No annual report


Proposal ID 2015-078
Submitted April 22, 2015
Owner jagregersen
Department Oceanography, School of
Category Machinery & Research
Funding Status Not Funded
Metric Score 3.55


  • Name
  • Title
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Mailbox
  • Joshua Gregersen
  • Research Scientist
  • 206-685-3216
  • UW Box 357940
  • Name
  • Title
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Mailbox
  • Maura Murphy
  • Grant and Contract Coordinator
  • 206-543-5188
  • UW Box 357940
  • Name
  • Title
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Mailbox
  • Lisa Graumlich
  • Dean of College of Environment
  • 206-221-0908
  • UW Box 355355



Machinery and Research

The photosynthetic algae (phytoplankton) that form the basis of the marine food web require high concentrations of the macronutrients carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, and silica, as well as a variety of lower concentration micronutrients. Analysis of these nutrients and extracted chlorophyll are extremely common measurements, but students at UW don’t currently have access to the equipment required to perform the analyses. The requested instruments will allow students to make their own measurements of seawater nutrients and chlorophyll, and gain valuable hands-on experience with instruments and methods used in research, municipal, and industrial labs around the world.

Category Justification

The requested equipment is for scientific inquiry and will be used for laboratory analysis of environmental water samples.


Seawater is the largest chemical solution on our planet, and all marine life depends on the chemical nutrients dissolved in our oceans. The photosynthetic algae (phytoplankton) that form the basis of the marine food web require high concentrations of the macronutrients carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, and silica, as well as a variety of lower concentration micronutrients. Changes in macronutrient concentrations – either through natural input and depletion, or through human activities like runoff from agricultural fertilizer and wastewater discharge – have dramatic effects on phytoplankton populations, with low nutrient availability leading to vast areas of ocean with little life and high nutrient availability causing uncontrollable, and sometimes harmful, algal blooms.

The analysis of nutrients in water and extracted chlorophyll are extremely common measurements performed in universities and environmental labs worldwide. Despite the common nature of the nutrient and chlorophyll measurements, students at UW don’t have access to the instruments required to make them. Instead, students send samples to the UW Marine Chemistry Lab at a cost of $30 per sample. This not only limits the number of samples that students can run, but also deprives them of the opportunity to learn how to make these measurements. By acquiring these instruments and making them freely available to undergraduate and graduate students alike, we can expand research opportunities and exposure to the analytical tools and chemical fundamentals that will pave the way for careers in environmental, municipal, and industrial water analysis labs.

The requested instruments, a nutrient autoanalyzer and chlorophyll fluorometer, are state-of-the-art pieces of water chemistry analysis equipment. The autoanalyzer is capable of measuring 5 nutrient species (nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, phosphate, and silicate) simultaneously from one sample, providing a full analysis of macronutrients in a single automated run. Chlorophyll analysis is less automated than nutrients, but provides students with the opportunity to learn and perform a simple liquid extraction procedure to prepare samples for measurement on the fluorometer.

Benefits to Students and the University

The School of Oceanography offers undergraduate students an extraordinary array of opportunities to gain hands-on experience with research, including several unique opportunities to propose, design, and carry out research projects of their own. These self-directed projects start in undergraduate students’ second-year coursework, and culminate in a year-long “senior thesis” research project to be carried out on board a two-week cruise. Students collect hundreds of water samples per year for nutrient and chlorophyll analysis, but gain no hands-on experience performing the analyses. The requested instrumentation would give future students the ability to perform their own analyses, gaining valuable experience for future careers in oceanography and environmental sciences.

An important consideration when assessing the benefit of the requested instrumentation is the relatively long lifetime of such equipment. Unlike computer software or hardware that is typically obsolete in 3-5 years, the projected lifetime of well-maintained scientific instruments is on the order of 10-20 years. The requested instrumentation can be expected to continue serving students for many years, which means that the anticipated user base will add up to hundreds of students benefited over the life of the instruments.

The School of Oceanography enrolls over 150 undergraduate majors and minors, and nearly 75 graduate students. Almost all of these students need at least a few nutrient and/or chlorophyll samples analyzed during their time at UW, and approximately 15 of these students per year work on experiments where many (>100) samples need to be analyzed. With an estimated total of 2000 samples run per year, the proposed equipment would be a substantial bargain over its expected lifetime.

