Long time no see! I went to Philadelphia the PittCon2019 last week, and presented some of our work as an invited speaker (thanks to Dr. Imma Ferrer of CU Boulder). This is my first time at PittCon, and it’s a great experience. I have met some friends, and got to know some new people (some I have heard for a long time). Here are some photos and thoughts that I want to share:



  • One of my strong feeling is that I am still an environmental chemist instead of analytical chemist, although I have been trained well to have the skillset: the interests in environmental pollution is the major drive. I only have the enthusiasm for some specific goals.
  • Regulatory and governmental agencies are getting into the HRMS based non-target field (EPA, FDA, NIST).
  • For HRMS based studies, industry (at least pharma) is far behind environmental analysis, in terms of tools and understanding.
  • The big markets are biopharma, clinical, etc. Environmental is indeed a small industry, or you can say, we are against industry.
  • Portable instruments: there are already portable mass spectrometer weighs about 20 lbs, and seems the most needs are in clinical side. I wonder what would be the best use for these in environmental science? In addition, there’s a benchtop NMR which I found interesting. It was said to use NdFeB magnet so that it could be made very small.
  • Small gadgets can be useful, if they are accurate enough (magnetic stir bar reporting temp and rotation speed, blue tooth pH meters)
  • Automation is also going on in this field… but seems slow (if really started from 90s, why still not widespread)
  • Seems the presentations from academia and government agencies are more interesting than the industrial ones (you cannot have money and fun at the same time, I guess)
  • I would buy a orbitrap ID-X if I am a PI with enough money


Since my wife is in NYC, we have the chance to reunite at Philadelphia. We have visited several historical places of Philly, and I went to see the famous Rocky Barboa statue. As my wife is going to start her computer science online program in UPenn, we also visited UPenn and Drexel. In general, Philadelphia feels like a great city.

08.15 ENTACT workshop

Two weeks ago (August 13-15), I spent three days at the RTP campus of USEPA, participating the ENTACT workshop. ENTACT (EPA’s Non-Targeted Analysis Collaborative Trial) is an inter-laboratory project that aims to evaluate the ability of non-targeted analysis methods to consistently and correctly identify unknown chemicals in samples. The participating labs need to identify compounds from blind mixtures/samples, and the scientists from EPA know the answers because they made the mixtures/samples.
Our lab at the Center for Urban Waters is one of the participants, and I am glad that I was able to the ENTACT workshop held at the Research Triangle Park. Yes, I was also going back to see my advisor, professors, and friends back in UNC. I appreciate this opportunity. More importantly, I can see some current trends and development in the field of suspect/non-target screening, and to some extent, we agree there are still many challenges in this field. For example, are we comprehensive enough in non-target screening? What are the things that we cannot detect, and why? Does the quantitative capability matters? To what extent could we make the identification automatic? Discussing these questions with intelligent scientists is great.
Again, thanks to the organizers at EPA and all the participants! I learned a lot!

4.29 The forgotten Tacoma Half Marathon

I received an email on Wednesday, reminding me of picking up my bib for the Tacoma City Marathon/Half marathon on this weekend. I was totally shocked, as I completely forgot the date of this race although I know I registered for it. I have not systematically trained since moving to Tacoma, therefore it will be hard! In Chinese, we will call this “naked run”, as if you did not prepare for your exam, you will be taking a “naked exam”. But since the registration fee is not cheap and I just need to finish, it will be fine.

Then I did it today, not a good result but not too bad. The medal looks really good!


Last week, I attended the 255th ACS National meeting at New Orleans, and presented part of my PhD work. Thanks to my PhD advisor at UNC my current advisors at UW!

Although not my first time at ACS, it was still exciting for young scientists like me. I have learned from many exciting presentations, especially the HRMS symposium and the CEC symposium. I always wish to spend some more time in other divisions like analytical chemistry or chemoinformatics, but the schedule was tight.

Except for the good science, I have met great people. Old friends for sure, and some new faces came with exciting talents. I talked with great environmental scientists, and my advisor also introduced me to some famous professors. I really appreciate their suggestions and insights!

At the YCC 5K FunRun, I met my twitter friend Linda Wang, who work for C&EN. The most exciting experience was that I met Dr. Emma Schymanski, who is the author of the famous “Schymanski Criteria” that widely used in the field of non-target and suspect screening.



After the meeting, I spent some more time at New Orleans with my generous wife. We visited a historical plantation, and enjoyed some good local food. I like gumbo!

3.1 Bioswale!

As there was some decent rain this week (actually every week), our collaborators collected the road runoff, and we treated it with the bioswale!

The basic concept is that when toxic stormwater run through the compost and grass in bioswale, the toxic compounds that could kill coho salmon would be removed. Let’s see some photos.

Credit to Kathy, Ben, Emma, and Cathy!