Sophisticated chemistry

Chemistry department purchases new advanced equipment

Walla Walla University’s Department of Chemistry recently purchased a liquid chromatograph/mass spectrometer (LCMS) from Advion, Inc. using WWU funding which will allow students to more efficiently run chemical analyses.

In basic terms, the new instrument separates materials in a solution by directing their flow through a tube that inhibits the movement of molecules at different rates. As the separated components exit the column, they are directed into the mass spectrometer which electrocutes and analyzes the size of the fragments. The results provide important information on the chemical structures. The instrument’s flexibility and ease of operation will make it favorable to previous methods used in the laboratory. 

The purchase supplements the education of chemistry students by providing an additional and more sophisticated means for analyzing synthetic compounds, developing procedures for identifying compounds, and conducting chemical analysis. “Having a functional LCMS that students can see and handle will provide a more visual, kinesthetic learning experience,” said Melvin Roberts, professor of chemistry. 

Roberts also explained how the new instrument will support the curriculum in the chemistry program. Chromatography techniques are pervasive throughout chemistry and mass spectroscopy is a topic in several of the program’s lecture courses. He says the LCMS system will increase students’ options for learning and research.

The new equipment was funded through multiple sources including the chemistry equipment fund, the donor restricted funds for chemistry, and the unrestricted WWU Fund. The unrestricted WWU Fund supports the university’s most vital objectives by funding student scholarships, academic programming, and facility improvements. The WWU Advancement team encourages unrestricted gifts through the WWU Fund as a way to support classroom upgrades with new technology like this, and to support students in other ways such as through merit scholarships. 

Learn how you can help by contacting Troy Patzer, associate vice president for alumni and advancement services, at or by visiting the WWU Fund web page.

Posted May 24, 2023

Students in laboratory