Departmental Endorsements

Analysis of seawater nutrients and chlorophyll are necessary for virtually all experiments involving marine life. Understanding the interactions between nutrient levels and biological growth parameters is essential to nearly all chemical and biological oceanography experiments. Grad students within my lab collect hundreds of nutrient and chlorophyll samples per year, and we often have to cut down the number that we have analyzed due to the cost involved. As professor of the senior thesis experiments for the last two years, it is unfortunate that the 15+ students who collected nutrient and chlorophyll samples could only send them to the Marine Chemistry Lab. These analyses are well within the skills of undergraduate students, and the students in my courses could have gained valuable chemical extraction and instrumental analysis experience if we had the proposed equipment available.

Julian Sachs – Professor, School of Oceanography

I have had many graduate and undergraduate students who would benefit greatly from having nutrient and chlorophyll analytical capability in the School of Oceanography. These are core measurements for many chemical, geochemical and biogeochemical studies. Most recently we studied the nutrients and chlorophyll in the seawater around the UW Friday Harbor Labs in the San Juan Islands. We are also studying nutrients in the Persian Gulf in collaboration with Qatar University. Because we did not have the capability to do the nutrients and chlorophyll analyses ourselves we had to pay to have these done by others. These are core analyses that all graduate students should learn how to do while getting their degree.

James W Murray – Professor, School of Oceanography

To be competitive in their future careers, students have to build practical skills while also developing the ability to use these skills in creative new ways. Hands-on experience with scientific instrumentation is a crucial component of this practical and valuable education. Currently, students have few opportunities to conduct nutrient analysis, a chemical technique at the heart of many environmental questions. The instruments proposed here would allow students to build valuable hands-on experience in the analysis of environmental samples while also opening up a host of new research possibilities for undergraduate and graduate students alike.

Alex Gagnon – Professor, School of Oceanography

Installation Timeline

The instruments will be ordered immediately upon award of funds and will be installed as soon as delivered.

Resources Provided by Department

Technicians within the division of Chemical Oceanography in the School of Oceanography will be responsible for installing, maintaining, and scheduling user-time on the instruments. The division of Chemical Oceanography employs seven full time oceanographers and analytical chemists to oversee lab facilities, train students on proper use and upkeep of instruments, and to assist student researchers in collecting data and interpreting results. Chemical Oceanography facilities currently operate and maintain a broad spectrum of analytical instrumentation, including mass spectrometers, gas chromatographs, high-performance liquid chromatography systems, spectroscopic isotope analyzers, as well as numerous smaller instruments. Necessary infrastructure including power distribution and ultrapure water supply are already in place in the shared instrument lab.

Access Restrictions (if any)

The requested equipment will be installed in a shared instrument lab in the Ocean Sciences Building. Access will be granted to any UW researcher, graduate or undergraduate, with a demonstrated need for the instruments, as well as for coursework that could benefit from them. The requested instrumentation is extremely simple to use, and can be operated by any student after an initial training.

Student Endorsements

Part of my graduate research in the School of Oceanography is concerned with changes that happen to algal cells under different environmental conditions. These changes in environmental conditions induce changes in the uptake of nutrients and the production of chlorophyll by algal cells. Though I’ve had over 200 nutrient and chlorophyll samples analyzed in the past 4 years, I’ve never actually operated the equipment myself and have had to cut down on the number of samples analyzed due to the high costs involved. I am also a TA for the Senior Thesis class in the School of Oceanography this year, and we have 7-8 undergraduate students this year who proposed projects and collected samples for nutrient and chlorophyll analysis but were unable to get run the samples themselves, robbing them of crucial technical experience that would be invaluable in their future research and career paths.

Ashley Maloney – Graduate Student, School of Oceanography

I am a graduate student who works in the Sachs lab. My work involves culturing mangroves and seagrass at different salinities to determine the relationship between salinity and the isotopic fractionation of the lipids produced by these plants. As part of these experiments, we try to keep conditions stable in the culturing tanks at all times, including light, salinity, temperature, and nutrients. Currently, we do not monitor nutrients in these tanks due to the costs involved, but we would measure nutrient concentrations to make sure they are relatively constant if we had access to the equipment.

