Lab Canada

Spectroscopy society’s Gerhard Herzberg Award won by Trent professor emeritus

Peterborough, ON – Dr Raymond E March, professor emeritus of chemistry at Trent University, has been selected by the Canadian Society for Analytical Sciences and Spectroscopy (CSASS) as the 2009 recipient of the society’s Gerhard Herzberg Award.

The award, which is given annually by CSASS to a Canadian spectroscopist in recognition of outstanding achievement in the science of spectroscopy, will be presented to Dr March during the 55th International Conference for Analytical Sciences and Spectroscopy, being held in Kingston this week.

“It was a wonderful surprise to learn of this award,” said Dr March. “The Gerhard Herzberg Award recognizes the accomplishments of all of my graduate students and post-doctoral fellows for their hard work and successful researches. Trent University is to be congratulated also for without the support of the university, its resources and staff, none of this would have been possible.”

Dr March has been a faculty member at Trent University since 1965 and has dedicated his academic career to the technical development and chemical applications of mass spectrometry. He has developed new techniques that can be used by the pharmaceutical industry to develop new drugs as well as in the detection of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs in athletes.

Although he retired from Trent University 10 years ago, as a professor emeritus of chemistry he continues to be active in research using mass spectrometry. One of his current projects involves partnering with the Ministry of Natural Resources to identify biomarkers in trees that have been infested by the damaging emerald ash borer beetle. He believes that when ash trees try to defend themselves against the beetles, their metabolism changes in such a manner as to produce defensive compounds that, alas, attract the beetles leading to more voracious attacks upon the trees. By determining what this process involves, he hopes that these attractants can be developed into a trap to protect forests from this scourge.

This project is leading to further work in the field of tree metabolomics. Along with colleagues Drs Stephen Rafferty and David Ellis and other researchers at Trent, Dr March is investigating the reactivity of liver fatty acid binding protein with, for example, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), that is used for rendering fabrics stain-free. PFOA is found not only in polar bears in the Arctic but in a large proportion of North Americans. Dr March is also continuing with his research into polyphenols (flavonoids and flavonoid glycosides) that occur widely in fruit and vegetables and are believed to be radical scavengers and have anticancer activities.

The Gerhard Herzberg Award is presented by the CSASS, which was founded in Ottawa in the early 1950s. CSASS has two major awards, the Gerhard Herzberg Award and the Smiths Detection Spectroscopy Award, for distinguished achievement in spectroscopy.