Awards2017-Website&Facebook-share-1200x630On the 5th of April 2017 the European Commission and Europa Nostra announced the winners of the 2017 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards, Europe’s top honour in the heritage field.

Among the 29 laureates (from 18 countries) is also the Rode Altarpiece Research and Conservation Project (research category) of the high altar of St. Nicholas’ Church in Tallinn.

The project was coordinated by Dr. Hilkka Hiiop from the Art Museum of Estonia. This project also involves several scientists from the chair of analytical chemistry at the University of Tartu, among them Dr. Signe Vahur and her student Krete Saak, and Dr. Riin Rebane, who carried out a thorough material analysis.

The Award Ceremony will be held in Turku, Finland on the 15th of May 2017. During the ceremony, in addition to seven Grand Prix laureates also the Public Choice Award winner will be announced. Everyone has a chance to vote for 3 of their favourite projects, and thereby enter a draw to win a trip for two to Turku and take part in the European Heritage Awards Ceremony on 15th of May. The deadline for casting your votes is the 3rd of May, 2017.

Further information on the project can be found on the web page: Rode Altarpiece in Close-up.


CreativeEuropeLogo Europa NostraLogo









UT_Measurement_Uncertainty_MOOC_Participants_2017On Monday, March 27, 2017 the web course “Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis” was launched the third time as a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course).

Currently 336 participants from 62 countries are registered. The somewhat decreased popularity of the course is most probably due to the fact that starting from this year certificate of completion on paper is not free of charge (digital certificate is still free). Given this change, we are actually surprised that we still have so many participants! Image on the left shows the countries where the participants come from. As in the previous years, the majority of participants are from analytical laboratories, once again demonstrating the continuing need for training in measurement uncertainty estimation in analytical chemistry.

The full course material is accessible from the web page Some developments and improvements have been made to the course material, in particular, better description of course organisatsion a self-test on sophisticated uncertainty estimation taking numerically into account the limited selectivity of the technique (potentiometry with ion-selective electrode). Some changes are still in the pipeline. The course materials include videos, schemes, calculation files and numerous self-tests (among them also full-fledged measurement uncertainty calculation exercises). In order to pass the course the registered participants have to take six graded tests and get higher than 50% score. These tests are available to registered participants via the Moodle e-learning platform.


Measurement_Uncertainty_Value_Error_EtcThe online course Estimation of measurement uncertainty in chemical analysis will start its 4th edition on Monday, Mar 27, 2017. 300 participants have already been registered from 58 countries. Registration is still open and all people interested to learn this important topic are welcome to participate!

The registration link is available from the course website:


LCMS Method Validation online course offered by UTOn Feb 16, 2017 the MOOC LC-MS Method Validation finished successfully.
Altogether 303 people were registered from 61 countries. 224 participants actually started the course (i.e. tried at least one graded test at least once) and out of them 168 successfully completed the course. The overall completion rate was 55%. The completion rate of participants who started the studies was 75%. Both completion rates are all time highest that our group has seen in our MOOCs!

The questions from the participants were often very interesting, often addressed things that are really important to analysts in their everyday work and in several cases led to improvements in the course. This active participation made teaching this MOOC a great experience also for us, the teachers! The discussion threads gave a lot of added value to the course and some of them triggered making important modifications to the course materials.

We want to thank all participants for helping to make this course a success!

We plan to repeat this course again in Autumn 2017.


This is a Golden Age of Measurement ScienceThe American Chemical Society (the world’s largest scientific society by membership!) has recently published a document titled Top Ten Trends Driving Science, which summarizes in an intelligent and engaging way the main processes and trends in the contemporary society that drive the scientific research. The explanations are supported by numerous quotes from leading scientists.

Of specific interest for our study programme is the trend No 2: Big data is more essential than ever, is which supported by quote from Jonathan Sweedler, Editor-in-Chief of Analytical Chemistry, stating among other things: This is a Golden Age of Measurement Science!

