the BMSS education initiative

Education of the membership of BMSS is a key role of the society. Therefore, in 2004, the BMSS committee made the decision to focus more of its efforts in this specific area with the establishment of the BMSS Education Initiative.

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The BMSS Education Initiative

To support this initiative a new BMSS officer role, specific to education was also established, along with the formation of an education sub-committee within the BMSS committee. The Education Officers role is currently being filled by Cris Lapthorn and any queries relating to this area should be directed to: 

Dr Cris Lapthorn
Dr. Mark Barrow

A number of key areas within mass spectrometry education have been identified for attention. The main themes of the education initiative are:


BMSS Introduction to Mass Spectrometry Course


Summer Studentships


Funding of travel grants for conference attendance


Research Support Grant


The BMSS Lecturer


MS For Schools Talk


Best Practice for accurate mass measurement of small molecules


Best Practice for Generating Mass Spectra


BMSS on-line discussion forum


•  BMSS Introduction to Mass Spectrometry Course

The next BMSS Introduction to Mass Spectrometry Course will be held on the 4th and 5th September 2017 at the 38th BMSS Annual Meeting 2017 at the Royal Northern College Of Music, 124 Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9RD. The course will be followed by the Annual Meeting on the 5th-7th September 2017, more details are available here

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•  Summer Studentships 2018

Aimed at supporting small summer projects in Mass Spectrometry, the British Mass Spectrometry Society (BMSS) will typically fund approximately six projects, to a maximum value of £1500 per studentship. In addition the RSC Separation Science Group (SSG) and the Chromatographic Society (ChromSoc) will typically both each fund up to a further two projects, provided that they contain a strong separation focus. The RSC’s NorthWest Analytical Division (NWAD) hope to fund one studentship for those supervisors who qualify on geographical location grounds. Click here for further details.

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•  Funding of travel grants for conference attendance

This will continue to be a core activity of the BMSS and is a major benefit of membership to students. Click here for further details.

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•  Research Support Grants

Research Support Grants are no longer available. The BMSS Research Support Grant scheme was initiated in April 2012 with a 3 year mission to support small research endeavours including, but not exclusively::

  • Generating pump priming data for grant applications or research areas
  • Incoming or outgoing visits to initiate new MS-relevant collaborations/training (standard class travel, budget accommodation)
  • MS taster visits for new MS users (who must join the society)
  • Instrumentation (updates, repairs, add-ons, new developments of existing kit, etc)
  • Promotion of industry-academic collaborations

This successful scheme attracted 12 applications and funded 7 projects to an overall sum of £13.5k.

The funding scheme, reviewed by the BMSS committee in December 2015, was drawn to a close.

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•  The BMSS Lecturer:

The BMSS last appointed Professor John Langley (University of Southampton) as the BMSS Lecturer for 2016-2017 and expect to appoint a BMSS Lecturer in the future. 

John is a past chair of the British Mass Spectrometry Society and is currently Vice President of the International Mass Spectrometry Foundation and chair of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Separation Science Group. He has more than 30 years’ experience in the field.

The role of the lecturer is to promote mass spectrometry and the activities of the BMSS, to the wider scientific community. This will help develop a greater understanding of the power of mass spectrometry (MS) and hopefully generate a greater interest in the subject amongst researchers, students and the general public. This promotion of MS will be achieved by the presentation of a series of high impact, research based lectures, describing the lecturers particular field of MS research.

The BMSS Lecturer is requested to present a number of lectures. As the lectures are sponsored by BMSS, there will typically be no cost to the host institution. The lecturer will be sponsored to give up to 4-10 lectures per year in the UK. The final number will be dependent on demand and will be decided by mutual agreement. The lecturer, by agreement with the BMSS, will be sponsored when giving lectures at appropriate international conferences.

The list of lecture titles and abstracts were:

Predictive Science and Mass Spectrometry
We are in an era where large datasets are readily produced and through the use of data-mining tools meaningful datasets that correlates to something important can be determined.  This is not dissimilar to the combinatorial chemistry approach where the ethos was ‘if we make big enough haystacks we will find a needle’. Given our experience of the combichem revolution there is a need to reconsider this approach or tailor it with some front end knowledge and improved automated data analysis tools.

