Winners 2018 of the DAS Travel Award

66th ASMS Conference on Mass Spectrometry and Allied Topics

Anita O. Hidasi, PhD., University of Geneva

The American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS) held its annual conference between 3-7 June in San Diego, CA this year. ASMS is one of the most prestigious international conferences on mass spectrometry, and I highly appreciate the support of the DAS travel award that made it possible for me to attend this conference.

The annual meetings of ASMS are usually visited by a great number of people from all around the world. This was the case this year as well, as more than 7000 people were registered at the conference. There were eight parallel sessions each day in the mornings and afternoons, furthermore several workshops in the evenings. Moreover, ca. 800 posters were presented per day. The topics covered many aspects of mass spectrometry, for example there were several sessions on Fundamentals, Instrumentation, Informatics, Imaging, Ion Mobility, Metabolomics, Proteomics, Lipidomics, etc. Due to the compact program, careful pre-planning was needed before the conference in order to be present and see most of the interesting talks/posters.

As my current research topic is electron-based dissociation for improved detection and quantification of metabolites and pharmaceuticals, furthermore I use differential mobility spectrometry (DMS) and LC-SWATH/MS for metabolomics, I attended sessions like “Fundamentals: Ion Activation and Dissociation”, Metabolomics sessions, Biomarkers sessions and Ion Mobility sessions. I focused on the posters in these sessions too. I also found interesting workshops in the evening, such as “Beyond Collisional Dissociation: Improving Metabolite Identification by Alternative Gas-Phase Techniques” and the ion mobility workshop called “FAIMS/DIMS/DMS: Basics and Applications”. I have met a lot of new people and have seen many interesting talks and posters that resulted in intriguing and fruitful discussions with presenters and other people from the audience.

I was happy to see that many people stopped by at my poster and were interested in my research topic and results. This was an amazing venue to meet people who are working on similar fields and discuss with them about the difficulties and future directions.

There were some social events as well during the conference, for example the Corporate Hospitality Suites that were open 8-11 pm and were located in the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel. The Suites offered food and drinks. This was an excellent place to switch off a bit after listening to talks, looking at posters the whole day and made it possible to discuss what I have seen during the day. On the last evening, a “Closing event aboard the USS Midway” was organized. The USS Midway was an aircraft carrier which participated for example in the Vietnam War and the Gulf War and was turned into a museum. The venue and the food of the closing event were amazing. I really enjoyed seeing an aircraft carrier from the inside and learnt a lot of interesting facts, for example that Landing Signal Officers (LSOs) are the most experienced and talented pilots.

Attending the 66th ASMS Conference on Mass Spectrometry and Allied Topics was an excellent opportunity for me to see the current directions in research related to or utilizing mass spectrometry furthermore to meet and discuss with a lot of people from all around the world. I am grateful for this opportunity that was made possible by the DAS board who granted me the DAS Young Scientist Travel Award.

181018 AnitaOHidasi 

26thInternational Conference on Raman Spectroscopy (ICORS)

181005 DAS-TravelAward4Jacek Szczerbiński
ETH Zurich, Laboratory of Organic Chemistry, Zenobi Group

ICORS is a major biyearly conference for developers and users of Raman spectroscopy. This year’s edition covered virtually all aspects of Raman spectroscopy, ranging from Raman biomedical imaging, through time-resolved spectroscopy, to the theory of Raman scattering.  A substantial part of the meeting was devoted to surface- and tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopies (SERS and TERS).

Remarkable presentations in the SERS/TERS sessions included several reports of TERS imaging of molecules with sub-nm resolution, which allows seeing the vibrations of individual chemical bonds in real space.  A few other contributions focused on plasmon-driven photocatalytic reactions and plasmon-induced charge transfer.  Electrochemical SERS and TERS are particularly well suited for investigating these reactions, allowing single-site studies of catalytic processes and redox reactions.  Other highlights included fabrication of highly reproducible nanoparticle dimers for SERS, precise thermometry of plasmonic nanostructures, and many more.

I held two presentations at the conference.  The oral presentation focused on chemical reactions induced at optically active plasmonic sites (hot spots).  These reactions are of central importance for single-particle catalysis research, but they are also a well-known problem in chemical analysis by SERS and TERS, where they drive sample degradation.  Based on several analogies between plasmon-driven catalysis and surface science experiments involving e-beams and x-rays, I proposed a rationalethat allows prediction of the reaction pathways in plasmon-driven photocatalysis and explains the nature of photo-induced sample damage in SERS and TERS.  The presentation was very well received by the older generation of professors, who had gained their experience in surface science and still remember the classic works of the field.  At the same time, it was found controversial among the younger users of SERS and TERS, because it explained fluctuations in the spectra as a symptom of sample degradation – contrary to many researchers, who explain it as a landmark of single molecule detection.

