On Sunday 8th July, 38 students from 17 countries made their way to the beautiful city of Tallinn. The round of introductions already told us a lot about the individuals, much more than they intended. On Monday 9th July, armed with a little information and lots of things to think about, from the earlier sessions, the students set off, in their teams, to collect sea water samples (Photo on the left). All managed to complete the task but for some the waters were muddied, in more ways than one. Finding out the next day, Tuesday 10th, that salinity measurements are not trivial was a rich learning experience and shed light on many of the pitfalls awaiting the unsuspecting sampler/analyst.

These issues were then further embedded and clarified in various lectures (parts of the resource or process requirements of the ISO/IEC 17025:2017 namely chapters 7.1, 6.1 to 6.6, 7.1-7.8). Already on Tuesday evening the various laboratories (TEAM ONE, JCPT, K2Y, Cool Lab, Djam, We Click!, Elk Analytical, G.I.M.M., ISO CHEM and MONALU) had clearly defined roles and responsibilities for each of their staff. This was about to be tested when they got started on their measurements in the laboratory on Thursday afternoon, following a review of basic lab skills the day before.

Once in the lab the mixture of more and less experienced people really proved to be invaluable for both. It was really lovely to see the exchange of advice, with younger people sharing their intimate knowledge of software such as excel and what it can do and slightly older people providing perspective on what’s really important with respect to fitness for purpose decisions etc. (Ready for the lab! Photo on the right)

When the students had completed five full days of the summer school and were unwinding a little bit in Mektory’s lovely garden, sharing national food, drink, language tips, jokes, songs, (tall) tales from their countries, the idea of filming a mini ‘TV’ novella on Lab Safety was born. It just shows that free time is needed for creative juices to flow!

Saturday the 14th July was simply amazing. From learning that Estonians were Vikings too and what that actually meant, to learning some basic Viking skills (axe throwing and long bow shooting), followed by a hike to the magical Saula Springs, canoeing or long boat river excursion (Photo on the left) and finally ancient singing and dancing games (intermingled with dinner) left all feeling physically exhausted but mentally refreshed and ready for the World Cup Final on Sunday (preceded by a guided tour of Tallinn) and needless to say, another week of interactive learning.

 

On July 09, 2018 the 11th MSC Summer School started in the Mectory facility of the Tallinn University of Technology (Tallinn, Estonia).

Four students from the University of Tartu take part in the summer school. Three students are from the EACH programme: Angelique Dafun, Mark Justine Zapanta and Nikola Obradović. One student, Ernesto De Jesus Zapata Flores, is from the AMS programme. (Photo on the left, taken by Mark Justine Zapanta)

As in previous years, a core aim of the Summer school is teaching measurement science (metrology) topics related to analytical chemistry using active learning (“learning by doing”) approaches, as far as possible. Thus, efforts are made for 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 (Photo on the right).

We wish exciting and enjoyable Summer school to all participants!

 

Initiated by the University of Tartu analytical chemistry group, the pan-European research network of fundamental pH Research UnipHied started in May 2018.

Why is such network needed? As of now, it is not possible to compare pH values of solutions made in different solvents, as every solvent has its own pH scale. This situation is highly unfortunate, since it causes confusion and inaccuracies into many fields, extending far beyond the specific field of acid-base chemistry. Examples are industrial catalytic processes, food chemistry, liquid chromatograpy, etc. The central goal of UnipHied is to overcome this situation by putting the new theoretical concept of the recently introduced unified pHabs scale on a metrologically well-founded basis into practice.

The most important specific objectives of UnipHied are (1) to develop and validate a reliable and universally applicable measurement procedure that enables the measurement of pHabs; (2) to create a reliable method for the experimental or computational evaluation of the liquid junction potential between aqueous and non-aqueous solutions; (3) to develop a coherent and validated suite of calibration standards for standardizing routine measurement systems in terms of pHabs values for a variety of widespread systems (e.g., industrial mixtures, soils/waters, food products, biomaterials).

