On Apr 29, 2021 the webinar “Mobile Phase pH in Liquid Chromatography” was organised in the framework of the project 17FUN09 “UnipHied” (www.uniphied.eu). Altogether 101 people participated from 41 countries, ranging from Portugal to Philippines and from Peru to Nepal.

It is well known that in liquid chromatography, mobile phase pH is an important parameter, significantly affecting the retention of acidic and basic analytes. Yet, mobile phase pH is tricky to measure because mobile phases are usually aqueous-organic mixtures and in the case of gradient elution mobile phase composition gradually changes during elution. The topics covered during the webinar were:

— Different possibilities to express pH in liquid chromatography (LC)
Unified pH (pHabs): the concept and measurements methods
— The applications and limitations of different pH expressions in LC

Numerous questions were asked by the participants that indicated the importance of the topic and the need for a more robust conceptual framework for handling the topic of pH in liquid chromatography. Contributing to this, via the pHabs concept, is one of the aims of the UnipHied project.

The UnipHied project is funded from the EU’s EMPIR programme, co-financed by the Participating States and from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. Additional support from: EU Regional Development Fund (TK141 “Advanced materials and high-technology devices for energy recuperation systems”), Estonian Research council (PRG690) and Estonian Center of Analytical Chemistry (www.akki.ee)

This year the Estonian Research Council has presented 49 female Estonian scientists to the AcademiaNet database. From the Unversity of Tartu, seven names were given, including Dr Signe Vahur (on the picture), a research fellow in our Chair of Analytical Chemistry.

The AcademiaNet contains profiles of excellent female researchers from all disciplines. The database enables wider recognition worldwide, allowing scientists and research institutions to search for suitable collaborations, experts, or speakers. The database was initiated in 2010 and, by now, has the profiles of 3000 outstanding female researchers from all over the world.

Since 2003, Dr Signe Vahur has done research in the field of conservation science and specialized in the investigation of cultural heritage objects (paints, textiles, paper, resinous materials, etc.) with a vast collection of instrumental techniques. She has also worked as a conservator of polychrome objects and now is the leader of our Cultural Heritage workgroup. Recently, her team started to develop a new device that could be used to analyze valuable cultural heritage objects, so there’s only more to come!

Signe, congratulations from us all!

It is well known that in liquid chromatography, mobile phase pH is an important parameter, significantly affecting the retention of acidic and basic analytes. Yet, mobile phase pH is tricky to measure because mobile phases are usually aqueous-organic mixtures and in the case of gradient elution mobile phase composition gradually changes during elution.

Mobile phase pH is the topic of an upcoming webinar “Mobile Phase pH in Liquid Chromatography”, which we will organise on 29.04.2021 at 13:00 – 16:00 (Central European time: France, Germany, …) via the Zoom platform. Registration to the webinar is now open at this registration link.

The topics that we plan to cover are:

— Different possibilities to express pH in liquid chromatography (LC)
— Unified pH (pHabs): the concept and measurements methods
— The applications and limitations of different pH expressions in LC

The webinar is organised in the framework of the project 17FUN09 “UnipHied”, which is funded from the EU’s EMPIR programme, co-financed by the Participating States and from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

On Tuesday, March 23, 2021, the web course Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis was launched for the eighth time as a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course)!

Currently, 925 participants from 97 countries are registered – the largest audience the course has ever had! In the map present above, the orange color marks the countries with stable participation: these countries were presented in our course last year, and so are today. The yellow color denotes the countries where we, unfortunately, do not have participants this year. The green color corresponds to the countries where we did not have participants last year, but are present now. True, the map is coarse and some countries are small. Therefore, not all countries are visible. However, altogether 15 countries are added this year!

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 pass six graded tests and get a higher than 50% score from each of them. These tests are available to registered participants via the Moodle e-learning platform.

This course is run under the umbrella of the Estonian Center of Analytical chemistry and forms a part of the measurements and chemical analysis related master programmes at UT: Applied Measurement Science and Excellence in Analytical Chemistry.

A highly interdisciplinary study ranging from computational chemistry to cultural heritage has now been published – Experimental and Computational Study of Aminoacridines as MALDI(-)-MS Matrix Materials for the Analysis of Complex Samples, J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom. 2021.  

9-aminoacridine (9-AA) is a well-known matrix material used for the MALD(-)-MS analysis. Among the other monoaminoacridines (AAs), only 3-AA has been tested once (in our cultural heritage workgroup) but the suitability of the other AAs was unknown.

To fill this gap, the capabilities of all five AAs were studied by analysing different materials (stearic acid, colophony resin, dyer’s madder, and a resinous sample from a 16th-century shipwreck). Also, a vast range of properties for these aminoacridines were experimentally or computationally characterized (including UV-Vis absorption and fluorescence spectra, proton transfer reactions, crystallization). 

The results demonstrated, that all the AAs are suitable for the MALDI(-)-MS analysis of these materials. Interestingly, 3-AA and 4-AA outperformed the other AAs (including the best-known 9-AA) and were the preferred matrices for the analysis of samples studied in this work. 

The equilibrium acidity scale (pKa scale) in acetonitrile (MeCN) has been supplemented by numerous new compounds and new ΔpKa measurements and has been published in Eur. J. Org. Chem. 2021, 1407–1419 (Open access). The pKa scale now contains altogether 231 acids – over twice more than published previously – linked by 566 ΔpKa measurements and spans between the pKa values of hydrogen iodide (2.8) and indole (32.57), covering close to 30 orders of magnitude. The acids have wide structural variety, ranging from common families – phenols (e.g. picric acid, alizarin, polyhalogenophenols), carboxylic acids (e.g. acetic, benzoic, retinoic and sorbic acid), sulfonic acids, hydrogen halides) to highly special molecules (chiral BINOL catalysts, bis(benzoxazole-2-yl)methanes, polyfluorinated compounds) and superacids (fluorinated sulfonimides, cyanoform, tetracyanopropenes).

Measurement results acquired over the last 15 years were added to the scale and new least squares treatment was carried out. The treatment yielded revised pKa values for the compounds published previously, with the root mean square difference between revised and previous values 0.04, demonstrating very good stability of the scale.

Correlation equations were developed for estimating pKa values for the studied types of compounds in water, DMSO, DMF and 1,2-dichloroethane on the basis of pKa values in acetonitrile. These equations enable predicting pKa values with an average error around or less than 1 pKa unit, which is a sufficient accuracy for many applications.

The scale is expected to be a useful tool for the widest possible research areas in organic chemistry, electrochemical power sources, catalysis, etc.

The 2021 edition of the web course (MOOC) Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis will be running from March 23 to May 4, 2021. Registration is now open!

The full course material (as well as the registration link) is accessible from the web page. The course materials include videos, schemes, calculation files, and numerous self-tests (among them also full-fledged measurement uncertainty calculation exercises) and examples. Almost all areas of analytical chemistry are addressed, ranging from simple titrations to sophisticated instrumental analysis, such as determining pesticide residues by LC-MS.

In order to pass the course, the registered participants have to take six graded tests and get a higher than 50% score in every graded test. 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. A digital certificate of completion is free of charge. A certificate of completion on paper can be requested for a fee of 60 euros.

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

Altogether 791 people were registered from 86 countries. 338 participants actually started the course (i.e. tried at least one graded test at least once) and out of them 221 successfully completed the course. The overall completion rate was 28%. The completion rate of participants who actually started the studies was 65%. All statistics during the five years can be found in the table below.

 YearNo of registrationsNo of countriesActive participantsCompletion rate:
Overall
Completion rate:
Participants who started studies
20173036122455%75%
20184247123637%67%
20194267022729%55%
20205157726731%60%
20217918633828%65%

Both the overall completion rate, as well as the completion rate of those participants who actually started the course have stabilized. The latter completion rate can be considered very good by any measure. As has been the usual case with our online courses, the questions from the participants were often very interesting, often addressed things that are really important to analysts in their everyday work. Such discussions made teaching this course a great experience also for us, the teachers!

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

We plan to repeat this course again in Autumn-Winter 2021-2022.

The year 2020 was anything but ordinary. The EACH programme, among many others also had to quickly adapt to the new situation and regulations dictated by the COVID pandemic. And it managed well! One of the best proofs for this is the high employability rate of the recent graduates of the EACH programme: in less than 6 months 16 out of 18 graduates have acquired a new position!

Out of the 16, nine graduates continue in the academic field by pursuing a PhD, the locations ranging from University of Tartu (Estonia) and University of Uppsala (Sweden) to Iowa State University (USA) and Hubert Curien Multidisciplinary Institute under the University of Strasbourg (France), etc. Seven graduates have secured a job and the positions range from technician at Eurofins PROXY (the Netherlands) to forensic chemist and toxicologist under the ministry of justice in Egypt and from senior engineer in materials science laboratory of Western Digital (Philippines) to quality control analyst at a pharmaceutical company in Kazhastan.

Here are the stories of some of the recent graduates:

Larissa Silva Maciel (UU study-track), currently PhD student at University of Tartu, Estonia:
The EACH programme deals with a wide variety of topics and provides excellent opportunities for the students. In the first year, not only analytical techniques are studied in theory and in practice, but also some other important aspects of analytical chemistry, such as uncertainty and statistical evaluation. One of the great experiences I had within the EACH programme was in the Measurement Science in Chemistry Summer School, where we were able to cover the aforementioned topics in two weeks and make friends from different parts of the world.
During my second year in Uppsala University, we had a lot of hands-on practice in the laboratory and studied the field of proteomics in more detail. I was really lucky to do my master’s thesis in a company, at Recipharm OnTarget Chemistry, where I worked with protein quantification in plasma. This was a completely new topic for me, and I am glad for all the knowledge I got from my supervisors. A minor part of my thesis was dedicated to the topic derivatization, which is now my PhD topic at the University of Tartu.

Helmi Ulrika Kirm (AAU study-track), currently working at Synlab, Estonia:
When I first learned about the EACH programme, I was beyond excited. This was exactly what I was looking for to continue my studies in analytical chemistry! Now, 2 years later, I can confirm that indeed, the EACH programme is a wonderful opportunity for aspiring chemists to immerse themselves into Analytical Chemistry, learning from leading experts all around the world.
By having a strong basis set during the first year at University of Tartu, the second year at Åbo Akademi allows to learn further about the vast world of modern electrochemistry and consolidate the principles of analytical chemistry learned during the first year. I am truly grateful for having been part of the programme.
The programme’s reach does not stop at Chemistry – graduating during a pandemic was difficult, yet I managed start my career at a microbiology lab, proving that the EACH programme is appreciated beyond the chemistry field as well.

Hark Karkee (UU study-track), currently PhD student at Iowa State University, USA
EACH programme is an excellently created programme to produce skilled personnel for current and future job market. I have achieved more than I had expected, and this programme has redefined, reshaped and recalibrated me. This exemplar programme has instilled the basic ethos of analytical chemistry and research despite my divergent precedent.
In this programme, apart from a few mandatory courses you can register to as many courses as you want and can learn as much as you want. The top-notch teaching faculties are on par with cutting-edge laboratory facilities. The chance to choose your second-year study track at the end of first semester (during WINTER SCHOOL) is very helpful to get actual preference and achieve your goals. The Winter School is one of the most exciting things of EACH programme which I will remember forever. It gives you chance learn many interesting things in great ambience, and also you have a lot of fun with all the first year and second year students together with EACH programme coordinators and administrators from all four universities. I would describe EACH programme as a complete package, and you should experience this journey if you get an opportunity.

Kim Shelly Escrupulo (UCBL study-track), currently working as R&D Analytical Chemist at Cambrex Karlskoga, Sweden:
Pursuing the EACH programme was a leap of faith for me. Looking back, I am and will be forever thankful that I did. The first year at University of Tartu strengthened and upgraded my knowledge in Analytical Chemistry. The Industrial Analysis Track at UCBL provided further learning on Data Analysis, a handful of engineering principles and incorporating different analytical techniques for online analysis. After completing the degree, I was able to land in a job as R&D Analytical Chemist in a Pharma company. Thanks to the programme, I was more confident in applying positions other than my experience as a lab analyst. Aside from the technical stuff, living and studying in Tartu for a year was one of my fondest memories spent with amazing batchmates from different parts of the world. I am very grateful for the opportunity. I would recommend this programme to anybody who is interested with Chemistry- fresh graduate or with industrial experience. It was one of the best decisions I have made.

We wish all the best for the recent graduates in their new career!

EACH Winter School 2021 Group Photo

On Jan 18, 2021, the sixth Winter School https://each.ut.ee/EACH/each-winter-school/ of the EACH programme started. Altogether 33 students from 21 countries participate.

As is typical to the COVID-19 era, this year’s Winter School takes place on-line and with a limited scope. Nevertheless, the Winter School offers several lectures-seminars on how analytical chemistry is vital for a most diverse range of human activities ranging from industrial process control (Dr. Franck Baco-Antoniali, Axel’One https://www.axel-one.org/) to synthesis of drugs and their intermediates (Dr. Piia Liigand, TBD Biodiscovery https://biodiscovery.eu/) and from renewable energy (Robert Järviste, Skeleton Technologies https://www.skeletontech.com/) to cultural heritage research (Prof. Hilkka Hiiop, Estonian Academy of Arts https://www.artun.ee/).

Traditionally an important activity in the Winter school is selecting first year students to study tracks. In order to give one more piece of information what the study tracks are about, there was a session of presentations on the first day by second year students on their master thesis topics (photo on the right).

On Tuesday, November 24, 2020 the web course LC-MS Method Validation was launched for the fifth time as a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course). There are 788 registered participants (the largest number ever in this course) from 86 countries, ranging from Bangladesh to Belize and from Sweden to Togo. 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 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 all the different subtopics of analytical method validation.

The full set of course materials 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.

On November 6, 2020, Huian Liu, an EACH graduate from the first intake successfully defended his PhD thesis “Development of gas chromatography in high pressure condition” at Univeristy of Claud Bernard Lyon 1 under the supervision of Prof. Jérôme Randon.
Below, Huian describes the role of the EACH programme in his achievement:

I did not have a chance to say thank you to EACH program before, but it definitely was a life-changing experience to me. It opened my eyes to a wider horizon of analytical chemistry, which is not only about analytical methods and their instrumentation, there is also chemometrics, metrology and many more. Those knowledges allowed me to be competitive in the field and capable to pursue further success.

In the second year of EACH program in France, I have had the chance to do an internship of 6 months with Prof. J. Randon, on the subject of development of high pressure gas chromatography. With the interest in the continuation and the trust from the professor, I have passed the contest from the doctoral school of Univeristy Claude Bernard Lyon 1 and finally won an entrance ticket to a challenging PhD program.
Life of research is surely complicated. Sometimes you get excited about new ideas, then defeated by the fact that it does not always work, but this is the very reason why this life is vivid. This 3-year journey, neither long nor short, is a precious opportunity to gain expertise, autonomy as well as friendship. As a plus, in the case of EACH students, it also offers a chance to practice a foreign language.
Now I have successfully defended my thesis, the very first person I would like to thank is my supervisor Prof. J. Randon, for his patience on guiding me how research works, for showing me a positive attitude when things do not work out and for spending countless time on helping and correcting my publications as well as thesis writing.
And today, I look forward to future challenges in life.

Congratulations to Dr. Huian Liu and all the best for his future career!

We are glad to announce that the admission for Excellence in Analytical Chemistry (EACH) Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree programme intake 2021 is open!

EACH is an international two-year joint master degree programme that educates specialists in analytical chemistry well qualified to work in industry (food, pharmaceutical, materials, energy, etc.), chemical analysis laboratories (environment, food, health, etc.) and research (developing new analysis devices or new analysis methods) 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.

We wish you all the success in applying!

Validation_of_LC-MS_Methods_Online_CourseWe are glad to announce that the fifth 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 24, 2020 to Feb 05, 2021.

