A Purdue University professor will receive the 2013 Dreyfus Prize in Chemical Sciences. Graham Cooks will be recognized Tuesday for multiple advances, including efforts to shrink mass spectrometer technology from the size of a car to the size of a shoebox.

September 23, 2013

News Release

West Lafayette, Ind. — Purdue University professor R. Graham Cooks will be awarded the 2013 Dreyfus Prize in Chemical Sciences during a 4 p.m. ceremony on Tuesday (Sept. 24) in Fowler Hall.

Cooks, the Henry Bohn Hass Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, won the prize in recognition of his innovations in the field of mass spectrometry and analytical chemistry.

The international prize, given biennially by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, consists of $250,000, a citation and a medal.

Cooks will present a lecture about the societal impact of mass spectrometry and where the field is headed. Henry C. Walter, president of the foundation; John I. Brauman, foundation director; Timothy Sands, Purdue provost and the Basil S. Turner Professor of Engineering; and Jeffrey Roberts, the Frederick L. Hovde Dean of the College of Science, also will speak during the ceremony. The event is free and open to the public.

Cooks is a pioneer in mass spectrometry, which identifies the contents of a sample by measuring the masses of its ions, or electrically charged molecules. An early success in his career was the development of tandem mass spectrometry, which enabled devices to not only identify the molecules present in complex samples but also to measure the amounts and ratios of the molecules. He later developed ambient ionization techniques that allowed testing to be done in the air or directly on a surface in its natural environment. The ambient ionization techniques also paved the way for faster, more portable mass spectrometry devices. Cooks and his collaborator Zheng Ouyang, Purdue associate professor of biomedical engineering and electrical and computer engineering, then miniaturized the once sedan-sized mass spectrometer to a shoebox-sized device that has been likened to Star Trek's tricorder.

Cooks and his team have fine-tuned the tools for use in molecular imaging for cancer diagnostics and surgery; therapeutic drug monitoring; testing for biomarkers in urine; and the identification of food-borne pathogens, bacteria, pesticides and explosives residues.

Cooks is associated with several Purdue research centers, including Bindley Bioscience Center, the Purdue Center for Cancer Research and the Center for Analytical Instrumentation Development.

The New York-based Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation is a nonprofit organization devoted to the advancement of the chemical sciences. It was established in 1946 by chemist, inventor and businessman Camille Dreyfus, who directed that the foundation's purpose be “to advance the science of chemistry, chemical engineering and related sciences as a means of improving human relations and circumstances.” In broad terms, foundation programs advance young faculty of early accomplishment, develop leadership in environmental chemistry, and enhance chemistry education and public interest in chemistry.

The inaugural Dreyfus Prize was awarded in 2009 to George Whitesides of Harvard University in the field of materials chemistry. The 2011 Dreyfus Prize was awarded to Tobin Marks of Northwestern University in the field of catalysis.

Source: Purdue University

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