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BYU chemistry professor, undergraduates honored for academic papers

Brigham Young University chemistry and biochemistry professor Paul Farnsworth was recently awarded the 2006 Elsevier/Spectrochimica Acta Atomic Spectroscopy Award.

Farnsworth received the award for a series of three papers written with five co-authors on a process in spectrochemical analysis. Three of the authors — Jordan B. Olsen, Rebecca V. Nielson and Andrew A. Mills — are BYU undergraduates working with Farnsworth through BYU’s Mentored Learning Program.

Atomic spectroscopy is a method that tests for elements in substances and is broadly applied to materials testing and environmental monitoring.

The technique Farnsworth studies is exceptionally sensitive. “If you had an Olympic-size pool and you had a grain of salt that dissolved in it, you could still detect it,” he said.

During the analysis there is a difficult procedure where atoms are taken from high to low pressures. Farnsworth’s three papers focused on how to make this specific part of the process more consistent and efficient.

Spectrochimica Acta is an international publication with an emphasis on spectrochemical analysis.

Farnsworth was a visiting professor at the University of Utah in 2003 and was at the Joint Research Center in Ispra, Italy, from 1989-1990 and 1998-1999 as a visiting professor. Farnsworth earned his bachelor of science degree from BYU in 1977 and his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin in 1981.

His other awards include the Spectrochimica Acta Atomic Spectroscopy Award in 1998 and the Lester W. Strock Award in 2006.

Writer: David Luker

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