2022 Alumni Excellence Award goes to Dr. Dan Wiederin

November 15, 2022

Picture of Dan and the department chair and the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

(Pictured: Dr. William Jenks, Department Chair, Dr. Dan Wiederin, awardee, and Dr. Beate Schmittmann, Dean of the College of LAS)

The Department of Chemistry is thrilled to award its 2022 Alumni Award to Dr. Dan Wiederin.

Dan did summer research here at the DOE’s Ames Laboratory with Prof. Sam Houk in 1985, while he was a junior at Creighton University. He subsequently won a very prestigious Graduate Fellowship from the National Science Foundation, with which he took his talents to Iowa State to work with Prof. Houk. There, he conducted research on inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, which we call ICPMS.

This is a method for identifying and quantifying the elements and isotopes by converting them into atomic ions. The ions are generated in a high temperature electric discharge, then extracted into a mass spectrometer. Their identities and amounts are determined by sorting them by atomic mass and counting the number of each. This method is particularly useful for determining the quanitities of various trace elements, having applications such as determining lead levels in water or blood, determining the isotopic composition of elements such as Uranium, and determining trace impurities in high purity manufacturing such as for silicon wafers.

Dan devised ways to improve the efficiency of introducing samples in the the ICPMS instrumentation and got his PhD in 1991. After several years of working for other companies, he founded Elemental Scientific Inc, which is based in Omaha. Its principle focus is devices for sample preparation and introduction to ICPMS instruments. It is a key player in many industries that use ICP-MS, especially semiconductor preparation. ESI occupies a critical niche in the overall success of ICPMS, in that their products complement and extend the capabilities of what are otherwise large, complex instruments. They are an excellent example of how a relatively small company (~400 employees) can pack a big punch in the analytical instrumentation business.

Dan has continued his relationship with Iowa State chemistry by supporting the research of Prof. Houk and Dr. Alexander Gundlach-Graham through both collaboration and donation of high end research instrumentation.

Iowa State Chemistry and Iowa State University are proud to call Dan one of our own and we are proud to honor him in this way.