Professor of Chemistry
Professor Amarasiriwardena regularly teaches analytical chemistry, environmental chemistry and general chemistry. His research interests include topics in chemistry, environmental pollution, water quality, inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry, studies of trace metal analysis, toxic wastes, radon monitoring, pesticide residues, soil and environmental chemistry. This includes chemical speciation of arsenic and antimony and characterization of trace metals bound to soil-derived humic acids by size exclusion chromatography (SEC) or ion chromatography (IC) coupled with inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). He is also interested in the application of laser ablation (LA)-ICP-MS for investigation of past trace metal nutrition and the exposure to toxic metal pollutants using tissues such as human teeth and hair. He serves on the editorial boards of Environmental Pollution and Microchemical Journal. Professor Amarasiriwardena is a member of American Chemical Society, and Sigma Xi Honorary Research Society, and he served as the Chair of the Society for Applied Spectroscopy – New England Section. He has received grants from the National Science Foundation and the Pittsburgh Conference. Dula received the Gruber Award for Excellence in Students Advising at Hampshire College in 2014. He served as a Fulbright Specialist at the University of Concepción and University of Tarapaca in Chile. Professsor Amarasiriwardena is interested in chemical education, environmental issues in developing nations, and in activism in environmental groups through lobbying and education.
Hear Professor Amarasiriwardena on the Academic Minute Audio Stream– WAMC Channel, Albany, NY.
This is a continuation of Chemistry I: the principles and concepts examined during the previous term will be expanded and applied to more sophisticated systems. Topics will include chemical thermodynamics, nuclear chemistry, chemical equilibrium, acid-base equilibria and their applications, complex ion equilibria, and solubility, oxidation-reduction reactions, electrochemistry, and reaction rates. We will also emphasize application of those chemical principles to environmental, biological, industrial and day-to-day real-life situations. Problem sets will be assigned throughout the semester. The laboratory will consist of two project-based labs and some laboratory exercises. Basic laboratory skills, chemical instrumentation techniques, and the use of computers in the chemistry laboratory will be emphasized. Prerequisite: Successful completion of Chemistry I and its laboratory or instructor permission.
In this course we will learn the fundamental chemical concepts of composition and stoichiometry, properties of matter, the gas laws, atomic structure, bonding and molecular structure, chemical reactions, and energy changes in chemical reactions. Considerable time will be devoted to learning the use of the periodic table as a way of predicting the chemical properties of elements. We will also emphasize application of those chemical principles to environmental, biological, industrial and day-to-day life situations. No previous background in chemistry is necessary but a working knowledge of algebra is essential, both because students will be expected to develop skill in solving a variety of numerical problems and because it is essential for understanding some of the subject matter. In the laboratory, basic skills, techniques of qualitative and quantitative analysis, and use of modern chemical instrumentation will be emphasized. We will also do two project-based labs, learn to understand the scientific methodology, and learn how to write scientific research reports. Chemistry I is the first term of a two-term course in general chemistry.
Environmental Chemistry: This course will explore several current environmental topics with strong components in chemistry. We will put special emphasis on environmental concerns in the hydrosphere, soils, and atmosphere. Topics will include chemistry of natural waters, water pollution and wastewater treatment, toxic heavy metals and their complexation properties in soils, and inorganic and organic pollutants in the atmosphere. We will also examine energy use and its environmental consequences. Considerable time will be spent on learning environmental chemical analysis methods and instrumentation in environmental monitoring. These include inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) in trace metal analysis, infrared techniques in characterization of pollutants, chromatographic methods for separation and identification of contaminants. We will also look at sampling and sample preparation methods, the principles behind the operation of analytical instruments, and elemental speciation techniques used in environmental sample analysis. This class is particularly recommended for advanced Division II and III students with interests in environmental issues. We will conduct a discovery project of local environmental interest. Class will run in seminar format. Participation in class, satisfactory work on problem sets, oral presentations on topics of environmental interest, successful completion of laboratory/field work, and project reports are required for evaluation. Prerequisites: Chemistry I and II. Instructor permission required.