Lake Superior State University
Lake Superior State University
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Alum Success

Ben Mitchell

Ben Mitchell
Mechanical Engineering '06

Ben Mitchell grew up in a devout household in the central Upper Peninsula of Michigan where emphasis was placed on helping others. He traveled with his father to places such as Kenya and Peru on short-term medical missions. When he was in Kenya, a missionary explained that engineers have the greatest potential to influence the largest number of people. During high school, Ben participated in a youth mission trip to Tijuana. A result of the mission trips, his family decided to adopt three Vietnamese children when he was a junior.

All of these experiences had a great influence on Ben’s outlook on life. He decided to major in mechanical engineering and enrolled at Lake Superior State University. Near the end of his senior year, he decided to volunteer for the Peace Corps to help others.

His two-year commitment began in the fall of 2007 and took Ben to Burkina Faso in western Africa. He resides in the village of Tansila, population 3,000, approximately 10 km from the Mali border. His host organization is the local cotton growers union. It works cooperatively with other villages to improve and expand their production techniques. He serves as an agribusiness advisor as a part of the Small Enterprise Development program which helps create market linkages and assists with the advancement of business skills.

Chemical Instrumentation

The Departments of Chemistry & Environmental Science maintain a full compliment of modern chemical instruments.  Our undergraduate students and faculty use these instruments both in their laboratory experiences and to support their research. 

Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS) & Class 100 Clean Room

Trace analysis of heavy metals in environmental samples, elemental analysis of trace evidence

Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GC-MS) with Purge and Trap Sample Introduction System

Trace analysis of volatile and semi-volatile analytes, forensic toxicology, arson investigation, analysis of pesticides and persistant organic pollutants

High Performance Liquid Chromatograph (HPLC) with PDA & Fluorescence Detectors

Trace analysis of non-volatile analytes, drug & steroid metabolites, purification of complex mixtures, cyanotoxins in natural waters

Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GC-MS)

Analysis of volatile and semi-volatile analytes, characterization of organic molecules


Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer (NMR)

Structural determination of organic molecules


Graphite Furnace/Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer (GF/FAAS)

Major Ion and heavy metal quantification in aqueous samples

Automated Discrete Colorimeteric Analyzer

Automated colorimetric determination of ions and nutrients for water quality and soil science applications

AQ 1

Fourier Transform- Infrared Spectrometer (FT-IR) with ATR Accessory

Structural determination and identification of functional groups in organic molecules, identification of unknown organic substances

Fourier Transform - Infrared Spectrometer (FT-IR)

Structural determination and identification of functional groups in organic molecules, identification of unknown organic substances


Double Beam UV-Visible Spectrophotometer

Quantification and characterization of organic and inorganic chromophores, trace environmental analysis

Microvolume Diode Array UV-Visible Spectrophotometer

Quantification of DNA, RNA, and protein content of samples as small as one microliter in volume. Simultaneous measurement of absorption spectra from 220-800 nm.

Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction Fluorescence Spectrophotometer (q-PCR)

Amplification and quantification of DNA and RNA, quantification of environmental pathogens, rapid detection of DNA

Thermocycler for Polymerase Chain Reaction

Amplification of DNA and RNA for separation by gel electrophoresis


Scanning Electron Microscope with Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (SEM-EDS)

High magnification imaging and elemental composition analysis of vacuum stable samples

UV-Visible & Fluorescence Microplate Reader

Automated biochemical assay of up to 96 samples, screening of environmental contaminants


Fluorescence Microplate Reader

Automated biochemical assay of up to 96 samples, screening of environmental contaminants


Gas Chromatograph with Flame Ionization Detector (GC-FID)

Separation and quantification of volatile organic mixtures, quantification of hydrocarbons in environmental samples, analysis of accelerants in arson investigations


Gas Chromatographs with Thermal Conductivity & Flame Ionization Detectors (GC-TCD/FID)

Separation and quantification of volatile organic mixtures, analysis of accelerants in arson investigations, analysis of inorganic gas mixtures, hydrogen carrier gas method development

Ion Chromatograph with Conductivity Detector (IC)

Separation and determination of anions in aqueous samples

Portable Vis-NIR Diode Array Spectrophotometer

Measuerment of Visible-Near Infrared (350-1000nm) absorption or emissions using a fiber optic probe. Portablity permits easy relocation and application to a variety of experiments.

Polarized Light Microscope with CCD Camera (shared with Geology)

Imaging and examination of trace evidence, mineralogy & petrology


Facilities and Equipment


Class 100 Clean Room

Contamination free laboratory for sample analysis and manipulation.

Research Fume Hoods

Dedicated synthetic space for student/faculty research. Hoods are equipped with Schlenk Lines (vacuum & inert gas, etc.) for preparation and handling of air sensitive molecules.


Soxhlet Extractors

Extraction of organic compounds from solid sample matrices.

Rotary Evaporators (2)

Removal of excess solvents from samples


Level II Biohazard Facility

Contamination free manipulation of Level I & II biohazardous materials

HEPA Filtered DNA Prep Hood

Contamination free DNA sample preparation

HEPA Filtered Trace Metal Prep Hood

Contamination free sample preparation for trace metal analysis



Mass determination of sub-milligram samples


Microwave Digester

Microwave assisted digestion of solid sample matrices


Automated Block Digester

Thermal decomposition of multiple solid sample matrices


Sputter Coater

Vacuum sputter coater with Au and Au/Pd cathodes for coating SEM samples


Lyophilisation (freeze-drying) of solid and liquid samples


High Capacity Centrifuge

High capacity refridgerated centrifuge with rotors accomodating up to 250 ml sample volumes


Additional Equipment Available in Other Departments:

  • Bomb Calorimetry (Biology)
  • Ultra-Low (-80ºC) Freezer (Biology)
  • Fluorescence Microscopy (Biology)
  • DNA Sequencing (Biology)
  • Cold Rooms (Biology)
  • Machine Shop & Material Testing (Engineering)
  • Grinding and Polishing (Geology)


Last Updated: 2/15/14

Majoring in Sociology...

Carrie McBride

Carrie McBride
Caro, MI

I love the small tight-knit community on campus.You always see someone you know while walking to class.Your professors know you on a first name basis. [ more ]

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