Alumnus’ Gift Pushes Scientific Research to Next Level
June 18, 2010


When Gene Cassis '78 from Waters Corporation, one of the top analytical instrument companies in the world, asked Professor Maria Curtin and the rest of the science faculty what piece of scientific equipment they would like to have, the faculty didn't expect to receive a state-of-the-art instrument used by such organizations as the National Cancer Institute, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as well as the world's leading pharmaceutical firms.

Yet, that is what they got - the highly sophisticated Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography /Mass Spectrometer. More commonly called a UPLC/MS, it was donated to the College by Waters Corporation and facilitated by Cassis, who is the Vice President of Worldwide Business Development and Investor Relations at Waters.

Valued at a quarter of a million dollars, the UPLC/MS will give Stonehill faculty and students a leading edge in their research at the Shields Science Center.

"Every member of the science faculty as well as our student researchers will be able to use this instrument," notes Curtin, an associate professor in the Chemistry Department.

"The UPLC technology separates chemical substances in a sample ten to twenty times faster than previous technologies and the MS technology allows identification of the substances. It is the most sensitive and most versatile instrument on the market today."

"It has been a pleasure to interact with Prof. Curtin, the science faculty and the many talented students at Stonehill," said Cassis. "Waters Corporation's donation of instrumentation to the new Shields Science Center is in recognition of the quality of scientific research and instruction at Stonehill and in the firm belief that Stonehill science graduates will make significant future contributions to science and science-based businesses."

Students in courses like "Advanced Analytical Chemistry" and "Instrumental Analysis" will also benefit from the UPLC/MS.

"The students in these courses are going to have such a great advantage working with this instrument," explains Curtin, as most colleges and universities do not own a UPLC/MS, although these instruments are quickly becoming the industry standard in Liquid Chromatography.

The fourth ranked instrumentation firm in the world in 2009 according to Chemical & Engineering News with $1.5 billion instrument sales, Waters is the leader in UPLC technology.

A Chemistry major while at Stonehill, Cassis (pictured left) has been actively involved with the department Curtin says.

"Gene has not only been generous financially but also generous with his time," she says. "He is always willing to come to Career Nights sponsored by the Chemistry and Biochemistry Clubs, he has come to talk to students in the advanced chemistry classes and contributed as an invited speaker at the Chemistry and Biochemistry Seminar series."

Cassis has agreed to support the maintenance of the UPLC/MS for the next five years as well. "It is an expensive instrument to maintain and Gene and his wife Mary have pledged $5,000 a year towards that," says Curtin. Mary is a Ph.D chemist also employed at Waters.

Based in Milford, Waters Corporation technologies have enabled significant advancements in such areas as healthcare delivery, environmental management, food safety, and water quality worldwide.

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