants via the Moodle e-learning platform.

 

Measurement_Uncertainty_Value_Error_EtcThe online course Estimation of measurement uncertainty in chemical analysis will start its 4th edition on Monday, Mar 27, 2017. 300 participants have already been registered from 58 countries. Registration is still open and all people interested to learn this important topic are welcome to participate!

The registration link is available from the course website: https://sisu.ut.ee/measurement/uncertainty

 

LCMS Method Validation online course offered by UTOn Feb 16, 2017 the MOOC LC-MS Method Validation finished successfully.
Altogether 303 people were registered from 61 countries. 224 participants actually started the course (i.e. tried at least one graded test at least once) and out of them 168 successfully completed the course. The overall completion rate was 55%. The completion rate of participants who started the studies was 75%. Both completion rates are all time highest that our group has seen in our MOOCs!

The questions from the participants were often very interesting, often addressed things that are really important to analysts in their everyday work and in several cases led to improvements in the course. This active participation made teaching this MOOC a great experience also for us, the teachers! The discussion threads gave a lot of added value to the course and some of them triggered making important modifications to the course materials.

We want to thank all participants for helping to make this course a success!

We plan to repeat this course again in Autumn 2017.

 

Pilleriin_PeetsAmong the analytical chemistry research directions at UT are studies of materials, especially materials with artistic and/or historic relevance. Textiles have a prominent place among these materials and the leading force of textile analysis in our group is PhD student Pilleriin Peets.

We have the pleasure to announce that her master’s thesis defended in June 2016 “Method development for textile dye analysis on the example of red dyes” was awarded with the 1st prize in the Estonian National Contest for University Students supported by Estonian Research Council. Congratulations, Pilleriin!
This very interesting and challenging master’s thesis involved development of methodologies using complementary techniques – FT-ICR-MS with ESI and MALDI sources, LC-QQQ-MS, SEM-EDS – for thoroughgoing investigation of composition of red dyes.

Natural dyes (extracted from plants and insects) are complex mixtures of sophisticated organic compounds and their chemical composition is still not fully known. Dyes can be divided into different groups (antraquinones, flavonoids etc) but within a group they can be quite similar. In order to fix dyes on fabrics mordants (alum, tannic acid etc) are commonly used. Identifying dyes and mordants in textiles is challenging: samples are very small, analyte concentrations are low, objects consist of many components (incl. impurities) and their decomposition products. So, accurate methods that can work with small amounts of sample and very low analyte contents in samples, are still needed.

Pilleriin_Peets_taking_textile_samplesDuring her master’s studies Pilleriin Peets managed to overcome all these difficulties and developed a useful methodology for dye analysis. At first Pilleriin collected different red dyes (madder, cochineal etc), dyed pure wool pieces and then extracted the dyes from dyed wool. During dyeing she adjusted different recipes and developed suitable dyeing procedure. After that she analysed all these dye standard solutions and fibre extracts, using HPLC-QQQ-MS, ESI- and MALDI-FT-ICR-MS methods and developed a suitable measurement methodology for every dye. Additionally, different mordants were analysed from known mordanted samples and unknown real samples using SEM-EDS. The developed methodology was applied to real samples from the Estonian National Museum and private collections (photo on the right: Pilleriin taking textile samples at the Estonian National Museum).

These developed methodologies are right now being extended to the analysis of other colours and dyes: Pillerin continues this investigation during her PhD studies and in the future there will be coming much more interesting research developments in this topic.

Pilleriin started with serious scientific research already in the bachelor’s studies: she developed an approach of classification of single- and two-component textile materials using ATR-FT-IR spectra and chemometric methods, principal component analysis (PCA) and discriminant analysis on the basis of altogether 89 textile samples belonging to 26 different types (11 one- and 15 two-component textiles). This work has been published in Spectrochimica Acta Part A 2017, 173, 175-181.

 

each-students-meeting-prof-fraser-stoddartOn Monday 12.12.2016 the 2nd year EACH students studying at Uppsala had the wonderful opportunity to meet Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, one of the three 2016 Chemistry Nobel prize laureates. The 2016 Chemistry Nobel prize was awarded for the contributions to design and synthesis of molecular machines.

On the photo Prof. Stoddart is in the middle of the second row. In the first row on the right is prof. Jonas Bergquist (the EACH coordinator at Uppsala) who organized the meeting.

 

UT_LC_MS_Validation_MOOC_Participants_2016On Monday, November 28, 2016 the web course LC-MS Method Validation was launched for the first time as a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course). There are 301 registered participants from 61 countries, ranging from Vietnam to Peru and from Norway to Zambia. Image on the left shows the countries where the participants come from.

This is a practice-oriented on-line course on validation of analytical methods, specifically using LC-MS as technique. The course introduces the main concepts and mathematical apparatus of validation, covers the most important method performance parameters and ways of estimating them. The course follows the tradition set by the course Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis launched in 2014. Differently from the uncertainty course, the LC-MS validation course is delivered by a team of 8 teachers, each with their own specific area of competence. This way it is expected to offer the best possible knowledge in the different subtopics of analytical method validation.

The full course material is accessible from the web page https://sisu.ut.ee/lcms_method_validation/. The course materials include videos, schemes, calculation files and numerous self-tests (among them also full-fledged calculation exercises). In order to pass the course the registered participants have to take all tests and get higher than 50% score from each of them. These tests are available to registered participants via the Moodle e-learning platform. Participants who successfully pass the course will get a certificate from the University of Tartu.

It is planned to run this course as MOOC again in autumn 2017.

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

 

EACH_Erasmus_Mundus_JMDWe are glad to announce that the 2017 admission is officially open to the Excellence in Analytical Chemistry (EACH) Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree programme!

This international two-year joint master degree programme educates specialists in analytical chemistry well qualified to work in industry (food, pharmaceutical, materials, energy, etc) and chemical analysis laboratories (environment, food, health, etc) worldwide. EACH provides knowledge and practical skills in both fundamental and applied aspects of modern analytical chemistry. Practical internship placement in industry or laboratories is an important part of the training.

The programme is suitable both for students who have finished their bachelor’s studies and want to continue in master’s studies, as well as for working analytical chemistry practitioners wishing to spend couple of years to bring their knowledge and skills to a new level.

The programme features generous scholarships as detailed in the Scholarships and tuition fees page.

The programme is taught by four universities: University of Tartu (UT, coordinator), Estonia; Uppsala University (UU), Sweden; University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 (UCBL), France; and Åbo Akademi University (AAU), Finland. The language of instruction is English, but students will also learn to communicate in one of the languages of the countries involved.

The online application form, admission requirements, deadlines, list of necessary documents, instructions/explanations, as well as contact data for questions are available from the EACH Admission information page.

 

 

esikaas_2We are glad to announce the online course LC-MS Method Validation!

It has been set up at University of Tartu during 2015-2016 and its version 1 is now accessible from the address https://sisu.ut.ee/lcms_method_validation/

The course will be offered as a Massive Open On-line Course (MOOC) during Nov 28, 2016 – Feb 09, 2017 and it is now open for registration via the above address. The course is free of charge. This is the first edition of this MOOC and it will be offered to a limited number of participants.

This is a practice-oriented on-line course on validation of analytical methods, specifically using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry as technique, mostly (but not limited to) using the electrospray (ESI) ion source. The course introduces the main concepts and mathematical apparatus of validation, covers the most important method performance parameters and ways of estimating them. The course is largely based on the recently published two-part tutorial review:

The course contains lectures, practical exercises and numerous tests for self-testing. In spite of being introductory, the course intends to offer sufficient knowledge and skills for carrying out validation for most of the common LC-MS analyses in routine laboratory environment. The real-life analysis situations for which there are either examples or self-tests are for example pesticide analyses in fruits and vegetables, perfluororalkyl acids in water, antibiotics in blood serum, glyphosate and AMPA in surface water, etc. It is important to stress, that for successful validation experience (both in analytical chemistry as such and also specifically in validation) is crucial and this can be acquired only through practice.

This course material is available from the above address all the time and can be used via web by anyone who wishes to improve the knowledge and skills in analytical method validation (especially when using LC-ESI-MS).

 

Leito_CroLab_2016On Oct 20, 2016 Ivo Leito gave presentation titled Education Activities in Metrology in Chemistry in Vinkovci (Croatia) at the conference Laboratory Competence 2016 organized by CroLab – the Croatian Association of Laboratories.

The presentation contains information about the Applied Measurement Science and Excellence in Analytical Chemistry master’s programmes et University of Tartu, about the international consortium Measurement Science in Chemistry, about the on-line course Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis and the new on-line course LC/MS Method Validation. Also the recently published tutorial reviews were touched upon.

The presentation led to a number of new contacts and invitation to next events. Participants were impressed by the breadth of activities as well as by the very strong team working on these things at UT. In addition, Ivo Leito was interviewed by the Croatian national television.

 

EcoBalt_2016_Group_PhotoOn Wednesday 12.10.16 the EcoBalt 2016 conference – first time organized in Tartu, Estonia – finished successfully! 42 oral talks and 43 posters were offered to the more than 150 participants from more than 25 countries. The conference featured two tutorial sessions – on measurement uncertainty and on validation of LC/MS analytical methods. The mesmerizing introductory multimedia presentation by Sven Zacek about Estonian nature and the stunning closure talk about “impossible things” by Meelika Hirmo from Let’s Do It! World were certainly among the highlights of the conference.

A number of AMS and EACH students participated in the conference.

We thank all the participants for making EcoBalt 2016 a success!

Full information about the conference, including the conference programme and EcoBalt 2016 Book of Abstracts can be found at the EcoBalt 2016 website.

EcoBalt 2016 was organized by the University of Tartu with Tallinn University of Technology and Estonian Environmental Research Centre.

EcoBalt2016 received financial support from a number of sources. We thank all supporters! Without their help the conference would not have been possible.

  • EU_Regional_Development_Fund_horizontalFor organisation of international events and conferences from Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure in cooperation with the Enterprise Estonia tourism development centre from funding provided by the European Union Regional Development Fund.
  • kik_eng_logo_horizontalSecond day of the conference was fully supported by Environmental Investment Centre.
  • The following companies supported the conference: LaboChema, Ramboll, Ordior, Quantum, SyntPot, HNK, Waters, Armgate and LanLab.

 

eesti-keskkonnauuringute-keskus_riidekoti_kujundusIn few hours the EcoBalt 2016 conference will start, for the first time in Tartu!

The EcoBalt conference series has traditions dating back to 1993 and has been envisaged from the beginning as a Baltic event. Nevertheless, this is the first time that it takes place in Estonia (previously only in Latvia and Lithuania).

We are very glad to welcome more than 160 registered participants from more than 25 countries, making it a truly international conference! The nearby countries are represented as well as e.g. Philippines, Mexico, India, China, Nepal, Sri Lanka, … A number of AMS students also participate in EcoBalt 2016!

The EcoBalt 2016 programme is very diverse: topics ranging from ultramodern environmental analytical techniques to environmental management and from nanoparticles in environment to global climate change.

EcoBalt 2016 is organised jointly by UT in collaboration with TTU and Estonian Environmental Research Centre in the framework of the ECAC consortium.

 

mooc_vs_traditional_courses_in_chemistryOn Sept 13, 2016 Ivo Leito gave a presentation Using MOOCs for teaching analytical chemistry: experience at University of Tartu at the EuCheMS 2016 Congress (Seville, Spain).

The presentation outlined the contents and organisation of the material in the on-line course Estimation of measurement uncertainty in chemical analysis, the different ways of using the on-line material (for independent learning, for self-testing, as an information source and as a basis for running as a MOOC) and the experience of running it as a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) at University of Tartu during the three MOOC editions in 2014 to 2016. An important part of the presentation was devoted to analyzing the pros and cons of MOOCs as a way of teaching and in particular as a way of teaching analytical chemistry (or its subdisciplines). It was concluded that MOOCs do have advantages, especially if compared to short training courses for practitioners. The talk created quite some interest and discussions after the session.

Detailed discussion of this topic has been published: I. Leito, I. Helm, L. Jalukse. Anal Bioanal Chem 2015, 407, 1277–1281.
The course material is available for all interested people from https://sisu.ut.ee/measurement/

Preparation of a new MOOC course Validation of LC-MS analysis methods is currently underway by the group of analytical chemistry. The materials of the LC-MS validation course are nearing completion and are already available online.

 

EACH_and_AMS_Students_UT_2016This week was the first study week for the new Applied Measurement Science students and EACH Erasmus Mundus. Altogether 19 students started their studies. The countries of origin of the students are Vietnam, Philippines, Russia, Serbia, Kazakhstan, China, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Nigeria, Mexico, Lithuania, Tunisia, Pakistan and Greece. During the introductory meeting an overview of the programme was given (see the slides) and a large number of questions were asked and answered, accompanied by tea/coffee and cake.

We wish successful studies to all new students!

 

Asko_Laaniste_Hanno_EvardThese very important (and up to now not completely solved) questions got a lot clearer on Aug 31, 2016 as PhD dissertations addressing these topics were defended at UT Institute of Chemistry.

Asko Laaniste (left on the photo) in his thesis titled Comparison and optimisation of novel mass spectrometry ionisation sources has carried out an extensive experimental comparison of 4 different LC-MS ion sources operated altogether in 7 different modes in the analysis of 41 different pesticides. The obtained large pool of data was used for comparing the sources in terms of matrix effects, limit of detection (LoD), repeatability, linearity, signal to noise ratio (S/N) and sensitivity.

Asko demonstrated that for low levels of analytes in most cases the conventional ESI is the ion source of choice (provided the analytes are ionizable with ESI), while dopant-assisted APPI is a good alternative if low detection limits are not required and if compounds not ionizable with ESI are determined.

This is currently the most comprehensive comparison of this type available and Asko’s thesis (and the forthcoming publication) could serve as a “desk manual“ for LC-MS practitioners on choosing ion source for LC-MS analysis.

The central question of Hanno Evard’s thesis Estimating limit of detection for mass spectrometric analysis methods was: what is the best way of evaluating detection limit (LoD) of an analytical method? There are around ten widespread approaches for LoD in the literature (plus less well known ones) and the LoD values obtained using different approaches can differ by up to 10 times.

Hanno (right on the photo) carried out comprehensive analysis of the literature approaches and combined that with extensive experiments. As a result he was able to propose and convincingly justify one approach, which has merits over others and should be used for evaluation of LoD.

A two-part tutorial review on this topic is in press with the Analytica Chimica Acta journal and we expect that it will be for analytical chemists the definitive source on LoD estimation for years to come.

Hanno Evard is an alumnus of the AMS programme.

 

Our warmest congratulations to Asko and Hanno!

 

University of TartuIn a recent ranking of Eastern European and Central Asian universities by QS, one of the world’s leading compilers of university performance ratings, the University of Tartu scored a high fifth place, maintaining the highest rank among Estonian and Baltic universities.

The winner in this ranking is the Lomonosov Moscow State University, followed by Novosibirsk University, and Saint Petersburg State University. Charles University in Prague comes fourth.

The strengths of University of Tartu are its academic reputation (98/100), citations per paper (96.9/100), papers per faculty (96.2/100) and web impact (93.8/100).

The position of UT in the worldwide ranking lists has during the recent years consistently become better and UT now ranks generally among the top 500 universities in the world. According to the QS World University Ranking University of Tartu is at position 400. According to the Times Higher Education Ranking University of Tartu is in the range 351-400.

 

 

EACH_Students_at_MSC_Summer_School_2016On Friday 22.07.2016 The MSC Euromaster Summer School 2016 finished. The feedback from some of the UT participants indicates that it was again a success! They shared their experience:

 

TetianaTetiana Melnyk (Ukraine):
I want to say a big big thank you for the opportunity to go to summer school! It was a great experience, and I met a lot of new people. If you ask me to evaluate, I would say it was excellent!

SantoshSantosh Raman Acharya (Nepal):
Summer school was amazing experience for me. The most challenging and exciting part was to work with people from all over the world with different experience in their respective fields. We made a lot of presentations, lab works and audit practice in the company “Umicore”, and the most inspiring moment was to meet with Sander Sannik at the summer school. In overall it was a full package of learning with fun!

AleksandraAleksandra Lelevic (Montenegro):
I have to say that I don’t remember when I had so much fun and when I have been so tired all at the same time :-)! It was a very intensive course that brought together a very interesting group of people and I am very happy I got the opportunity to meet closely many of them. I particularly liked the practical part of the school where we had to carry out analysis ourselves and work out a way to get along and think of good solutions together as a group.

RabinRabin Neupane (Nepal):
Summer school was a perfect platform where I got challenges as a Analytical Chemist and develop an ability to cope with those challenges. I must thank Ivo for the lectures in Meteorology in Chemistry at UT, which was foundation for me to be confident and perform well in summer school. Besides lectures in summer school, I would miss the bar, friends from different corners of world, those dances and karaoke we had at end of each day in summer school. It has been a life time experience. Thank you Ivo for such an opportunity.

 

The 2017 MSC Summer school will take place in Lithuania.

 

UT_Participants_at_MSC_Summer_School_2016This week saw the start (on Mon, Jul 11, 2016) of the 9th MSC Euromaster summer school in Malle (near Antwerpen, Belgium).

As in previous years, a core aim of the Summer school is shifting the activities away from the classical lecture-type of teaching by increasing the share of discussions, hands-on work, teamwork. A key activity of the summer school is the contest of student teams (setting up virtual laboratories and interacting with customers), which tests their knowledge and skills in all areas of metrology in chemistry.

Four students from University of Tartu (EACH programme) take part in the summer school: Tetiana Melnyk, Aleksandra Lelevic, Rabin Neupane and Santosh Raman Acharya (on the photo, left to right).

We wish exciting and enjoyable Summer school to all participants!

(Photo: Irja Helm)

 

AMS_Master_Thesis_Defence_2016Today (June 06, 2016) 11 AMS master students successfully defended their master’s theses. Congratulations to all of you!

Photo on the left, from left to right: Xiaozhou Ye, Martinš Jansons, Oluwamayowa Sharon Sanni, Sylvestre Tc Pagkeu, Sofia Raquel Alves Oliveira, Stanislav Andres, Theofanis Panagiotopoulos, Max Hecht, Sagar Ramanbhai Patel, Rūta Veigure, Francis Gyakwaa.

As is usual for AMS the topics of the theses were diverse ranging from artificial photosynthesis to measurements in biochemistry and from determination of dangerous radionuclides to calibration of hygrometers. The full list of the defenders and their thesis titles is below. This list demonstrates well the ubiquitous nature of measurement science. The scientific/technological quality of the theses was high: a number of research papers are planned to be published on the basis of the theses and the results of one of them will be patented.Ruta Veigure discussing with the opponent AMS_Master_Theses_Defence_2016 (Photo on the right: Rūta Veigure discussing with the opponent)

 

Full list of students and thesis topics:

  • Sylvestre Tc Pagkeu, Joint application of an ARC-probe and antibody in homogeneous TR-FRET assay for determination of the concentration of protein kinase Pim2
  • Max Hecht, Investigations of chlorophyll interactions in Water Soluble Chlorophyll Binding Protein
  • Sofia Raquel Alves Oliveira, Role of the stringent response in antibiotic tolerance of Escherichia coli
  • Rūta Veigure, Development and validation of UHPLC-MS/MS method for analysis of sedative drugs and their metabolites in blood plasma
  • Oluwamayowa Sharon Sanni, Development and validation of gamma spectrometric analysis procedure using a high purity Germanium detector
  • Sagar Ramanbhai Patel, Development of foreign body detection methodology in industrial food preparation process
  • Theofanis Panagiotopoulos, Calibration of hygrometers at fluctuating and transient conditions
  • Francis Gyakwaa, Validation of alpha spectrometric analytical measurement procedure for the determination of Polonium-210 (210Po) in environmental samples
  • Xiaozhou Ye, Relationships between Environmental Factors and the Growth of Above-Ground Biomass in Boreal Forest
  • Martinš Jansons, Characterization of natural sedimentary dolomite and limestone reference materials from Geological Survey of Estonia using LA-ICP-MS
  • Stanislav Andres, Development of method for preliminary identification of cyclic dinucleotides in bacterial cultures

 

UT_Measurement_Uncertainty_MOOC_Participants_2016On May 17, 2016 the MOOC Estimation of measurement uncertainty in chemical analysis offered by University of Tartu finished successfully.
Alltogether 757 people registered (270 in 2014, 489 in 2015) from 85 countries. 455 participants actually started the course (i.e. tried at least one graded test at least once) and out of them 308 successfully completed the course (169 in 2015, 141 in 2014). The overall completion rate was 40% (52% in 2014, 34% in 2015). The completion rate of participants who started the studies was 67% (67% in 2014, 60% in 2015). These completion rates can be considered very good for a MOOC, especially one that has quite difficult calculation exercises, which need to be done correctly for completing the course.

The participants were very active and asked lots of questions. These were often very much to the point and addressed things that are really important to analysts in their everyday work. The course had several forums (general and by topic) and the overall number of posts to them during the course period reached beyond 500! (overall number of posts, both from participants and from teachers)

This active participation made teaching this MOOC a great experience also for us, the teachers. The discussion threads gave a lot of added value to the course and some of them triggered making important modifications to the course materials.

We want to thank all participants for helping to make this course a success!

We plan to repeat this course again in Spring 2017.

 

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

 

UT100412AT462The series of works from the UT Analytical chemistry group on measuring and predicting ionization efficiency in the electrospray (ESI) ion source of MS and LC-MS has reached a new milestone: for the first time an ionization efficiency scale for the atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) source has been established.

The work led by Dr Riin Rebane (photo on the left) resulted in APCI ionization efficiency scale containing 40 compounds with widely ranging chemical and physical properties and spanning 5 orders of magnitude of ionization efficiency. Analysis of the resulting data challenges the common knowledge about APCI as ionization method. Contrary to the common knowledge, ionization efficiency order in the APCI source is surprisingly similar to that in the ESI source and most of the compounds that are best ionized in the APCI source are not small volatile molecules. Large tetraalkylammonium cations are a prominent example. These findings suggest that the atmospheric pressure chemical ionization mechanism can be more complex than generally assumed and most probably several ionization mechanisms operate in parallel and a mechanism not relying on evaporation of neutral molecules from droplets has significantly higher influence than commonly assumed.

See the original publication Anal. Chem. 2016, 88, 3435-3439 for more information.

