On Tuesday, November 22, 2022 the web course LC-MS Method Validation was launched for the fifth time as a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course). There are 904 registered participants (the largest number ever in this course) from 104 countries, ranging from Sudan to Suriname and from Malaysia to Macedonia. Image below 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 7 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.

We are glad to announce that the admission for Excellence in Analytical Chemistry (EACH) Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree programme intake 2023 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!

Cover Image of the upcoming issue of the journal of Analytical Chemistry

During our Winter School at Krusenberg Manor outside Uppsala held January 17-19 this year, visiting scholar prof. Magnus Palmblad did a workshop with the students related to cheminformatics, specifically on ontologies and semantic method annotations for published articles related to analytical chemistry. This is an emerging field, expected to be helpful for advanced literature search and data mining. The work done by students during the workshop was so serious that Prof. Palmblad saw the possibility of advancing it further and publishing. He offered this plan to students. Six of them accepted and worked together with prof. Palmblad (via online communication) in the following months, resulting in the largest set of manually curated, semantically annotated methods sections in any scientific journal – 100 papers in total. This work by the students was recently published in Analytical Chemistry, the most prestigious analytical chemistry journal! The corresponding resource and EACH100 dataset are available on GitHub. One of the figures of this work will be on the cover of the upcoming issue of Analytical Chemistry.

Prof. Palmblad says: “It was a pleasure to work with the students, who engaged in the tasks with exceptional enthusiasm and perseverance. I am particularly thankful for the students who continued to work on the annotations for months after the Winter School, jointly producing an impressive body of original work. This resource will be critical in evaluating natural language processing methods from artificial intelligence used in extracting important metadata information from analytical chemistry methods.

Prof. Jonas Bergquist, the main organiser of the Winter School, concludes: “It is always very stimulating to be able to interact with these brilliant students, and this year’s Winter School was a great success!

Students at the EACH Winter School in January 2022

A recent ranking of the world universities has been published by The Times Higher Education (THE). THE is a British journal known for the most reliable rankings of the world’s universities. For the first time, the University of Tartu has reached the top 250!

The 2023 list includes 1799 universities from 104 countries and regions. For the seventh year in a row, the winner in this ranking is the University of Oxford, followed by Harvard University, and the third place is shared by the University of Cambridge and Standford University.

The performance indicators that are taken into account when calculating the ranking were grouped into five areas: teaching (the learning environment, 30% of the overall score); research (volume, income, and reputation, 30%); citations (research influence, 30%); international outlook (staff, students, and research, 7.5%); and industry income (knowledge transfer, 2.5%). The biggest strength of the University of Tartu is its citations per paper – in this area the UT lands at position 115.

The UT has been represented in this worldwide ranking list since 2011. In recent years, the position has consistently improved. Toomas Asser, the Rector of the University of Tartu says that this high ranking affirms the very good level of our academic community and the relevance of the objectives. The Rector also added that the fact that the research and higher education of Estonian’s national university is on the same level as the world’s top universities is an important achievement for the whole Estonia.

More information can be found here

We are glad to announce that the seventh edition of the online course LC-MS Method Validation is open for registration (here)! The course will be offered as a Massive Open On-line Course (MOOC) during Nov 22, 2022 – Feb 03, 2023.

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 chromatography practitioners 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. More information about the course can be found in Course introduction page.

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).

We are also glad to announce, that the course has been added into the BIPM (Bureau International des Poids et Mesures) e-learning platform. The BIPM is the most important international metrology organization established by the Metre Convention, through which Member States act together on matters related to measurement science and measurement standards. BIPM is also the home of the International System of Units (SI) and the international reference time scale (UTC). The Institute of Chemistry of University of Tartu is a designated institute by the BIPM since 2010.

We are sure that being on this platform, will enable more people to find our course.

Naela Delmo (EACH 2022 graduate) wrote about her experience with the EACH programme.

“As this month comes to an end, I am happy to share that I have successfully defended my master’s thesis and officially completed my degree of Master of Science (Technology) with distinction within the Master’s Programme Excellence in Analytical Chemistry (EACH) at Åbo Akademi University. I would like to thank Prof. Johan Bobacka, my supervisor Docent Zekra Mousavi and my opponent Docent Tomasz Sokalski, for their kindness, guidance, and support as I work on my specialization and research on electrochemistry and sensors.

The EACH programme is an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s Degree Programme hosted by the University of Tartu where I spent my first year of graduate studies. Many thanks to Prof. Ivo Leito and Dr. Anu Teearu-Ojakäär for ensuring that we had a high-quality learning experience despite being in the middle of a global pandemic.

My summer internship at Kajaani University of Applied Sciences was full of learning and adventures, and I would like to thank Dr. Esther Takaluoma for this opportunity.

Lastly, I am grateful and inspired to continue with sensors research, as I am currently working as a Research Assistant at the Materials in Health Technology group headed by Associate Prof. Emilia Peltola of the Department of Materials Engineering at the University of Turku.

Here are some memorable photos from this life-changing journey. Looking forward to visit home (the Philippines) soon to celebrate with my family!”

During the summer of 2022, the 6th edition of EACH students successfully graduated from the programme. By now, most of them have managed to secure a new position – 15 out of the 16 graduates from the intake 2020 have already started a new chapter in their career!

This time, the majority of the graduates – 12 – continue their careers in academia as PhD students. Three of the graduates have secured a job – as an R&D engineer in a world-leading passive electronic component company (Taiwan), as an associate scientist at DSM (Switzerland), and as an analytical scientist at Randstad (Sweden). The acquired PhD positions range from Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology (Germany) to Karolinska Institute (Sweden), University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands) to University of Tartu (Estonia), and University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University.

