Organic Geochemistry Laboratory

The Organic Geochemistry Laboratory focuses on the extraction, purification, separation, and chemical and isotopic characterization of organic molecules extracted from a wide array of environmental and culture samples. The lab serves as an analytical platform for research fields as diverse as biogeochemistry, geobiology, astrobiology, environmental microbiology, energy, and paleoceanography and paleoclimatology, among others.

Our state-of-the-art analytical facility is housed in the new Sustainability, Energy and Environment Complex/Laboratories (SEEC/SEEL). The ~2500 sq. ft. facility began its operation in summer 2016 and was specifically designed for research operations in organic geochemistry and compound-specific stable isotope ratio mass spectrometry. The laboratory is equipped with 7 fume hoods, bench space for ~12 researchers, preparative and analytical equipment (see facilities below), and a dedicated Professional Research Assistant (Dr. Nadia Dildar).


High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)–mass spectrometry (MS):

  • A Thermo Scientific Ultimate 3000 HPLC interphase to a Q Exactive Focus Orbitrap-Quadrupole MS via electrospray ionization (ESI) or atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) allows for high sensitivity and high mass resolution for the targeted and untargeted analysis of polar biomarkers. Targeted analysis of polar lipids can be performed in Selected Ion Monitoring (SIM) and Parallel Reaction Monitoring (PRM) modes with high-resolution accurate-mass detection, and with enhanced signal over noise ratio for the detection of biomarkers present in low abundance. Untargeted analysis of unknown molecules can be performed via Full scan and Data-Independent Acquisition (DIA) modes. The Ultimate 3000 HPLC is also equipped with a DAD-3000 Diode Array Detector and a Fraction Collector for the identification, quantification, isolation and concentration of organic molecules for further chemical and/or stable isotope analysis.

Gas chromatography (GC)–mass spectrometry (MS):

  • A Thermo Trace 1310 GC interphase to a Thermo Scientific TSQ 8000 EVO triple quadrupole MS allows for the separation, and the untargeted and targeted analysis of biomarkers using full scan and Selected Reaction Monitoring (SRM) modes. The high signal over ratio provided by SRM mode ensures a detection limit of ca. 0.5 fg on column, which is ideal for the analysis of samples with low organic content.
  • A Thermo Finnigan Trace GC Ultra interphase to a PolarisQ ion-trap MS allows for the further characterization of biomarkers via MS-MS experiments. This instrument can also be attached to a Pyromat Curie-Point pyrolyzer (Brechbühler Scientific Analytical Solutions) for the analysis of bulk samples.

Gas chromatography (GC)–isotope ratio–mass spectrometry (ir-MS):

  • A Thermo MAT 253 Plus isotope ratio mass spectrometer equipped with universal CNOS and HD collectors, ConfloIV interface, GC IsolinkII, and TraceGC1310 (GC-IRMS), allows for high sensitivity analysis of carbon and hydrogen stable isotopes of organic molecules. This instrument belongs to Prof. Sebastian Kopf and is used as a share facility in the OG Lab.

Gas chromatography (GC)–Flame Ionization Detector (FID):

  • A Hewlett Packard 6890 Gas GC with an FID allows for the separation and accurate quantification of organic molecules.

Other laboratory instrumentation:

  • Dionex 200 Accelerated Solvent Extraction (ASE) system
  • Anton Paar Multiwave 3000 Microwave Extraction System
  • Zymark Turbovap
  • Gilson GX-274 ASPEC Solid Phase Extraction system
  • Thermo Scientific Thermolyne Furnace Oven
  • Thermo Scientific Refrigerated Centrifuge
  • Freeze drier
  • Refrigerator and freezers
  • Microbalance and analytical balance

How to Join

Please contact Dr. Julio Sepúlveda if you would like to join our group

Contact Information

(Phone) 303 735-3277
(Fax) 303 492-6388
SEEL room 214A