All the best wishes to all measurement scientists – both chemical and physical – everywhere in the world!


Pilleriin_PeetsAmong the analytical chemistry research directions at UT are studies of materials, especially materials with artistic and/or historic relevance. Textiles have a prominent place among these materials and the leading force of textile analysis in our group is PhD student Pilleriin Peets.

We have the pleasure to announce that her master’s thesis defended in June 2016 “Method development for textile dye analysis on the example of red dyes” was awarded with the 1st prize in the Estonian National Contest for University Students supported by Estonian Research Council. Congratulations, Pilleriin!
This very interesting and challenging master’s thesis involved development of methodologies using complementary techniques – FT-ICR-MS with ESI and MALDI sources, LC-QQQ-MS, SEM-EDS – for thoroughgoing investigation of composition of red dyes.

Natural dyes (extracted from plants and insects) are complex mixtures of sophisticated organic compounds and their chemical composition is still not fully known. Dyes can be divided into different groups (antraquinones, flavonoids etc) but within a group they can be quite similar. In order to fix dyes on fabrics mordants (alum, tannic acid etc) are commonly used. Identifying dyes and mordants in textiles is challenging: samples are very small, analyte concentrations are low, objects consist of many components (incl. impurities) and their decomposition products. So, accurate methods that can work with small amounts of sample and very low analyte contents in samples, are still needed.

Pilleriin_Peets_taking_textile_samplesDuring her master’s studies Pilleriin Peets managed to overcome all these difficulties and developed a useful methodology for dye analysis. At first Pilleriin collected different red dyes (madder, cochineal etc), dyed pure wool pieces and then extracted the dyes from dyed wool. During dyeing she adjusted different recipes and developed suitable dyeing procedure. After that she analysed all these dye standard solutions and fibre extracts, using HPLC-QQQ-MS, ESI- and MALDI-FT-ICR-MS methods and developed a suitable measurement methodology for every dye. Additionally, different mordants were analysed from known mordanted samples and unknown real samples using SEM-EDS. The developed methodology was applied to real samples from the Estonian National Museum and private collections (photo on the right: Pilleriin taking textile samples at the Estonian National Museum).

These developed methodologies are right now being extended to the analysis of other colours and dyes: Pillerin continues this investigation during her PhD studies and in the future there will be coming much more interesting research developments in this topic.

Pilleriin started with serious scientific research already in the bachelor’s studies: she developed an approach of classification of single- and two-component textile materials using ATR-FT-IR spectra and chemometric methods, principal component analysis (PCA) and discriminant analysis on the basis of altogether 89 textile samples belonging to 26 different types (11 one- and 15 two-component textiles). This work has been published in Spectrochimica Acta Part A 2017, 173, 175-181.


each-students-meeting-prof-fraser-stoddartOn Monday 12.12.2016 the 2nd year EACH students studying at Uppsala had the wonderful opportunity to meet Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, one of the three 2016 Chemistry Nobel prize laureates. The 2016 Chemistry Nobel prize was awarded for the contributions to design and synthesis of molecular machines.

On the photo Prof. Stoddart is in the middle of the second row. In the first row on the right is prof. Jonas Bergquist (the EACH coordinator at Uppsala) who organized the meeting.


UT_LC_MS_Validation_MOOC_Participants_2016On Monday, November 28, 2016 the web course LC-MS Method Validation was launched for the first time as a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course). There are 301 registered participants from 61 countries, ranging from Vietnam to Peru and from Norway to Zambia. Image on the left shows the countries where the participants come from.

This is a practice-oriented on-line course on validation of analytical methods, specifically using LC-MS as technique. The course introduces the main concepts and mathematical apparatus of validation, covers the most important method performance parameters and ways of estimating them. The course follows the tradition set by the course Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis launched in 2014. Differently from the uncertainty course, the LC-MS validation course is delivered by a team of 8 teachers, each with their own specific area of competence. This way it is expected to offer the best possible knowledge in the different subtopics of analytical method validation.