Here is what some of our recent graduates have to say about the EACH programme:

Lukas

Lukas Ramašauskas (UU study-track) currently working as an associate scientist at DSM, Switzerland:

“The last two years were like a roller coaster for me. Changing the field from biotechnology to analytical chemistry was rather challenging and successful at the same time. During these two years, I obtained two master’s degrees in analytical chemistry at Uppsala University and the University of Tartu with a help of an international programme called Excellence in Analytical Chemistry. In addition, I completed two internships mainly working with LC-MS/MS at Q-linea and RECIPHARM OT CHEMISTRY AB in Sweden, wrote the master thesis titled “Analytical method and formulation development for Gram-negative antibiotics intended for antimicrobial susceptibility discs” and changed the living place TWO TIMES. The people I met, and the struggles I faced made me rethink my values and future goals, taught me how to adapt and be more versatile and open-minded. It was a very fruitful period of my life!!!

However, my journey does not end here. In July I am joining DSM in Basel Switzerland as an Associate Scientist. Couldn’t be more excited and thankful to DSM and the bioanalytical team for this great opportunity. Here are some memories from this journey.”

Viktoriia

Viktoriia Turkina (UCBL study-track), currently a PhD student at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands:

During these two years I have broaden my world perception enormously, met people across the whole world, shared happiness and difficulties together, found bright or subtle differences and similarities in our cultures.

In the University of Tartu I explored the world of analytical chemistry, theoretically and experimentally filling the gaps in my knowledge in that field. The quality of the courses meet very high standards, where all student questions are patiently and thoroughly explained. Also, the ambiance of the city is incredibly welcoming for international students. The UCBL program covers several interdisciplinary subjects that give even a bigger picture of the analytical chemistry application and a look at it from a different angle. We also got a precious chance to collaborate with industrial partners during our internship.

Along the whole journey besides meeting good friends I was introduced to brilliant people, experts in their fields, who inspired me to continue my career path with a PhD. I am looking forward to the following 4 year journey at the University of Amsterdam.

From left: John Paulo, Naela, Raegan, Majid, Bojidar, and Angelo

Graduates from ÅAU study-track: Angelo Robiños (PhD at Åbo Akademi University, Finland), Bojidar Mandjukov (PhD at University of Tartu, Estonia), John Paulo Samin (PhD at University of Tartu, Estonia), Majid Al-Waeel (PhD at University of Turku, Finland), Naela Delmo (PhD at University of Turku, Finland), and Raegan Chambers (PhD at University of Tartu, Estonia):

We can really tell that everyone involved in the program genuinely cared for us and wanted us to be successful. Feedback was always asked to continuously improve the quality of teaching. The study program was also very well-structured: our first year at the University of Tartu (UT), Estonia was spent strengthening our core competencies in analytical chemistry while our second year at Åbo Akademi University (ÅAU), Finland focused on our specialization, which is electrochemistry and sensors. In addition, we had a summer internship that provided us with valuable working experience in a real-world setting. Collectively, we agree that the EACH experience is definitely one of the best decisions we have ever made in our lives, both in a personal and professional sense. With EACH, we came out more mature, resolute, and competent. One indication of this is the fact that all six of us in the ÅAU-track were successful in securing PhD positions at various universities months before our graduation! This is something that we really take pride in, and we will always be grateful to EACH for making it possible.

We wish all the best to our recent graduates in their new careers!

Viktoriia Turkina (EACH 2022 graduate of UCBL study-track) gives insight to her EACH journey:

Viktoriia in front of UT main building (Tartu, Estonia)

“There are not enough words to express my gratitude for giving me an opportunity to be a part of EACH. The day I received my admission letter I was sure that it would be the life changing experience and I can definitely say it lived up to all my wild expectations.

During these two years I have broaden my world perception enormously, met people across the whole world, shared happiness and difficulties together, found bright or subtle differences and similarities in our cultures.

In the University of Tartu I explored the world of analytical chemistry, theoretically and experimentally filling the gaps in my knowledge in that field. The quality of the courses meet very high standards, where all student questions are patiently and thoroughly explained. Also, the ambiance of the city is incredibly welcoming for international students.

The UCBL program covers several interdisciplinary subjects that give even a bigger picture of the analytical chemistry application and a look at it from a different angle (worth to mention, my favorite course, Data Analysis, is extremely helpful for any career path you can imagine in the contemporary world).  We also got a precious chance to collaborate with industrial partners during our internship.

Along the whole journey besides meeting good friends I was introduced to brilliant people, experts in their fields, who inspired me to continue my career path with a PhD. I am looking forward to the following 4 year journey at the University of Amsterdam.”

Front row (from left): Naela, Raegan, Angelo and back row (from left): John Paulo, Majid, Bojidar

The recent EACH graduates of the AAU study-track – Naela, Raegan, Angelo, Majid, Bojida, and John Paulo look back at their time in the EACH programme:

Finishing a master’s degree is incredibly challenging. Moreso, when doing it in the midst of a pandemic.

The experience of the EACH 2020–2022 intakes, also known as the COVID batch, is completely distinct from that of the previous ones. Prior to the start of our studies, we had to deal with various obstacles and uncertainties. Most of us processed our visas and travel documents while navigating through tighter border controls, canceled flights, lockdowns, and quarantines. To get to the home university in Estonia, some of us even had to board a total of seven airplanes! However, amidst all these adversities, the people from EACH were there to assist and take us into consideration.

Celebration

COVID-19 was certainly a mess, but the EACH program is not! Instead, the EACH program was resilient. They did their best to maintain order even in the face of chaos.

