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Tyson receives grant from ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry for International Year of Chemistry activities

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Chemistry Professor Julian Tyson receives grant from ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry for International Year of Chemistry activities to give a public lecture/demonstration on Dec 8th at 7:30 pm in Room 135 Integrated Sciences Building, UMass Amherst entitled “How much arsenic do we eat?  Analytical chemists make light work in tracking potentially harmful chemicals.”

Professor Tyson is looking to recruit 35 members of the public to his research group who will be supplied with equipment after the lecture to measure the arsenic content of rice. In the lecture he will explain the role of chemical analysis in answering the question, “Is it safe to . . .?” with particular reference to the arsenic compounds in our environment. He will show how this information can be obtained by examining the interaction of light with molecules and atoms and will demonstrate how to measure arsenic with the Gutzeit modification of the Marsh test.  He will describe on-going research in his group by undergraduates and teachers who are developing a procedure in which the image of a colored spot, taken with a digital still camera, is processed to get a number that can be related to the arsenic concentration. The newly recruited members of his group will use this method.

If you would like to participate in the arsenic-in-rice study, please email Professor Tyson at with some relevant information.

The American Chemical Society’s Division of Analytical Chemistry has awarded 20 grants to support outreach projects that will inform the public as well as the chemistry community about the significance of analytical chemistry for the IYC themes of environment, energy, materials, and health.  Analytical chemistry is the source of techniques for making measurements of chemical composition. Its applications range from ensuring the quality and safety of food and health care products to monitoring the production of computer chips and other advanced materials. It also is an essential part of modern medical care and efforts to ensure environmental quality.  

Many of the projects will carry out experimental activities that focus on environmental quality measurements. Others will combine experiments with classroom activities. All will be open to the general public.  Ten grants were awarded to primarily undergraduate institutions, and ten to graduate institutions.

The Division of Analytical Chemistry is the world’s largest organization of professionals in this field, with more than 8000 members. The Division organizes symposia at scientific meetings, recognizes major accomplishments in the field, honors students and young scientists starting their careers and represents the members of the discipline within the American Chemical Society and to the general public. Its Analytical Sciences Digital Library provides up-to-date educational materials across the discipline, while its Subdivision of Chromatography and Separations Chemistry provides a forum for this key subdiscipline. More information on these programs is available at .

The International Year of Chemistry
Goals and themes (see

Increase the public appreciation of chemistry in meeting world needs - Chemistry, appropriately called the Central Science, is both a deeply philosophical inquiry and an applied scientific endeavor. The science of chemistry is fundamental to humanity’s understanding of the world and the cosmos. Molecular transformations are central to the production of foodstuffs, medicines, fuels, metals, i.e., virtually all manufactured and extracted products. Through IYC the chemical community will publicly celebrate the art and science of chemistry, its key contributions to developing human knowledge, advancing economic progress and fostering a wholesome environment.

Increase interest of young people in chemistry - In order to ensure that first-rate minds continue to be attracted to and challenged by the central science, IYC will underscore the role of chemistry in managing natural resources sustainably. In partnership with the United Nations, the International Year of Chemistry will make a strong educational contribution toward the goals of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, particularly in the key action areas of health and environment.

Generate enthusiasm for the creative future of chemistry Humanity’s understanding of the world is grounded in our developing knowledge of chemistry. Creative opportunities to discover exciting new principles and applications continually appear as our understanding of molecular properties grows. Chemists will inevitably play a key role in overcoming the challenges facing today’s world, for example in helping to address the United Nations Millennium goals. A deep understanding of the science is essential for developing molecular medicine, for creating new materials and sustainable sources of food and energy. The International Year of Chemistry – 2011 will:

  • Improve the understanding and appreciation of chemistry by the public.
  • Enhance international cooperation by serving as a focal point or information source for activities by national chemical societies, educational institutions, industry, governmental and non-governmental organizations.
  • Promote the role of chemistry in contributing to solutions to global challenges.
  • Build capacity by engaging young people with scientific disciplines, especially the scientific method of analysis developed by hypothesis, experiment, analysis and conclusions.

(October 2011)