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Benchtop NMR Insights from Sarah Dimick Gray, Ph.D., Metropolitan State University
Interview conducted by Dean Antic, Senior NMR Applications Scientist at Thermo Fisher Scientific
An early adopter is defined as a person who uses a new technology or product before it becomes widely known or used. Here we highlight one of the very early adopters of benchtop NMR, Dr. Sarah Dimick Gray with Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, MN. In relative terms, Dr. Gray has been pioneering benchtop NMR applications in chemistry education for the past 2.5 years. Dr. Gray has also presented her benchtop NMR work at ACS conferences, and has been an enthusiastic advocate for the benefits of benchtop NMR in chemistry education. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Gray, and wanted to share these additional insights and perspective on how benchtop NMR is currently being utilized at Metropolitan State University.
Question: When did you first learn about benchtop NMR?
Dr. Gray: I was on a chemistry website in the spring of 2011 when an ad for picoSpin appeared. I don't click on many, but I did click on this one, and I found it fascinating!Then I was talking with colleagues at another institution and they were planning on obtaining one, and I felt I definitely needed to check this out.
Question: Prior to purchasing your benchtop NMR, were you doing any type of NMR spectroscopy?
Dr. Gray: Was it being integrated into our chemistry teaching curriculum? The only NMR that was being integrated prior to the picoSpin purchase at Metropolitan State was computer generated.
Question: What decision criteria did you have when you decided to acquire a benchtop NMR?
Dr. Gray: Price, space footprint, price, no gases required, price, durability/ease of use, and price.
Question: How is benchtop NMR currently being utilized/integrated into your chemistry curriculum?
Dr. Gray: We analyze several reactions during the course of organic chemistry labs to see if product is the desired; we do series of unknowns, and we are checking out additional liquid phase reactions to see if we can incorporate them into the organic chemistry curriculum.
Question: What are your initial impressions of benchtop NMR capabilities and impact on chemistry education?
Dr. Gray: I have been impressed by the picoSpin so far. The ease of use for sophomore-level students has been key for our program; and students really feel connected to the products they are making in lab. I think the picoSpin brings active learning to students who would not otherwise have access.
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Interview date: May 22, 2014