We can really tell that everyone involved in the program genuinely cared for us and wanted us to be successful. Feedback was always asked to continuously improve the quality of teaching. The study program was also very well-structured: our first year at the University of Tartu (UT), Estonia was spent strengthening our core competencies in analytical chemistry while our second year at Åbo Akademi University (ÅAU), Finland focused on our specialization, which is electrochemistry and sensors. In addition, we had a summer internship that provided us with valuable working experience in a real-world setting.

It has been a great privilege to work with and be mentored by scientific experts, do inspiring research work, explore new places, and meet such an amazing, smart, and kind group of people, especially our dear EACH friends. One of us also found true love in Tartu 😍. Truly, a life-changing journey!

Naela, John Paulo, Raegan, Majid, Angelo, and Bojidar discovering Åbo/Turku

Collectively, we agree that the EACH experience is definitely one of the best decisions we have ever made in our lives, both in a personal and professional sense. With EACH, we came out more mature, resolute, and competent. One indication of this is the fact that all six of us in the ÅAU-track were successful in securing PhD positions at various universities months before our graduation! This is something that we really take pride in, and we will always be grateful to EACH for making it possible.

From: Angelo Robiños (now a PhD student at Åbo Akademi University), Bojidar Mandjukov (now a PhD student at University of Tartu), John Paulo Samin (now a PhD student at University of Tartu), Majid Al-Waeel (now a PhD student at University of Turku), Naela Delmo (now a PhD student at University of Turku), and Raegan Chambers (now a PhD student at University of Tartu).”

The new EACH and AMS intake has started exploring Tartu and with it, Estonian history and culture!

Merili (in the picture – in the middle of the front row), one of the newest EACH master students wrote about their visit to ERM:

“Last Saturday, a group of us visited the Estonian National Museum (ERM). We first got an overview of the main exhibition with a tour guide and then explored the rest of the museum ourselves. The design and interactivity of the exhibitions were amazing, and there was a lot to see, from relics of the stone age to beautiful artwork from the Golden Age of Estonian Art! What really made the museum visit special was the fact that while we were there, the President of Estonia himself was giving a tour there. So the day definitely was a crash course to Estonia!”

On Thursday, September 1st 2022, five EACH students at UCBL defended their master’s theses.

During the last semester, Viktoriia, Thuong, Yu-Yen, Noemae, and Pamela (see picture) worked on their master’s theses at different industrial institutions such as Axel’One, Servier, Elkem Silicones, and IFPEN. As usual, the topics of the theses the students worked on, were related to the interests of the industry needs, and combined analysis approaches with data management and methodological optimization.

From left: Thuong, Yu-Yen, Pamela, Noemae, Viktoriia

The students defended the following topics:

Viktoriia Turkina – Proton low-field NMR combined with chemometrics for the prediction of various properties of distillated petroleum cuts for monitoring hydrocracking processes;

Thuong Hoai Nguyen – Study of different techniques for total chlorine and water content online analyses in organic effluents;

Yu-Yen Ting – Transportation and adsorption of metallic ions on mesoporous solids: application in heterogeneous catalysis and water decontamination;

Pamela Rivera Rivera – Feasibility study of NIR and Raman spectroscopy for the quantitation of SiH on silicone oil volatiles and storage tank concentration measurement by data fusion.

The topic of Noemae Enriquez Lim thesis was related to industrial process monitoring (the exact contents of the work are confidential).

We wish all the best to our most recent graduates!

On August 26, 2022, six EACH students – Angelo, Majid, Naela, Raegan, Bojidar, and Paulo (see picture), successfully defended their master theses at Åbo Akademi University (AAU), Finland.

The electroanalytical topics the students worked on were traditional to AAU study-track and varied from testing new materials for sensors to method development for electrochemical measurements.

The EACH students of AAU from intake 2020 with their supervisors. Front row, from left: Raegan, Bojidar, Naela, John Paulo; second row: Angelo (middle), and Majid (right).

The topics of the theses were the following:
Majid Ali Saad Al-Waeel – Electrochemical mediator material for glucose biosensors;
Raegan Danielle Chambers – Preparation and characterization of a gold nanoparticle/graphene composite for the electrocatalytic oxidation of glucose;
Naela Villanueva Delmo – Novel experimental set-up for coulometric signal transduction in ion-selective electrodes;
Bojidar Mandjukov – Development of a procedure for fabrication of cheap, flexible, laminated reference electrodes and ion-selective electrodes
John Paulo Samin – Removal of calcium from industrial-grade magnesium sulfate solution
The topic of Angelo Laab Robiños’ work was also related to sensors, but the exact contents of the thesis are confidential.

Huge congratulations to all the new graduates of the programme and all the best in your future careers!

This week is the first study week for the new students of Applied Measurement Science (AMS) and EACH Erasmus Mundus Joint Programme (EACH).

Altogether 19 (3 AMS and 16 EACH) students started their studies. The countries of origin of the students are very diverse: Mexico, Azerbaijan, Philippines, Nepal, Vietnam, Thailand, China, Nigeria, Colombia, Ukraine, Pakistan and Estonia. This Monday (29.08.22) the introductory meeting took place with some of the students present in person and others over the web. During the meeting 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!

Elsa Vanker
Sigrid Selberg

Our group recently published a new article Non-invasive analysis of natural textile dyes using fluorescence excitation-emission matrices, Talanta, 2022, 123805 led by Sigrid Selberg and Elsa Vanker.

In this study, multidimensional front-face fluorescence spectroscopy measured from surfaces using a fiber optic probe was assessed as a non-invasive and non-destructive method for the analysis of components in natural textile dyes. Multidimensional fluorescence data was acquired for a collection of wool yarns dyed with natural dyes (31 dyed wool yarn samples that were self-dyed with 18 different natural dyes) that were used as references in a case study of two historical textiles for which liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry was used as a confirmatory technique.

