Mass Spectrometry Center

Undergraduate Education

Over the last two decades, mass spectrometry has been revolutionized from the traditional gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) to modern liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS) with high resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) and high resolution tandem mass spectrometry (HRMS/MS) capabilities and become a key technique applied in a wide range of areas. Therefore, the traditional undergraduate chemistry curriculum based on GC-MS must be revolutionized to include LC-MS and cutting-edge HRMS and HRMS/MS techniques.

The major undergraduate program supported by the Western Illinois Mass Spec Center is the B.S. Forensic Chemistry program at Western Illinois University (WIU), which has been recognized as a “signature program” by WIU due to an annual average of  more than one hundred enrollment over the last decade. Other undergraduate programs at WIU and partner universities supported by the Western Illinois Mass Spec Center are Analytical Chemistry, Biochemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Microbiology, Mycology, Organic Chemistry and Phytochemistry. 

Forensic Mass Spectrometry

Forensic Mass Spectrometry is a course established in spring 2019, half year after the establishment of the Western Illinois Mass Spec Center. Since then, this course has been offered at WIU to majors in the B.S. Forensic Chemistry program as one of the directed electives every spring. It teaches students mass spectrometry for the unambiguous identification of forensically significant compounds such as fire accelerants, explosives, illicit drugs, and all the poisons ranging from small organic molecules to biological macromolecules. It also prepares students for entry into modernized analytical facilities such as crime, clinical, toxicological, biotechnological, environmental, and pharmaceutical labs.

The lecture contents of this course is composed of nine chapters, while the laboratory contents of this course is composed of ten hands-on experiments.

Undergraduate Research

The Western Illinois Mass Spec Center fully support undergraduate research at WIU and partner institutions, further enhancing students' capability in using HRMS, HRMS/MS, GC-MS and LC-MS outside the classroom so that they can be more competitive than students from other institutions in the job market. All students in the B.S. Forensic Chemistry program will complete a minimum of three semester hours conducting research before graduation, which often leads to funded trips to state and national scientific conferences and publication of journal articles with faculty.