INVISTA, an integrated fiber, resin and intermediates company, has donated a scientific instrument to the chemistry department at Converse College that will enable students to conduct environmental studies more efficiently.
The Perkin Elmer Model 800 Analyst, which was purchased by INVISTA in 1999 for $86 thousand, is an atomic absorption spectrophotometer. “Many industrial companies and analytical laboratories use spectrophotometers in their research and development,” said Dr. Yan Chen, senior research scientist and analytical lab manager of polymer and resins for INVISTA’s Spartanburg laboratory. “The Model 800 in particular is a relatively new model and is one of the leading instruments for metal analysis.”
According to Dr. Jerry Howe, Charles A. Dana Professor of Chemistry at Converse, the Model 800 will be used in the department’s instrumental analysis courses at the beginning of the fall 2006 term. “For environmental research, this is one of the most advanced pieces of instrumentation in the field of chemistry because it enables the user to determine concentrations of more than 40 different metals down to the low parts per million of a sample,” Howe said. Using wavelengths of light, the spectrophotometer measures the intensity of metallic elements in a matter of seconds. “We routinely collect soil and water samples from contaminated sites throughout the Upstate to test for metallic levels. The Model 800 will enable us to conduct our studies in a much more efficient manner because it can examine more than 100 samples at the same time, which means our students will not have to spend time interchanging samples for analysis.”
The Model 800 spectrophotometer is housed in Phifer Science Hall on the Converse campus. Opened in 2004, Phifer Science Hall is designed to house the latest in laboratory and audio-visual equipment, and provide the opportunity for collaborative research between students and faculty. Converse constructed the facility in order to be more competitive in the niche market that women’s colleges have created for the traditionally male-dominated field of science. Studies show that students at women’s colleges major in science, continue toward doctorates in science, and pursue careers in science at nearly twice the rate of women at coeducational institutions.
“We believe in being a good corporate citizen,” said Bill Every, INVISTA’s Spartanburg site manager. “Whenever the opportunities present themselves, we make a concerted effort to give back to the communities in which we operate by making monetary contributions and equipment donations such as the Model 800 spectrophotometer. We are pleased that the Model 800 spectrophotometer will enhance students’ education.”