Self-dyed reference yarns
Selection of characteristic EEMs of self-dyed reference samples

Natural dyes are multicomponent mixtures and can originate from different sources (e.g., plants, insects, and fungi). Due to their complex chemical composition and the inherent lability (photooxidative fading and bleaching), the analysis of natural dyes can be quite challenging and in order to analyze dyes on textiles, it is often best to combine different analytical methods.  However, for the analysis of dyes, common and often the most informative methods, like chromatographic separations coupled with different detectors, are all invasive/destructive. The aim of this work was to explore the potential and limitations of fluorescence spectroscopy in analyzing natural dyes from dyed wool yarns using EEMs (excitation-emission matrices), measured directly from the surface of the objects, non-destructively and without any sample preparation.

To demonstrate the utility of the fluorescence method, analysis was conducted on two case study samples – fibers from historical artifacts. Comparing the EEMs of the reference yarns with our unknown case study samples, we were able to identify that dye from a plant of the Rubiaceae family (bedstraws and madders) was used for dyeing the case study samples. 

Here you can find the 50-day free access to the article.

One of the case study objects; Tapestry “Solomon is receiving a bride. Solomon Court” (year of production 1547); Textile sample was obtained from the Conservation and Digitization Centre Kanut (Estonia).

On Friday 22.07.2022 The MSC Euromaster Summer School 2022 (Chęciny, Poland) finished. It was the 15th 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!

Dennisse Avella:
If I am asked about the summer school in Checiny: I would definitely recommend it, it was perfect.
How amazing it was to wake up surrounded by nature, learn about measurement-related topics and the ISO17025 guidelines, then apply these concepts to a practical project, and during this process, interact with students and professors from other universities.
Such a beautiful experience I would say!

Le Minh Dinh:
I was impressed by the organization of the summer school in Poland this year: the location; the study programme; the food;… I had chance to approach basic knowledges about ISO/IEC 17025 and learn how to apply them in practice. The thing I liked most was the part about acting as a real analytical laboratory, which improved my laboratory skills as well as teamwork and communication skills. This 2-week summer school is really interesting and much memorable for me.

Hien Le Thi Kim:
The course is well-organized, approachable, and informative. My favorite section of the course is Decision Rules and Conformity Assessment. I had never learned it before this course. I think it is helpful and practicing for the analytical chemist.

Divisha Saxena:
First of all, I am really grateful to you to give me this opportunity to attend the summer school at Chęciny. The last two weeks, have been one of the best weeks of my life here in Europe. I met many amazing people from all over the world and especially the experts of Analytical Chemistry and Metrology, who were our professors here. We spent a lot of time together, from lectures and labs to having dinners with these professors gave me a new perspective to life.

I learnt so many new things at the school, which covers the in depth knowledge of ISO17025, concepts of Metrology including Validation, Uncertainty estimation, Conformity statement, Decision rules etc. Besides this, the school improved my soft skills too; team work, time management, presentation skills and public speaking to mention a few. There were many activities planned in a way to help us use our knowledge in a practical way such as Group work to validate a method and present results along with uncertainty and conformity statement, Auditing workshop, visit to mobile lab etc.

Lastly, I would like to say I would certainly recommend the prospective students to go for this summer school. It is a great opportunity to learn and have fun at the same time. The study load was manageable and the professors were always there to help us. I believe the things I learnt at the summer school which help me in the long run in my career.

Lukas Ramašauskas (EACH 2022 graduate) wrote about his experience with the EACH programme.

“The last two years were like a roller coaster for me. Changing the field from biotechnology to analytical chemistry was rather challenging and successful at the same time. During these two years, I obtained two master’s degrees in analytical chemistry at Uppsala University and the University of Tartu with a help of an international programme called Excellence in Analytical Chemistry. In addition, I completed two internships mainly working with LC-MS/MS at Q-linea and RECIPHARM OT CHEMISTRY AB in Sweden, wrote the master thesis titled “Analytical method and formulation development for Gram-negative antibiotics intended for antimicrobial susceptibility discs” and changed the living place TWO TIMES. The people I met, and the struggles I faced made me rethink my values and future goals, taught me how to adapt and be more versatile and open-minded. It was a very fruitful period of my life!!!

I would like to thank first and foremost Ivo LeitoAnu Teearu-Ojakäär, and others who gave me this opportunity to study analytical chemistry. RECIPHARM OT CHEMISTRY ABLucia Kovac for giving me the opportunity for the first time to work independently with LC-MS instruments. Q-lineaClaudia Patriarca, and Amjad Alhalaweh for warm environment to work, encouraging words, and unforgettable lessons. However, my journey does not end here. In July I am joining DSM in Basel Switzerland as an Associate Scientist. Couldn’t be more excited and thankful to DSM and the bioanalytical team for this great opportunity. Here are some memories from this journey.”

During July 11-23, 2022 the 15th MSC Summer School is taking place in the European Center for Geological Education of the Warsaw University (Chęciny, Poland). Group photo of the Summer school is on the left (Photo on the left by Andrzej Gawor).

Four EACH students are taking part in the summer school: Le Minh Dinh, Hien Le Thi Kim, Divisha Saxena, Dennisse Julieth Avella Estupiñan. (From left to right on the photo on the Right)

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 (Photo on the left).

A key activity of the summer school is the contest of student teams (setting up virtual laboratories and interacting with customers), which tests their knowledge and skills in all areas of metrology in chemistry (Photo on the right by Andrzej Gawor).

As always, work is counterbalanced by recreational activities, barbeques and an excursion (Photo on the left by Andrzej Gawor).

We hope that the participamts are enjoying the Summer school!

Koit Herodes

Every year students vote for their favorite teachers in all of the institutes at the University of Tartu.

We are pleased to announce that this year Dr. Koit Herodes was selected as the best teacher from the Institute of Chemistry!

Koit is an Associate Professor in the Chair of Analytical Chemistry. He is an expert in several analytical techniques, including chromatography and mass spectrometry. His current courses include Analytical Chemistry, Practical Chemical Analysis, Liquid Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry, Master Seminar in Measurement Science, and LC-MS Methods Validation. He teaches students of the Estonian chemistry and high school teacher curricula but also the students of the international EACH and AMS programs. Since 2001 he has supervised numerous BSc, MSc, and PhD students. 

Congratulations to you, Koit!

From the left: Quang Dong, Lukas, Aiganym, Arina, and Bohdana.

On June 14, 2022, six EACH students successfully defended their master’s theses at Uppsala University (UU), Sweden.

The topics varied from proteomics to screening of contaminants in recyclable paper, and from method development to data treatment strategies. In addition to different topics, this year also the institutions of the thesis work varied more than in previous years.

The theses topics (and the institutions where the work was performed) of the six students were the following:

Arina Ivanova – Screening of contaminants in recyclable paper with Ion-mobility high-resolution mass spectrometry. (Stockholm University, Sweden)

Quang Dong Bui – Investigation of age and biological sex effects on human sample by global mass spectrometry-based metabolomics. (UU)

Bohdana Sokolova – ThermoTargetMiner: a thermal proteome solubility/stability database for identification of protein targets and action mechanisms of novel anticancer agents in lung cancer. (Karolinska Institute, Sweden)

Aiganym Mukhtarkhan – Investigation and optimization of mixed-mode chromatography for the analysis of pharmaceutical analytes dissolved in neat or high content of organic solvent. (AstraZeneca, Sweden)

Lukas Ramašauskas – Analytical method and formulation development for Gram-negative antibiotics intended for antimicrobials susceptibility discs. (Q-linea AB, Sweden)

Anastasiya Ushenkina – Depletion methodologies for deep proteomics analysis of blood plasma samples for myalgic encephalomyelitis biomarker discovery. (UU)

Congratulations to all of the new EACH graduates! We wish you all success in your future!

Recently, a collaborative study on the Solid-State Composite reference electrodes was published in the journal of Membranes 2022, 12, 569. Slim Blidi, EACH alumnus and the first author of this publication, provides here a short overview of this novel research.

Potentiometric measurements using conventional electrodes do have some drawbacks when used. This is especially true for the conventional liquid-filled reference electrodes. They are non-robust in use and are maintenance-intensive due to the necessity of refilling the inner solution and keeping the liquid junction clog-free.

By eliminating the liquid component from the electrode structure, Solid-State Composite (SSC) reference electrodes are a viable alternative to conventional reference electrodes. Prepared by either injection molding or chemical polymerization, they are based on a silver/silver chloride reference element enclosed in a polymeric matrix (e.g. polyvinyl acetate) mixed with an inorganic salt (potassium chloride). The composite is the inorganic salt storage material while being in contact with the sample solution.

In this study, a set of the SSC reference electrodes was prepared and their performance was tested in different synthetic solutions to assess the possible influence of pH, solution composition, as well as the concentration and mobility of ions. Using potentiometry and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy methods over a period of several months, stability tests were also performed to evaluate the suitability of the studied SSC reference electrodes for continuous, prolonged, and intensive usage. Concentrations of K+, Na+, Ca2+, and Cl ions and pH values were measured in river water samples at different temperatures using the SSC reference electrodes.

The findings of this study show that the performance of SSC reference electrodes was on par or even better than commercial liquid-filled reference electrodes in terms of calibration range and actual measurements. It is safe to say that SSC reference electrodes represent the future of potentiometric measurements applied to environmental samples as they are cheap to manufacture and easy to maintain.

I am extremely grateful to my supervisors at Åbo Akademi: Dr. Kim Granholm, Dr. Zekra Moussavi, and Dr. Tomasz Sokalski for their valuable guidance and moral support during the experimental work as well as to the EACH programme for this life-changing experience.

On May 13, 2022 the on-line course (MOOC) Estimation of measurement uncertainty in chemical analysis offered by University of Tartu finished successfully.

Eventually, altogether 851 people registered from 103 countries. 405 participants actually started the course (i.e. tried at least one graded test at least once). The overall completion rate was 28%. This, as well as the participating rate was the lowest (48%) we have seen. However, the completion rate of the participants who started the studies was 59% with 239 successfully finished participants. Although lower than we have previously see, this result can still be considered very good for a MOOC, especially for one that has quite difficult calculation exercises, which need to be done correctly with limited number of attempts for completing the course. All statistics during the 9 years can be found in the table below.

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 over 500 (!) (overall number of posts, both from participants and from teachers) and the forums are still active and posts are still coming in.

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

We plan to repeat this course again in Spring 2023.

On Tuesday, March 22, 2022 the web course Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis was launched for the ninth time as a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course)!

Currently, 843 participants from 103 countries are registered – the largest number of countries the course has ever had! In the map presented on the left, the yellow color marks the countries from where participants come. True, the map is coarse and some countries are small. Therefore, not all countries are visible. We are very happy, that we have one participant also from Ukraine this year. Slava Ukraini!

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/).  

Since this January, Victor Augusto Xavier Da Silveira (from Brasil), a first-year EACH student has been a team member of the PRG project “Development of laser-based pen-type probe-MS system for the analysis of cultural heritage objects” led by associate professor Dr. Signe Vahur at UT chair of analytical chemistry.