To deal with these large data, and more importantly to aid confidence in data assignment there needs to be an understanding many factors, including ionisation technique(s), mass spectrometer type, experiments used and how these factors can influence the mass spectral data.  Often this is a laborious, time-consuming manual process, requiring highly skilled analysts.  We already have some tools to aid accelerate this process.  Each approach has its place and there is knowledge overlap and also a knowledge gap between these two routes. The size of this gap can be significant.

The importance of the initial question and thought experiment cannot be underestimated. From that point prediction can begin, and may even start before the question is fully formed.

Different aspects of predictive science will be discussed, in relation to where this plays a role across different areas of analysis, mass spectrometry but particular to tandem mass spectrometry.  Ultimately the goal is to understand how we take ‘data to knowledge’ and ‘knowledge to information’ and improve confidence in any measurement or interpretation.

Supercritical fluid chromatography mass spectrometry – the final piece in the analyst’s toolbox?
The false dawns and promises of SFC have come and gone, now at last robust instrumentation has been delivered.  UPC2-MS is a platform that comfortably sits alongside LC-MS and GC-MS affording extended capability and complementarity for the analyst.  At Southampton Chemistry UPC2-MS delivers unique solutions across a broad range of application areas, e.g. synthetic organics, petrochemistry, lipids, nucleotides and many other areas.

This technology has been incorporated in to the open access facility in Chemistry at the University of Southampton and provides new approaches as well as complementing existing systems.  The breadth of chemistries, column phases and different ionisation approaches will be used as examples of the positive impact that UPC2-MS has and is making.

Biodiesel and the analytical challenge
The need for renewable fuels led to the introduction and use of biodiesel  The first generation biodiesels are based on fatty acid esters, typically methyl esters (FAMEs) in Europe and ethyl esters in Brazil. The various FAMEs are traceable to their different sources, i.e. plants, animals or used frying oils (UFOs).  The composition and stability of these materials are directly traceable to their source materials.

The presence of these materials in aviation fuels is limited (U.S. ASTM 1655 and DEF STAN 91-91) and monitored by GC-MS (IP 585/10). New biodiesel sources require new methods for analysis. The FAMEs are also inherently unstable and the analytics required to address identification of the these materials in different matrices and their age profile provides a perfect case study of how each stage of the analytical process is defined by the structural motif of the analytes.

This presentation will describe how different hyphenated approaches and ionisation techniques, together with the use of different analysers, are required to comprehensively address the analysis of these renewable fuels. The analytical approach needs to be assessed and aligned with the chemistry of the materials at each stage of analysis.

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•  MS For Schools Talk

A series of modules that can be used for mass spectrometry presentations for schools is available. These modules are readily available to any BMSS member who plans to provide mass spectrometry talks to schools in their area. The modules cover a number of applications of mass spectrometry and include forensics, food analysis, security, space exploration, pharmaceutical analysis and fuel analysis. It is hoped that such presentations will demonstrate to the students the incredible variety of interesting applications of mass spectrometry. A second benefit to the schools is that the students will be able to meet people who have made a career in chemistry.

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•  Best Practice for accurate mass measurement of small molecules

The Laboratory of the Government Chemist (LGC) have provided us with a guide to best practice for accurate mass measurement of small molecules, written in conjunction with the EPSRC National Mass Spectrometry Centre in Swansea.  This provides a complete methodology for general laboratory usage.

Click here to download the PDF file

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•  Best Practice for Generating Mass Spectra

The Laboratory of the Government Chemist (LGC) have provided us with a guide to best practice for Generating Mass Spectra, written in conjunction with the EPSRC National Mass Spectrometry Centre in Swansea, the University of Southampton and the University of Greenwich.  This provides a complete methodology for general laboratory usage.

Click here to download the PDF file

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•  BMSS on-line discussion forum:

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