My poster presentation addressed a controversy in Raman analysis of proteins:  missing signal from peptide bonds in SER/TER spectra of proteins and peptides.  I argued that these bonds dissociate in plasmonic hot spots due to plasmon-induced photocatalytic reactions.  I also showed hot to recover the signal from the peptide bonds.  The poster attracted the attention of the inner circle of experts in SERS/TERS analysis of proteins.  Hence, I received a lot of useful and motivating feedback.

I am very grateful to the Division of Analytical Sciences for supporting my contribution to the 26thICORS.  My presentation has definitely resonated.  The discussions and feedback from the conference has already helped me improve a manuscript based on the presented results (just accepted), and will further improve my research in the upcoming weeks.

38thInternational Symposium on Halogenated Persistent Organic Pollutants – Dioxin Symposium 2018

Lena Schinkel
Laboratory for Advanced Analytical Technologies, Swiss Federal Institute for Materials Science and Technology, Empa, Überlandstrasse 129, CH-8600 Dübendorf
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The 38thInternational Symposium on Halogenated Persistent Organic Pollutants, better known as “Dioxin Symposium”, took place 26-31 August, 2018, in Kraków, Poland. The meeting was chaired by Jerzy Falandysz(Gdańsk University) and was organized together with the 10thInternational PCB Workshop. This annual meeting is an interdisciplinary platform for research on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) covering analytical and environmental chemistry, bioanalytical technologies, human and environmental toxicology, and risk assessment and management. The Dioxin symposium is the leading international meeting on POPs and brings together delegates from research, industry and regulation. Around 700 international delegates attended the Dioxin Symposium 2018 and presented their work in 413 lectures and 203 posters during 44 sessions. Six plenary keynotes were presented by renowned experts in their respective fields: Beate Escher(Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Leipzig), Kurunthachalam Kannan and Nobuyoshi Yamashita(State University of New York, and National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Tsukuba), Keri Hornbuckle(The University of Iowa), Larry Robertson(The University of Iowa), Richard Hull(University of Central Lancashire) and Martin Rose(Manchester University).

Conference Highlights

The conference showed that analytical advances, e.g. two dimensional chromatography and high resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS), result in increased measurement sensitivity and improved quality of data. Known and regulated POPs are still mainly analyzed by targeted analytical approaches. However, non-targeted methods are increasingly used to reveal and identify unknown halogenated organic compounds in the environment. These non-targeted methods are often based on mass defect plots that are suitable to indicate brominated and chlorinated organic compounds. A comparison of targeted analysis of perfluorinated alkylated substances and measurements of the total fluorine content, can reveal the presence of unknown fluorinated compounds. Even though HRMS is able to resolve many analytical issues associated with the analysis of polyhalogenated POPs (e.g. mass interferences), the conference showed that the majority of monitoring laboratories still work with low resolution instruments. Therefore, mathematical approaches are developed to improve respective data. The increasing recycling rates of polymer products cause an urgent need for fast, cheap and easy detection methods for flame retardants. It was shown that X-ray fluorescence is increasingly used to give rapid estimates of contamination with brominated flame retardants. In the past, banned POPs were often substituted with chemicals that later turned out to be POPs as well. Thus, suitable screening tools are developed and applied in order to determine “good” and “bad” substituting chemicals. The number of unknown halogenated compounds in the environment increases. They can be unwanted byproducts formed during production or are abiotic and biotic transformation products of known precursor compounds. In order to comprehensively assess transformation and toxicity of emerging contaminants and monitor their environmental levels, suitable analytical standards for such transformation products are needed. However, providers of analytical reference material cannot keep up with the rate of newly identified halogenated compounds in the environment. This highlights the ongoing issues of halogenated organic compounds in the environment. 

Personal Highlights

The Swiss Chemical Society’s Division of Analytical Sciences (SCS-DAS) awarded me the DAS Young Scientist Travel Award to present my ongoing research on new and improved methods for the challenging analysis of chlorinated paraffins and their transformation products. Chlorinated paraffins (CPs) are high production volume chemicals. Some of them, the short-chain CPs (C10-C13), have been classified as POPs under the UN Stockholm Convention in 2017. Their analysis is difficult due to mixtures of ten thousands of isomers, complex isotopic patterns, insufficient chromatographic resolution and unknown configurations of reference materials. The emerging relevance of CPs was reflected by the large attendance of the special session on CPs during the conference. Several presentations about CP levels in the environment, food and consumer goods highlighted the issue of ubiquitous CP pollution. Especially, talks about the demanding analysis of CPs were well perceived, including my own talk. During the closing ceremony, I was awarded the Otto Hutzinger Student Award for outstanding student presentations for my talk about “The CP/CO problem: Limitations of conventional GC-ECNI-MS when analyzing mixtures of chlorinated paraffins (CPs) and chlorinated olefins (COs)”. I want to thank the DAS for granting me the travel award to attend the Dioxin symposium 2018. I learned a lot about progressive analytical approaches, met new colleagues and increased the visibility of Empa’s important and long-lasting work in the field of POP analysis.