Victor working on the laser-MS system

Victors’ main task in the project is the maintenance and customization of MS equipment needed for the laser-MS system. Victor has a degree in chemical engineering and a background in the maintenance and troubleshooting of various mass spectrometric equipment. Such knowledge and skills have been very helpful to the project and Victor has done a very good job. With his help, the first promising results with the project were obtained recently: https://analytical.chem.ut.ee/2022/03/recent-developments-of-our-laser-ms-system/.

All the best to Victor and Dr. Signe Vahur’s PRG team for future experiments!

As a result of a recent development in our group, it is now, for the first time, possible to rigorously measure acidity of acids in biphasic systems (aqueous phase at equilibrium with a water-immiscible phase) by using biphasic pKa values (pKaow values). This work has now been published in Analytical Chemistry 2022, 94, 4059–4064.

Two EACH students – Anh Hai Vu and Thuong Hoai Nguyen – made significant contribution to this work during their studies at Tartu. Congratulations, Anh and Thuong!

In this work, the octanol-water biphasic pKaow values have been determined for 35 acids of various structures and chemical properties (carboxylic acids, phenols, diphenylamines, imides, different CH acids) using UV-Vis and NMR (1H, 13C, or 31P) spectrometry.

Biphasic pKa values enable quantifying acid dissociation in biphasic systems in a more realistic and rigorous way than the conventional “mono-phasic” pKa values. The latter completely ignores a large part of the picture – partitioning of the neutrals and the ions between the two phases and ion-pairing in the low-polarity phase. In contrast, pKaow values account for these effects. The ratio of the acid and its conjugate base is measured in the 1-octanol phase, using UV-Vis and/or NMR spectrometric method. The activity of H+ is measured in the aqueous phase with a conventional pH-meter. The pKaow values are obtained at different concentrations and extrapolated to zero concentration.

Biphasic systems are present in many biological and technological systems and processes: cell membranes, solvent extraction, phase-transfer catalysis, sensor membranes, etc. In all such systems, acid-base properties of the participating compounds would be best described using biphasic rather than “mono-phasic” pKa values.

On February 11, 2022 the on-line course (MOOC) LC-MS Method Validation offered by the University of Tartu finished successfully.

Eventually, altogether 850 people registered from 97 countries. Less than half, 380 participants actually started the course (i.e. tried at least one graded test at least once) and out of them 209 successfully completed the course. The overall completion rate was 25%. The completion rate of participants who started the studies was 55%. These completion rates are lower than we usually have. So, here is some food for thought for us on how we could improve the success rate…

At the same time, those participants who actually took part in the course, 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 above 200 (!) (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 Autumn 2022.

The 2022 edition of the web course (MOOC) Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis will be running from March 22 to May 3, 2022. 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 volumetric operations and titrations to sophisticated instrumental analysis, such as determining pesticide residues by LC-MS. Efforts are made in the course to address also such uncertainty sources encountered in chemical analysis that are difficult to quantify, e.g. uncertainty due to possible interference effects (incomplete selectivity).

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!

Wednesday 19.01.2022 was the last day of the Excellence in Analytical Chemistry (EACH) Winter School 2022. In spite of being shorter than usual (because of COVID, of course), it appears to have been a memorable experience for all participants. Perhaps the most unusual experience for many was jumping into ice-cold lake, directly from hot sauna! Second year students of course enjoyed very much meeting their course mates whom they had not seen for almost half a year.

The last day saw students presenting their findings from the team work of the second day short course (annotating research articles from the journal Analytical Chemistry) and a video session with EACH alumni about their life and career after graduating from EACH. Altogether ten (!) alumni participated, from all three study tracks. They gave numerous useful pieces of advice to the current EACH students about how to make most of their EACH studies and how to make oneself more competitive in the job market or for PhD studies. Needless to say – lots of questions were asked by the current students.

We were able to experience the best of Sweden – Swedish food, nature and hospitality, which was spiced up and complemented by participants’ enthusiasm!

The 2023 Winter school will take place in Lyon.

Photos: Second-year EACH students meeting (above left); EACH alumnus Jude Anthony Billones telling EACH students about his career after graduation (middle); Lake Ekoln in the evening (by Jonas Bergquist, below left).

On Jan 17, 2022, the fifth Winter School of the Excellence in Analytical Chemistry (EACH) programme started in the Krusenberg Manor, at the outskirts of Uppsala (Sweden). Altogether 28 students from 17 countries participate.
In spite of the continuing COVID pandemic, it was decided to make face-to-face Winter School this year. However, it is shorter and smaller in scope than it has usually been. Nevertheless it offers two interesting study activities: the lecture about developments in industrial analysis and process control by Dr. Franck Baco-Antoniali and a highly interesting lecture-seminar about modern approaches of finding/systematizing/analyzing scientific information by prof. Magnus Palmblad, followed by team work and presentations by teams on the same topics.

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.

In the evening there were additional discussions between first- and second-year students and professors in three groups (Uppsala, Åbo, Lyon). The day ended with Sauna. And of course, the Winter School is the place where the 2nd students meet again their course mates who have chosen different study tracks.

Photos: Group photo (top left); Professor Jonas Bergquist introducing the 2022 EACH Winter School (top right); 2nd year Uppsala students presenting about their life and studies at Uppsala (bottom left); Discussion between first year students considering the Lyon study track and the second year Lyon students and professors (bottom right).

Marvy Girgis (now a Forensic Chemist And Toxicologist at Forensic Medicine
Authority in Egypt) who graduated from EACH in 2020 reflects on his life after his studies:

Marvy Girgis at his workplace

I am very grateful to EACH programme for everything I have learned. It was really a life changing experience for me. This programme elaborately covers a lot of topics and skills that every analytical chemist needs for his career. I greatly admire the excellent construction and instructors of this programme. Thanks to this programme, I have acquired invaluable knowledge, technical, and interpersonal skills that has positively impacted my personality and my career.