The full course material is accessible from the web page The course materials include videos, schemes, calculation files and numerous self-tests (among them also full-fledged calculation exercises). In order to pass the course the registered participants have to take all tests and get higher than 50% score from each of them. These tests are available to registered participants via the Moodle e-learning platform. Participants who successfully pass the course will get a certificate from the University of Tartu.

It is planned to run this course as MOOC again in autumn 2017.

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)


EACH_Erasmus_Mundus_JMDWe are glad to announce that the 2017 admission is officially open to the Excellence in Analytical Chemistry (EACH) Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree programme!

This international two-year joint master degree programme educates specialists in analytical chemistry well qualified to work in industry (food, pharmaceutical, materials, energy, etc) and chemical analysis laboratories (environment, food, health, etc) worldwide. EACH provides knowledge and practical skills in both fundamental and applied aspects of modern analytical chemistry. Practical internship placement in industry or laboratories is an important part of the training.

The programme is suitable both for students who have finished their bachelor’s studies and want to continue in master’s studies, as well as for working analytical chemistry practitioners wishing to spend couple of years to bring their knowledge and skills to a new level.

The programme features generous scholarships as detailed in the Scholarships and tuition fees page.

The programme is taught by four universities: University of Tartu (UT, coordinator), Estonia; Uppsala University (UU), Sweden; University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 (UCBL), France; and Åbo Akademi University (AAU), Finland. The language of instruction is English, but students will also learn to communicate in one of the languages of the countries involved.

The online application form, admission requirements, deadlines, list of necessary documents, instructions/explanations, as well as contact data for questions are available from the EACH Admission information page.



esikaas_2We are glad to announce the online course LC-MS Method Validation!

It has been set up at University of Tartu during 2015-2016 and its version 1 is now accessible from the address

The course will be offered as a Massive Open On-line Course (MOOC) during Nov 28, 2016 – Feb 09, 2017 and it is now open for registration via the above address. The course is free of charge. This is the first edition of this MOOC and it will be offered to a limited number of participants.

This is a practice-oriented on-line course on validation of analytical methods, specifically using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry as technique, mostly (but not limited to) using the electrospray (ESI) ion source. The course introduces the main concepts and mathematical apparatus of validation, covers the most important method performance parameters and ways of estimating them. The course is largely based on the recently published two-part tutorial review:

The course contains lectures, practical exercises and numerous tests for self-testing. In spite of being introductory, the course intends to offer sufficient knowledge and skills for carrying out validation for most of the common LC-MS analyses in routine laboratory environment. The real-life analysis situations for which there are either examples or self-tests are for example pesticide analyses in fruits and vegetables, perfluororalkyl acids in water, antibiotics in blood serum, glyphosate and AMPA in surface water, etc. It is important to stress, that for successful validation experience (both in analytical chemistry as such and also specifically in validation) is crucial and this can be acquired only through practice.

This course material is available from the above address all the time and can be used via web by anyone who wishes to improve the knowledge and skills in analytical method validation (especially when using LC-ESI-MS).


Leito_CroLab_2016On Oct 20, 2016 Ivo Leito gave presentation titled Education Activities in Metrology in Chemistry in Vinkovci (Croatia) at the conference Laboratory Competence 2016 organized by CroLab – the Croatian Association of Laboratories.

The presentation contains information about the Applied Measurement Science and Excellence in Analytical Chemistry master’s programmes et University of Tartu, about the international consortium Measurement Science in Chemistry, about the on-line course Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis and the new on-line course LC/MS Method Validation. Also the recently published tutorial reviews were touched upon.

The presentation led to a number of new contacts and invitation to next events. Participants were impressed by the breadth of activities as well as by the very strong team working on these things at UT. In addition, Ivo Leito was interviewed by the Croatian national television.