180926 LenaSchinkel DASTravelAwardWinner2018

Figure 1. Heidelore Fiedler and Michael S. Denison present Lena Schinkel (Empa, Laboratory for Advanced Analytical Technologies) with the Otto Hutzinger Student Award. (Source: Kunimi) 

12th Summer School in Mass Spectrometry in Biotechnology and Medicine (MSBM), 8 July to 14 July 2018

Alena Tierbach, R. Schönenberger, K. J. Groh, K. Schirmer, M. J.-F. Suter 

Eawag, Abteilung Umwelttoxikologie, Überlandstrasse 133, 8600 Dübendorf
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

180926 AlenaTierbach DASTravelAwardWinner2018-1With the support of the DAS Young Scientist Travel Award, I was able to attend the MSBM Summer School in Dubrovnik (Croatia). I presented a poster: “In vivo GSH conjugation of the reference substrate CDNB in zebrafish early life stages”

At MSBM the lecturers provided a very good combination of didactic lectures on fundamentals of mass spectrometry and research lectures on applications in biomedical sciences. The program was enhanced by poster sessions, small workshops and a questionnaire (exam) that the students could solve in groups while enjoying some pizza and beers in the evening. To relax, network and get the mind of science, we had the opportunity to jump into the sea for a nice swim after lunch or in between some lectures. Furthermore, the organizers gave us the opportunity to attend a city tour of Dubrovnik and to visit the Lokrum Island. One highlight was also the soccer game Croatia vs. England. Croatia won and every citizen of Dubrovnik celebrated it on the streets of the old town, which was amazing to experience. All in one, it was a great combination of lectures, possibilities to interact with the lecturers (everyone was very open and happy to discuss science related and unrelated topics) and opportunities to meet and connect with people. To stay in contact, we created a LinkedIn group with the lecturers and students. I am very grateful that I could make this summer school experience with the help of the DAS Young Scientist Travel Award. Currently I am a PhD student Since Jan 2016 PhD Student, École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), and Department Environmental Toxicology, Eawag, Duebendorf, Switzerland, my thesis is entiteled: “Role of Glutathione S-Transferases in the biotransformation potential of zebrafish (Daniorerio) embryos” under the supervision of M. Suter.

180926 AlenaTierbach DASTravelAwardWinner2018

Meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) in Rom, Italy, from May 13 - 17, 2018

Hannah Schug

Eawag, Utox, Überlandstrasse 133, 8600 Dübendorf
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

With the support of the DAS Young Scientist Travel Award, I was able to attend the yearly Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) meeting in Rom, Italy, from the 13. to 17. of May 2018, which is one of the most widely respected conference in our field. This meeting was of great interest for me, since it was the first time that I had the chance to present an important part of my PhD research as a platform presentation. Further, I had the chance to attend poster presentations from our collaborators and discuss our research with scientist from the field. SETAC is an excellent place to critically discuss up-to-date research, meet people and network. The meeting gives a great opportunity to network with scientist from all over the world as well as with people working in industry and regulation. One of my personal highlights was, that I could attend the animal alternative interest group where current issues concerning testing of animals for regulatory purposes and environmental risk assessment of chemicals are discussed and new approaches are driven forward. Thanks to the effort of the organizers and the wonderful location there was besides the scientific program a great social program in the evenings, that we could attend, such as a city tour, conference dinner and the student party.

All together it was a great combination of high level science, meeting excellent scientist from the field and enjoying a flourishing city life. I am very grateful, that I could experience this conference meeting thanks to the help of the DAS Young Scientist Travel Award.  

I am currently conducting my PhD, in the Environmental Toxicology Department at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) at Dübendorf, Switzerland. The title of my PhD thesis is: “Barrier function of the fish gut – an in vitroinvestigation of physical and immunological properties” and I aim to defend by the end of this year. I am supervised by Prof. Kristin Schirmer and Dr. Anze Zupanic.

180926 HannahShug DASTravelAwardWinner2018