Before EACH, I used to be a forensic chemist. When I went back to my job after finishing the master, I immediately realized how important the things that I have learned for my work were. EACH programme has helped me a lot to use the available analytical tools in a systematic and right way to reach reliable results and serve justice in my current job. Moreover, I had also the opportunity to share this experience with my colleagues as I am now responsible for training of them on using different analytical instruments such GC-MS, UV-Vis, and others. I would say if anyone wants to develop his skills or knowledge in analytical chemistry, this is the right place to be.

On Tuesday, November 23, 2021 the web course LC-MS Method Validation was launched for the sixth time as a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course). There are 854 registered participants (the largest number ever in this course) from 97 countries. Both numbers are the largest we have had! The countries range from Philippines to Paraguay and from Sweden to Sri Lanka. 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.

The year 2021 proved to be as difficult as 2020. Nevertheless, the recent graduates of EACH prove that the programme is well designed for a career boost. One of the best arguments for this is the high employability rate of the EACH graduates of 2021 – in less than 6 months after graduation 12 out of 15 most recent alumni have secured a new position!

As usual, the EACH graduates continue their careers in, both, academia and the world of work. Seven graduates of 2021 have by now secured a job. The acquired positions range from engineer at Wintershall Dea (Germany), analytical chemist at BLAVATNIK CENTER for Drug Discovery (Israel) and at EnginZyme (Sweden) to R&D scientist at Glucomodicum company (Finland) and research scientist at J. Molner Company (Estonia). Five of the recent graduates are pursuing PhD, e.g., at Uppsala University (Sweden), ETH Zürich (Switzerland), Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology (Germany), and University of Delaware (USA).

Here is what some of our recent graduates have to say about the EACH programme:

Anh

Anh Hai Vu (UU study-track), currently PhD student at Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Germany:

For me, the EACH programme is perfectly designed for those who are, or want to become analytical chemists. After two years, I have not only acquired a solid foundation of analytical chemistry through well-organized and inspiring lectures but also obtained hands-on experience in diverse analytical techniques. Besides, by joining the EACH programme, I was fortunate enough to live in two European countries and learn from amazing people all over the world, which extensively expanded my knowledge about different cultures and greatly enhanced my communication skills.

I would say, participating in the EACH programme is an important stepping stone on my academic career path and indeed, what I have learned from EACH already enabled me to secure a PhD position in the field of biochemistry before my graduation. This is proving that the knowledge and the skills that the EACH programme equipped us with could open up career opportunities not only in the analytical chemistry area, but also in other fields of science that require the expertise in state-of-the-art analytical techniques.

The day I got accepted to the EACH programme was, and will always be a dream come true for me. It has totally changed my life and I am really grateful for being a part of EACH family.


Luca

Luca Guagneli (AAU study-track), now working as R&D scientist at Glucomodicum company (Finland):

The EACH programme is a two-year journey that puts you in contact with highly skilled people. You will become a competent analytical chemist, and at the same time you will have the possibility to meet interesting people from all over the world. The curricula are extensive and the diversity of the second-year tracks gives added value to the programme. This diversity ensures the development of knowledge and skills that open several possibilities for your future career.

The year in the University of Tartu provided an overall deep view of the field of analytical chemistry. The AAU study track gave me a comprehensive expertise in the field of electrochemistry and sensors that was a strong base for my current position in the R&D field, which was secured and commenced before my graduation from EACH. I am glad for all the time spent with the EACH family, and I strongly recommend this experience to everybody!


Anthony

Jude Anthony Billones (UCBL study-track), secured a position at Wintershall Dea as engineer:

Having backgrounds in Chemical and Process Automation Engineering, the EACH programme helped me bridge the gap between analytical quality control and process automation in the industry. Being in this programme greatly broadened my skillset – from knowledge regarding process design related to sampling and analysis, to data treatment and modelling for process control systems application. The EACH-UCBL study-track really prepares you for whichever career path you want to pursue after the Master. 

After graduation, main career prospects for me are in the field of R&D and Process Automation. Graduating from the EACH programme gave me strengths for positions in these fields because: (1) R&D companies highly appreciate candidates with a strong background of high-throughput industrial processes, and (2) Automation Engineer positions value knowledge about analytical techniques and sensors for Advanced Process Control (APC) applications.

At the end of the day, the EACH programme played a huge role in building my competencies. Taking up this programme is undoubtedly one of the best decisions I have made in my life.


Michał

Michał Kaczmarek (UU study-track), currently as an analytical chemist at BLAVATNIK CENTER for Drug Discovery (Israel):

The EACH programme has an enormous value both for my career as well as my personal life. Its curriculum challenges students to integrate the theory behind analytical chemistry with hands-on laboratory practice, creating a comfortable environment to develop as academics and industry professionals. In addition, EACH, bringing so many backgrounds across the world, teaches the importance of networking, understanding other cultures and different viewpoints. 

During my first year at the University of Tartu (UT), I have been impressed with the breadth of the information about contemporary analytical topics, the passion, and the commitment of academic staff that is ready to answer any arising questions within the courses and beyond. The next chapter at Uppsala University (UU) allowed me to fully focus on the use of liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. Hence, I very much enjoyed being able to incorporate my previous work experience in forensic toxicology and the skills acquired throughout the first year at UT with the master’s thesis project, translating to a deeper understanding and greater passion for the subject matter.

After completion of the EACH programme, the graduate clearly demonstrates to be capable of performing independent research in an international environment, which surely strengthens the CV and improves chances of securing a position in almost any chemical branch associated with analytical science. By way of example, after the UT-UU study track, I have received a couple of job and PhD offers in various fields, like pharmaceuticals, drug discovery, forensic chemistry, ecotoxicology, or proteomics. 