This is a practice-oriented on-line course on validation of analytical methods, specifically using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) as technique, mostly (but not limited to) using the electrospray (ESI) ion source. The course will also be of interest to chromatographists using other detector types. 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 two-part tutorial review:

The course materials include video lectures, texts, tables, schemes, practical exercises and numerous tests for self-testing. In spite of being introductory, the course intends to offer sufficient knowledge and mathematical 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 determination of pesticides in fruits and vegetables, perfluoroalkyl acids in water, antibiotics in blood serum, glyphosate and AMPA in surface water, etc. It is important to stress, that for successfully carrying out validation, practical experience – both in analytical chemistry as such and also specifically in validation – is crucial and this can be acquired only through hands-on laboratory work, not via an on-line course.

Participation in 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).

 

On the 3rd of September, 2020, EACH master students successfully defended their master’s theses!


On the picture from left to right: Nhung, Çigdem, Kim, Dariya, Aizhan, Jeewan, Jocelyn, and Marvy.

The topics of the theses demonstrated the wide scope of the field of EACH studies. They ranged from the application of near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy to liquid chromatography (LC) coupled with a fluorescence detector. The samples, that were analyzed, ranged from pharmaceutical ingredients to bituminous binders. Also, various chemical processes were studied, for example, saccharification, co-fermentation, and even monitoring of industrial processes were performed.

Full list of students and thesis topics:

  • Jocelyn CardenasFeasibility study on the use of near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy for the continuous monitoring of ethanol and propan-2-ol in amine mixture from ARKEMA La Chambre site
  • Kim EscrupuloRaman spectroscopy for online monitoring of high-pressure hydrogenation reaction in synthesis of an active pharmaceutical ingredient intermediate
  • Jeewan Babu RijalMethod development and validation for the analysis of avermectins in water, soil, and dung matrix using high-performance liquid chromatography and fluorescence detector for the application to study the dissipation of organic micro-pollutants in the environmen
  • Marvy GirgisMulticriteria analysis and relationship/models between chemical structure, rheology and standard characterization on novel bituminous binders
  • Aizhan KazmaganbetovaDetermination of ClO2 in the process of betaine bleaching
  • Nhung DangEvaluation of Raman spectroscopy for online measurement and monitoring of industrial processes
  • Dariya TukhmetovaOnline monitoring of simultaneous saccharification and co-fermentation (SSCF) process with mid-IR and low-field NMR spectroscopic methods

Congratulations and wishing you all the best for your future!

This week is the first study week for the new students of Applied Measurement Science and EACH Erasmus Mundus Joint Programme. Altogether 21 students started their studies. The countries of origin of the students are very diverse: Vietnam, Philippines, USA, Dominican Republic, Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Yemen, Taiwan, Nigeria, Moldova, and Bangladesh.

This year the studies start very differently from previous years, because of the COVID-19. As of now, the majority of students are still not in Estonia. However, the programme team has made extensive preparations for providing e-learning possibilities and we are confident that in spite of the late arrival of many students we will be able to successfully carry out all the necessary teaching activities. The “group photo” on the left (from the introductory session) illustrates the situation.

During the online introductory meeting on Monday 31.08.20 an overview of both programmes was given (see the slides), the autumn semester timetable was explained in detail and a large number of questions were asked and answered.

We wish successful studies to all new students!

 

We are glad to announce that the EACH programme received the Erasmus Mundus grant for the next four intakes (starting from intake 2021).

More information about the admission process and dates will be available on this web page (in section “Admission information”).

On the 8th of June, 2020, eight EACH master students successfully defended their master’s theses via the web.

The defenders and the members of the committee were caught on a screenshot. Defenders: Varun Vashneel Sharma, Hark Karkee, Larissa Silva Maciel, Bhawana Thapa, Evelyn Coenen, Patcharida Kanjanwongpaisan, Estida Vezi, Mark Dennis Chico Retrato. Members of the committee: Prof. Jonas Bergquist, Prof. Mikael Widersten, Prof. Magnus Palmblad and Prof. Ivo Leito.

The topics of the theses demonstrated the wide scope of the field of EACH studies. For example, the samples of their analyses inlcuded steroids, human blood plasma and drugs. In their experiments various mass spectrometric techniques were applied from liquid chromatography – mass spectrometry (LC-MS) to inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS).

Full list of students and thesis topics:

  • Varun Vashneel Sharma: Direct tandem mass spectrometric analysis of hormonal steroids by silver cationization
  • Hark Karkee: Online-reactive chemistries for sensitive and selective direct mass spectrometric analysis of metabolites with electrospray ionization
  • Larissa Silva Maciel: Evaluation of a workflow for protein quantification in plasma by liquid chromatography – mass spectrometry
  • Bhawana Thapa: Comparison of the fecal metabolome of different sample preparation strategies for metabolomics-based investigation of microbiota metabolism
  • Evelyn Coenen: A simple validated supercritical fluid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry method for determination of endogenous tocopherols in human plasma
  • Patcharida Kanjanwongpaisan: Determination of paclitaxel and doxorubicin by liquid chromatography – mass spectrometry in stability studies and release kinetics of polyglutamic acid- drug cojugates
  • Estida Vezi: Study of microwave-assisted digestion efficiency of biological samples using diluted acids and trace elemental determination by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer
  • Mark Dennis Chico Retrato: Analytical method development for analysis of oxytocin in human blood plasma samples using ultra-performance liquid chromatography–orbitrap mass spectrometry (UPLC-Orbitrap MS)

Congratulations and wishing you all the best for your future!

On May 12, 2020 the on-line course (MOOC) Estimation of measurement uncertainty in chemical analysis offered by University of Tartu finished successfully.
Eventually altogether 843 people registered (270 in 2014, 489 in 2015, 757 in 2016, 363 in 2017, 521 in 2018, 590 in 2019) from 95 countries (a number of participants joined after the start of the course). 600 participants actually started the course (i.e. tried at least one graded test at least once) and out of them 464 successfully completed the course (141 in 2014, 169 in 2015, 308 in 2016, 148 in 2017, 358 in 2018, 238 in 2019). The overall completion rate was 55% (52% in 2014, 34% in 2015, 40% in 2016, 41% in 2017, 42% in 2018, 40% in 2019). The completion rate of participants who started the studies was 77% (67% in 2014, 60% in 2015, 67% in 2016, 68% in 2017, 61% in 2018, 62% in 2019). The completion rate this year is the best we have seen and can be considered excellent 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 during the course period the overall number of forum posts was close to 600 (!) (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 2021.

 

The UT Analytical Chemistry group is well known for its acid-base studies, especially pKa measurements, in non-aqueous media. Up to recent time the measured data have been scattered among a number of publications containing pKa measurements.

Now the pKa data of acids and bases in different solvents – acids in MeCN and 1,2-Dichloroethane; bases in THF, MeCN and 1,2-dichloroethane – are compiled into collections of experimental acidity and basicity data in non-aqueous media measured by the UT analytical chemistry group are now up to date on group’s webpage.

Both tables include the compounds name, CAS number and SMILES code. The acidity collection contains 190 compounds, where the compounds available experimentally measured pKa in acetonitrile (MeCN) and pKip in 1,2-dichloroethane (DCE) are given. The pKa in DCE is calculated/estimated based on pKip value.

The basicity data collection includes 353 compounds and their pKip in tetrahydrofuran (THF) and in DCE. The pKa values in MeCN were re-evaluated taking into account all (close to 700) measurements of 279 bases. Therefore, these pKa values can be considered the most reliable pKa values measured in MeCN available!

We welcome everybody to use the pKa values and propose other compounds for which pKa values should be measured.

 

On Tuesday, March 24, 2020 the web course Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis was launched the seventh time as a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course)!

Currently 828 participants from 92 countries are registered – the largest audience the course has ever had! 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. 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 them. These tests are available to registered participants via the Moodle e-learning platform.

This course is run under the umbrella of the Estonian Center of Analytical chemistry (https://www.akki.ee/) and forms a part of the measurements and chemical analysis related master programmes at UT: Applied Measurement Science (https://ams.ut.ee/) and Excellence in Analytical Chemistry (https://www.analyticalchemistry.eu/).