EcoBalt_2016_Group_PhotoOn Wednesday 12.10.16 the EcoBalt 2016 conference – first time organized in Tartu, Estonia – finished successfully! 42 oral talks and 43 posters were offered to the more than 150 participants from more than 25 countries. The conference featured two tutorial sessions – on measurement uncertainty and on validation of LC/MS analytical methods. The mesmerizing introductory multimedia presentation by Sven Zacek about Estonian nature and the stunning closure talk about “impossible things” by Meelika Hirmo from Let’s Do It! World were certainly among the highlights of the conference.

A number of AMS and EACH students participated in the conference.

We thank all the participants for making EcoBalt 2016 a success!

Full information about the conference, including the conference programme and EcoBalt 2016 Book of Abstracts can be found at the EcoBalt 2016 website.

EcoBalt 2016 was organized by the University of Tartu with Tallinn University of Technology and Estonian Environmental Research Centre.

EcoBalt2016 received financial support from a number of sources. We thank all supporters! Without their help the conference would not have been possible.

  • EU_Regional_Development_Fund_horizontalFor organisation of international events and conferences from Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure in cooperation with the Enterprise Estonia tourism development centre from funding provided by the European Union Regional Development Fund.
  • kik_eng_logo_horizontalSecond day of the conference was fully supported by Environmental Investment Centre.
  • The following companies supported the conference: LaboChema, Ramboll, Ordior, Quantum, SyntPot, HNK, Waters, Armgate and LanLab.


eesti-keskkonnauuringute-keskus_riidekoti_kujundusIn few hours the EcoBalt 2016 conference will start, for the first time in Tartu!

The EcoBalt conference series has traditions dating back to 1993 and has been envisaged from the beginning as a Baltic event. Nevertheless, this is the first time that it takes place in Estonia (previously only in Latvia and Lithuania).

We are very glad to welcome more than 160 registered participants from more than 25 countries, making it a truly international conference! The nearby countries are represented as well as e.g. Philippines, Mexico, India, China, Nepal, Sri Lanka, … A number of AMS students also participate in EcoBalt 2016!

The EcoBalt 2016 programme is very diverse: topics ranging from ultramodern environmental analytical techniques to environmental management and from nanoparticles in environment to global climate change.

EcoBalt 2016 is organised jointly by UT in collaboration with TTU and Estonian Environmental Research Centre in the framework of the ECAC consortium.


mooc_vs_traditional_courses_in_chemistryOn Sept 13, 2016 Ivo Leito gave a presentation Using MOOCs for teaching analytical chemistry: experience at University of Tartu at the EuCheMS 2016 Congress (Seville, Spain).

The presentation outlined the contents and organisation of the material in the on-line course Estimation of measurement uncertainty in chemical analysis, the different ways of using the on-line material (for independent learning, for self-testing, as an information source and as a basis for running as a MOOC) and the experience of running it as a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) at University of Tartu during the three MOOC editions in 2014 to 2016. An important part of the presentation was devoted to analyzing the pros and cons of MOOCs as a way of teaching and in particular as a way of teaching analytical chemistry (or its subdisciplines). It was concluded that MOOCs do have advantages, especially if compared to short training courses for practitioners. The talk created quite some interest and discussions after the session.

Detailed discussion of this topic has been published: I. Leito, I. Helm, L. Jalukse. Anal Bioanal Chem 2015, 407, 1277–1281.
The course material is available for all interested people from

Preparation of a new MOOC course Validation of LC-MS analysis methods is currently underway by the group of analytical chemistry. The materials of the LC-MS validation course are nearing completion and are already available online.


EACH_and_AMS_Students_UT_2016This week was the first study week for the new Applied Measurement Science students and EACH Erasmus Mundus. Altogether 19 students started their studies. The countries of origin of the students are Vietnam, Philippines, Russia, Serbia, Kazakhstan, China, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Nigeria, Mexico, Lithuania, Tunisia, Pakistan and Greece. During the introductory meeting an overview of the programme was given (see the slides) and a large number of questions were asked and answered, accompanied by tea/coffee and cake.