I can’t be grateful enough for all the opportunities that EACH has opened up for me and I am excited to see what it will bring to future graduates.

We wish all the best to our recent graduates in their new careers!

Anthony, Mananchaya, Adrian, Lovely Kris on defence day at UCBL

On September 2nd, 2021, master’s students at UCBL defended their theses. Among the students were also the EACH students from the UCBL study-track: Lovely Kris Acuram, Adrián Venegas Reynoso, and Jude Anthony Billones (see picture) who succesfully defendeid their theses (Mananchaya is still working on her thesis).

During the semester preceding the defense, the students worked on their master’s theses at industrial institutions such as Axel’One, Servier, and Elkem. The topics of the theses were strongly related to the interests of the above-mentioned institutions: e.g., “Application of near-infrared spectroscopy for on-line monitoring of moisture in pharmaceutical powders at different process points” and “On-line monitoring of calcium carbonate crystallization in gas hydrate inhibitor system by spatially resolved spectroscopy sensor”.

We wish all the best to our most recent graduates!

We are glad to announce that the admission for Excellence in Analytical Chemistry (EACH) Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree programme intake 2022 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_Course

We are glad to announce that the sixth 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 23, 2021 – Feb 04, 2022.

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 chromatography practitioners 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).

EACH intake 2019 at AAU (from left): Miloš, Sajana (front), Jelena, Luca, Peter, Rustem

On August 17, five EACH students – Sajana, Jelena, Miloš, Luca and Rustem (see picture), defended their master’s theses at AAU. Together with Peter (see picture), who had his defence already on June 10, the biggest batch of EACH students at AAU successfully graduated from the programme.

The students worked on a variety of electroanalytical topics. The topics of the theses were the following:

  • Peter Odion Osazuwa: Synthesis of an electroconductive hydrogel in 3D printing formulation for tissue engineering.
  • Luca Guagneli: Novel design of a flow-through potentiometric sensing device.
  • Sajana Manandhar: Determination of benzoate in cranberry and lingonberry using solid contact ion selective electrode; comparison with ion chromatography
  • Rustem Rustem: Functionality of solid-contact ISEs with physically damaged ion-selective membranes: a comparison between potentiometric, coulometric and amperometric methods.
  • Miloš Selaković: Development and possible applications of a new electronic nose.
  • Jelena Volobujeva: Polymer and electrocatalytic membranes for improved selectivity of glucose biosensor.

A huge congratulation to all the new graduates of the programme and all the best in your future careers!

This week is the first study week for the new students of Applied Measurement Science (AMS) and EACH Erasmus Mundus Joint Programme (EACH).

Altogether 17 (2 AMS and 15 EACH) students started their studies. The countries of origin of the students are very diverse: Germany, India, Philippines, Ecuador, Vietnam, South Korea, Brazil, Nigeria, Chile, Colombia, Pakistan, and Iran. This Monday (30.08.21) the introductory meeting took place with some of the students present in person and others over the web. During the meeting 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!

On June 14th, 2021, six EACH students from the Uppsala study track successfully defended their master’s theses.

The scope of the defended topics ranged from developing novel methods for the analysis of protein-based therapeutics from plasma to analysis of amine metabolites in human samples. The specific topics the theses of the six students were the following:

  • Vladyslav Dovhalyuk – Development of novel approaches to sample preparation methods for quantification of protein therapeutics in plasma samples for preclinical bio-analysis
  • Michał Kaczmarek – Investigating the uptake of organic micropollutants by Pleurotus ostreatus as a model fungus via UPLC-MS/MS
  • Kotchawan Lertchairitthikun – Validation of a robust, reliable and standardized quantitative metabolomic analysis using the Biocrates MxP® Quant 500 kit on a Waters Xevo TQ-S mass spectrometer
  • Anh Hai Vu – A sensitive and selective new method for determination of creatine and creatinine in human urine by supercritical fluid chromatography – tandem mass spectrometry (SFC-MS/MS)
  • Petpailin Wiangnak – Feasibility study for direct infusion mass spectrometry of contaminated DNA
  • Zhen Yang – Mass spectrometric analysis of amine metabolites in human samples using chemoselective probes
Defendants of the UU study track of EACH intake 2019 (from left): Vladyslav Dovhalyuk, Anh Hai Vu, Petpailin Wiangnak, Kotchawan Lertchairitthikun, and Michał Kaczmarek (Zhen Yang was not in Sweden).

The defence took place in hybrid conditions and all health and safety rules were followed (see picture above).

Congratulations to all the new EACH graduates and wishing you all the best for your future!

On May 13, 2021, the online course (MOOC) Estimation of measurement uncertainty in chemical analysis offered by the University of Tartu finished successfully.

Eventually, altogether 950 people registered from 97 countries. 501 participants actually started the course (i.e. tried at least one graded test at least once). The overall completion rate was 33%. This, as well as the participating rate, was the lowest (53%) we have seen. However, the completion rate of the participants who started the studies was 63% with 314 successfully finished participants. This result can be considered very good for a MOOC, especially for one that has quite difficult calculation exercises, which need to be done correctly for completing the course. All statistics during the 8 years can be found in the table below.

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 400 (!) (overall number of posts, both from participants and from teachers) and the forums are still active and posts are still coming in.

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

We plan to repeat this course again in Spring 2022.

On Apr 29, 2021 the webinar “Mobile Phase pH in Liquid Chromatography” took place. 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 webinar was organised in the framework of , Estonian Research council project PRG690 and the UnipHied project (www.uniphied.eu), 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. Additional support from: EU Regional Development Fund (TK141 “Advanced materials and high-technology devices for energy recuperation systems”) 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!