Dr. Tom Betts

318 Boehm Science Center

Recent Research Projects
Shimadzu LC-8030 liquid chromatograph mass spectrometer

Liquid Chromatograph with a Tandem Mass Spectrometer Detector

Detection of Pesticides in Bat Guano

Working with a bat biologist we undertook a project to attempt to screen for approximately 25 different herbicides and insecticides in bat guano. Samples were collected primarily from southeastern PA, and one was from Indiana. There were a handful of herbicides that were detected at trace concentration levels (nanograms per gram) in guano. 

Fast IBU Determination using HPLC-MS/MS

The discriminating power of tandem mass spectrometry is being used to assess bitterness (IBU - International Bitterness Units) of hop-based products. We are assessing methods in which we sacrifice chromatographic resolution for the sake of speed, and whether these sacrifices still result in an accurate method.

LC-MS/MS chromatogram of iso-alpha acids

LC-MS/MS chromatogram of iso-alpha acids

Beekeeper dressed in full protective gear

Determination of Dinotefuran in Bees, Wax and Honey

Dinotefuran is a neonicotinoid pesticide being used to combat spotted lanternfly. This collaborative project focused on determining whether dinotefuran is being transferred to honey bees and their hives. We used the power of liquid chromatography with tandem mass spec detection to answer this question. The results of this study are slated to be published in the Journal of Economic Biology.

Outgassing from the muds of Lake Powell near Hite, Utah

Panoramic view of mud gas sampling site; a large field with tall, flat cliffsides in the background

View from the sampling site

During this collaboration with geologists, we set out to analyze gas effusing from mud near the Colorado River before it reached Lake Powell. Samples were collected from mud volcanoes, water-filled craters, and pockmarks where gas was actively being released. Gas chromatography was used to quantify the methane, carbon dioxide and air that composed these samples. Understanding the composition of gases can lead to models of gas evolution and flow.   

Mud Volcano

First sampling site

Water-Filled Crater

One of the less active sites

Another crater

Another sampling site

More gas collected for analysis


* represents undergraduate coauthor

Underwood, R.; Breeman*, B.; Benton*, J.; Bielski*, J.; Palkendo, J.; Betts, T. Are non-target honey bees, Apis mellifera L., exposed to dinotefuran from spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula, trap trees? J. Economic Entomology (accepted May, 2019).

T.A. Betts and J.A. Palkendo: “Teaching Undergraduates LC–MS/MS Theory and Operation via Multiple Reaction Monitoring (MRM) Method DevelopmentJ. Chem. Educ., 95, 1035-1039 (2018).

M. Myers*, D. Patrushev*, and T.A. Betts: “Fluorescence-based assessment of the curing of nail lacquers” Keystone Journal of Undergraduate Research, 3(1), 15-21 (2015).

T.A. Betts, E.A. Heness*, Z.A. Semian*, M. Malenda*, E.L. Simpson, K. Friehauf: “The unusual occurrence of adipocere spheres on the hypersaline lacustrine shoreline, Salton Sea California” PALAIOS, 29, 553-559 (2014).

Palkendo, J. Kovach*, and T. Betts: “Determination of Wear Metals in Used Motor Oil by Flame Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy” J. Chem. Educ., 91, 579-582 (2014).

T.M. Danenhower*, L.J. Force*, K.J. Petersen*, G.A. Baker, and T.A. Betts: “HPLC Analysis of α- and β-Acids in Hops” J. Chem. Educ., 85, 954-957 (2008).

Culha, F.M. Schell, S. Fox, T. Green, T.A. Betts, M.J. Sepaniak: “Evaluation of newly synthesized and commercially available charged cyclomaltooligosaccharides (cyclodextrin) for capillary electrokinetic chromatography” Carbohydrate Research, 339, 241-249 (2004).

K.A. Mowery, D.E. Blanchard, S. Smith*, T.A. Betts: “Investigation of Imposter Perfumes using GC-MS” J. Chem. Educ., 81, 87-89 (2004).

