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MRI-R2: Acquisition of Instrumentation to Determine Provenance of Environmental Samples

This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5). With this award from the Major Research and Instrumentation (MRI) program, Graham F. Peaslee, Kelvin J. Murray and Stephen K. Remillard will acquire a table-top scanning electron microscope and an auto analyzer for pollutants such as phosphates and nitrates in environmental samples. The equipment will be used to study the eutrophication of lakes and rivers due to non-point-source nutrient loading, a geological study of Lake Michigan beach sands, an investigation of the interactions of fruit-eating birds and their food plants in Costa Rica, and in the characterization of superconducting microstrip lines. A scanning electron microscope (SEM) which includes x-ray analyses (EDS) enables researchers to measure important light element concentrations such as Na, Mg, Al, and Si and to study the morphological characterization of samples. A continuous flow autoanalyzer can analyze large numbers of samples per hour for specific elements using a spectrophotometer detector. Such chemical characterization provides critical information on problems ranging across chemistry, biology, geology and physics. In addition to the use of this instrumentation by undergraduates engaged in research and training, an innovative approach will be undertaken to incorporate high-school students and teachers into sediment sampling and characterization study of the local watershed. 

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