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"Environmental Forensics or CSI without the Violence?" Lecture February 28th at Missouri State University

Posted by Matthew R. Siebert on February 21, 2017 at 10:55 AM

Join us as R. Paul Philp, Emeritus Professor, School of Geology and Geophysics, University of Oklahoma, discusses environmental forensics - a field that has seen a rapid evolution over the past couple of decades.

The lecture will take place February 28, 2017, at 6:00 PM in Meyer Library room 101.

There is an almost unlimited number of environmental cases where a pollutant (pollutants) has been released into the environment causing numerous problems. However the issues then becomes determination of the nature of the product, who was responsible for its release, and is it going away or degrading? In this presentation we will be primarily concerned with discussing the origin and fate of organic pollutants in the environment and the techniques that can be used to address the questions listed above. There is a broad range of organic pollutants commonly encountered in the environment ranging from gasoline additives (MTBE), chlorinated solvents (PCE and TCE), to more complex mixtures such as crude oils or refined hydrocarbon products such as gasoline. These pollutants may be encountered in the soil, water or air and the approaches used to monitor the compounds and evaluate their origin are slightly different in each situation.

The purpose of the first part of this presentation will be to provide examples of the various sophisticated analytical techniques that are available to detect, and fingerprint, these compounds in the environment and relate them with their suspected source(s). The second part of the talk will focus more specifically on utilization of CSI (compound specific isotopes) in these environmental issues. Although CSI has played a role in many episodes of CSI we are not discussing the TV series here but rather compound specific isotopes. Many of the traditional techniques for correlating pollutants with their suspected sources are fine for mixtures but in the situation where you might have a single component contaminant they are of little use. Enter the technique of CSI about two decades ago and which has continued to grow exponentially in applications to environmental cases and in many other areas.

In this presentation examples will be discussed where stable isotopes have been applied to environmental issues. In addition, and if time permits, examples of where isotopes have been used in other areas will also be described including drug testing, food adulteration, diet studies and currency forgeries.

R. Paul Philp received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Sydney (Australia) in 1972 and a D.Sc. degree from the same University in 1998. He then spent one and a half years as a post-doctoral fellow with Professor G. Eglinton at the University of Bristol (England) undertaking research in various aspects of organic geochemistry and the application of analytical techniques such as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to this area of research. Following this, Dr. Philip spent four years at the University of California, Berkeley, as a research associate, directing the organic geochemistry research group of Professor Melvin Calvin. Paul then returned to Sydney in 1977 to join the CSIRO, Fuel Geoscience Unit, now part of the Division of Fossil Fuels, where he was a principal research scientist studying various aspects of petroleum geochemistry. In June 1984, Dr. Philip joined the faculty at the University of Oklahoma. Recently, a large amount of Dr. Philip's research has been concerned with environmental studies and particularly investigating the use of stable carbon isotopes as a means of monitoring and tracking pollutants in the environment. Professional activities: associate editor of I. Environmental Forensics, and Chairman of the Geochemistry Division of the American Chemical Society, 1993-1995.

 

Categories: Event, Lecture, Missouri State

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