(Photo: Andres Tennus)

 

Career_Seminar_EACHA key ability in today’s world is applying for a job. In order to be successful, writing CV and job application is of critical importance. For this reason these topics are included in the EACH/AMS programme.

On Wednesday 13.04.2016 Ms Heleri Olo from the UT Career service conducted a seminar (jointly for EACH and AMS students) on the “DO-s and DON’T-s” of writing a CV and motivation letter when applying for a job.

This seminar was the follow-up of the Employment/career session conducted by prof. Reiner Salzer at the EACH 2016 Winter School. At the winter school all participants were given a task to find a job offer at the RSC Jobs website and compose suitable CV and motivation letter. The CVs and motivation letters of students were then analysed both by prof. Salzer and by the UT Career service experts and the feedback was given by Heleri during the seminar.

Students found the whole exercise very useful. The employment-related session was one of the most liked sessions at the Winter school.

 

EC4LE_TrainMiCOn 9-11 June, 2016 a Master Class on Quality Assurance in Analytical Measurements, jointly organized by the European Centre for Laboratory Excellence and the TrainMiC training community.

There are still some places available, so be quick and check it out at www.ec4le.eu/program

This Master Class targets those teaching or training in the area of metrology and quality assurance in chemical analysis (Metrology in Chemictry, MiC), either regularly (as teacher) or occasionally (e.g. adult learning). The aim of the master class is to:

  • Keep up to date trainers’ technical knowledge, expertise and competence through a continuing professional development course
  • Enhance training effectiveness and efficiency by raising knowledge on adult learning strategies and active learning theories through workshop and discussion
  • Establish a long term community of practice

It will also be an opportunity for you to network with the TrainMiC® and EC4LE communities and participate in the TrainMiC® convention as well as celebrate its 15th Anniversary. You can also join to brainstorm about the future. Who knows, if you are a newcomer, you might be interested in joining one of these communities?

We look forward to seeing you in Zagreb in June 2016! We promise you an educational experience unlike any other!

 

UT_Measurement_Uncertainty_MOOC_Participants_2016On Monday, March 28, 2016 the web course “Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis” was launched the third time as a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course).

The popularity of the course is this year somewhat higher than it was in 2014 and 2015: 744 participants from 85 countries (ranging from Bahama to Vietnam and from Zambia to Canada) have registered! (in 2014: 270 participants, in 2015: 400+) Image on the left shows the countries where the participants come from. As in the previous years, the majority of participants are from analytical laboratories, once again demonstrating the continuing need for training in measurement uncertainty estimation in analytical chemistry.

The full course material is accessible from the web page https://sisu.ut.ee/measurement/uncertainty. Some developments and improvements have been made to the course material, in particular, some more self-tests ave been added. The course materials include videos, schemes, calculation files and numerous self-tests (among them also full-fledged measurement uncertainty calculation exercises). In order to pass the course the registered participants have to take six graded tests and get higher than 50% score. These tests are available to registered participants via the Moodle e-learning platform. Participants who successfully pass the course will get a certificate from the University of Tartu.

It is planned to run this course as MOOC again in Spring 2017.

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

 

Measurement_Uncertainty_MOOC_Course_UTThe third edition of the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis will be running during Mar 28 – May 8, 2016. Registration is open!

We currently have more than 250 registered participants from more than 50 countries.

The full course material is accessible from the web page https://sisu.ut.ee/measurement/uncertainty. The course materials include videos, schemes, calculation files and numerous self-tests (among them also full-fledged measurement uncertainty calculation exercises). In order to pass the course the registered participants have to take six graded tests and get higher than 50% score. These tests are available to registered participants via the Moodle e-learning platform. Participants who successfully pass the course will get a certificate from University of Tartu.

You are welcome to distribute this message to potentially interested people!

 

EACH_Winter_School_2016_Dissolved_oxygen_intercomparisonThe second day of the EACH Winter school was full of excitement.
The key event of the second day was dissolved oxygen intercomparison between the student teams. The samples were water samples from the nearby lake Pühajärv. The student teams used optical oxygen sensors (based on luminescence), see the photo on the left. The seriousness of the intercomparison is underpinned by the independent reference values determined using the highly accurate primary Winkler titration procedure (developed by Irja Helm in her PhD thesis).
EACH_Winter_School_2016_Group_PhotoThe results of the intercomparison will be summarized at the closing of the Winter school.

On the right you can see the group photo (Lake pühajärv is behind the trees) taken right after the lunch and followed by a spontaneous snow fight (photo on the left) where the “African team” (Ime and Olivier, in the centre) performed stunningly well in comparison to the Nordic snow fighters!

EACH_Winter_School_2016_Snow_FightThe consortium committee spent most of the day interviewing students and discussing (including negotiations with university officials about maximum possible numbers of students) for distributing students to study tracks. The day ended with the long-awaited announcement that it will be possible to grant every student the preferred study track!

EACH_Winter_School_2016_Students_of_the_Uppsala_Study_trackOn the photo on the right you can see prof. Bergquist and his team taking pictures of the students selected for the Uppsala study track.

 

 

 

 

EACH_Winter_School_2016_LectureToday, on Jan 25, 2016, the first Winter School of the EACH programme started in Pühajärve (Estonia). Altogether 24 students from 17 countries participate (besides EACH students, also some other international students from Tartu have been invited, most of them from the AMS programme). Leading European analytical chemistry experts act as teachers and supervisors at the Winter School.

The Winter School offers a diverse set of activities to the participants. There are lectures on advanced analytical chemistry topics, tasks on data analysis and choosing analytical strategies. One of the sessions is specifically dedicated to employment opportunities of analytical chemists. The most ambitious part, a full-fledged in situ intercomparison measurement (between student teams) of dissolved oxygen concentration in lake water, will be carried out on the second day of the Winter School.

The intense working is counterbalanced by winter sports activities and relaxing in spa/swimming pool.

Full information about the Winter School activities is available at http://each.ut.ee/EACH/each-winter-school/

 

Random_and_Systematic_Effects_TimelineIn a recent edition of the premier journal devoted to quality and metrology in chemistry Accreditation and Quality Assurance Ivo Leito has attempted to express in very simple terms the essence of Metrology in Chemistry. In the article Accred. Qual. Assur. 2015, 20, 229–231 he arrived at three main recommendations:

1. Whenever possible, comparisons with reference values should be carried out. The reference values can be realized in different ways: Certified reference materials (CRMs), Laboratory reference materials (LRMs), Measurements with reference methods, etc.

2. Data on stable samples should be collected over long time periods (e.g. as the X chart), in order to evaluate as many sources of variability in the analysis method, as possible. The longer the time period, the more systematic effects will become random and thus easier to evaluate (more on this topic can be found in a recent review on bias).

3. “Do not stop there!”, meaning that the above mentioned activities should run in a lab on a continuous basis.

As a conclusion, it can be said that constant improvement is the key to reliable analytical results.

 

LogoWe are glad to announce that registration for the EcoBalt 2016 conference has been officially opened today! Please see the address http://vana.akki.ut.ee/ecobalt-2016

The First Circular contains all the important information and is available from the above page.

EcoBalt 2016 is an international research conference that will address all scientific and technological developments in the field of environment and its protection: air, water, soil, contamination assessment and options for its reduction, environmentally friendly technologies and products, recycling, biodiversity, environmental education, etc. The conference will be held on 9.-12. October 2016 in Tartu, Estonia, in the Dorpat conference centre.

EcoBalt 2016 is organised by the Estonian Center of Analytical Chemistry. You are welcome to contact us (Dr. Riin Rebane, riin.rebane@ut.ee) with any questions or requests that you have.

 

IsoFood Hg Training_Draft Programme_2.11.2015_Page_1
During Nov 25-27, 2015 the training seminar “Quality assurance for Hg measurements in food and environmental samples” was held at the Jožef Stefan Institute in Ljubljana. Ivo Leito participated as a teacher and conducted discussion sessions Validation data (Reproducibility, recovery, etc) and their meaning, Measurement uncertainty and Traceability: what it is and how to demonstrate it?.

Ivo_Leito_teaching_metrology_in_chemistry_in_Ljubljana_Nov_2015The seminar was highly successful – there was in-depth discussion during each of the sessions and the discussions continued during coffee breaks. The measurement uncertainty session featured a full-fledged uncertainty estimation (contaminant determination by LC-MS), which the participants carried out themselves on laptop computers that they had brought with them.

It is expected that the collaboration between UT and Jožef Stefan Institute (and other research centres in the region) will continue and deepen.

 

Analuutilise_Keemia_Kvaliteedi_Infrastruktuur_ENGOn Oct 14, 2015 Tallinn University of Technology and University of Tartu jointly organized the first cooperation festival “Right time, right place” (“Õigel ajal õiges kohas”), venue: Mektory innovation centre, Tallinn).

The festival aimed first of all at intensifying collaboration between Estonian industry and academia, but also between different research teams of the two universities. The interest in the event was so large that at some point pre-registration was stopped because of too many participants. The participant number who eventually participated in the event reached 430.

The analytical chemistry research group of UT was also present at the festival and promoted the ECAC distributed interdisciplinary research infrastructure. ECAC unites the competence and analytical capabilities of three prominent organizations in Estonia: University of Tartu, Tallinn University of Technology and the Estonian Environmental Research Centre and offers access to analytical instruments as well as services and collaboration both to academia and industry. Ivo Leito made a presentation about the analytical possibilities of ECAC that can be of interest to the Industry: Analüütilise Keemia Kvaliteedi Infrastruktuur (AKKI) (in Estonian).

Signe Vahur with ATR-FT-IR Instrument at Cooperation Festival Oct 2015

Signe Vahur with ATR-FT-IR Instrument at Cooperation Festival Oct 2015

In addition, we demonstrated our FT-IR analysis capability and had a fully operational ATR-FT-IR instrument with us (image on the right), enabling any interested person to run material analysis of either the samples that we brought with us or almost anything that could be found on site. People were very interested in the analysis of wood coatings, different polymers and also of their own clothes (e.g. for determining whether a necktie is made of silk or polyester) and research fellow Signe Vahur – our main FT-IR expert – was busy all the day to record and interpret spectra and give explanations to interested people.

This possibility of instant ATR-FT-IR analysis proved to be the most popular topic in the Chemistry thematic room of the festival and attracted much attention from people with very different backgrounds. This is not surprising – this instrumental method has been in the core of a number of research collaboration projects with industry in the past and is expected to be so also in the future.

EACH and AMS students strongly benefit from the expertise and instrumentation that has been accumulated by ECAC (AKKI). Several of the EACH/AMS teachers are directly involved in ECAC and a number of ECAC’s instruments are used in teaching and thesis work.

 

Leito_Measurement_Uncertainty_MOOC_Euroanalysis_2015On Sept 07, 2015 Ivo Leito gave a presentation Using MOOCs for teaching analytical chemistry: experience at University of Tartu at the Euroanalysis XVIII (Bordeaux, France).

The presentation outlined the contents and organisation of the material in the on-line course Estimation of measurement uncertainty in chemical analysis, the ways of using it (for independent learning, for self-testing, as an information source and as a basis for running as a MOOC) and the experience of running it as a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) at University of Tartu in spring 2014 and 2015. Part of the presentation was devoted to analyzing the pros and cons of MOOCs as a way of teaching and in particular as a way of teaching analytical chemistry (or its subdisciplines). It was concluded that MOOCs do have advantages, especially if compared to short training courses for practitioners. The talk created quite some interest and discussions after the session.

Detailed discussion of this topic has been published: I. Leito, I. Helm, L. Jalukse. Anal Bioanal Chem 2015, 407, 1277–1281.
The course material as well as the link to registration for the spring 2016 edition of the course is available from https://sisu.ut.ee/measurement/

 

EACH_Student_Introductory_Meeting_2015Today (Aug 31, 2015) the introductory meeting of the EACH Erasmus Mundus (running on teh basis of the AMS programme) students with the programme coordinators took place at UT Chemicum.

All the 18 students (originating from Ukraine, China, India, Jordan, Congo, Nepal, Nigeria, Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia, USA and Estonia), who start their studies in EACH in this autumn were participating. An overview of the programme was given (the slides are available from here) and a large number of questions were asked and answered, accompanied by tea/coffee and cake.

This is the first group of students who start their studies in the EACH Erasmus Mundus programme, so, exciting months are ahead, both for students and programme teachers/coordinators!

Photo on the left: EACH Students and their Tutor Kaisa Tihkan (on the right).

 

UT_Students_at_MSC_Euromaster_Summer_School_2015The MSC Euromaster Summer School 2015 in Pulawy (Jul 12-24, 2015) was again a success and the student feedback were very positive. Two reflections from AMS students are presented here:

Sagar Patel: I will remember my time spent in summer school held at Pulawy (Poland) for a lifetime. It was amazing and I don’t have words to express my feelings. I got very useful and practical knowledge about Metrology in Chemistry, statistics, interactions with customers, ISO 17025 and many more. Apart from studies I got a chance to work with students and professionals from different countries.

Karl Kütt: The MSC Summer school on metrology in chemistry has been a great addition to my studies. It combines the theoretical knowledge that I have learned in my program with the teamwork skills and real world problem solving skills that one encounters when running a real laboratory or a project. The course had extensive lessons on both uncertainties in chemistry and validation (a key aspect in the ISO 17025 standard). The neat thing about the summer school is that in its practical exercises you’re not presented with a wrong or a right way, but a situation in which every decision has its pros and cons. I think going to the summer school greatly improved my skills in working in a group, solving complicated problems as well as helped me make important contacts and great friends in the field of metrology.

Image on the left: UT students who participated in the MSC Summer School 2015, from left to right: Sagar Patel (India), Sylvestre Pagkeu (Cameroon), Martins Jansons (Latvia), Karl Kütt (Estonia)

Group_Photo_MSC_SS_2015This week saw the start (on Mon, Jul 13, 2015) of the 8th MSC Euromaster summer school 2015 in Puławy (Poland).

As in previous years, a core aim of the Summer school is shifting the activities away from the classical lecture-type of teaching by increasing the share of discussions, hands-on work, teamwork. As usual, a key activity of the summer school is the contest of student teams (setting up virtual laboratories and interacting with customers), which tests their knowledge and skills in all areas of metrology in chemistry.

This year the summer school makes further advances in terms of this “core shift”. One of the modules, which was carried out differently, was measurement uncertainty, which was the the main responsibility of UT during the summer school. Instead of the classical way – starting with lecture and then moving to discussion – the students were well in advance of the Summer school asked to learn the basic (and quite some not so basic) topics of measurement uncertainty using the web course Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis. This way the lecturing part was omitted completely from the Summer school, as students had the necessary preparation. Thus, the whole measurement uncertainty module at the Summer school consisted of a big session of discussions and problem solving.

Another module, where hands-on work was very important was the Internal and external quality control module (delivered mainly by Ricardo Da Silva from University of Lisbon). He organised an “interlaboratory comparison” between students (in visual photometry) as a part of the session! Students were very excited to see how their results compared to their colleagues’ results.

The summer school still has one week to go and will finish on Fri, Jul 24, 2015.

 

 

Graphical_AbstractThe LC-MS group at the UT Institute of Chemistry were recently invited by the journal Analytica Chimica Acta to write a tutorial review on the topic of validation of liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS) methods. This LC-MS method validation guide has now been completed. The tutorial review intends to give an overview of the state of the art of method validation in liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC–MS), especially with electrospray ionisation (LC-ESI-MS), and discuss specific issues that arise with MS (and MS-MS) detection (i.e. LC-MS-MS) in LC (as opposed to the “conventional” detectors). The review was eventually split in two parts (because of its large volume):

(as an April joke from Elsevier, part II appears page-wise before part I)

The review addresses and compares all the major validation guidelines published by international organizations: ICH, IUPAC, AOAC, FDA, EMA (EMEA), Eurachem, SANCO, NordVal, European Commission Decision 2002/657/EC. With every performance characteristic the tutorial review briefly compares the recommendations of the guidelines.

The Part I briefly introduces the principles of operation of LC–MS (emphasizing the aspects important from the validation point of view, in particular the ionization process and ionization suppression/enhancement); reviews the main validation guideline documents and discusses in detail the following performance parameters: selectivity/specificity/identity, ruggedness/robustness, limit of detection, limit of quantification, decision limit and detection capability. The Part II starts with briefly introducing the main quantitation methods and then addresses the performance related to quantification: linearity of signal, sensitivity, precision, trueness, accuracy, stability and measurement uncertainty. The last section of Part II is devoted to practical considerations in validation and a possible step by step validation plan specifically suitable for LC-MS-MS is presented.

With every method performance characteristic its essence and terminology are addressed, the current status of treating it is reviewed and recommendations and help are given, how to determine it, specifically in the case of validation of LC–MS methods. In many cases the published guidelines remain too general for being of help to practicing analyst. This LC-MS method validation tutorial review gives more specific advice based on the best available practice and can be used as a kind of LC-MS method validation manual.

Based on the recommended approaches presented in this guide to LC-MS method validation an LC-MS validation software ValChrom is currently under development by the UT team. The software development is supported by the EU Regional Development Fund (Development of software for validation of chromatographic methods, Project No. 3.2.1201.13-0020).

 

kvaliteedimark_sOn Apr 16, 2015 the consortium Estonian e-University awarded the title “e-course of the year” to the web course (MOOC) Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis! This, together with the very positive feedback of the participants is a strong motivator for us to continue developing and delivering this course. Delivery of the next edition is planned in Spring 2016.

The 2015 edition of the “Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis” course finished on Sunday, Apr 19, 2015. The overall number of registered participants was 489 (from 70 countries). The majority of the participants were practitioners from analysis laboratories and industry. Sadly, in spite of the reminders, more than 200 of them never actually started the course. Out of the 279 participants who started their studies 169 completed the course successfully. Thus, the overall completion rate (with respect to registered participants) is 34% and the completion rate of the participants who started the course is 60%, which can be considered reasonably good. Clearly the most difficult tests were the ones of weeks 5 and 6 containing full-fledged measurement uncertainty estimation using the ISO GUM and the Nordtest approaches. The ability to carry out uncertainty estimation of such analyses is essential and we are glad that so many participants managed to successfully complete these tests!

There were many interesting discussions of which some are still ongoing. By interacting with the participants we also learned a lot and we again got good suggestions for developing the course.

Many thanks to all our participants, without whom all this would have never become true!

 

(Image: private collection)

 

Agnes_Suu_in_Lab
Agnes Suu, an AMS and MSC alumna (graduated in 2013), has in the course of her PhD work made an achievement that literally redefines the way the pH of HPLC mobile phase (eluent) is measured. Her work (a continuation of her AMS master’s thesis) introduces a conceptually new approach of measuring pH of mixed-solvent liquid chromatography (LC) mobile phases and has been published in the Analytical Chemistry journal: Agnes Suu et al, Unified pH Values of Liquid Chromatography Mobile Phases. Anal. Chem. 2015, 87, 2623–2630.

Mobile phase pH is very important in LC, but its correct measurement is not straightforward and all commonly used approaches have deficiencies. The new approach is based on the recently introduced unified pH (pHabs) scale, which enables direct comparison of acidities of solutions made in different solvents, based on chemical potential of the proton in the solutions.

The work by Agnes represents the first experimental realization of the pHabs concept using differential potentiometric measurement for comparison of the chemical potentials of the proton in different solutions (connected by a salt bridge), together with earlier published reference points for obtaining the pHabs values (referenced to the gas phase) or pHabsH2O values (referenced to the aqueous solution). The liquid junction potentials were estimated in the framework of Izutsu’s three-component method.
pHabs values for a number of common LC and LC-MS mobile phases have been determined. The pHabs scale enables for the first time direct comparison of acidities of any LC mobile phases: with different organic additives, different buffer components etc. Agnes has developed a possible experimental protocol of putting this new approach into chromatographic practice and has tested its applicability. She has demonstrated that the ionization behavior of bases (cationic acids) in the mobile phases can be better predicted by using the pHabsH2O values and aqueous pKa values than by using the alternative means of expressing mobile phase acidity. Description of the ionization behavior of acids on the basis of pHabsH2O values is possible if the change of their pKa values with solvent composition change is taken into account.

 

Sander_SannikFour years ago, I was very fortunate to have the professor of Analytical Chemistry at Tartu University to invite me to join the international master degree programme AMS – Applied Measurement Science. At that time I was working as an analytical chemist at a national environmental chemistry laboratory. It all started with me contacting the professor to ask for help with problems I was facing in analytical method validation and after sending few emails back and forth, he suggested me to apply for the master programme, since clearly my thirst for the topic was bigger than could be satisfied with few emails. This was no easy decision, since the university is located at Tartu and my job was in Tallinn. This meant traveling every week between the two cities. But I remember thinking: this could be once in a lifetime opportunity – no matter what, take it.

Now, I am happier than ever for taking the opportunity. Because, even if this meant a lot of hard work and studying, traveling and pushing the limits, the benefits I got from this journey weigh more than the hard times I had to live through. Knowledge and experience being the utmost important, I met lot of new colleagues and friends from the University of Tartu and from the analytical chemistry community around my homeland. More than this, I found many exciting international friends from around Europe, Africa and even Asia. One of the highlights of my journey was the international summer school of Metrology in Chemistry – Measurement of Science in Chemistry, which took place in Portugal, where I met even more international new friends, who I am still friends with today. Some of them I talk to every week now and I have been visiting them in their homelands. Last autumn, all of the students who participated met in Brussels, Belgium for a ceremonial meeting and celebrations where we received an official diploma and an extra certificate for our Master degree – EUROMASTER of Measurement Science in Chemistry.
Now, I am working at a laboratory located at my homeland. It is a daughter-company of a Finnish environmental analytical laboratory, which is a part of worldwide global environmental company. For the last 8 months, I have had a most wonderful experience to build up an analytical laboratory from the scratch. This means starting with looking up the appropriate facility and designing the rooms on papers and ending with making the last arrangements of furniture and hiring and training the laboratory staff. This is not an easy job. This cannot be studied in any school or university. This can be learned only by experience, but I am most thankful for the prerequisites I gained from my study years. There is no practice without theory. Now the laboratory is finishing developing and validating the first analytical methods to be taken into routine use and to apply for accreditation. One might say that the hardest part is over, but I somehow doubt that, because future seems even more interesting and nothing can really be interesting without being difficult at start at least.

