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Life is complex, diverse and thoroughly mixed! Analytical chemists develop ways to identify and quantify specific chemical components (analytes) and apply them to analyze sample mixtures. This philosophy of “analysis” implies that a deeper understanding of “real” complex phenomena can be realized by reducing samples into simpler measurable components.

Through qualitative “What is it?” and quantitative “How much is it?” inquiry, analytical chemists can promote understanding of the relationship of specific analyte(s) to the properties of the sample as a whole.

Analytical chemistry is an exciting inter-disciplinary field that is applied in many emerging areas of science including environmental chemistry, biochemistry, astrochemistry, pharmaceutical science, forensics, clinical chemistry and biomedical sciences.

  • html Brennan, John D.
    (Bioanalytical chemistry; fluorescence spectroscopy; biosensors)
  • html Britz-McKibbin, Philip
    (Bioanalytical chemistry; separation science; metabolomics; cellulomics)


Analytical & Environmental Division:

The analytical chemists at McMaster are interested in developing improved methods of instrumental analysis for biological and environmental samples based on chromatography, electrophoresis, mass spectrometry and optical spectroscopy. These powerful techniques can be applied not only to identify and quantify low levels of analytes (e.g., metals, metabolites, protein, DNA, bacteria) in either gas or liquid phase, but also used to study fundamental analyte properties or reactivity (gas-ion phase chemistry) and their interaction with other species (protein-drug). Organic, inorganic and polymer chemistry also play vital roles in analytical chemistry, such as the development of new techniques to bind protein to sol-gels or label metabolites with fluorescent tags. Hyphenated instrumental techniques are often used by analytical chemists to probe complex mixtures of chemicals in real samples. For instance, GC-MS was used in conjunction with bio-assays to assess the environmental impact of the burning of millions of tires in Hagersville, Ontario. The department has outstanding computational and instrumental facilities for performing analytical chemistry, including the McMaster Regional Centre for Mass Spectrometry, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Laboratory and the Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research. McMaster University has other strong departments and facilities for collaborative analytical chemistry research in biological and environmental areas, such as the Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Biochemistry, Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology and the McMaster Institute for Environment and Health.

Central to all this work is an active and interested core of analytical graduate students. They organize the analytical colloquium series, with seminars from speakers from both inside and outside the department, and play an important role in one of the departmental baseball teams! Analytical chemist graduates from McMaster enjoy a unique multi-disciplinary training that is in high demand in academia, private industry and governmental laboratories. Analytical chemistry has always been and continues to be an important subject at McMaster and beyond!!