In response to the rapid growth of its first-in-the-nation medicinal plant chemistry program, Northern Michigan University has established an academic partnership with Shimadzu Scientific Instruments Inc. The collaboration includes an in-kind donation to equip a new chemistry laboratory, a framework for research collaborations and internship opportunities for students.
NMU is converting West Science Hall space into a cutting-edge analytical core laboratory, scheduled to open this fall. NMU recently entered into an academic partnership agreement through the Shimadzu Partnership for Academics, Research, and Quality of Life (“SPARQ”) Program, which provided an in-kind donation of instrumentation for the laboratory valued at nearly $851,000.
“We have a longstanding relationship with Shimadzu that has benefited students and faculty, and we are excited about the opportunities this new partnership will allow,” said Mark Paulsen, head of the NMU Department of Chemistry. “Students and faculty from all of our undergraduate programs will benefit from access to state-of-the-art instrumentation and the experience and technical support that the Shimadzu team will bring to the partnership. This is especially true of our new Medicinal Plant Chemistry program. Shimadzu has established itself as a leader in this area and our program has also become a leader in this emerging field.”
The Shimadzu laboratory is one of three rooms that will occupy the 3,800 square feet of converted space. It will feature gas and liquid chromatography equipment used to separate chemical compounds and determine how much of each chemical is present in a sample. NMU will also acquire mass spectrometers, which are used to identify a chemical compound in a sample based on the mass of a molecule, and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometers (ICP/MS).
The ICP/MS instruments are used in trace metal analysis, Paulsen added. NMU students and faculty will be able to do environmental studies such as lead levels in water or safety studies like checking for pesticides in medicinal or food samples made from plants. They can also do forensic studies to identify and measure the amount of a particular drug in a sample, as would be done in a crime lab. The instrumentation laboratory will be used by students in the capstone course, as well as by students and faculty engaged in a wide range of research projects.
“This partnership is reflective of a shared mission between Northern and Shimadzu to invest in innovation and contribute to society through science and technology,” said David Nyberg, director of corporate engagement at NMU. “In addition to a world-class environment for instruction and research, chemistry students will have the unique opportunity to collaborate with leading scientists and a premier scientific company, including opportunities for internships and career exploration. We are grateful to Shimadzu's excellent professional team for recognizing Northern as a premier academic leader in plant chemistry and look forward to the opportunities that this partnership provides for students and scholarship in the years to come.”
“Shimadzu Scientific Instruments is delighted to partner with NMU's Medicinal Plant Chemistry Program,” said Patrick Fromal, Vice President of Sales at Shimadzu Scientific Instruments, Inc. “NMU is at the leading edge of an emerging, dynamic area of medical science and research and the opportunity to partner with these types of forward looking education programs is part of Shimadzu's core value of serving science and the community. The students in this program will now have access to the same level and quality of analytical instrumentation that they will encounter in commercial, academic and medical research labs post-graduation. This partnership is a great fit; Shimadzu has been at the analytical forefront of medicinal plant chemistry and we are very excited to be partnering with another pioneer in this developing scientific field.”
A dedication ceremony for the laboratory is being planned in collaboration with Shimadzu for the beginning of the fall semester. Details will be announced at a later date.