More than ever, I can now say that the Master programme – Applied Measurement Science – was 101% meant for me: I am “applying” measurement science now every day at my workplace. I consider myself very happy and I am very thankful for my family, friends, colleagues and professor for helping me in the last few years. Knowledge is worth more than gold and I hope my story would inspire others to take risks, accept challenges and eventually catch their dreams.

 

EACH_Qualifying_Applications_2015_by_CountryLast week the check of eligibility and ranking of the EACH applications was completed and Thursday-Friday the admission notifications were sent out to all eligible candidates.

We are glad to announce that there were altogether 46 qualifying applications, which were ranked based on the average grade of the previous study level and on the contents of the motivation letter (as is explained in the EACH admission page). 13 EU scholarships were offered (ten to partner country applicants and three to programme country applicants). The remaining qualifying applicants were offered either a tuition waiver scholarship a fee-based study place, based on their position in the ranking list. The coverage of the scholarships is explained in the EACH Scholarships page.

Most probably not all applicants who were awarded the EU scholarship will accept the study place, therefore it is still possible that the applicants who are topmost in the list of tuition waiver scholarship awardees will receive the EU scholarship (in principle, all qualifying candidates are in the “reserve list” for the EU scholarship). In order to proceed with the admission process it is requested that all applicants who received admission notification will inform us of their decision as soon as possible and in any case not later than on March 23, 2015.

We thank all the applicants for their interest in the EACH programme and we hope that those who will start their studies in EACH will have a useful and enjoyable study experience!

 

Binding_of_acetate_lactate_benzoate_trimethylacetate_to_different_receptorsStudies of host-guest chemistry, in particular, binding of anions by synthetic receptors has become a prominent research topic at the Analytical chemistry research group at UT. This fundamental research prepares ground for developing sensor devices for fast and selective anion determination. Carboxylate anions are among the most interesting, because the carboxylate group is by far the most widespread anionic group in biological objects.

One of the challenges lies in the fact that it is not easy to design synthetic receptors that have very high binding affinity towards a given carboxylate anion and are insensitive towards all others. Thus, it is envisaged that rather than designing highly selective individual receptor molecules, it may be more practical to utilize a number of receptor molecules, having different affinities for different anions, as a receptor array. Applying chemometric tools to the responses (e.g. optical or potentiometric) from such arrays it is in principle possible to determine individual anions from mixtures.

At our group highly accurate methods anion-receptor binding constant (logKass) measurement have been developed recently, based on UV-Vis spectrophotometry (J. Org. Chem. 2013, 78, 7796−7808) and NMR spectrometry (J. Org. Chem. 2014, 79, 2501−2513). Applying these methods, the binding constants of small synthetic receptor molecules based on indolocarbazole, carbazole, indole, urea and some others, as well as their combinations were measured for small carboxylate anions of different basicity, hydrophilicity and steric demand: trimethylacetate, acetate, benzoate and lactate. As a result, four separate binding affinity scales (ladders) including thirty-eight receptors were obtained. The results are graphically depicted in the Figure on the left. The high accuracy of the measurement methods enables distinguishing between small changes in binding affinity. It can be seen that many “crossing” points between the lines (denoting switching of affinity orders) exist, which are the basis of designing useful receptor arrays. This work has recently been published (Chem. Eur. J. 2015, DOI: 10.1002/chem.201405858) and presented in the SupraChem 2015 conference (see the presentation).

 

Work is in progress to measure the binding constants between more anions and receptors with different molecular structures with the aim of compiling the most voluminous dataset available for predicting trends in anion-receptor binding as function of the structural features of the anions and the receptors.

 

UT_Measurement_Uncertainty_MOOC_Participants_2015On Monday, March 02, 2015 the web course “Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis” was launched the second time as a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course).

The popularity of the course is this year somewhat higher than it was in 2014: more than 400 participants from 70 countries (ranging from Jamaica to Malaisia and from Zimbabwe to Finland) have registered (in 2014: 270 participants form more than 40 countries). Image on the left shows the countries where the participants come from. As in 2014, the majority of participants are from analytical laboratories, once again demonstrating the continuing need for training in measurement uncertainty estimation in analytical chemistry.

The full course material is accessible from the web page https://sisu.ut.ee/measurement/uncertainty. The course materials include videos, schemes, calculation files and numerous self-tests (among them also full-fledged measurement uncertainty calculation exercises). In order to pass the course the registered participants have to take six graded tests and get higher than 50% score. These tests are available to registered participants via the Moodle e-learning platform. Participants who successfully pass the course will get a certificate from University of Tartu.

It is planned to run this course as MOOC again in Spring 2016.

(Image: www.vidiani.com)

 

Dinesh_Indika_Dias_Defending_His_AMS_Master_ThesisOn Feb 20, 2014 AMS student Salgaduge Dinesh Indika Dias from Sri Lanka defended his master’s thesis titled Two-flow system for calibration of hygrometers at room temperature, supervised by research fellow Martin Vilbaste. This work has been performed in the framework of a broader research direction on metrology of air parameters, linked to the air humidity and air flow velocity reference laboratory at the UT Testing centre. The defence was very successful: Dinesh demonstrated his high competence in the field and the thesis was awarded the highest grade “A”.

Congratulations to you, Dinesh!

 

Leito_EACH_UMOOC_Malta_TC_MC_2015On Feb 06, 2015 at the annual meeting of the EURAMET Technical Committee of Measurements in Chemistry Ivo Leito made a presentation about the Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis Web Course and the EACH Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree Programme.

The registration to the Measurement Uncertainty Web Course is still open and as of now 240 participants from more than 30 countries (among them Uruguay, Bangladesh, Trinidad and Tobago, Mongolia, Honduras, etc) have registered. The course will run during Mar 02 to Apr 12, 2015. The main featurs of the EACH Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree Programme were explained. The presentation created intense discussions during the lunch break and several of the delegates were interested in collaboration with these activities.

 

 

Martin_Vilbaste_defending_his_PhD_DissertationOn Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 the defence of PhD thesis Uncertainty sources and analysis methods in realizing SI units of air humidity in Estonia prepared by Martin Vilbaste took place (photo on the left). The thesis is focused on several potential measurement uncertainty sources in air humidity measurement and on expressing the measurement results. Besides being important to metrology worldwide (as evidenced by a paper in the leading metrology journal Metrologia in the thesis), this thesis is very important for the Estonian national metrology infrastructure of air humidity in particular and more broadly – to the metrology of air parameters (temperature, humidity, air flow velocity).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The defence was very successful. Martin Vilbaste is since several years the leading expert in air humidity measurements in Estonia (photo on the right presents him working with a climatic chamber) and the defence looked more like friendly discussion between experts.

Martin is routinely teaching metrology (both theory and practice) to Applied Measurement Science students. Our warm congratulatins to him!

 

 

The online course of Measurement Uncertainty Estimation in Analytical Chemistry (https://sisu.ut.ee/measurement/uncertainty/), which will be running as a MOOC during 02.03.15-12.04.15 couple of days ago got the 100th registered participant! The geographic diversity is wide: already now close to 30 countries are represented, among them Uruguay, Mongolia, Trinidad and Tobago, …

Registration will be open until Mar 02, 2015. Like in 2014, the course is free of charge also this year.

 

 

EACH_Webinar_Jan_2015On Jan 14, 2015 a Webinar took place for the EACH student candidates who either have submitted their applications or are in the process of preparing their application. The central aim of the webinar was to give a short overview of the EACH programme (the programme structure, the study tracks, the people, as well as the career possibilities after completing the programme) and the most frequent issues that we have been contacted with, as well as to answer any questions the Webinar participants may have. There were altogether 47 participants and a large number of questions were asked.

If you are interested in the webinar but were not able to participate, do not worry: the webinar has been recorded and can be watched at YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tJJfypgXi0

The webinar slides are available from here: EACH Webinar Slides.

 

 

AMS_Seminar_Autumn_2014On December 14, 2014 the Applied Measurement Science autumn seminar took place. It was a long and intense day, full of very interesting measurement science. As a nice feature of the seminar, all the students currently studying in the AMS programme were present. So, on the left there is the picture of all the AMS students as of Dec 2014. Thank you, Illia, for this excellent picture!

As is typical for the AMS programme, the range of topics that students are investigating is very diverse. Just some examples:

  • Determination of 210Pb and 210Po with Liquid Scintillation Counting
  • Characterization of a graphene-based catalyst for oxygen electroreduction
  • Geological dating using ICP/MS
  • Screening of newborns for hereditary disorders using LC/MS
  • Metrological underpinning of calibration of hygrometers
  • Studying the light-harvesting process in photosynthesis
  • Validation of climatic chamber for high-accuracy thermal tests
  • Creating acidity scale in water-acetonitrile mixture

I take here the opportunity to express the best wishes for the New Year 2015 to all present, past and future students of AMS and EACH!

 

Sinai_Mwagomba_presenting is master_thesis_of AMS_at_University_of_TartuOn Dec 19, 2014 AMS student Sinai Mwagomba successfully defended his master’s thesis titled A method for thermal ambient tests of space technology equipment in a thermal chamber – development and validation (main supervisor: Riho Vendt PhD from Tartu Observatory). The aim of the thesis was to develop a method for thermal ambient testing of space equipment at Tartu Observatory, to validate it and to compile the measurement uncertainty budget.

The defence went very well: Sinai was able to confidently answer all the questions both from the opponent and the audience. The defence committee rated the thesis with the highest grade: “A”.

The work is one in the series of recent works carried out by AMS students in the framework of the space research programme launced at University of Tartu and Tartu Observatory, which recently made headlines with the launch of the EstCube-1 student satellite. The temperature regime is notoriously harsh for satellites orbiting the earth, with temperatures oscillating in the range of -100 °C to +100 °C, depending on whether the Sun shines on the satellite or is ecliped by the Earth. Thus, the main use of the developed method will be testing of space equipment before launching into the space. However, also many other fields (biochemistry, molecular biology, materials science) will benefit very much from rigorous temperature control and testing.

 

 

MSC_Euromaster_Graduation_Ceremony_2014On December 12, 2014 the Measurement Science in Chemistry Euromaster graduation ceremony took place in Brussels (Belgium) in the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts. Altogether 46 students who participated in the MSC edition 2011, 2012 or 2013 received their Euromaster diploma supplements. The home universities of the students are University of Lisbon, Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, University of Warsaw, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Adam Mickiewicz University, University of Tartu, University of Oulu, Vrije Universiteit Brussel and University of Maribor.

Tartu_Students_at_MSC_Euromaster_Graduation_Ceremony_2014

 

 

 

Six students from the University of Tartu AMS programme participated in the ceremony. In the photo on the right, bottom row: Hedi Sinijärv, Agnes Suu, Astrid Pung; top row: Yingjian Hou, Kristjan Haav, Sander Sannik.

We wish you all the success for your future endeavours in measurement science!

 

 

Measurement_Uncertainty_Course_Uncertainty_ConceptWe are glad to announce that the on-line course Estimation Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis will during the Spring semester 2015 be offered as a free on-line course (so called MOOC) to participants from all over the world. The course will be running during Mar 02 – Apr 12, 2015 and is open for registration.

The course gives the main concepts and mathematical apparatus of measurement uncertainty estimation and explains in detail two principal approaches to measurement uncertainty estimation – the ISO GUM modeling approach (the “bottom-up” approach) and the single-lab validation approach as implemented by Nordtest (the “top-down”) approach.

The course contains close to 50 short video lectures, schemes, practical examples, calculation files and numerous self-tests (among them also full-fledged measurement uncertainty calculation exercises). The full course material is accessible from the web page https://sisu.ut.ee/measurement/uncertainty.

During the online course period the online materials will be supplemented by discussion forum and possibility to ask questions from the teachers, as well as by tests and exercises that will be graded (and will jointly determine the final grade). The students who register to the course will be enrolled as guest students at UT and will eventually get one ECTS credit and a certificate form University of Tartu if they will successfully pass the course. In order to pass the course the registered participants have to take six graded tests and get higher than 50% score. These tests are available to registered participants via the Moodle e-learning platform.

This course can be used via web by anyone who wishes to improve the knowledge and skills in measurement uncertainty estimation.

 

EACH_JMD_Erasmus_plusThere are 23 scholarships available for the students admitted to the EACH programme (until Jan 31, 2015) and they are divided as follows: 13 scholarships funded by the EU (for partner country students and for programme country students) and 10 scholarships funded by the EACH consortium (tuition waiver scholarships). Please see the scholarships page for details what the scholarships cover.

The admission to the EACH Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree programme is open until January 31, 2015.

The online application form, admission requirements, deadlines, list of necessary documents, instructions/explanations, as well as contact data for questions are available from the EACH Admission information page.

This international two-year joint master degree programme educates specialists in analytical chemistry well qualified to work in industry (food, pharmaceutical, materials, energy, etc) and chemical analysis laboratories (environment, food, health, etc) worldwide. EACH provides knowledge and skills in both fundamental and applied aspects of modern analytical chemistry. Practical internship placement in industry or laboratories is an important part of the training. The programme is taught by four universities: University of Tartu (UT, coordinator), Estonia; Uppsala University (UU), Sweden; University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 (UCBL), France; and Åbo Akademi University (AAU), Finland. The language of instruction is English, but students will also learn to communicate in one of the languages of the countries involved.

 

Multivariate_FT-IR_quantitative_analysis_of_paints_and_coatingsDetermination of the composition of paints and coatings is important in many fields – materials science, art history, forensic science, etc. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR spectroscopy) is a well-known method for the analysis of paints and coatings. However, the vast majority of work that has been carried out has been about qualitative analysis (i.e. just determinining what are the main components). Quantitative analysis has not been widespread, largely because of the very complex composition of most paints and coatings.

The master’s thesis of Pippa Hayes from the AMS programme has made an important conytribution to quantitative determination of composition of paints and coatings by FT-IR using the ATR (attenuated total reflectance) sampling. Her work demonstrates, using a wide selection of objects ranging from painting media to industrial coatings, that such quantitative analysis by FT-IR is feasible and she has carried out measurement uncertainty estimation of the results in order to assess their accuracy. As a proof of the quality of the work it has now been published in Spectrochimica Acta Part A 2014, 133, 207–213.

 

 

EACH_JMD_Erasmus_plusToday, on Oct 30, 2014 the admission was officially opened to the Excellence in Analytical Chemistry (EACH) Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree programme!

EACH is offered jointly by University of Tartu (Estonia), Uppsala University (Sweden), University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 (France) and Åbo Akademi University (Finland). The first study year is spent at Tartu studying the fundamentals in the framework of the AMS programme. The second year is specialization-oriented and is spent at one of the three partner universities.

The online application form, admission requirements, deadlines, list of necessary documents, instructions/explanations, as well as contact data for questions are available from the EACH Admission information page.

 

 

 

 

Retable of the high altar of the St. Nicholas' (Niguliste) Church in Tallinn

Retable of the high altar of the St. Nicholas’ (Niguliste) Church in Tallinn

On Oct 20-23, 2014 the investigation workshop “Rode Altarpiece in Close-up” took place in Tallinn (Niguliste church) and in Tartu (laboratories of UT Chemicum). It was conducted in the framework of a the project “History, Technical Investigation and Conservation of the Retable of the High Altar of Tallinn’s St. Nicholas’ Church
2013–2015” funded by the EU Regional Development Fund.

In Tallinn (20-21.10.14) the participants – conservation practitioners and students of art history and conservation – were given an overview of the practices and techniques of conservation science. Ivo Leito gave an overview of Analytical chemistry instruments and conservation research at UT Chemicum. an important part of the Tallinn session was taking small samples from the altar. In Tartu (22-23.10.14) the participants analysed the samples taken from the altar using the instruments available in Chemicum under the supervision of research fellow Signe Vahur.

The retable of the high altar of the St. Nicholas’ (Niguliste) Church in Tallinn is one of the most magnificent and best preserved northern German altar retables from the Late Middle Ages. The retable was made in the workshop of the well-known Lübeck master Hermen Rode in 1478. More than forty saints and biblical figures are depicted in the retable and it is among the largest retables from the 15th-century Hanseatic cities.

 

 

 

 

 

Leito_U_MOOC_NMKL_Eurachem_2014On Sept 30, 2014 Ivo Leito gave a presentation On-line course: Estimation of measurement uncertainty in chemical analysis
at the NMKL/Eurachem Workshop on Measurement Uncertainty.

The presentation outlined the contents and organisation of the material in the on-line course, the ways of using it (for independent learning, for self-testing, as an information source and as a basis for MOOC) and the experience of running it as a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) in spring 2014. The presentation generated quite some questions and comments from the audience, both about the uncertainty estimation and didactical issues as well as about how the course was made.

The course material is available from https://sisu.ut.ee/measurement/

 

SAMSUNG CSCThe 2015 edition of the MSC Euromaster summer school will take place in Puławy (Poland) during Jul 11-25, 2015. Details can be found in the first circular.

Topics covered are:
· Traceability in chemical and bio-analytical measurements
· Validation of such measurement procedures
· Evaluation of measurement uncertainty in chemical measurements; uncertainty and compliance
· Statistics and statistical basis of calibration;
· ISO/IEC-17025 standard quality system and laboratory assessment;

Teaching methods: Problem based learning is at the heart of the school. There are lectures, but project work, case studies and assignments carry most weight. Throughout the summer school, students work in small teams to tackle the various challenges which they will be given. Each team needs to set up an independent analytical laboratory to perform service analysis for a customer.

The MSC Consortium has been fostered by the European Commission Joint Research Centre, in view of the importance of laboratory accreditation in European legislation and external trade. In 2007, the JRC was instrumental in bringing together a consortium of universities offering an international master programme in Measurement Science in Chemistry (www.msc-euromaster.eu), which received a Euromaster® quality label in 2008 (renewed in 2013).

(Image on the left: students working in the MSC Summer School 2013)

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Today the introductory meeting of the AMS students with the programme coordinator took place. An overview of the programme was given (the slides are available from here) and the questions of the students were answered, followed by a joint lunch and tea/coffee/chatting.

There were 13 students (originating from Portugal, India, Latvia, Nigeria, Greece, Germany, Ghana, Estonia, Ukraine and China) participating (and some more are still on their way to Estonia). This number of students starting their studies in AMS this year is the biggest of all time.

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On Friday, Aug 29, 2014 the defence of PhD thesis Acidity and basicity in non-aqueous media: importance of solvent properties and purity prepared by Karl Kaupmees took place.

Karl’s thesis is focused on solvent characteristics, that influence the pKa measurements
in non-aqueous media and is divided into two major sections. In the first part, pKa
measurements for two sets of compounds – pKa of chiral strongly acidic catalysts (e.g. the BINOL, NTPA and JINGLE families) and pKa of fluoro- and chloro-substituted phosphanes are carried out revealing the importance of knowledge of solvent properties in order to achieve accurate and reliable results. In collaboration with our partner research groups it was also discovered that the acidities of the involved compounds have strong impact on the respective catalytic processes.

In the second part of the thesis, the influence of water, at low concentration, below 1% (w/w), is systematically studied on the relative acidities and basicities. It is quantitatively shown, that acids are much more influenced by the increase of water content in solvent, compared to bases. Higher impacts are observed in case of acids and bases with localized charges in corresponding ions.

In order to quantify the charge delocalization in ions, for the first time, two computational parameters WAPS (charge delocalization parameter for anions) and WANS (charge delocalization parameter for cations) are proposed. The strength of the acids as well as the nature of acidity center are shown to affect the changes in relative acidity upon increase of water content. Recently it has also been discovered that there is a good correlation between the WAPS charge delocalization parameter and the electrospray (ESI) ionization efficiency of the compounds.

The defence was very successful and it is expected that the results will be of interest to a wide community of chemists and technologists.

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On Friday, Aug 29, 2014 the defence of PhD thesis Novel Tools for Water Quality Monitoring – From Field to Laboratory prepared by Teemu Näykki took place. Teemu Näykki works as team leader at the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE). The thesis introduces a set of new tools for water quality monitoring. These include:

The defence was very successful and the results are expected to be of significant help to field laboratories in assuring and improving the quality of their chemical analysis results for water monitoring.

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UT Chemicum

On Monday, September 1, 2014 starting at 12:15 the introductory meeting of the Applied Measurement Students with the programme director will take place in UT Chemicum (Ravila 14a) in room 1100. Although the meeting is primarily for the first year students just starting their studies, the second year students are also welcome.

Overview of the programme structure will be given, together with the requirements of acquired ECTS credits per semester. The courses – both obligatory and elective – will be briefly introduced, as well as the AMS timetable of this semester. The people who will be taking care of the different aspects of your study life in Tartu will be introduced. This meeting is also meant for asking any questions related to the Applied Measurement Science study programme and organisation of your studies, as well as general topics if some unanswered questions remained from the main orientation course.

This map of Tartu, featuring (almost) all University buildings will help you to find Chemicum (see page 2). The suitable bus is No 3 (stop Tehnoloogiainstituut or Nooruse). The picture above shows what Chemicum looks like. It is very easy to find from the bus stop.

If there are any problems with reaching the place, please call me: +372 5 184 176.

I am looking forward to meet you on 01.09.2014!

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On Friday, August 8, 2014 the MSC Euromaster Summer School 2014 finished. This year’s summer school took place in Casablanca (Morocco) and was hosted by the ESITH educational centre. Around fourty students from ten countries participated.

As in previous years, a key activity of the summer school was the contest of student teams, which tested their knowledge and skills in almost all areas of metrology in chemistry. This year the summer school advanced further in terms of shiftin the activities away from the classical lecture-type of teaching by incresing the share of discussions, hands-on work, teamwork.

Three AMS students from UT – Dinesh Indika Dias, Illia Shypunov, Sinai Mwagomba – also participated and their impressions are very positive.

Dinesh: “It was a great experiance, two weeks living in and concentrated on one subject. most imortantly now we are members of large network in Chemical measurement. I am very happy to say that at the Examination I maneged to get 10 out 10 and It was the best result of this summer school.”

Illia: “I found all exercises really useful from all aspects, it gives huge amount of practical information and skills that we can implement in future laboratory work. So I am enjoing, also Morocco is interesting country with specific colorful culture”.

Sinai: “The experience at Summer school is awesome! And it ties together all we learn in our curriculum. Our performance was really good as all of us got good grades in the exam.”

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The EU EACEA has made the decision to select for funding the Erasmus+ (formerly known as Erasmus Mundus) International Joint Master Degree (JMD) programme Excellence in Analytical CHemistry (EACH), which will be launched in 2015 by a consortium led by the University of Tartu.