Marta Wolfshorndl – Graduate Student, School of Oceanography

I’ve had the opportunity over the past two years to assist algae culturing research in the School of Oceanography. Part of this research involves collecting nutrient and chlorophyll samples from the cultures for analysis by the Marine Chemistry Lab. Though I’ve been told that those analyses are within my ability to learn, we don’t have the instruments available for students to do them. Learning new techniques in the lab I work in has been an invaluable addition to my coursework here at UW, and I fully support this proposal to increase the breadth of experiences available to current and future students.

Colton Skavicus – Undergraduate Student, School of Oceanography

Collecting samples in the field is a major part of my graduate work in Oceanography. As part of our work to reconstruct past climate, my lab has collected nutrient and chlorophyll samples on board research cruises and from saltwater lakes on islands throughout the tropical Pacific. Being able to reconstruct past climate requires knowing the conditions that the algae in those locations are growing in, and the nutrient content of the water can alter how we interpret our results. Unfortunately, we are unable to pay to analyze all of the nutrient samples we collect, so we have a backlog of several hundred nutrient and chlorophyll samples that we would run if we had access to the analyzers.

Tessa McGee – Graduate Student, School of Oceanography


Group Funded Item Unit price Quantity Subtotal
Nutrient Analyzer

Seal AA3 AutoAnalyzer

$84,709.00 1 $84,709.00

Seal AA3 Autoanalyzer with 4 optical detection channels and one fluorometric detection channel.


Fast and reliable instrument for measuring the seawater macronutrients nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, phosphate, and silicate.

Installation and Training

$4,000.00 1 $4,000.00

Installation and training for AA3 AutoAnalyzer


Installation and training required by the instrument manufacturer. A technician from the manufacturer will install the system, verify the performance, and set up methods specific to our applications.

Spares Kit with Flowcell

$760.00 1 $760.00

Spare parts for flow path of AA3 AutoAnalyzer.


Spare glassware, coils, connectors, and flowcell for use if changing applications. Will allow for analysis of sulfide, iron, manganese, and other chemical species if desired.

Spares Kit without Flowcell

$295.00 1 $295.00

Spare parts for AA3 AutoAnalyzer.


Spare glassware, coils, and connectors to ensure the instrument can continue running while cleaning original equipment.

Spare Tubing Kits

$250.00 2 $500.00

Spare tubing for AA3 AutoAnalyzer


Spare tubing to ensure that the analyzer can continue running if original tubing is being cleaned or needs to be replaced.

HP UW Desktop B

$660.00 1 $660.00

HP EliteDesk SFF, Core i5 3.3 GHz, 8 GB RAM, 500 GB HDD


Computer required for control, data acquisition, and data processing.


$160.00 2 $320.00

HP EliteDisplay E201 LED Monitor, 20"


Two monitors allow for far greater productivity in data collection and analysis than a single monitor. One user can keep the control software open on one monitor, and the data analysis software an/or a spreadsheet open on the second monitor allowing for greater efficiency in acquisition and analysis of data.


$1,000.00 1 $1,000.00



Shipping for large analyzer with many components.

Chlorophyll Fluorometer

Turner Trilogy Fluorometer

$5,995.00 1 $5,995.00

Turner Trilogy Laboratory Fluorometer


Base fluorometer unit, including broad-spectrum light source, photomultiplier, and control electronics for fluorometric detection of samples.

Extracted Chlorophyll Module

$600.00 1 $600.00

Extracted chlorophyll analysis module for Turner Trilogy fluorometer.


Drop-in module including sample holder and light filters to analyze chlorophyll extracted from seawater samples.

In Vivo Chlorophyll Analysis Module

$600.00 1 $600.00

In Vivo chlorophyll analysis module for Turner Trilogy fluorometer.


Drop-in module including sample holder and light filters to analyze chlorophyll from living algae in seawater samples.

Solid State Standard

$190.00 1 $190.00

Solid state standard for Turner Trilogy fluorometer.


Standard for calibrating fluorescence measurements and assessing instrument performance.

Total requested: $99,629.00

Total funded: $0.00


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