Grant brings much-needed instrument to health science students

Friday, February 25, 2011


A Fourier Transform Infrared Instrument, FTIR, may sound like something directly out of a sci-fi movie, but its use in the Science Department at Corban will give students a head start upon graduation.

In January, the department learned it would receive a $15,000 Juan Young Trust grant to help purchase the FTIR instrument, which uses infrared light radiation to detect the vibrations within molecules. These motions tell scientists the types of bonds in a molecule via its unique spectrum.

Associate Professor of Science, James Dyer, described the instrument as analogous to a driver scanning through radio stations in the car. When “tuned into” a country song, the driver may simply sway his head back and forth. For hip-hop, the leg bounces and the head bops up and down. As each station is tuned in, the motions vary according to how well it “resonates” with him.

“The FTIR instrument is the radio dial, only it’s watching you and recording your movements,” he said.  “You the driver are the molecule. The FTIR instrument exposes the molecule to a range of infrared radiation, the molecule responds in different ways across this range.”

This instrument will help students connect abstract concepts with molecular structure and help them gain an appreciation for the value of instrumentation in the analytical process of science. FTIR instruments are used in forensics, environmental research, pharmaceutical research and more.

“It has the potential for multiple benefits,” Dyer said. “It is another big step of hopefully many along a continued journey to strengthen the department. We are quite excited to bring this FTIR to our campus and begin getting our students’ hands on it.”

This was the third award in two years that Director of Development Darrel White has secured from the Juan Young Trust, totaling $41,000 in grants. Darrel’s contact information is 503-589-8186

  • The science department purchased a Thermo Fisher iS10 FTIR with help from the Juan Young Trust.

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