The Erasmus+ JMD (formerly known as Erasmus Mundus) is a scheme of Joint European study programmes aiming to include the best that Europe has to offer in higher education. The scheme is prestigious and therefore highly competitive: the success of the EACH programme this year came after three preceding proposals were turned down.

The EACH programme will be   delivered by 4 full partners – University of Tartu, Uppsala University (UU), University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 (UCBL) and Åbo Akademi University (AAU) – as well as 26 associated partners – industries, laboratories and universities. The associated university partners are from Europe, Asia and North America.

Student mobility is an essential part of the programme. The study tracks are pictured in the image on the left. The students spend their first study year at UT learning the fundamentals of analytical chemistry (including the mainstream practical skills for working in an analytical laboratory), analytical quality and metrology in chemistry as well as the socio-economic aspects of analytical chemistry. This will be done on the basis of the modules of the Applied Measurement Science programme. The second study year is specialisation-oriented and is spent either at UU, UCBL or AAU. Each of these universities is strong in one of the branches of applied analytical chemistry:
– UU: Organic and bio-analysis, separation methods and mass spectrometry, especially as applied to biological objects.
– UCBL: Industrial analytical chemistry and process control.
– AAU: Electrochemical sensors, electroanalytical chemistry, advanced analytical devices.

The studies are made more real-life oriented by internship placement in an industry or a laboratory. In order to teach advanced and frontier topics of analytical chemistry the programme includes a winter school, where such topics are lectured by invited scholars from associated partners and other institutions.

Please see the EACH Website for more information.
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Joint Choirs Performing at Laulupidu Song Festival

During July 05-07, 2014 the XXVI Laulupidu (Song Festival) and XIX Tantsupidu (Dance Festival) took place in Tallinn, Estonia, attracting altogether more than 150 000 people. Such festivals are organized every 5 years and the first Song Festival took place in 1869. This time the title of the festival was “Touched by Time. The Time to Touch” and it travelled musically through the Estonian choir song tradition from the 19th century to the present.

Laulupidu takes place at Lauluväljak (Song Festival grounds, photo on the left), featuring a gigantic stage specifically designed for singing by huge choirs of thousands of people. The stage features an arc-like roof, which also acts as a sound box helping to direct the music towards listeners.

Song Festival Procession

Laulupidu starts with a procession lasting for several hours where the participants walk through the streets of Tallinn to the Song Festival grounds. The songs performed have been written by Estonian composers and some of them have become extremely popular and are performed at every Laulupidu, e.g. Mu Isamaa on minu arm (My Fatherland, my love), Põhjamaa (A land in the north), Ta lendab mesipuu poole (Flying towards the beehive). Different songs are performed by different choirs (children’s choirs, Male choirs, Female choirs, Mixed choirs). More than 900 individual choirs participated. In order to be admitted as performers to Laulupidu, all choirs had to pass a stringent selection process.

Boys Singing at the Song Festival

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The culmination of the event is traditionally in the end of the second day when the so-called joint choir sings the choir songs most loved in Estonia. This time more than 20 000 singers were singing, conducted by the best Estonian choir conductors and supported by tens of thousands of listeners who were singing along. The overall number of people on the Song Festival grounds during the joint singing was around 100 000. The number of individual choirs that participated in that singing was beyond 600.

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Song Festival Listeners (who also sing!)

Such joint singing is extremely emotional and is much, very much, more than just songs performed by numerous singers. When participants are asked about their feelings then usually they find it impossible to put in words the overwhelming feeling happiness, joy, solidarity between people, etc. Many people are almost weeping when singing. Laulupidu is certainly the most powerful force uniting Estonian people (who otherwise are notorious for their individualism) and for many people the highest and purest form of expressing the identity of Estonians as a nation. The video below gives an example of joint singing from this Laulupidu.

Throughout the Estonian history the Song Festival tradition has been decisively important in the formation of Estonians as a nation, in the birth of the first Estonian republic in 1918 and, especially, in regaining the independence in 1991, via the so-called “Singing revolution”.

All this put together makes Laulupidu by far the most important and impressive cultural event that can be experienced in Estonia. Laulupidu has been included in the UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.


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On April 23, 2014 the in situ Interlaboratory comparison measurement (ILC) of dissolved oxygen concentration Fieldoxy 2014, organised jointly by the Finnish Environmental Institute (SYKE) and University of Tartu (UT) took place in the Gulf of Finland, on board of SYKE’s research vessel Aranda. The intercomparison was organised in the framework of the EMRP ENV05 Ocean project funded within the framework of the European Metrology Research Programme (EMRP). There were altogether 20 participants from 10 research institutes from 5 countries (Finland, Estonia, Sweden, France, Germany).

The role of University of Tartu in the intercomparison was to provide reliable reference values for the intercomparison, against which the results of the participants could be assessed. This was done using the modified highly accurate Winkler titration procedure developed previously at UT in the framework of the same project. The main modification were (1) using high-precision piston burette instead of weighing (it is not possible to accurately weigh on a ship) and (2) taking into account the uncertainty due to possible oxidizing or reducing impurities ion the seawater. In addition to the measurement uncertainty sources intrinsic in the procedure, the uncertainty due to spatial inhomogeneity of seawater around the rosette sampler (see presentation slides) was taken into account. This uncertainty contribution was found to be very important (it was the dominant uncertainty source at two immersion depths out of three).

On June 16, 2014 the coordinator from SYKE, Teemu Näykki, made a presentation on the preliminary results of the Fieldoxy 2014 intercomparison at the project meeting of ENV 05. The results show good agreement between the results of the participants and the reference values. In particular, and very importantly, there was no bias evident between the reference values and the participant results.

For comprehensive results of the intercomparison please see the final report of the Fieldoxy 2014 intercomparison.

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Organization of this intercomparison has been partly funded by the European Metrology Research Programme (EMRP), project ENV05 “Metrology for ocean salinity and acidity”. The EMRP is jointly funded by the EMRP participating countries within EURAMET and the European Union.

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Five AMS master’s students successfully defended their theses today (on June 9, 2014). On picture, from left: Petrică Artene, Roland Hoxha, Kaspars Laizans, Astrid Pung and Shanshan Wu (Ivo Leito is standing between Kaspars and Astrid).

Traditionally for AMS the topics of the theses were diverse ranging from artificial photosynthesis to measurements in biochemistry and from synthetic molecular receptors to quality assurance in vibration testing.

Congratulations to all of you!

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Today on Jun 6, 2014 a webinar was held for the student candidates admitted to teh Applied Measurement Science programme starting for the 2014/2015 study year. 16 prospective students participated. Short presentations were given by Ivo Leito (slides available here) and Kaija Murasov from the UT International Student Service. AMS student Janis Linitis shared his experience of life and studies at Tartu.

We hope to meet all the participants in Tartu in Autumn!

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On May 17, 2014 the spring seminar of the Applied Measurement Science programme took place. Students presented and discussed the progress of their master’s theses.

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As is usual for the AMS programme, a very wide range of topics is investigated by our students. Just some examples:

— Determination of Pb-210 and Po-210 isotopes in ash using liquid scintilation counting
— Testing of electronics components for their stability against vibration
— Studying artificial photosynthesis
— Calibration and testing system for air humidity measurements
— Computational modeling of synthetic receptors for small anions
— Characterization of space technology equipment for stability towards exptreme temperatures
— Catalysis studies for oxygen electroreduction
— Measurements of thin film properties

After the seminar the students had a small picnic/barbeque.

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During May 19-21, 2014 the Eurachem Workshop on Quality in Analytical Measurements is taking place in Lisbon (Portugal). The workshop covers all main issues in ensuring the quality of analytical results, ranging from traceability to validation and from measurement uncertainty to routine quality assurance in laboratories.

Ivo Leito from University of Tartu participated in the session dedicated to bias evaluation and proficiency testing. He initiated and moderated a discussion around the issues in evaluation of bias/recovery. The discussion slides are available from here. The slides are composed so that they have questions and blanks and these questions are answered and blanks are filled in with the help of the audience.

You are welcome to test your understanding of the bias issues by trying to fill in the blanks and answer the questions. You can then test your understanding by downloading the slides with answers solutions. Please contact Ivo Leito if you have any questions.

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On Apr 16, 2014 the MOOC Estimation of measurement uncertainty in chemical analysis offered by University of tartu finished successfully. The course eventually had 270 participants from more than 40 countries. 141 participants successfully completed the course, making the completion rate 52%, which is very good for a MOOC, especially one that has quite difficult calculation exercises, which need to be done correctly for completing the course. Comparing to other MOOCs: completion rates around 10% and below are actually quite common with MOOCs as indicated by a recent survey).

The feedback was very positive (some examples) and we are glad that evidently we were able to offer something that is really needed by people who do chemical analysis in their everyday work, as many of our participants. The participants were very active and asked lots of questions. These were often very much to the point and addressed things that are really important to analysts in their everyday work. The course had several forums (general and by topic) and the overall number of posts to them during the course period reached beyond 300! (overall number containing posts from participants and teachers)

This active participation made teaching this MOOC a great experience also for us, the teachers. The discussion threads gave a lot of added value to the course and some of them triggered making important modifications to the course materials.

We plan to repeat this course again in Spring 2015.

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On Monday, March 03, 2014 the web course “Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis” was launched as a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course). This is the first MOOC created at University of Tartu.

The course has turned out to be very popular – more than 260 participants from more than 40 countries (ranging from Nicaragua to Iceland and from USA to Singapur) have registered. Image on the left shows the countries where the participants come from. The majority of participants are from analytical laboratories. This demonstrates the continuing need for training in measurement uncertainty estimation in analytical chemistry.

The full course material is accessible from the web page https://sisu.ut.ee/measurement/uncertainty. The course materials include videos, schemes, calculation files and numerous self-tests (among them also full-fledged measurement uncertainty calculation exercises). In order to pass the course the registered participants have to take six graded tests and get higher than 50% score. These tests are available to registered participants via the Moodle e-learning platform. Participants who successfully pass the course will get a certificate from University of Tartu.

It is planned to run this course as MOOC again in Spring 2015.

(Image: www.vidiani.com)

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The online course of Measurement Uncertainty Estimation in Analytical Chemistry (http://sisu.ut.ee/measurement/), which will be running as a MOOC during 03.03.14-13.04.14 has this morning got the 100th registered participant. The geographic diversity is wide: all six inhabited continents are represented!

Registration will be open until Mar 02, 2014.

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Different chiral 1,1’-bi-2-naphthol (BINOL)-derived acids and their analogues (see image on the right) were recently introduced as a highly efficient class of metal-free Brønsted acid organocatalysts, capable also of enantioselective (chiral) catalysis.


These catalysts have been successfully used for a wide range of reactions (hydrogenations, various addition reactions to aldimines and ketimines, Diels-Alder and [3+2] cycloaddition reactions, Nazarov cyclizations, asymmetric protonations, Mukaiyama aldol reactions, etc). In spite of their wide usage, accurate data about their acidity were not available until recently.

PhD student Karl Kaupmees (image on the left) has carried out measurement of pKa values of a number of those acids in acetonitrile and as a result, reliable acidity data are now available. Furthermore, it was possible to demonstrate for the first time that the catalytic activity of the acid in one of the reactions (Nazarov cyclization) is directly related to the acidity of the acid catalyst.

This result was so significant that it was published by one of the most prominent chemistry journals Angewandte Chemie Int. Ed. (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2013, 52, 11569-11572).