N.J. Crane*, R.C. Mayrhofer, G.A. Baker, T.A. Betts: "Cyclodextrin Inclusion Complexes with a Solvatochromic Fluorescent Probe" J. Chem Educ., 79, 1261-1263 (2002).

G.A. Baker, T.A. Betts, S. Pandey: "Fluorescence Polarization as a Tool to Pinpoint Vesicle Thermal Phase Transitions" J. Chem Educ., 78, 1100-1103 (2001).

T.A. Betts, C.A. Tipple, M.J. Sepaniak, P.G. Datskos: “Selectivity of Chemical Sensors Based on Micro-Cantilevers Coated with Thin Polymer Films” Anal. Chim. Acta., 422, 89-99 (2000).

T.A. Betts: “Pungency Quantitation of Hot Pepper Sauces using HPLC” J. Chem. Educ., 76, 240-244 (1999).



* indicates undergraduate coauthor

S. Temen*, J. Kanyak*, R. Klinikowski*, T.A. Betts and D. Achey: “Incorporation of Ru(bpy)32+ into the Vacant Pore of MOF-5 via Microwave Synthesis” presented: 47th Middle Atlantic Regional Meeting - American Chemical Society, Baltimore, MD (May 2019).

S. Temen*, T.A. Betts: “Investigating the Interior of a Metal-Organic Framework with Fluorescence Spectroscopy” presented: 20th Annual Berks County Undergraduate Research and Creativity Conference, Reading Area Community College (April 2019).

K. Harms, A. Covely*, S. Mang*, J. Benton*, A. Vangieri*, K. Cruz* and T.A. Betts “Screening of Pesticides in Bat Guano” presented: 57th Eastern Analytical Symposium, Plainsboro, NJ (November, 2018).

K.K. Miller*, E. Simpson, T.A. Betts, L.A. Sherrod, M.C. Wizevich, K. Morgano*, A. Richardson*, M. Malenda*, W.S. Simpson, K. Livingston* and E. Bogner* “Voids: Small-Scale, Gas-Generated Soft Sediment Deformation Structures Found in Deltaic Muds of the Lake Powell Delta, Glen Canyon Recreational Area, Hite, Utah” presented: 128th Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America, Denver, CO (September, 2016).

K.M. Livingston*, E. Bogner*, E.L. Simpson, M. Malenda*, L.A. Sherrod, T.A. Betts, and E. Laub, “The proposed evolution of shallow-sourced methane mud volcano geomorphology Lake Powell, Hite Utah” presented: 127th Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America, Baltimore, MD (November, 2015).

K.M. Livingston*, E. Bogner*, S.M. Ireland*, E.L. Simpson, T.A. Betts, and E. Laub “The geomorphic evolution of shallow-sourced methane produced mud volcanoes: Lake Powell, Utah” presented: 126th Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America, Vancouver, British Columbia (October, 2014).

I.V. Soni*, Z.M.Semian*, G.A. Baker, T.A. Betts: “Fluorescence-Based Sugar Sensor on a Gold Nanoparticle Platform” presented 53rd Eastern Analytical Symposium, Somerset, NJ (November, 2014).

T.A. Betts, E.A. Heness*, Z.A. Semian*, M. Malenda*, E.L. Simpson and K. Friehauf: “A Unique Occurrence of Adipocere on the Laustrine Shoreline, Salton Sea California” presented: 125th Geological Society of America, Denver, CO (October, 2013).

S.M. Myers* and T.A. Betts “An Inexpensive, Portable, LED-based Instrument for Fluorescence Anisotropy Measurements Applied to Monitoring the Curing of Epoxy” presented: 51st Eastern Analytical Symposium, Somerset, NJ (November, 2012).

S.M. Myers* and T.A. Betts “Monitoring Epoxy Curing with Fluorescence Anisotropy using a Homemade, LED-based Fluorometer” presented: 13th Annual Conference for Undergraduate Research & Creative Expression, Reading, PA (April, 2012).

J.K. Pietruch* and T.A. Betts “Gold Nanoparticle Fluorescence Quenching based Sugar Sensor” presented: 72nd Intercollegiate Student Chemist Convention, Elizabethtown, PA (April, 2008).

C.F. Sacchi, R.E. Adam*, J.K. Pietruch*, T.A. Betts “Nectar quality and pollination in three pairs of congeneric species” presented: Ecological Society of America, San Jose, CA (August, 2007).

K. Frey*, S. Makhoul*, T.A. Betts, M. Junker "Controlling protein association using the DNA-binding domain of the yeast transcription factor HAP1" presented: 39th Mid-Atlantic Regional Meeting of The American Chemical Society, Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA (May, 2007).

T. Danenhower*, L.Force*, K. Petersen*, T.A. Betts: “HPLC Analysis of Alpha and Beta Acid in Hops” presented: Eleventh Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, Kutztown University of PA (April, 2006).

T.A. Betts: “Academic Choice Coupled to Open-Ended Exercises in the Analytical Chemistry Lab” presented: 37th Middle Atlantic Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ (May, 2005).

M. Kosalko*, T.A. Betts: “Analyses of Epoxy Cure Rate Using Fluorescence and Infrared Spectroscopies” presented: Tenth Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, Kutztown University of PA (April, 2005).

M.L. Kistler*, T.A. Betts: “Monitoring Epoxy Curing Horizontally using a LED-Based Fluorometer” presented: 15th Annual Student Research Symposium, Saint Joe’s University, Philadelphia, PA (April, 2004).

T.A. Betts, R.C. Mayrhofer: "Fluorescence in the Undergraduate Curriculum" presented: 220th ACS National Meeting, Washington, DC (August, 2000).

T.A. Betts, T.K. Green, M. Culha, M.J. Sepaniak: “Synthesis and Evaluation of a New Capillary Electrophoresis Resolving Agent: Heptakis-(6-O-carboxymethyl-2,3-dimethyl)-beta-cyclodextrin” presented: 51st Pittsburgh Conference, New Orleans, LA (March, 2000).

C. Barrell*, T. Bowmaster*, T.A. Betts: “Monitoring the Curing of Epoxies using Fluorescence Polarization” presented: Third Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, Kutztown University of PA (April, 1999).

L. Rinehart*, T.A. Betts: “Construction of a Fluorescence-Based Oxygen Sensor” presented: Third Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, Kutztown University of PA (April, 1999).

N. Crane*, T.A. Betts, G.A. Baker, F.V. Bright: “Fluorescence Anisotropy of Cyclodextrin Complexes” presented: 37th Eastern Analytical Symposium, Somerset, NJ (November, 1998).

N. Crane*, T.A. Betts, G.A. Baker, F.V. Bright: “Rotational Dynamics of Cyclodextrin Complexes” presented: 216th ACS National Meeting, Boston, MA (August, 1998).

R.C. Mayrhofer and T.A. Betts: “Fluorescence Quenching of Quinine with Halide Ions” presented: 216th ACS National Meeting, Boston, MA (August, 1998).

P. Snyder*, M. Stewart*, N. Crane* and T.A. Betts: “Investigation of Cyclodextrin Binding using Fluorescence Techniques” presented: Third Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, Kutztown University of PA (April, 1998).

J.V. Daknis*, and T.A. Betts: “Fluorescence Investigation of Solute-Solvent and Solute-Stationary Phases” presented: 36th Eastern Analytical Symposium, Somerset, NJ (November, 1997).

J.V. Daknis*, and T.A. Betts: “Interactions of Solutes at a Liquid-Surface Interface: A Fluorescence Investigation” presented: Second Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, Kutztown University of PA (April, 1997).

T.A. Betts, L. Murray*: “Gas Chromatographic Analysis of an Iron Chelating Agent Used in Recycling Lead-Acid Batteries” presented: 35th Eastern Analytical Symposium, Somerset, NJ (November, 1996).

T.A. Betts: "Spectroscopic Investigations of Hydrogen-Bonding in Supercritical Fluids" presented: Pennsylvania State College Chemistry Conference, East Stroudsburg, PA (October, 1992).