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Mary J. Wirth

Mary J. Wirth
  • W. Brooks Fortune Distinguished Professor — Analytical Chemistry
  • Phone:765-494-5328
  • Office: BRWN 4171C

We work at the interface of chemistry and medicine, and our focus is to create technology for earlier detection of diseases. The dream of 21st century medicine is that simple lab tests will reveal diseases well before the onset of symptoms, while the disease is easily curable. We are using nanotechnology to modernize the materials used for lab tests and for the discovery of the biomarkers that are the targets of lab tests.

As one example, the image (right) shows a capillary for nanoUPLC that is packed with silica nanoparticles. The packing is an artificial opal, which exhibits a Bragg diffraction due to the crystalline packing of the nanoparticles. The scanning electron micrograph of the capillary cross-section shows the face-centered cubic packing. This highly ordered packing imparts extraordinary separation efficiency and speed. The ability to form these face-centered cubic structures in capillaries facilitates mass spectrometric detection of proteins.

We are using these materials for a range of tools used for biomarker discovery and medical tests, including capillary chromatography with nanospray MS detection, high-throughput, lab-on-a-chip devices, and basic research on biomolecule transport in nanoscale media. We are collaborating with medical researchers and industrial scientists to maximize the impact of our research.


  • Ph.D., 1978, Purdue University
  • B.S., 1974, Northern Illinois University


  • The Chromatographic Society's Jubilee Medal, 2015
  • Dal Nogare Award, Chromatography Forum of the Delaware Valley, 2014
  • EAS Award for Outstanding Achievements in the fields of Analytical Chemistry, 2012
  • Distinguished Alumni Award, Northern Illinois University, 2011
  • Sigma Xi Faculty Research Award, Purdue Chapter, 2011
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science Elected Fellow, 2010
  • Distinguished Alumni Award, Northern Illinois University, 2009
  • Centennial Distinguished Lecturer, University of Texas-Austin, 2008
  • Leading Edge Researcher, University of Arizona, 2008
  • Harold A. Iddles Lecturer, University of New Hampshire, 2007
  • Distinguished Chemistry Alumni Award, Purdue University, 2007
  • ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry Award in Spectrochemical Analysis, 2006
  • Gold Medal Award, NY Section, Society for Applied Spectroscopy, 2005
  • Distinguished Lecturer, Texas A&M University, 2002
  • C. Eugene Bennett Professor of Chemistry, 2002 - 2004
  • Chair, Gordon Conference on Analytical Chemistry, 1995
  • National Science Foundation Creativity Award, 1994
  • Clifford C. Hach Lecturer, University of Wyoming, 1992
  • W. Allan Powell Lecturer, University of Richmond, 1988


Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907 (765) 494-4600

Department of Chemistry, 560 Oval Drive, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-2084 | Telephone: (765) 494-5200 | Fax: (765) 494-0239

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