 

The 2020 edition of the web course (MOOC) Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis will be running during Mar 24 – May 5, 2020. Registration is open for one week!

The full course material (as well as the registration link) 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) and examples. Almost all areas of analytical chemistry are addressed, ranging from simple titrations to sophisticated instrumental analysis, such as determining pesticide residues by LC-MS.

In order to pass the course, the registered participants have to take six graded tests and get higher than 50% score in every graded test. 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. A digital certificate of completion is free of charge. A certificate of completion on paper can be requested for a fee of 60 euros.

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

 

On Feb 14, 2020 our LC-MS Method Validation web course (MOOC) finished successfully!
Altogether 515 (426 in 2019, 424 in 2018, 303 in 2017) people were registered from 77 (70 in 2019, 71 in 2018, 61 in 2017) countries. 267 (227 in 2019, 236 in 2018, 224 in 2017) participants actually started the course (i.e. tried at least one graded test at least once) and out of them 161 (125 in 2019, 159 in 2018, 168 in 2017) successfully completed the course. The overall completion rate was 31% (29% in 2019, 37% in 2018, 55% in 2017). The completion rate of participants who actually started the studies was 60% (55% in 2019, 67% in 2018, 75% in 2017). It is pleasant to see that the completion rate of the of the course seems to be stabilizing (as opposed to the clearly negative trend observed last year) and in fact more than 50% completion rate of people who actually started the course can be considered very good by any measure.

As has been the usual case with our online courses, the questions from the participants were often very interesting, often addressed things that are really important to analysts in their everyday work. Such discussions made teaching this course a great experience also for us, the teachers!

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

We plan to repeat this course again in Autumn-Winter 2020-2021.

Besides XRF, the two important topics at the 2020 Winter school were Capillary electrophoresis, coupled with mass spectrometry (CE-MS), taught by prof. Christian Neusüß, and practitioner’s view on working in a GMP/GLP compliant facility, taught by Dr. Masahiko Shimmo.

Although the current world of separation science is heavily dominated by chromatography (and mass spectrometry), CE (and CE-MS) does have its place and occasionally can provide separation selectivity and efficiency, which no chromatographic technique can match. This was explained by prof. Neusüß (photo on the left), using a number of practical examples.

In any GMP/GLP compliant facility – such as e.g. chemical and pharmaceutical plants – this compliance to a large extent determines the whole way of working and imposes several obligations on personnel. You can be a skillful chemist with very good knowledge and yet, if you do not respect the requirements your company is in trouble. Dr. Shimmo (photo on the right) explained the practical aspects on the example of his company – Cambrex Tallinn, a small biopharma company in Estonia.

The last educational activity of the Winter school was the session where student teams presented their findings from the Tuesday’s work with hand-held XRF spectrometers. Although measuring with these devices is seemingly straightforward, the physics behind is far form simple and, as was demonstrated during the session, quite some knowledge is needed to interpret the obtained results. (Photo on the left: Student team no 5 presenting their XRF results)

We hope that all participants enjoyed the Winter School and look forward to the next one, in Sweden, 2021!

On Jan 20, 2020, the fifth Winter School of the EACH programme started in Viimsi (Estonia). Altogether 35 students from more than 19 countries participate.
The Winter School offers a diverse set of activities to the participants. There are lectures-seminars on advanced analytical chemistry topics (industrial analysis, capillary electrophoresis and mass spectrometry, working in a GLP/GMP accredited faclity) by top experts, hands-on practical work and entertainment. The intense working is counterbalanced by social activities – swimmming pool, sauna, etc.
In the industry session on the first Winter school day Dr. Noémie Caillol from EACH associated partner Axel’One gave an overview of the specifics of industrial analysis and process control.

Traditionally an important activity in the Winter school is selecting first year students to study tracks. In order to give one more piece of information what the study tracks are about, there was a session of presentations on the first day by second year students on their master thesis topics (photo on the right). All the students were assigned to study tracks and it was possible to assign all of them to their first study track choice!

An exciting session in the Winter school is “X-Ray Fluorescence lab” featuring portable XRF spectrometers (photo bottom left). Students have three different spectrometers with which they have to solve three different tasks, related to toxic element content in electronic waste, archaeological artifacts and elemental composition of minerals. The session is led by experts from UT (Dr Riho Mõtlep and Dr Ragnar Saage) and the associated EACH partner Estonian Environmental Research Centre (Dr Riin Rebane).

Photos: Group photo (top left); Helmi and João presenting why the Åbo/Turku study track is worth considering (right); Dr Riho Mõtlep explaining the portable XRF practicalities in the hands-on XRF session (bottom left).

Over the summer of 2019, the third intake of EACH students successfully graduated from the programme (defence at UU, defence at AAU, defence at UCBL ).

Only a few months later the majority of the recent graduates – 13 out of 18 in total – have engaged themselves with new challenges and are pursuing their careers in either the world of work or academic field.

Below is a retrospective from some of our most recent graduates:

Diana Visanu (UU study-track), currently working at the R&D department of Camurus – a Swedish pharmaceutical company:

The EACH programme has been a wonderful learning experience all around and has provided me with all the necessary skills to kick-start my career. The selection of courses offers a very good balance between practical work and in-depth theory (the LC-MS course taught at the University of Tartu has been particularly useful for me), which provides graduates with an attractive and well-rounded candidate profile resulting in excellent employment prospects in the industry, as well as a great foundation to build upon should they choose to pursue a PhD. In my opinion, one of the great advantages of the EACH programme is the great variety of competences that it offers. As an EACH student, you get a very solid general analytical chemistry and metrology foundation at the University of Tartu and then, for your second year, you have the opportunity to choose between three excellent study tracks in three different countries based on your interests and career goals. The EACH programme has also given me invaluable opportunities to develop my soft skills, experience different cultures and make friends from all over the world.

I was able to find a job in R&D at Camurus, a rapidly growing Swedish pharmaceutical company, within 2 months of graduating from the EACH programme. I can say with confidence that the practical and theoretical skills acquired during my master’s studies have allowed me to successfully take on my current tasks in running bioanalytical and pharmaceutical analyses, as well as in method development and qualification.

Nikola Obradovic (AAU study-track), currently a PhD student at ETH Zürich, Switzerland:

Acknowledging it’s clever abbreviation, EACH, thisNikola Obradovic master’s programme is more suited to be called UNIQUE. Unique in many ways. The EACH journey starts at the University of Tartu, a sanctum of knowledge since 1632. To this day, I consider this university to be one of the most student friendly educational institutions I’ve ever come across. The curriculum, which is constantly following the developments of analytical chemistry worldwide, is very involving and diverse. Through many independent and team-based assignments, which are taught by leading experts in the field and are often of case study type, the EACH student gets all the desired tools of the analytical chemistry craft that our modern world requires. And, by shifting the narrative from hardcore to a more socially involved science, this programme educates the future leaders in the field, with comprehensive professional networks. What is more, the second year of the EACH programme is dedicated to the student’s desired future “specialization”, pursued at three revered European universities. But, this is not to be confused with narrowing the scope of someone’s knowledge. On the contrary. It just boosts the EACH student’s grasp of an already diverse field of analytical techniques, from simple optical spectroscopy and electrochemistry, to more advanced techniques such as liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry and biosensors.

The hardest piece of evidence I can offer to support these claims is my own story. For my second EACH year, I decided to dig deep into the world of applied electrochemistry and electrochemical sensors at Åbo Akademi University. And, even before graduating from EACH, I was offered to do a PhD in the field of Redox Biogeochemistry at one of the most prestigious universities in the world – ETH Zürich. Today, I could not imagine my work without being fully operational in using different analytical techniques, which I greatly owe to the EACH programme.

Daniela Alejandra Pinto Perez (UCBL study-track), currently working as a Consulting Engineer at B-Hive engineering, France:

Daniela Pinto

The EACH program was an amazing experience for me, as it broadened my horizon professionally and personally. The last two years I studied and worked with people from all over the world. This cultural diversity made me a more open-minded person, it broadened my point of view and improved my communication skills. It was very enriching traveling and meeting new people.

