I Got Nothing

Week 4 NEWT RET Tom Geiss


Title: I Got Nothing

This week’s title “I Got Nothing” has a double meaning. On one hand, I couldn’t think of a catchy title that refers to what I am doing in the lab. On the other hand, it refers to the fact that I gots no data from our experiment regarding the adsorption of arsenic by composite nanomaterials vs a zinc ZIF. I know I promised you guys some real Rick and Morty stuff this week. I was going to wow you guys with a story about how we were going to gather data from our experiment using a ICP-MS that would tell us how our nanomaterials had adsorbed arsenic from our NEWT fresh water media.


Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry or ICP-MS is an analytical technique used for elemental determinations. I could go into to detail about how “An ICP-MS combines a high- temperature ICP (Inductively Coupled Plasma) source with a mass spectrometer. The ICP source converts the atoms of the elements in the sample to ions. These ions are then separated and detected by the mass spectrometer.”1However for the sake of brevity and for understanding by my target audience, I would say that the ICP-MS is like the sorting hat at Hogwarts. Its freaking magic that muggles would struggle to comprehend.

The advantage of the ICP MS compared to other types of elemental analysis is that it can detect concentrations of matter at the really low end of the spectrum. A typical ICP-MS device can detect concentrations as low as 1 in 1015.

So, we were all set to take the samples from our adsorption experiment to the ICP-MS in the chemistry lab at UTEP. Unfortunately, this is a complicated device and can only be run by one person here at UTEP and that person is in Europe until August. To make matters worse, on the same day, I found out that there is no Taco Tuesday at the Pick and Shovel (our version of the Servery for you Rice NEWTS). I was inconsolable to say the least.

With a poster deadline looming Mariana Marcos my mentor pulled a rabbit out of her hat and shipped our samples to ASU where a really nice NEWT person named Ariel will run the tests on Monday and email the results to us just before my rough draft of the poster is due on the 13th.


Accurate vs Precise

I don’t know about you guys but the abstract due on Friday was way harder than I thought it would be. Here is what I leaned. When writing for a scientific publication you can’t just pull stuff out of your ass like we do during the school year for our principals who do not have a scientific background. My principal wouldn’t know a GMO from a solar eclipse and let’s keep it that way.

I finished my rough draft and sent it to Mariana Marcos, my mentor, for analysis. When reviewing it with her I realized that you really have to focus on stating precisely what you have learned from your research in the lab as well as what you have learned from your scholarly readings. Simply put, the hardest 250 words I have ever written.

Well, thanks for reading. See you next week

  1. Ruth E. Wolf, Ph.D., Research Chemist, USGS/CR/CICT, March 2005

2 thoughts on “I Got Nothing”

  1. I agree! I enjoyed the field trip as well – even if we didn’t get to see the outside part of the treatment facility. Definitely taking notes on getting my students to a field trip there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *