Dr. David Schrum

Capillary Electrophoresis Projects

I am interested in two different areas of research involving capillary electrophoresis (CE).

I am using CE as a means of evaluating documents that could be obtained from a crime scene that may have been written with a fountain pen. Many of the pigments contained in fountain ink pens can be separated and detected by CE.

What is of interest to the forensic scientist would be if fountain ink pens from several manufacturers could be analyzed by CE to see if a characteristic separation profile for each ink could be identified. Documents obtained at a crime scene could then be analyzed by CE, to determine what kind of pen the suspect at the scene of the crime may have used.

My second CE research project involves applying covalent coatings to the inside of the fused silica capillaries. I will be covalently attaching ion-exchange ligands to the capillary surface.

The first part of this project involves trying to characterize these newly created surfaces by determining how the flow rate has changed using neutral markers. Next, newly coated capillaries will be used to separate model peptide systems initially and then ultimately protein species.

Desert Restoration Project

My second area of research is a collaborative project with Jim Blauth, from Biology. We are conducting a desert restoration project in the Cottonwood Wash area of Joshua Tree National Park.

The goal of our project is to restore a disturbed section of this wash back to what it might have looked like before the disturbance. One aspect of this project involves studying the symbiotic relationship between a certain type of bacteria found in desert soils (Rhizobia) and a species of woody plants, called legumes.

Desert soils are extremely lacking in many essential nutrients that the legumes require to survive. We are interested in trying to determine the best Rhizobia/Woody legume combination that we might use to jumpstart our restoration efforts.

A second aspect of this project deals with trying to characterize the chemical and physical properties of the soil found in both sites of our research area, as well as if there are significant differences between them.