Wake Forest, Winthrop and Western Carolina Team Awarded NSF Homeland Security Research Funding (Winthrop Press Release)

Aug. 29, 2007

ROCK HILL, S.C. - The National Science Foundation recently announced that a team of chemistry researchers from Wake Forest University, Winthrop University, and Western Carolina University has been awarded a three year, $299,840 NSF Homeland Security Academic Research Initiative grant.  The main objective of the proposed research is to develop a portable device designed specifically for the detection of radiological species. The goal is the production of the first handheld portable atomic emission spectrometer capable of simultaneous multi- element analysis at part per billion concentrations. The device will employ a tungsten coil extracted from a light bulb and powered by a car battery. Samples deposited on the coil will emit characteristic spectra that are collected by a handheld spectrometer.


The Co-PI for this effort is Dr. Cliff Calloway, Winthrop University Associate Professor of Chemistry.  Dr. Calloway will be primarily responsible for design and construction of the proposed equipment, including but not limited to the physical fabrication, optical design and construction, electrical wiring & power, computer interfacing and computer programming. He will work closely with and advise graduate and undergraduate students on instrument characterization and application projects, with emphasis on incorporation at the undergraduate research level. He will help oversee summer day-to-day laboratory operations at Wake Forest University.


The PI for this effort is Dr. Brad Jones, a Professor of Chemistry at Wake Forest. The project will involve Ph.D. students from Wake Forest University, M.S. students from Western Carolina University, undergraduate researchers from Winthrop University, and a world-renowned expert from an institution in a third world country: the Federal University of Sao Carlos, Brazil. The successfully developed tungsten coil spectrometer will be marketed by a capable and successful instrument manufacturer, Teledyne Leeman Labs (NH).


Construction and fabrication facilities available at Wake Forest University will aid the Co-PI in developing a working instrument system available for use at Winthrop University during the academic year. The Winthrop system will be used to direct an undergraduate research project each academic year.  One Winthrop University undergraduate student will be in residence at Wake Forest University each summer for eight weeks, along with the Co-PI.  The undergraduate student will continue work at Winthrop University during the academic year, receiving academic credit for research.


Dr. Calloway has been a member of Winthrop’s chemistry faculty since 1995.  He also is currently chair of the Piedmont Section of the American Chemical Society, a group of nearly 1,000 professional chemists in the Charlotte, western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina regions.