As part of this master I got specific knowledge of metrology, industrial analysis and quality systems. I developed several soft skills, like project and time management, creativity and problem solving; skills that I am sure will contribute to my professional growth. I also had the opportunity to learn French at university (basic level in Tartu, intermediate in Lyon); it was not easy in the beginning, but all the effort worth it.

All this helped me to get a job in France as Consulting Engineer at B-Hive engineering, and I am currently working in a project at Elanco, a pharmaceutical laboratory.

The study track of this program made me a versatile professional, allowing me to work in different areas, such as Analytical Service, Quality Control, Quality Assurance and production.

Daniel Papp (UU study-track), currently a PhD student at Lund University, Sweden:

EACH contributed to my career in two main ways. First, many doors opened for me, I have acquired a quite wide network across the world consisting of former classmates, project groupmates or teachers. This is a very big advantage when looking for positions. The other big contribution is equipping me with that specific knowledge which is usually left out from the curricula of “normal” analytical chemistry courses, for example, metrology aspects of chemical analysis. This is something that many people do not know, but is still highly demanded if we want to perform an analysis correctly.

We wish all the graduates of the EACH programme all the best!

On Tuesday, November 26, 2019 the web course LC-MS Method Validation was launched for the fourth time as a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course). There are 511 registered participants (the largest number ever in this course) from 77 countries, ranging from Guatemala to Azerbaijan and from Finland to Sudan. 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 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 all the different subtopics of analytical method validation.

The full set of course materials 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.

 

EACH_Erasmus_Mundus_JMDWe are glad to announce that the 2020 admission is officially open to the 6th intake of 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), chemical analysis laboratories (environment, food, health, etc) and research (developing new analysis devices or new analysis methods) 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.

We wish you all the success in applying!

 

 

Validation_of_LC-MS_Methods_Online_CourseWe are glad to announce that the fourth 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 26, 2019 – Feb 07, 2020.

This is a practice-oriented on-line course on validation of analytical methods, specifically using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) as technique, mostly (but not limited to) using the electrospray (ESI) ion source. The course will also be of interest to chromatographists using other detector types. 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 materials include lectures, practical exercises and numerous tests for self-testing. In spite of being introductory, the course intends to offer sufficient knowledge and mathematical 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 determination of pesticides in fruits and vegetables, perfluoroalkyl acids in water, antibiotics in blood serum, glyphosate and AMPA in surface water, etc. It is important to stress, that for successfully carrying out validation, practical experience – both in analytical chemistry as such and also specifically in validation – is crucial and this can be acquired only through hands-on laboratory work, which cannot be offered via an on-line course.

Participation in 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).

 

In a recent minireview, published in Eur. J. Org. Chem. an important part of our group’s acid-base chemistry research has been summarized: the pKa values of bases (pKaH values) determined over the years in acetonitrile have now been rigorously united into a single scale, whereby all the involved ΔpKa values have been considered for deriving the absolute pKaH values of the bases involved. Altogether 279 basic compounds are included in the scale from all major groups of organic bases (amines, pyridines, imidazoles, anilines, amidines, guanidines, phosphazenes, etc) and are linked with altogether 682 ΔpKa measurements. The full scale can be downloaded by clicking on the picture on the left.

The minireview also presents possibilities to predict the pKa values of bases in other media – namely water, DMSO and THF – on the basis of MeCN pKaH values. It is expected that this minireview will be a useful tool for future researchers who need pKa values of bases in nonaqueous solvents for planning their studies or for interpreting research results.

 

On September 5, 2019 the master thesis defence took place at University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 (UCBL). Mark Justine Zapanta, Giorgi Tsiklauri, Daniela Pinto Pérez, Yijiao Yao, Jovana Petrovic, Irina Diane Castaños and Nur Eka Fitriani (left to right in the first row on the photo) successfully defended their master’s theses!

Congratulations to all of you!

As is typical for the Lyon study track, the topics of the theses were very practical and linked to industrial interests – applications of spectroscopy and advanced modeling in industrial process control, spectroscopic mapping, portable instruments, etc. Most of the thesis projects were actually carried out at industry. This choice of topics and the long-standing industrial collaboration are rooted in the world-famous industrial analysis and control study direction at UCBL.

 

On August 19, 2019 the master thesis defence session of the third intake of the EACH programme took place at Åbo Akademi University (AAU)! Jose Antonio Wrzosek Cabrera, Davit Tediashvili and Hiu Mun Man successfully defended their master’s theses (third to fifth on the photo on the left, left to right). A fourth student, Nikola Obradović defended already on Jun 4 (photo on the right).

Congratulations to all of you!

The defence took place in front of an international jury – Adriana Ferancova (Slovakia/Finland), Ivo Leito (Estonia), Tomasz Sokalski (Finland), Rose-Marie Latonen (Finland), Johan Bobacka (Finland) (first and second, sixth to eight on the photo on the left, left to right) and Agnes Kütt (Estonia, participated via Skype).

The defended theses focused on development and applications of advanced electrochemical sensing devices – preparation of all-solid-state sensors and the coulometric signal transduction (invented at AAU), but also electrospinning.

Most of the students who defended their theses have already secured either a PhD position or a job in industry.

(Photo: Adriana Ferancova)

 

This week is the first study week for the new students of Applied Measurement Science and EACH Erasmus Mundus Joint Programme. Altogether 21 students started their studies. The countries of origin of the students are very diverse: Vietnam, Philippines, Estonia, Nepal, Thailand, Peru, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Sri Lanka, China, Italy, Serbia, Belarus, Poland, Mexico and Kazakhstan.
During the introductory meeting on Monday 02.09.18 an overview of both programmes was given (see the slides), the autumn semester timetable was explained in detail (see the timetable) and a large number of questions were asked and answered, accompanied by tea/coffee and cake.

We wish successful studies to all new students!

 

The educational section of a leading analytical chemistry journal Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, the ABCs of Education and Professional Development in Analytical Science has published a paper about the EACH programme: EACH (Excellence in Analytical Chemistry), an Erasmus Mundus Joint Programme: progress and success (https://doi.org/10.1007/s00216-019-01988-8). The paper gives a comprehensive overview about the programme, including a detailed overview of the topics taught in the different study-tracks, extra activities, such as internship and winter school, but also, why is it necessary to have such a programme like EACH, and how to be a part of the EACH experience.

 

Impact of EACH – map of countries where EACH students of intakes 2015-2018 are coming from

The paper also has a section about the impact of the EACH programme – with the four years that the programme has accepted students, it has reached a lot of countries and the employability rate of the graduates is very high.

 

In September this year, the fifth intake of EACH students will start their studies and we are very happy to welcome each and every one of them to our programme!

Marko Bertic, an EACH graduate from intake 2016 reflects on life in Lyon:

Immediately after arriving in France, I realized that all the classes I took in Tartu would be used in one way or another. Already on the first day, the French administration showed its true face. Only for entering the dorm room, it was necessary to go to at least three different offices to fill out some forms (all the forms are conversations were in French). This trend continued through the whole year I spent in Lyon.
After some days of adaptation to a new environment, I started discovering the city and right away fell in love with its architecture, cafes and its position between 2 rivers, Rhône and Saone. Moreover, having a croissant or a pain au chocolate (chocolatine, if you wish – this is real issue in France how you call it) with coffee and a lot of cheese for other meals made me forget about all the drawbacks of administration and language limitations.

Geographical position of Lyon is great as well. It is only 2 hours from Paris and Marseille by a high-speed train TGV and 2 hours by bus to Genève in Switzerland.

Living in the student dormitory had its advantages since I needed about 5 min walking to the lectures, and yes, in France lectures are OBLIGATORY. Even though because sometimes on the lectures there were only a few international students and some professors were forgetting to speak and teach in English. It was rather a constant battle. Apart from the obligatory lectures, there were no midterm exams in general. Because of this, all the final exams were squeezed in one week (that’s right, approximately 1-2 exams per day).