We wish successful studies to all new students!


Asko_Laaniste_Hanno_EvardThese very important (and up to now not completely solved) questions got a lot clearer on Aug 31, 2016 as PhD dissertations addressing these topics were defended at UT Institute of Chemistry.

Asko Laaniste (left on the photo) in his thesis titled Comparison and optimisation of novel mass spectrometry ionisation sources has carried out an extensive experimental comparison of 4 different LC-MS ion sources operated altogether in 7 different modes in the analysis of 41 different pesticides. The obtained large pool of data was used for comparing the sources in terms of matrix effects, limit of detection (LoD), repeatability, linearity, signal to noise ratio (S/N) and sensitivity.

Asko demonstrated that for low levels of analytes in most cases the conventional ESI is the ion source of choice (provided the analytes are ionizable with ESI), while dopant-assisted APPI is a good alternative if low detection limits are not required and if compounds not ionizable with ESI are determined.

This is currently the most comprehensive comparison of this type available and Asko’s thesis (and the forthcoming publication) could serve as a “desk manual“ for LC-MS practitioners on choosing ion source for LC-MS analysis.

The central question of Hanno Evard’s thesis Estimating limit of detection for mass spectrometric analysis methods was: what is the best way of evaluating detection limit (LoD) of an analytical method? There are around ten widespread approaches for LoD in the literature (plus less well known ones) and the LoD values obtained using different approaches can differ by up to 10 times.

Hanno (right on the photo) carried out comprehensive analysis of the literature approaches and combined that with extensive experiments. As a result he was able to propose and convincingly justify one approach, which has merits over others and should be used for evaluation of LoD.

A two-part tutorial review on this topic is in press with the Analytica Chimica Acta journal and we expect that it will be for analytical chemists the definitive source on LoD estimation for years to come.

Hanno Evard is an alumnus of the AMS programme.


Our warmest congratulations to Asko and Hanno!


University of TartuIn a recent ranking of Eastern European and Central Asian universities by QS, one of the world’s leading compilers of university performance ratings, the University of Tartu scored a high fifth place, maintaining the highest rank among Estonian and Baltic universities.

The winner in this ranking is the Lomonosov Moscow State University, followed by Novosibirsk University, and Saint Petersburg State University. Charles University in Prague comes fourth.

The strengths of University of Tartu are its academic reputation (98/100), citations per paper (96.9/100), papers per faculty (96.2/100) and web impact (93.8/100).

The position of UT in the worldwide ranking lists has during the recent years consistently become better and UT now ranks generally among the top 500 universities in the world. According to the QS World University Ranking University of Tartu is at position 400. According to the Times Higher Education Ranking University of Tartu is in the range 351-400.



EACH_Students_at_MSC_Summer_School_2016On Friday 22.07.2016 The MSC Euromaster Summer School 2016 finished. The feedback from some of the UT participants indicates that it was again a success! They shared their experience:


TetianaTetiana Melnyk (Ukraine):
I want to say a big big thank you for the opportunity to go to summer school! It was a great experience, and I met a lot of new people. If you ask me to evaluate, I would say it was excellent!

SantoshSantosh Raman Acharya (Nepal):
Summer school was amazing experience for me. The most challenging and exciting part was to work with people from all over the world with different experience in their respective fields. We made a lot of presentations, lab works and audit practice in the company “Umicore”, and the most inspiring moment was to meet with Sander Sannik at the summer school. In overall it was a full package of learning with fun!

AleksandraAleksandra Lelevic (Montenegro):
I have to say that I don’t remember when I had so much fun and when I have been so tired all at the same time :-)! It was a very intensive course that brought together a very interesting group of people and I am very happy I got the opportunity to meet closely many of them. I particularly liked the practical part of the school where we had to carry out analysis ourselves and work out a way to get along and think of good solutions together as a group.

