LSSU Leads Research Consortium and Establishes MASC Lab

Contact: Sheridan Worth, Director of Marketing at Lake Superior State University, , 906-635-2689 

Professors Benjamin Southwell (Chemistry) and Derek Wright (Environmental Science) analyze sample on the μXRF


(Sault Ste. Marie, MI) – Lake Superior State University (LSSU) is pleased to declare the successful installation of a cutting-edge Micro X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometer. This achievement, made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), has established the university as the primary institution within a research consortium in the Upper Midwest. 

The instrument will be a key component of the newly established Micro Analysis and Spectroscopic Characterization (MASC) Lab. An open house, open to the public, will be held from 12-4pm on Friday February 2, 2024 in Crawford Hall 105. 

Dr. Mark R. Zierden, the Principal Investigator (PI) for the grant, expressed enthusiasm about the multifaceted impact of this development. “This grant not only enhances our research capabilities but also establishes Lake Superior State University as the lead institution of a research consortium and underscores our commitment to collaborative scientific exploration in the region.” 

“The Micro X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometer, housed within the MASC Lab, will serve as a powerful analytical tool for researchers at LSSU and consortium partners. The MASC Lab, dedicated to microanalysis and spectroscopic characterization, will facilitate interdisciplinary studies, material characterization, studies on plant uptake of nutrients and heavy metals, elemental analysis of geologic specimens, and paleoclimate studies, fostering a collaborative and innovative research environment,” said Dr. Derek D. Wright, MASC Lab Facility Coordinator. 

Dr. Steven C. Johnson, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at LSSU commented, “The MASC Lab will be a hub for cutting-edge research, providing our students and faculty with the resources to delve into the microscopic world of materials. It represents a significant step forward in our commitment to advancing scientific knowledge and fostering collaboration across disciplines.” 

“Under the leadership of Dean Johnson, faculty of the College of Arts & Sciences have dramatically increased their research activity, raising nearly $5 million of external research funding over the past five years. Lake Superior State University’s leadership in the research consortium, coupled with the establishment of the MASC Lab, solidifies the university’s position as a regional leader in scientific research and innovation. The MASC Lab will not only benefit the university community but also provide a platform for collaborative projects that extend beyond LSSU’s campus,” said LSSU Interim President, Dr. Lynn Gillette. 

For more information on using the MASC Lab, please contact the MASC Lab at or visit our website at: