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Mary J. Wirth

Mary Wirth
  • W. Brooks Fortune Distinguished Professor – Analytical Chemistry
  • Email:
  • Phone: 45328
  • Office: 4171C BRWN

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.


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


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


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