Scientists at Western Washington University’s Shannon Point Marine Center have received a $346,000 grant from the Major Research Instrumentation program of the National Science Foundation to obtain a Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer, an analytical instrument that can be used to identify natural products in the marine environment at the molecular level.
According to Project Directors Kathy Van Alstyne and Brian Bingham, the instrument will serve a variety of purposes, including support of on-going and planned research projects for Western faculty and visiting scientists, support for the extensive undergraduate research programs at the marine center, provision of training to students on up-to-date marine chemical analysis techniques and support of the thesis research of graduate students pursuing master’s degrees at Western.
The instrument will permit student and faculty scientists to investigate the roles of specific compounds in marine systems such as natural products found in sea weeds and lipid profiles in marine organisms. The new instrument will permit analysis at a level of precision not currently possible at SPMC.
The mission of the NSF MRI program that provided the funding is to improve the quality and expand the scope of research and research training in science, by providing shared instrumentation that fosters the integration of research and education in research-intensive learning environments. According to SPMC Director Steve Sulkin, Shannon Point’s focus on articulating research and education, as well as the productivity of its faculty in projects that operate at the interface of marine biology and marine chemistry, contributed to the success of the proposal in the highly competitive funding environment at NSF.
The Shannon Point Marine Center is a facility of WWU located in Anacortes, Wash., whose mission is the support of academic programs in the marine sciences at the university. More information about the marine center, its programs and facilities, can be accessed at www.wwu.edu/spmc