LSU Research Team Awarded $1.4 Million Equipment Grant from the National Science Foundation


BATON ROUGE—A team from the Louisiana State University Superfund Research Program (LSU SRP), along with colleagues at the LSU AgCenter and Pennington Biomedical Research Center, have been awarded a $1.4 million grant through the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) program.

The grant will enable the purchase of a state-of-the-art high-frequency electron paramagnetic resonance (HF-EPR) spectrometer for the main LSU campus. EPR spectroscopy allows scientists to study the structure of compounds that contain unpaired electrons. These “paramagnetic” compounds have critical functions in living organisms and the environment. They include open-shell molecules such as free radicals and transition metals. The new instrument will have electron-nuclear double-resonance capabilities (ENDOR) and operate at a frequency above 250 gigahertz (Ghz). These features result in improved sensitivity and increased resolution, allowing researchers to gain more detailed information about the structure of molecules.  

Several ongoing research projects will immediately benefit from the new instrument, including research to understand changes in mitochondrial function in diseases; photosystem II operation and development of man-made photosynthesis systems; conversion of biomass into valuable products; engineering of better polymers; development of new bioimaging molecules; and understanding the origin and fate of many environmental pollutants.

“This instrument is a cutting-edge tool that—so far—has not been available to U.S. scientists,” said Slawo Lomnicki, associate professor of environmental science and leader of the LSU SRP’s Project 4. “It will be the first commercial, turn-key EPR instrument of its kind in the nation, and the only HF instrument with ENDOR capabilities. We anticipate great interest from scientists across the country in collaborating with us at LSU to make use of this tool.”

Phil Sprunger, professor of physics and leader of the LSU SRP’s Project 5, is equally enthusiastic about the new instrument:

“It will allow us to peer into environmentally hazardous systems with unprecedented precision to elucidate fundamental physical properties and ultimately help guide and develop strategies of remediation,” he said.

This is one of three NSF MRI grants LSU has received in the past two years. In 2020, a team of researchers in the LSU College of Science received $1.3 million to purchase a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer while another team, led by researchers in the LSU College of Engineering and the LSU College of Science, was awarded $665,000 for a near-field optical microscope.

“These high-profile instrumentation grants add completely new dimensions to our research capabilities here at LSU and across the region,” said LSU Vice President of Research & Economic Development Samuel J. Bentley. “Importantly, these state-of-the-art instruments help train a new generation of scientists as leaders in their respective fields.”

The LSU research team that helped secure the new spectrometer includes Slawo Lomnicki (LSU Department of Environmental Sciences); Phillip Sprunger (LSU Department of Physics); Dorin Boldor (LSU AgCenter, LSU Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering); Lavrent Khachatryan (LSU Department of Chemistry); and Krisztian Stadler (Pennington Biomedical Research Center).


Related Stories:

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LSU Faculty Awarded NSF Major Research Instrumentation Grant: Near-Field Optical Microscope Will be One of Only Three of its Kind

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Jen Irving

LSU Superfund Research Program


Elsa Hahne

LSU Office of Research & Economic Development