The first version of the pHabs measurement procedure has been created by Agnes Heering (Suu) in the framework of her PhD thesis. The main experimental difficulty is evaluation of the liquid junction potential (LJP), which will be thoroughly addressed by UnipHied. The first important steps towards this goal have very recently been made and published as two back-to-back papers: Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2018, 57, 2344–2347 and Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2018, 57, 2348–2352
The key achievement described in the papers is finding an ionic liquid, namely [N2225][NTf2], that can be used as salt bridge electrolyte and has such properties that two out of three main sources of LJP are eliminated.

The partners of the UnipHied network are LNE (France, coordinator), BFKH (Hungary), CMI (Czech Republic), DFM (Denmark), IPQ (Portugal), PTB (Germany), SYKE (Finland), TÜBITAK-UME (Turkey), Freiburg University (Germany), ANBSensors (United Kingdom), FCiencias.ID (Portugal), UT (Estonia).

UnipHied is funded from the EMPIR programme (project 17FUN09) co-financed by the Participating States and from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

 

On June 08, 2018 the master thesis defence of the second cohort of the EACH programme took place at Uppsala University! Thi Duong Bui, Anton Roshchin, Duc Khanh Tho Nguyen, Ruixin Huang, Alisija Prakapaitė, Kalliroi Sdougkou, Ajit Jung Karki and Snežana Đorđević successfully defended their master’s theses.

The topics of the theses embraced a wide area of modern biomed- and environmental analytical problems (MS imaging in biomedical research, LC-MS analysis of drugs in different matrices, evaluation of molecular markers for determination of efficiency in drinking water treatment processes, studies of photosynthesis, etc). All of them featured the use of highly sophisticated analytical instrumentation, such as high-resolution MS, imaging systems, etc. This choice of topics is largely directed by the world-famous biomedical analysis research direction at Uppsala University led by prof. Jonas Bergquist.

The average quality level of the theses was found to be very high by the defence committee members.

Congratulations to all of you!

(On photo from the left: Tho, Kalliroi, Alisija, Snežana, Ivo, Jonas, Duong, Ajit, Anton, Ruixin)

 

A comprehensive comparative validation for two different types of dissolved oxygen (DO) analyzers, amperometric and optical, together with estimation of measurement uncertainty is presented in the recently published article I. Helm, G. Karina, L. Jalukse, T. Pagano, I. Leito, Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 2018, 190, 313.

A number of performance characteristics were evaluated including drift, intermediate precision, accuracy of temperature compensation, accuracy of reading (under different measurement conditions), linearity, flow dependence of the reading, repeatability (reading stability), and matrix effects of dissolved salts. The matrix effects on readings in real samples were evaluated by analyzing the dependence of the reading on salt concentration (at saturation concentration of DO). The analyzers were also assessed in DO measurements of a number of natural waters. The uncertainty contributions of the main influencing parameters were estimated under different experimental conditions. It was found that the uncertainties of results for both analyzers are quite similar but the contributions of the uncertainty sources are different.

The results imply that the optical analyzer might not be as robust as is commonly assumed, however, it has better reading stability, lower stirring speed dependence, and typically requires less maintenance. On the other hand, the amperometric analyzer has a faster response and wider linear range.

(Photo by Lauri Jalukse: measurements of dissolved oxygen concentration with amperometric and optical analyzers at Jordan spring, Karksi-Nuia, Estonia)

 

University of TartuIn a recent ranking of universities in the “New Europe” – the 13 countries that have become EU members since 2004 – carried out by the Times higher Education, the University of Tartu was ranked as No 1!

University of Tartu is followed by the Cyprus University of Technology and University of Cyprus. The Charles University in Prague is ranked fourth.

The list includes 53 universities in total and uses the conventional methodology of THE World University Rankings.

 

Measurement_Uncertainty_MOOC_Successfully_FinishedOn May 14, 2018 the on-line course (MOOC) Estimation of measurement uncertainty in chemical analysis offered by University of Tartu finished successfully.
Eventually altogether 521 people registered (270 in 2014, 489 in 2015, 757 in 2016, 363 in 2017) from 76 countries (a number of participants joined after the start of the course). 358 participants actually started the course (i.e. tried at least one graded test at least once) and out of them 218 successfully completed the course (141 in 2014, 169 in 2015, 308 in 2016, 148 in 2017). The overall completion rate was 42% (52% in 2014, 34% in 2015, 40% in 2016, 41% in 2017). The completion rate of participants who started the studies was 61% (67% in 2014, 60% in 2015, 67% in 2016, 68% in 2017). The completion rates are nicely consistent over the last 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. The questions 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 almost 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 of 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 2019.

