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NSF grant funds acquisition of electron microscope at BHSU
Area scientists and university students are the benefactors of
a recent National Science Foundation grant that helped fund a
$164,000 scanning electron microscope at Black Hills State
It's the only one of its kind in the state, says
Dr. Mark Gabel, professor of biology at BHSU, who authored the
grant for the JEOL 5600 LV. The NSF grant provided two-thirds of
the cost for the microscope with the university picking up the
It replaces a 17-year-old electron microscope that was the
instrument of choice for numerous research projects conducted by
students and scientists throughout the region. It has been
heavily used over the years. In fact BHSU offers the only
electron microscopy course in the region that provides
undergraduate students with an opportunity to use the
sophisticated research tool.
Gabel said of the new microscope, Its most notable
capability is the low-vacuum option. A low-vacuum microscope is
capable of looking at uncoated specimens, while most microscopes
require the specimens to be dried and coated with a conductive
substance. The vacuum feature allows scientists to observe
specimens in their original condition.
The new microscope is teamed with an energy dispersive x-ray
spectrometer which allows researchers to determine an element
(down to boron) which is in the specimens. It determines the
relative amounts of each element present.
The microscope has 3.5nm to 5nm resolution capabilities (a
nanometer or nm is one billionth of a meter). It can also
accommodate fairly large specimens, up to six inches in diameter.
I am particularly looking forward to using it for fossil
specimens, said Gabel.
Several other professors will be using the electron microscope
for their research projects ranging from the study of fish brains
and fungal pathogens to insect diets and concrete analysis.
Researchers from federal and state agencies as well as other
universities will be utilizing the electron microscope's
|Black Hills State biology professor Mark
Gabel is one of several university professors utilizing
the latest technology to help undergraduate students with
research projects. The new $164,000 scanning electron
microscope was recently purchased with university funding
and a NSF grant. Gabel is assisting Jennifer Riss, a
junior biology major from Rapid City, with techniques of
operating the low-vacuum microscope and its energy
dispersive x-ray spectrometer. BHSU is the only school in
the region that offers an undergraduate class in electron
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