Second semester gave me a great opportunity to do a 6 months’ internship in French company in industry. For me this was the best part of choosing France as a second year country. Furthermore, we were paid for this period (another positive of this study track). Working in the company was again a challenge since not all the people there spoke English, so our French skills came to the fore one more time. This period of about 1 year made us integrate into the French society and I can say for sure we are all at least 20 % French now.

À bientôt

UT_Students_at_the _MSC_Summer_School_2019On Saturday 20.07.2019 The MSC Euromaster Summer School 2019 (Lyon, France) finished. It was the 12th summer school of the Measurement Science in Chemistry consortium.

The hallmark of the MSC Summer schools is “learning by doing” and combining learning with fun, meeting new people and sharing experience. The feedback from the Tartu participants is below and it indicates that organizing these Summer schools it is worth the effort!

Larissa_Maciel_working_on_the_Project_in_MSC_Summer_School_2019

 

 

Larissa Silva Maciel:
The summer school exceeded all my expectations! Apart from getting a real-life problem in the laboratory, we were able to learn more about the standard ISO17025 and also practice our abilities on auditing. Additionally, we were in touch with many nationalities and were able to work in a multicultural team. I will always remember this experience!

Dariya_Tukhmetova_at_MSC_Summer_School_2019

 

Dariya Tukhmetova:
I highly recommend the summer school for future participants. No matter student of specialist, everyone can get new knowledge/skill from the summer school. Moreover, meeting new friends and sharing experience is very valuable. The school’s content covers major aspects of the measurement process in chemical lab: developing and validating testing procedure, calculating uncertainty, complying with standard. Also, it improves soft skills (communication, team building, conflict solving, time management, team leading)

Marvy_Girgis_at_Chamonix_MSC_Summer_School_2019

 

Marvy Girgis:
Although the summer school has finished, the memories, experience and skills that I have acquired will last years to come. After having theoretical lectures about accreditation, metrology and method validation , I put this experience into practice through developing a method in the lab, validating it and calculating the uncertainty of measurement to meet certain customer requirements together with my team. Also, I have learned a lot about ISO 17025:2017 in addition to visiting an accredited lab in Lyon. It wasn’t about the result but more about the process and how to do it. Moreover, meeting people from different countries and cultures was really invaluable and I had so much fun with all of them. In short, I am really grateful that I have participated in this school and certainly recommend it for anyone studying or working in the field of chemical analysis.

 

Nhung_Dang_Thi_Hong_at_MSC_Summer_School_2019

Nhung Dang Thi Hong:
Summer school is of my best experiences in Europe. It is stressful and enjoyable at the same time. The school is a great place to learn and practice metrology in chemistry, ISO standard. Also, the practical laboratory project is a highlight of the school, in which you apply the knowledge you have learnt to the “real-life” situation.
You probably would feel overwhelming at first because of an intense schedule full of lectures, group work, online tasks, lab work and reports. But you don’t need to face it all by yourself; you will be in a group with people from different background, experience and culture. And believe me, in every single task, you can always find the happiness and memorable moments. (On the photo: Nhung, sitting in the middle, with her team-mates)

Jeewan_Babu_Rijal_at_Chamonix_MSC_Summer_School_2019

 

Jeewan Babu Rijal:
The summer school started with a reception which was very welcoming and we get to know each other, all the professors and students from different Universities and also analytical chemists from different countries all had lot many things to share and we had lot many things to learn.
Summer School is more about learning and applying the learning in “the analytical game”. It can be stressful sometimes but you need to learn to find fun while doing your work. The creation of a virtual lab, developing a method, validating, analyzing a given sample, calculating uncertainties measuring all the required data for it by yourself and participating in Proficiency Testing was challenging but a great experience. In addition, ISO 17025 was also explained in detail in the e-course which goes along the group work. We also learned about auditing a lab and then visited water analyzing lab in Lyon where we tried to see how is it done by doing ourself. But it was not just about stress, the visit to the Mont Blanc and get at the top of Europe was an amazing experience. The view from there was overwhelming. The summer school closing party was an awesome moment which will make us nostalgic for a long period of time.

 

Starting from July 07, 2019 the MSC Summer School 2019 is taking place in Lyon (France), organized by the University Claude Bernard Lyon 1.

Five students from the University of Tartu take part in the summer school: Dariya Tukhmetova (Kazakhstan), Jeewan Babu Rijal (Nepal), Nhung Dang Thi Hong (Vietnam), Larissa Silva Maciel (Brazil) and Marvy Girgis (Egypt).

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. This time the task is determining caffeine content in a cotton patch using UV-Vis spectrophotometry.

As always, serious studies and work are intermixed with fun. On Friday the whole group visited Chamonix and took the cable car to the top of Aiguille du Midi mountain (3842 meter height). Unforgettable experience for the participants!

We wish all the participants successful continuation of the summer school!

(Photo on the left by Dariya Tukhmetova: Dariya, Jeewan, Nhung, Larissa and Marvy at the Summer school; photo on the right by Marvy Girgis: UT participants in Chamonix)

 

 

 

EACH students from Intake 2018 have just finished their first study-year at the University of Tartu and are preparing for their departure to their second-year universities.

 

 

Before they leave Estonia, they have put together a video about their experience at Tartu:

 

Thank you, Mark, Marvy, Varun, Marcos, Zen, Jocelyn, Bhawana, Estida, Rady, Jeewan, Nhung, Evelyn, Çığdem, Dariya, Larissa, Hark, Aizhan, Kim, and Helmi!

 

All the best to all of you for your next study-year!

 

On June 10, 2019 the master thesis defence of the third cohort of the EACH programme took place at Uppsala University! Angelique Sanchez Dafun, Diana Visanu, Allen Jun Penez Anies, Mohan Ghorasaini, Shidong Chen, Fadillah Putri Patria and Daniel Papp 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 marine biotoxins in mussels, determining of triacylglyceride regioisomers in rat liver; isotope exchange and supercharging techniques in MS etc. All of them featured the use of highly sophisticated analytical instrumentation, such as UPLC, UPC2, different designs of mass spectrometers, 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.

(On photo from left: Allen, Daniel, Angelique, Ivo, Fadillah, Diana, Shidong, Mohan, Jonas)

 

David_Thompson_Lecturing_Tartu_2019During May 18-22, 2019 the EACH programme again 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.

David_Thompson_Interpreting_Fingerprints_with_Students_Tartu_2019An exciting part of the course 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.

Altogether 28 students (out of them 10 EACH students) participated in the course and their feedback was very positive.

Dr Thompson also participated in the Eurachem 2019 Workshop “Validation of targeted and non-targeted methods of analysis” (this year organised by UT in Tartu) where his presentation focused on some future directions in food fraud detection using metabonomic profiling.

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)

 

During May 20-21, 2019 the Eurachem 2019 Scientific workshop Validation of targeted and non-targeted methods of analysis took place in Dorpat Conference Centre in Tartu. This workshop also marks the 30th anniversary of Eurachem. This workshop is the first event in the EACH “Data Quality in Analytical Chemistry” conference series.

Approximately 160 people attended the workshop, which is the largest number of participants in the history of Eurachem workshops! The participants were from 42 countries of the member countries in Eurachem as well as Asia, North America, South America and Middle East. The farthest participants were from Fiji, the Philippines, Uruguay and Brazil.

The workshop was held with 13 oral presentations from established researchers, young scientists as well as industries. Together with 22 posters all presentations reflected the current and potential future developments related to methods validation. The workshop addressed the current status of analytical method validation in general and specifically validation of the non-targeted methods (i.e. ones where the analyte is not defined beforehand). With the speaker permissions, all presentations will shortly be available at the Eurachem website. In addition to presentations, each day a Working Group session was organised with 3 topics in parallel (Image on the left: Welcome by Dr Marina Patriarca, the Eurachem chair).