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We are glad to announce that the on-line course Estimation Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis will during the Spring semester 2014 be offered as a free on-line course (so called MOOC) to students from all over the world. The course will be running during Mar 03 – Apr 13, 2014 and is now open for registration.

During online course period the online materials will be supplemented by discussion forum and possibility to ask questions from the teachers, as well as by tests and exercises that will be graded (and will jointly determine the final grade). The students who register to the course will be enrolled as guest students at UT and will eventually get one ECTS credit and a certificate form University of Tartu if they will successfully pass the course.

The course gives the main concepts and mathematical apparatus of measurement uncertainty estimation and explains in detail two principal approaches to measurement uncertainty estimation – the ISO GUM modeling approach (the “bottom-up” approach) and the single-lab validation approach as implemented by Nordtest (the “top-down”) approach. The course contains close to 50 short video lectures, practical examples and numerous tests and exercises for self-testing. This course can be used via web by anyone who wishes to improve the knowledge and skills in measurement uncertainty estimation.

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On Dec 27, 2013 Postimees, a prominent Estonian Daily newspaper, has awarded its annual title “person of the year 2013” to Mart Noorma – the initiator and scientific mentor of the Student satellite project ESTCube-1. This title is each year awarded by Postimees to a person who has during the year accomplished something significant, with impact expected to last for years to come.

ESTCube-1 is the first Estonian satellite. It was built by students from University of Tartu in collaboration with Estonian Aviation Academy, Tallinn University of Technology and Estonian University of Life Sciences, as well as participants from abroad. The main goal of the satellite is testing the so-called solar sail concept. The satellite was successfully launched on May 7, 2013. The solar sail experiment is planned to be carried out in 2014. Successful lauch of the satellite brings Estonia into the family of space states and marks the beginning of a new era in Estonian space technology. A next satellite – ESTCube-2 – is already in planning (in the framework of the QB50 project for ionosphere measurements).

The ESTCube satellite project has strong links also with the Applied Measurement Science master’s programme: three students of the programme work or have worked in the ESTCube-1 project: Kaspars Laizans, Martynas Pelakauskas and Mykola Tverdokhlib.

Mart Noorma works as senior lecturer of optical metrology and as vice-dean of studies at Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Tartu. He is the leader of the space technology group at University of Tartu. He is also well known for introducing innovative teaching approaches at University of Tartu and for his wide-ranging activities as popularizer of science.

(Photo: Peeter Langovits, Postimees)

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On Nov 7, 2013 Ivo Leito gave presentation titled Measurement Science in Chemistry Education at University of Tartu in Opatija (Croatia) at the conference “Laboratory Competence 2013” organized by CroLab – the Croatian Association of Laboratories. The presentation contains information about the Applied Measurement Science master’s programme et University of Tartu, about the international consortium of master’s programmes Measurement Science in Chemistry and about the recently launched on-line course Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis.

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On Oct 24, 2013 a seminar “Quality assurance and validation of analytical methods in the laboratory” was organized jointly in helsinki by the Finnish Chromatography society and Finnish Mass spectrometry society. Ivo Leito from University of Tartu made a presentation on the approaches to measurement uncertainty estimation. The presentation compared the ISO GUM modelling and the Nordtest approach to measurement uncertainty estimation. The Nordtest approach was explained in more detail and an application example – measurement uncertainty in LC-MS analysis (determination of acrylamide in snacks by LC-MS) – was discussed. The online course of measurement uncertainty estimation in analytical chemistry that was recently set up at University of Tartu was briefly introduced.

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We are glad to introduce the Online Course of Measurement Uncertainty Estimation in Analytical Chemistry!

It has been set up at University of Tartu during 2013 and its version 1 is now accessible from the address
http://sisu.ut.ee/measurement/. This is an introductory course on estimation of measurement uncertainty, specifically related to chemical analysis. The course gives the main concepts and mathematical apparatus of measurement uncertainty estimation and explains in detail two principal approaches to measurement uncertainty estimation – the ISO GUM modeling approach (the “bottom-up” approach) and the single-lab validation approach as implemented by Nordtest (the “top-down”) approach. The course contains close to 50 short video lectures, practical examples and numerous tests and exercises for self-testing.

In spite of being introductory, the course intends to offer sufficient knowledge and skills for carrying out uncertainty estimation for the common analyses in routine laboratory environment. The examples or exercises currently include measurement uncertainty in acid-base titration, measurement uncertainty in Kjeldahl nitrogen determination, measurement uncertainty in UV-Vis spectrophotometry, measurement uncertainty in atomic absorption spectroscopy and measurement uncertainty in liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS) and more is coming. It is important to stress, however, that for successful measurement uncertainty estimation experience (both in analytical chemistry as such and also in uncertainty estimation) is crucial and this can be acquired only through practice.

This course can be used via web by anyone who wishes to improve the knowledge and skills in measurement uncertainty estimation. It will also be offered as a registered (i.e. giving credit points) free online course (interfaced with the Moodle study environment) starting from Spring semester of 2014 as to students from all over the world.

Needless to say, all feedback is most welcome!

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On Jun 28, 2013 the Report on method for improved gravimetric Winkler titration (by Irja Helm, Lauri Jalukse, Ivo Leito) has been published by University of Tartu in the framework of the European Metrology Research Programme (EMRP), project ENV05 “Metrology for ocean salinity and acidity”. Full text of the report is available from here. This report is based on the doctoral dissertation of Irja Helm and on the recent publication I. Helm, L. Jalukse, I. Leito “A highly accurate method for determination of dissolved oxygen: Gravimetric Winkler method” Analytica Chimica Acta 2012, 741, 21– 31. It is expected to be useful laboratory guide in all sectors (environmental, energy, materials, …) where reliable measurements of dissolved oxygen concentration are needed.

This work has been partly funded by the European Metrology Research Programme (EMRP), project ENV05 “Metrology for ocean salinity and acidity”. The EMRP is jointly funded by the EMRP participating countries within EURAMET and the European Union.

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The research work on accurate measurement method of binding constants in supramolecular chemistry carried out by Kristjan Haav (left) in the framework of his AMS master’s thesis has gained international recognition: it has been published by the Journal of Organic Chemistry, one of the most prominent organic chemistry journals: Accurate Method To Quantify Binding in Supramolecular Chemistry K. Haav, S. A. Kadam et. al. J. Org. Chem. 2013, 78, 7796−7808.

Measurement of host-guest binding constants is one of the pillars of supramolecular chemistry and is indispensable for designing smart materials, chemo-sensors, etc. Up to now such measurements are typically made by methods that give absolute binding constant values, but at the same time suffer from serious systematic effects making comparison of data from different research groups very difficult.

Kristjan has developed an approach for accurate and comparable measurement of host-guest binding affinities whereby differences in binding strength (ΔlogKass values) are measured between two host molecules toward a particular guest under identical solvent conditions. Measuring differences instead of absolute values enables obtaining highly accurate results, because many of the uncertainty sources (the solvation/association state of the guest in solution, deviations in solvent composition, etc.) cancel out. As a proof of concept, this method was applied to the measurement of the binding strength of 28 synthetic anion receptors toward acetate in acetonitrile containing 0.5% water. The receptors included differently substituted indolocarbazoles, ureas, thioureas, and some others. A self-consistent (consistency standard deviation 0.04 log units) binding affinity scale (right) ranging for around 2.7 log units was constructed from the results.

This work – published in an organic chemistry journal and belonging to the field of supramolecular chemistry – is a nice demonstration of the ubiquity of importance of reliable measurements.

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On Friday, Aug 30, 2013, the introductory meeting for first-year AMS students was held. Sergei Jurtšenko gave overview of the AMS programme, timetable of autumn semester 2013 and some practical aspects of studying in Tartu. The PDF file of this presentation is available for download from here.

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Roland Hoxha (in the middle on the photo), an AMS student who participated in the Measurement Science in Chemistry (MSC) Summer shool 2013 in Lyon said the following about this experience:

“Summer school was really a great experience for me. Meeting new friends, sharing knowledge between each other, playing games, visiting marvelous places and furthermore learning chemistry. Even though Measurement science in chemistry (MSC) at Tartu University is a completed program in metrology in chemistry, summer school decorated it with its surprises by teaching new things in a quite interesting and amusing way. I really consider myself lucky for participating in MSC summer school. I wish that every student who study metrology in chemistry to try it.”

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Shanshan Wu (third from left on the photo), an AMS student who participated in the Measurement Science in Chemistry (MSC) Summer shool 2013 in Lyon said the following about this experience:

“This is an unforgettable Summer I never had before, full of new things and challenges. This Summer school not only let me enhance my knowledge and skills but also broaden my views. Thank you for everyone who offered me this chance to take part in it!”.

The next MSC Summer school is scheduled to take place in Pulawy (Poland) in Summer 2014. All students enrolled in the Applied Measurement Science programme are eligible for applying for membership in the MSC consortium and in the Summer school.

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On Friday, Jul 12, 2013 the MSC Summer school visited the Alps and ascended from Chamonix to a nearby mountain – Aiguille du Midi – with the height of slightly over 3800 m. This is a big advancement from the previous “MSC Summer school record” – Mount Moussala, the highest top of Balkans at 2925 m – which was conquered during the 2009 MSC Summer school.

The picture on the left gives some impressions from Aiguille du Midi. The highest top on the picture (the white round one on the right) is the Mont Blanc. In addition to enjoying the fantastic views and a walk in the mountains, numerous water samples were collected by the students. Those water samples will be analysed in the coming week and compared to the ones taken from various places in Lyon.

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Two young scientists – Karin Kipper and Riin Rebane – from UT analytical chemistry research group participated in the recent HPLC2013 conference in Amsterdam. Both of them presented the most recent results of their work.

The presentation of Karin Kipper (left) titled “Simultaneous Analysis of Carbapenems in Human Bodily Liquids Using HFIP as Buffer Additive in LC-ESI-MS/MS” focuses on the use of 1,1,1,3,3,3-hexafluoroisopropanol (HFIP) as a weak volatile buffer acid for creating LC/ESI/MS mobile phases in the basic range (pH = 8 .. 10). It is not easy to find a good buffering system in this pH region that would at the same time be LC/MS compatible, that is, volatile and not suppressing inonization. HFIP, when mixed with ammonia, offers such possibility. Besides providing suitable buffering capacity at high pH HFIP as mobile phase component also increases the retention of compounds poorly retained on the C18 mobile phase and improves peak shape.

Riin Rebane (right) in her presentation “Method development strategy for derivatization LC/ESI/MS” explores the derivatizing agents for amino acids for LC/ESI/MS analysis. Amino acids generally cannot be analyzed by LC/ESI/MS without derivatization, because they are highly polar (zwitterionic) compounds and (1) are poorly separated on most stationary phases and (2) are (paradoxically!) poorly ionized in the ESI ion source. Riin has explored both classical (Fmoc-Cl, DNS, DEEMM) and novel (TAHS, FOSF) derivatization reagents. She discovered that the novel derivatization reagents proved to be more sensitive and the FOSF reagent (developed ans synthesized in her work) offered better chromatographic separation than TAHS. Moreover, with careful method development towards LC/ESI/MS analysis, classical reagent DEEMM can provide comparable detection to novel reagents with advantages such as good chromatographic separation and wide linear range.

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