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Research Interests - Dr. Graham F. Peaslee

My research group spans several disciplines that can be broadly defined by nuclear and environmental chemistry. My students and I use sophisticated research tools to study questions such as the extent of halogenated chemical contamination in the environment, or to develop methods for harvesting previously unused radioisotopes from high-energy accelerator facilities. We use the Hope College Ion Beam Analysis Laboratory to perform quantitative elemental analysis on solid, liquid and even aerosol particulate samples. Particle Induced X-ray Emission (PIXE) spectroscopy is ideal for multi-element detection of heavy metals in the environment, and we have developed a technique to measure halogenated flame retardant chemicals in polyurethane foam found in consumer products. We are also working on a new method using Particle Induced Gamma-ray Emission (PIGE) spectroscopy to identify the presence of perfluorinated chemicals in consumer products. Both of these topics lie at the intersection of analytical science and science policy that affects public health. Our nuclear chemistry efforts include devising a method to harvest “orphan” radioisotopes that will be produced by the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB), when it comes online in 2020 at MSU. Many of the applications for these radioisotopes involve nuclear medicine, stockpile stewardship and environmental tracers. My research students help design environmental research questions to address, prepare samples for analysis and then perform the measurements and the subsequent data analysis. Students are also involved in preparing the results for publication, disseminating results at national conferences regularly and co-authoring peer-reviewed journal publications.