Skip to main content

Westminster College Welcomes State-of-the-Art Science Equipment to Campus

Share on:

Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2016

This semester, Westminster College welcomed a micro-volume spectrophotometer to campus through a grant, enhancing biological and chemical teaching and research for over 250 students.

The Pittsburgh Conference Memorial National College Grant (PCMNCG), awarded by the Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh (SACP) to support science education, provided Westminster College with a gift of $10,000.

“The spectrophotometer only arrived on campus less than two weeks ago, however, since that time, many students have used it to quantify the amount of DNA, RNA, or proteins in a sample for their research projects,” said Dr. Pete Smith, professor and chair for the division of biological, chemical, and environmental sciences. “The aspect of the micro-volume spectrophotometer that is most beneficial to our students is that it only requires one microliter of sample – about 50 times smaller than a typical drop of water.”

“Before we had the micro-volume spectrophotometer, students and faculty would create a sample of DNA, RNA, or protein in solution and would then have to sacrifice a large portion if the sample for initial analysis. This new instrument allows our students and faculty to measure the concentrations of biological molecules in their samples without having to sacrifice any of the sample.”

The grant, entitled "Many Measuring the Minute: How a Micro-volume Spectrophotometer will Enhance Biological and Chemical Education at Westminster College,” was authored collaboratively by several Westminster College faculty members:

  • Dr. Matt Baker, assistant professor of chemistry and chair for materials science
  • Dr. Joshua Corrette‐Bennett, associate professor of biology
  • Dr. Sarah Kennedy, associate professor of chemistry and chair for biochemistry
  • Dr. Diana Ortiz, assistant professor of biology
  • Dr. Erin Wilson, associate professor of chemistry

The total number of Westminster College students using the spectrophotometer is over 20% of Westminster College’s total student population.

For more information about the award, contact Smith at or (724) 946-7299.