RabinRabin Neupane (Nepal):
Summer school was a perfect platform where I got challenges as a Analytical Chemist and develop an ability to cope with those challenges. I must thank Ivo for the lectures in Meteorology in Chemistry at UT, which was foundation for me to be confident and perform well in summer school. Besides lectures in summer school, I would miss the bar, friends from different corners of world, those dances and karaoke we had at end of each day in summer school. It has been a life time experience. Thank you Ivo for such an opportunity.


The 2017 MSC Summer school will take place in Lithuania.


UT_Participants_at_MSC_Summer_School_2016This week saw the start (on Mon, Jul 11, 2016) of the 9th MSC Euromaster summer school in Malle (near Antwerpen, Belgium).

As in previous years, a core aim of the Summer school is shifting the activities away from the classical lecture-type of teaching by increasing the share of discussions, hands-on work, teamwork. A key activity of the summer school is the contest of student teams (setting up virtual laboratories and interacting with customers), which tests their knowledge and skills in all areas of metrology in chemistry.

Four students from University of Tartu (EACH programme) take part in the summer school: Tetiana Melnyk, Aleksandra Lelevic, Rabin Neupane and Santosh Raman Acharya (on the photo, left to right).

We wish exciting and enjoyable Summer school to all participants!

(Photo: Irja Helm)


AMS_Master_Thesis_Defence_2016Today (June 06, 2016) 11 AMS master students successfully defended their master’s theses. Congratulations to all of you!

Photo on the left, from left to right: Xiaozhou Ye, Martinš Jansons, Oluwamayowa Sharon Sanni, Sylvestre Tc Pagkeu, Sofia Raquel Alves Oliveira, Stanislav Andres, Theofanis Panagiotopoulos, Max Hecht, Sagar Ramanbhai Patel, Rūta Veigure, Francis Gyakwaa.

As is usual for AMS the topics of the theses were diverse ranging from artificial photosynthesis to measurements in biochemistry and from determination of dangerous radionuclides to calibration of hygrometers. The full list of the defenders and their thesis titles is below. This list demonstrates well the ubiquitous nature of measurement science. The scientific/technological quality of the theses was high: a number of research papers are planned to be published on the basis of the theses and the results of one of them will be patented.Ruta Veigure discussing with the opponent AMS_Master_Theses_Defence_2016 (Photo on the right: Rūta Veigure discussing with the opponent)


Full list of students and thesis topics:

  • Sylvestre Tc Pagkeu, Joint application of an ARC-probe and antibody in homogeneous TR-FRET assay for determination of the concentration of protein kinase Pim2
  • Max Hecht, Investigations of chlorophyll interactions in Water Soluble Chlorophyll Binding Protein
  • Sofia Raquel Alves Oliveira, Role of the stringent response in antibiotic tolerance of Escherichia coli
  • Rūta Veigure, Development and validation of UHPLC-MS/MS method for analysis of sedative drugs and their metabolites in blood plasma
  • Oluwamayowa Sharon Sanni, Development and validation of gamma spectrometric analysis procedure using a high purity Germanium detector
  • Sagar Ramanbhai Patel, Development of foreign body detection methodology in industrial food preparation process
  • Theofanis Panagiotopoulos, Calibration of hygrometers at fluctuating and transient conditions
  • Francis Gyakwaa, Validation of alpha spectrometric analytical measurement procedure for the determination of Polonium-210 (210Po) in environmental samples
  • Xiaozhou Ye, Relationships between Environmental Factors and the Growth of Above-Ground Biomass in Boreal Forest
  • Martinš Jansons, Characterization of natural sedimentary dolomite and limestone reference materials from Geological Survey of Estonia using LA-ICP-MS
  • Stanislav Andres, Development of method for preliminary identification of cyclic dinucleotides in bacterial cultures