 

Dr_Thompson lecturingDuring Apr 4-8, 2018 The EACH programme had the pleasure of hosting visiting scholar, Dr. David F. Thompson from the Keele University (UK). He conducted an intensive course Introduction to Forensic Analysis.

This lecture series started with some basic forensic principles that underpin the use of analytical chemistry in the court room. It then developed to cover key biological samples that can be encountered in a forensic investigation along with their specific uses and pre-cautions that need to be taken during collection, storage, analysis and reporting of these sample types. A significant amount of time was devoted to understanding the ethical considerations around forensic analysis and how other regulation can affect an investigation. The final part of this series focused on some future directions in food fraud detection using metabonomic profiling.

Dr_Thompson_examining_fingerprints_with_studentsAn exciting part was a practical session on the analysis of fingerprints. Dr Thompson first explained the basics of fingerprint analysis, the classification of the patterns and the different levels of detail. He also had fingerprint swabs and fingerprint forms with him. Every student had the possibility to take his/her fingerprints and analyse them for the typical patterns.

Group photo of the Introduction to Forensic Analysis course (EACH)Altogether 27 students (out of them 15 EACH students) participated in the course and their feedback was very positive.

Dr. Thompson is the Forensic Science Programme Director at Keele and the module leader for the Forensic Toxicology, Drugs of Abuse and the final year project elements of the course. He also directs a research group that is focused on food fraud research using metabonomics.

(Photo up left: Dr. Thompson teaching the class; Photo on the right: Dr. Thompson examining fingerprints with students; Photo down left: Group photo with the participants)

 

U_MOOC_Countries_of_Participants_2018On Tuesday, March 27, 2018 the web course Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis was launched the fifth time as a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course)!

Currently more than 450 participants from 70 countries are registered! As was the case in the previous years, the majority of participants are from analytical laboratories. This once again demonstrates the continuing need for training in measurement uncertainty estimation for practicing analytical chemists.

The full course material is accessible from the web page https://sisu.ut.ee/measurement/uncertainty. As is usual, some developments and improvements have been made to the course material. in particular, the description of course organisatsion was improved; more explanations and examples were added on random and systematic effects within short and long term; the typical requirements for determining repeatability and within-lab reproducibility have been clearly outlined; more explanations on the main principles of modifying a model in a modelling approach have been given, together with an example. 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 pass six graded tests and get higher than 50% score from each of tehm. These tests are available to registered participants via the Moodle e-learning platform.

 

It was the spring of 2011 when I decided to apply to the AMS programme. If I remember correctly, the decision was based on my gut feeling and it was a right one. AMS was related to “perceived” world more than many other programmes in the faculty of science and technology as was also stated in the slogan “bridging the gap between measurements and society”.

5 years after the graduation I am still thankful for taking the journey, and I wanted to remind to myself and to others the three aspects that distinguished the programme from many others.

1) Combination of science and society. If you have the opportunity to combine your own favourite scientific topic (in my case biochemistry and measurement science) with knowledge about requirements related to law, regulations, and standards one has the possibility to give your thoughts a new perspective. It was beneficial for me in the labour market – there are not many people who know both of these aspects simultaneously which makes an AMS graduate a valuable specialist, mostly in private sector, but also in “pure” science. (I am currently working as a quality assurance specialist at Kevelt AS, which is a pharmaceutical manufacturing company in Estonia.)

2) Improvement of communication skills. There was a lot of group work during the studies, which improved my social skills. There is nothing more important than human relations! We had the possibility to study with people from Uzbekistan, Latvia, China, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Jordan, Romania, France, Turkey, and many more. This enabled to study about other cultures, but also how to communicate with people from other cultures.

3) The inspiring (!) lecturers. Their eyes were sparkling when they spoke about their topics so vividly. I believe that people are best at what they really love to do and I aim for the same in my professional career.

I could not thank Prof. Ivo Leito more for such an important contribution to our (students´) lives as leading the AMS programme. He is passionate about what he is teaching and sincerely interested in answering the endless questions, giving us the opportunity to find our better selves in the progress of studies.