Non-targeted methods are an especially noteworthy part of the programme, because their validation involves specific issues and their validation is significantly less developed than validation of targeted methods (i.e. the “normal” analytical methods, where the analyte is known beforehand). At the same time non-targeted methods are becoming increasingly important in environmental protection, food safety, different omics areas, etc. (Image on the right: Prof. Jon Benskin from Stockholm University presenting an introduction to non-targeted analysis)

All sessions raised new issues and challenges, especially related to non-target method validation. The workshop clearly was also very inspirational for Eurachem from the point of view of preparing new guideline materials – especially the topics related to non-targeted analysis are still essentially not covered by official guidance documents.

Some example topics of the workshop: Validation of targeted methods: where are we? Validation of non-targeted methods – differences from targeted methods. Detection of a multitude of (unknown) components in complex samples: criteria for identification. Managing the huge amounts of complex data from non-targeted methods. Recent instrumental developments. Software tools for validation. (Image on the left: Dr. Koit Herodes presenting the ValChrom validation software)

The workshop certaily had a significant educational value and we are pleased by the large number of student participants: altogether close to 50! The international master’s programmes Excellence in Analytical Chemistry and Applied Measurement Science were both heavily represented: the majority of students of those programmes participated in the workshop (Image on the left: EACH and AMS students at the workshop).

The workshop was jointly organized by Eurachem and ECAC (University of Tartu, Tallinn University of Technology and the Estonian Environmental Research Centre).

Anu, Signe, Pilleriin, Eliise

From 7th to 10th of May 2019 four members of UT Analytical Chemistry group – Dr Signe Vahur, Dr Anu Teearu-Ojakäär, PhD students Pilleriin Peets and Eliise Tammekivi – attended the 7th international TechnArt conference in Bruges, Belgium. TechnArt is a place to present and discuss the newest results of the usage of analytical techniques in the field of cultural heritage. It is the biggest conference among its kind as it was also seen in TechnArt 2019, where the number of participants was over 400! The conference included three parallel oral presentation sessions, two poster sessions with almost 300 posters, a visit and dinner at the Halve Maan Brewery and an excursion with a boat trip in the historical city center of Bruges, that has been listed as a UNESCO world heritage.

 

Some of the most interesting talks included the presentation by Dr Abbie Vandivere from The Hague about the

Photo: Signe Vahur

Anu presenting her poster

analysis of the painting Girl with a Pearl Earring (Johannes Vermeer, approx. 1665) and the difficult conservation of the remains of the warship Mary Rose (warship of the English navy under the command of King Henry VIII, sank in 1545) by Dr Eleanor Schofield from the Mary Rose Trust/Imperial College. Another interesting topic was addressed by Dr. Lucia Toniolo who gave a talk on the conservation and monitoring issues of historical architecture, also addressing the hazard of climate change. However, with four days and three parallel oral sessions filled with presentations by the top scientists and conservators of the world, it is almost impossible to highlight all of the interesting and inspiring talks.

 

Photo: Signe Vahur

Pilleriin presenting her poster

What is also noteworthy, TechnArt 2019 was the conference, where the attendance by the Cultural Heritage group (working in UT Chair of  Analytical Chemistry) members was the highest! Anu presented her poster „Analysis of resinous materials“, where ATR-FT-IR, SEM-EDS, GC-MS and ESI-FT-ICR-MS methods were combined for the analysis of the embalming materials obtained from two human mummies originating from Egypt

Photo: Pilleriin Peets

Eliise presenting her poster

and now exhibited at the University of Tartu Art Museum. Pilleriin presented her poster „Attenuated total reflectance and reflectance approaches for analysis of textile fibers with FT-IR spectroscopy“. This study showed, that both mentioned approaches are suitable and very useful methods for the identification of natural and synthetic fibers. Eliise presented her poster „Comparison of derivatization methods for the quantitative gas chromatographic analysis of oils“ where four widely used derivatization methods for the analysis of heritage samples were compared on the basis of absolute quantification.

 

Overall, TechnArt 2019 gave the members of our Cultural Heritage group the possibility to introduce their scientific work results, hear the inspiring lectures and have fruitful discussions in the magical historic city of Bruges.

Photo: Pilleriin Peets

Measurement_Uncertainty_MOOC_Successfully_FinishedOn May 14, 2019 the on-line course (MOOC) Estimation of measurement uncertainty in chemical analysis offered by University of Tartu finished successfully.
Eventually altogether 590 people registered (270 in 2014, 489 in 2015, 757 in 2016, 363 in 2017, 521 in 2018) from 86 countries (a number of participants joined after the start of the course). 381 participants actually started the course (i.e. tried at least one graded test at least once) and out of them 238 successfully completed the course (141 in 2014, 169 in 2015, 308 in 2016, 148 in 2017, 358 in 2018). The overall completion rate was 40% (52% in 2014, 34% in 2015, 40% in 2016, 41% in 2017, 42% in 2018). The completion rate of participants who started the studies was 62% (67% in 2014, 60% in 2015, 67% in 2016, 68% in 2017, 61% in 2018). The completion rates are 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 exceeded 400 (!) (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 2020.

 

During Apr 22 to May 4 we had the pleasure to host visiting scholar, prof. Todd Pagano from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), USA. He conducted, for the second time, a two week-intensive course Principles and applications of fluorescence spectroscopy.

In this course, students reviewed the principles of fluorescence spectroscopy, were introduced to the impact of photophysical phenomena on fluorescence data, and discussed new directions of fluorescence in analytical chemistry. Techniques in multidimensional fluorescence spectroscopy with chemometric analysis were highlighted, especially in the context of novel applications in environmental and related fields. The course consisted of lectures, seminars, tutorial sessions and two lab practicals. The latter were specifically set up for this course by prof. Pagano and were very much appreciated by students.

The first practical was about discovering the fundamental concepts of fluorescence (excitation and emission spectra, Stokes shift, Vavilov’s rule, fluorescence lifetime, etc). The second practical was about analysis of caffeine in beverages using salicylic acid as a fluorescent chemosensor. This analysis utilizes the ability of caffeine to quench the fluorescence of salicylic acid and introduces students to the fluorescence quenching, Stern-Volmer equation and inner filter effects.

Altogether 30 students (out of them 14 EACH students) participated in the course and their feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

 

Prof. Pagano is a passionate educator. He was the initiator of the Laboratory Science Technology program at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, which is a unique science programme, specifically designed for deaf students. He was named “2012 U.S. Professor of the Year” by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

 

(Images: top left, group photo of prof. Pagano with course participants; right: prof. Pagano with students in lab)

 

Choosing the best possible ion source is a very important step in liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC/MS) method development. In a recent paper ESI outcompetes other ion sources in LC-MS trace analysis Anal. Bioanal. Chem. 2019 Asko Laaniste from the UT Analytical chemistry group carried out a large scale survey of differen LCMS ion sources (and their different working modes) as applied to pesticide analysis. He compared electrospray ionisation (ESI) source, thermally focused/heated electrospray (HESI), atmospheric pressure photoionisation (APPI) source with and without dopant, and multimode source in ESI mode, atmospheric pressure chemical ionisation (APCI) mode, and combined mode using both ESI and APCI, i.e. altogether seven different ionisation modes for the analysis of 40 pesticides (see list below).

The lowest limits of detection (LoDs) were obtained by ESI and HESI. The widest linear ranges were observed with the conventional ESI source without heated nebulizer gas. ESI source was significantly less affected by matrix effect than the HESI source. APPI ranked second (after ESI) by not being influenced by matrix effect; therefore, it would be a good alternative to ESI if low LoDs are not required.

It was somewhat unexpected that ESI outperformed HESI. This may be caused by the instability of the additional heated gas (sheath gas) in HESI that is used in addition to the nebulising gas.

In conclusion, as a broad generalisation, Asko’s results show that although several new ion sources have been introduced during the last decade, the conventional ESI performs at least equally to these new ion sources in the case of polar to medium polarity pesticides. ESI with thermal focusing (HESI) performed more or less equally with ESI in terms of LoD. At the same time, HESI had significantly poorer intermediate precision of matrix effect values for most compounds. Thus, for trace analysis, ESI is still the ion source of choice.

