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Researching Trace Metals in Rice
Priyanka Basnet

How can you tell if the food you're eating is as healthy as it appears?
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Science is not just information to learn; it is a process and way of thinking. The natural sciences form a set of theories, methods, and data for understanding the world in which we live.

Hampshire's School of Natural Science engages students deeply in interdisciplinary problem-solving, emphasizing real-world issues and often situating student research at the interfaces of the sciences, for instance, between chemistry and biology or environment.

Students at Hampshire take advantage of chemistry courses on this campus and throughout the consortium, studying various aspects of chemical sciences ranging from analytical chemistry, organic chemistry, and environmental chemical processes to biochemistry.

We have incorporated into our curriculum recent advances in analytical chemistry and offer one of the top liberal arts college chemical instrumentation laboratories, facilitating research in many interdisciplinary sciences including environmental science, biology, sustainable agriculture, geology, and many health science fields.

Affiliated Faculty

Student Project Titles

  • Bioimaging of Trace Metal Distribution in Rice Seeds (Oryza sativa L.) using LA-ICP-MS
  • Greening the Diels-Alder Reaction
  • Investigation of the adsorption of Antimony by nZVI and bimetallic Ag:nZVI Nanoparticles
  • Mapping trace metal distribution in Chinchorro mummy and Egyptian dental tissue: Toxicological and nutritional implications
  • Investigation of the Uptake and the Spatial Distribution of Nanotitania in Rice Plant Tissues
  • Investigation of sorption characteristics of antimony and trace metals by carbon nanotubes and nano- and micro-titania particles
  • Developing Small Molecule Catalysts for Aqueous Carbon-Carbon Bond Forming Reactions
  • Investigating Dynamic Hybridization Between Double-Complementary Oligonucleotides Through FRET
  • An Investigation of Antimony Adsorption by Zero-valent Iron Nanoparticles (nZVI) Carbon-Carbon bond formation using scCO2 as both solvent and reactant
  •  Catalysis of Aqueous Organic Reactions using an Organometallic Enzyme Mimic
  • Analysis of trace metals in ancient teeth and hair using laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS)
  • Toxic trace metals distribution in soil and humic acid molar mass fractions in a shooting range soil
  • Are Infants Protected from Maternal Zinc and Iron Deficiency?: An Assessment Based on Deciduous Tooth Chemistry
  • Distribution of antimony and the effect of humic acids on contaminated roadside soils
  • Lead and Arsenic Bound to Soil Humic Acids in a Contaminated Apple Orchard: A Chemical Speciation Study
  • Studies in Environmental Chemistry and Geology

Sample First-Year Course


Why are most grass and tree leaves green, carrots orange, and cornflowers blue? Why are blue jays blue, flamingos pink, and frogs green? And what about squid? Their color depends on their need to protect themselves--how does that work? How does an object we look at take on a color our brains tell us we are seeing? What does color have to do with nutrition? This course will start with chemical descriptions and experiments concerning color, and we will then have a series of guest lecturers to give the physicist's, biologists's, and psychologist's understandings of and perspectives on color. Animals and leaves that change color according to outside stimuli, the chemical and physiological basis for color vision, and the interaction between color, food, and mood are some of the specific topics we will explore.

Sample Courses at Hampshire
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Bioorganic Chemistry
  • Building a Greener Future
  • Chemistry I, II
  • Color
  • Drugs in the Nervous System
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Enzymes
  • Molecular Biology: How Genes Express Themselves
  • Neuro-psychopharmacology: Pills and Personality
  • Organic Chemistry I, II
  • Pesticide Alternatives
  • Physics and Chemistry of the Environment
  • Physical Organic Chemistry
  • Pollution and Our Environment
  • Research in Nutrition and Pollution
  • Biology and Chemistry of Fat
Through the Consortium
  • Advanced Inorganic Chemistry (MHC)
  • Advanced Organic Chemistry (UMass)
  • Bioanalytical Chemistry (UMass)
  • Chemical Thermodynamics (MHC)
  • Fundamental Principles of Chemistry (AC)
  • Molecules, Genes & Cells (AC)
  • Physical Chemistry (SC)
  • Quantum Chemistry (AC)
  • Topics in Biochemistry (SC)

Facilities and Resources

Laboratories and Equipment
Hampshire's advanced chemical instrumentation laboratories are among the finest of any liberal arts college and are open and available to all students. Lab equipment includes a state-of -the-art laser ablation-inductively coupled mass spectrometer (LA-ICP-MS), an inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectrometer (ICP-AES), NMR spectrometer, a gas chromatography-mass spectrometer (GC-MS), a high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), ion chromatography (IC) equipment, and a Fourier transfer infrared spectrometer (FTIR), UV-Visible spectrometer, and much more.

Grants and Examples of Research Opportunities
Grants to support research, teaching, and instrumentation have been awarded by the National Science Foundation, Pittsburgh Conference Memorial College Grant Program, Society for Analytical Chemists in Pittsburgh, Kresge Foundation, Sherman Fairchild Foundation, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Professor Rayane Moreira conducts "green" chemistry research in collaboration with students, supported by a Cottrell College Science Award. A Laser Ablation System to advance micro spatial trace element research, and research training for students across fields, was acquired through a National Science Foundation grant to Professor Dula Amarasiriwardena.

Peer-Reviewed Publications by Natural Science Students
A number of students have published work based in their Division III (senior) and summer research projects, working with faculty mentors, in peer-reviewed chemistry journals and other publications.

Five College Consortium Resources
Students have access to a variety of advanced chemistry courses, seminars, and talks through the Five College consortium. Every year the Five College chemistry lecture series brings a renowned chemist to give a series of talks at the five colleges. Students have access to a large collection of journals and texts through the Five College Library System and the various programs in the Five Colleges.

The Institute for Science and Interdisciplinary Studies (ISIS) works to reconnect scientists with communities so that research is developed collaboratively to address such complex and pressing problems as environmental degradation and toxic and nuclear waste disposal. With programs combining technical assistance, coalition building, education, and original research and writing on the foundations of knowledge, ISIS is developing a new way of doing science that is open, self-reflexive, democratic, and socially responsible.

Researching Trace Metals in Rice
Priyanka Basnet

How can you tell if the food you're eating is as healthy as it appears?
Read more »

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Recent News in Chemistry

Appa Salvi

Appa Salvi 13S recently completed an internship at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, and credits his Hampshire faculty advisors for helping him secure that position.

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