(Full list of pesticides: pymetrozine, thiamethoxam, methiocarb-sulfoxide, chloridazon, imidacloprid, acetamiprid, methiocarb-sulfone, thiacloprid, imazalil, thiophanate-methyl, metribuzin, pyrimethanil, fenpropimorph, spiroxamine, propoxur, triasulfuron, bupirimate, paclobutrazol, methiocarb, azoxystrobin, epoxiconazole, myclobutanil, fenhexamid, fluquinconazole, flusilazole, mepanipyrim, bitertanol, propiconazole, triazophos, methoxychlor, ditalimfos, tebufenozide, benalaxyl, pyrazophos, buprofezin, indoxocarb, trifloxustrobin, quinoxyfen, pirimiphos-ethyl, hexythiazox)

 

(Image top left: Asko Laaniste preparing solutions; Image right: Comparison of accuracy of LC-MS analysis using different ion sources)

 

I was that lucky person, who got accepted to EACH program in 2016. And by saying lucky – I mean it. EACH was not only a kick-off point in my career, but it was a life changing experience.

Our journey began in Tartu. There we had a very good life. We were well taken care of, living was easy and fun. All the professors were extremely nice and respectful towards each of us. This first year gave me very good basics of analytical chemistry, uncertainties, and chemometrics.  It helped me a lot along the way and up to now. Measurement uncertainty online course is an absolute must! Everything is explained in a very understandable way. For me, this course was my salvation to uncover the mystery of uncertainties.

 

And here comes Uppsala! Us, students, spoiled by the life in Tartu, Uppsala hit like a huge wave of hard and non-stopping marathon of work. We had only one course at the time. But we were going deeply into theory and then putting our knowledge into the practice in our daily lab work. Our routine mode back then was “lab work – writing report – repeat”. It was a lot of work, but on the other hand – a lot of experience. We had our hands on such instruments like ICP-AES, HPLC, GC, MS, MALDI, etc.  For analytical chemist, this place is called paradise. And it was also the perfect time to find yourself and your place in this area.

Group work was a big part of our studies here. Basically, each person’s workload was heavily dependent on other people. Therefore, good teamwork was the key to success. I was lucky to have the best group ever! During that time we supported and helped each other. Making a cup of coffee definitely counts!

But don’t get scared! This work pays off afterward with all the acquired knowledge. After this program, I can certainly say that I am confident in myself, as an analytical chemist, and in my skills.  Now I am working in Gothenburg, Sweden, at AstraZeneca as an Analytical Scientist. Due to my experience from these studies, I could easily join the ongoing work.

But Uppsala is not only about the studies! This city is known as the city of bikes and Student Nations. I had always thought that I would never ride a bike during rain/ snow/ cold. Well… This was the time to disprove this truth. In Uppsala, biking is the main way to navigate yourself in the city, no matter if it’s raining or your hands are totally freezing. We were living in the student area called Flogsta. In the beginning, you can think that Flogsta itself and the room you live in is very plain and not cozy at all. But it’s not about the room – it’s about the people and atmosphere you create in it. Just a little bit of imagination, heart and, of course, FRIENDS – and wuola – you have the best room in the world that will recover your soul from any negativity it may have compiled over the time.

Looking back right now, it’s even hard to explain how much EACH program has turned my life upside down. I met amazing people during this time and I had an experience I never thought I would have. But the most important – I love what I do, I love where I am and I am proud to be a part of EACH alumni.

On Tuesday, March 26, 2019 the web course Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis was launched the sixth time as a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course)!

Currently 530 participants from more than 80 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. 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 them. These tests are available to registered participants via the Moodle e-learning platform.

This course also forms a part of the measurements and chemical analysis related master programmes at UT: Applied Measurement Science and Excellence in Analytical Chemistry.

 

Starting from last week the Analytical chemistry group of University of Tartu has the pleasure to host Dr Monika Lindner and Hendrik van Thienen from the group of professor Benjamin List – a worldwide known guru in the field of strongly acidic catalysts working at the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung (Mülheim, Germany).

The purpose of their stay is to learn our pKa measurement method and set it up in Mülheim. This is the logical continuation of our group’s collaboration with the List group – the pKa values of a number of their catalysts have been measured here at Tartu (see Nature Chemistry 2018, 10, 888-894 and Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2017, 56, 1411-1415) – and we are glad that our pKa measurement method thereby gains even wider acceptance than it has now. We wish Monika and Hendrik all the success in learning the measurements!

(On photo, from left: Märt Lõkov, Monika Lindner and Hendrik van Thienen)

 


 

This year’s General Assembly of the Erasmus Mundus Association took place in Vienna, Austria, from 23-25 February. Our programme was represented by Nikola Obradović, EACH Programme Represantative (PR) within EMA. As always, the General Assembly brought together students from all around the world – both the current students of Erasmus Mundus Joint Master and Doctorate programmes and the alumni. Currently, around 9000 students are part of EMA!

One of the main activities of this year’s GA was the establishment of EMA as a non-government organization, with its seat in Brussels. After putting many months of hard work into establishing the legal basis of EMA as an NGO, the Steering Committee of EMA, together with its active members has had the opportunity to vote on the matters regarding the organization’s Statute and Internal Regulations.

In addition, there were many invited speakers from different organizations, both European and worldwide, who gave talks on subjects of youth, education, sustainable development goals and many more.

Apart from the legalities and “lectures”, the GA was a great opportunity for networking and cultural exchange. Even though it seemed to have passed in a fleeting second, the time was well enough for new friendships to be formed and innovative ideas to be born. One could say the whole event was one continuous brainstorming experience, filled with lots of talks on mutual projects between different programmes, countries… Of course, nothing can complement social events better than cultural food tables and gala dinners followed by traditional dances.

Are you a student or an alumnus/alumna of an Erasmus Mundus programme? Don’t hesitate – become a part of the big EMA family!

(Text: Nikola Obradović; Photo: EMA)

 

During 24-26.02.2019 the Suprachem 2019 conference took place at University of Würzburg (Germany). The UT Analytical chemistry chair was represented by two posters: Optimization of the reaction pathway for the synthesis of substituted 1,3-bis(carbazolyl)urea anion receptors by Alo Rüütel and Mihkel Ilisson and From receptor-anion binding ladder to ion-selective electrode by Kerli Martin, Sandip A. Kadam, Ulriika Mattinen, Johan Bobacka and Ivo Leito.

The presentation from Alo and Mihkel focused on optimization of the synthesis route of anion receptors (ionophores) based on the 1,3-bis(carbazolyl)urea building block, augmented with additional amide functionalities (see the poster). The developed synthesis route is very valuable for the synthesis of a wide variety of analogous receptors (ionophores) that have previously been demonstrated to bind carboxylates with high affinity (see K. Martin et al, Eur. J. Org. chem. 2017, 5231-5237).

Kerli Martin et al present the first practical application of such receptors: a solid-contact acetate-selective electrodes. For acetate anion the electrodes show linearity over the activity range of 10-4.50 – 10-1.10 with a sub-Nernstian slope of -51.3 mV per decade and a detection limit of 10-5.00. The anion-selectivity pattern of these electrodes deviates markedly from the pattern found in DMSO solution and from the Hofmeister pattern. The selectivity coefficients of SCN, I, NO3 and Br decrease by 3-5 orders of magnitude when adding the studied ionophore to the membrane. The selectivity coefficients of hydrophilic anions such as Cl, F, HPO42–, and SO42– are significantly lower than in case of the ionophore-free control membrane. All in all, it is clear that a lot of work is still needed for improving the selectivity of the electrode.
This work has been accepted for publication: K. Martin et al Electroanalysis 2019 (the link will work soon).

The combined contributions from our group stood out from the majority (the conference altogether had 27 oral and 111 poster presentations) by a clear line of development from fundamental research (receptor design) to highly practical application (ion-selective electrode).

(Photos: above left: Mihkel Ilisson explaining his work to Dr Diane Smith from Wiley; right: Poster by Kerli Martin et al)