Purdue professor elected to National Academy of Sciences

April 30, 2015  

R. Graham Cooks

R. Graham Cooks 
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A Purdue University professor has been elected into the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors given to a scientist in the United States.

R. Graham Cooks, the Henry Bohn Hass Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and co-director of Purdue’s Center for Analytical Instrumentation Development, will be inducted into the academy during its next annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

“Membership in the National Academy of Sciences is one of the pinnacles of distinction for a scientist, and Dr. Cooks’ honor is well-earned,” said President Mitch Daniels. “Dr. Cooks created technology with applications that include medicine, food safety and national security. He has had a tremendous impact on modern science and continues to tirelessly explore and push the potential of his work to benefit society.”

Cooks is a pioneer in the field of mass spectrometry, which identifies the contents of a sample by measuring the mass of its ions, or electrically charged molecules.

Early in his career he helped revolutionize the field through the development of tandem mass spectrometry, which allowed for the quantification of the molecules present as well as their identification. He later developed ambient ionization techniques that paved the way for faster, more portable mass spectrometry devices. The techniques eliminated the need for samples to be chemically manipulated and contained in a vacuum chamber for analysis and allowed testing to be done in the air or directly on a surface in its natural environment.

Cooks and his collaborator, Zheng Ouyang, a Purdue associate professor of biomedical engineering and electrical and computer engineering, then miniaturized the once sedan-sized mass spectrometer to a shoebox-sized device ready to operate outside the laboratory. The mini mass spectrometers have been likened to Star Trek's tricorder device, which can instantly identify the molecules present on a surface or in the air.

Cooks and his team have fine-tuned the tools for use in molecular imaging for cancer diagnostics and surgery; therapeutic drug monitoring; testing for biomarkers in urine; and the identification of food-borne pathogens, bacteria, pesticides and explosives residues.

Cooks is among 84 new members and 21 foreign associates elected to the academy this year. Members are elected in recognition of distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

Cooks joins four Purdue colleagues as current members or foreign associates of the academy. Those previously elected are H. Jay Melosh, distinguished professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences and physics; Ei-ichi Negishi, Nobel laureate and the Herbert C. Brown Distinguished Professor of Chemistry; Michael Rossmann, the Hanley Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences; and Jian-Kang Zhu, distinguished professor of plant biology.

Cooks is the fourth faculty member from Purdue's Department of Chemistry to be elected to the academy. Joseph S. Francisco, professor emeritus, was elected in 2013; and the late Nobel laureate Herbert C. Brown was elected in 1957. Negishi was elected in 2014.

In 2014 Cooks was named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and in 2013 he won the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Prize in the Chemical Sciences. Additional honors include American Chemical Society awards in Chemical Instrumentation, Mass Spectrometry, Analytical Chemistry and the F.A Cotton Award. He has been recognized internationally with both the Robert Boyle Medal and the Centennial Prize of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He also won the American Chemical Society's 2014 Nobel Laureate Signature Award for Graduate Education in Chemistry. He has received Purdue’s Outstanding Faculty Commercialization Award, the College of Science Graduate Mentoring Award and the College of Engineering Faculty Award of Excellence.

Cooks holds 32 U.S. patents and is the author of more than 1,000 scientific papers. Startup companies based on his work include MIMS Technology Inc., Prosolia Inc., QuantIon Inc. and Griffin Analytical Technologies Inc., which has been acquired by ICx LLC and is now a division of Flyr Inc. Cooks has directed the doctoral research of 128 graduate students. He is a strong supporter of women in science, and he has directed the work of 64 female graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.

He is associated with several Purdue research centers, including Bindley Bioscience Center, the Purdue Center for Cancer Research and the Center for Analytical Instrumentation Development.

Cooks earned his bachelor's degree and doctorate from the University of Natal, South Africa, and a doctorate from Cambridge University. He has been at Purdue since 1971.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to furthering science and technology and their use for the general welfare. Established by an Act of Congress and signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, the academy is charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology.

There are currently 2,250 active members and 452 foreign associates. Foreign associates are nonvoting members of the academy, with citizenship outside the United States. For more information and the full list of newly elected members, visit http://www.nationalacademies.org

Writer: Elizabeth K. Gardner, 765-494-2081, ekgardner@purdue.edu 

Sources: R. Graham Cooks, 765-494-5263, cooks@purdue.edu 

Mitch Daniels, president@purdue.edu 

Related websites:

Aston Labs (Cooks’ research laboratory): http://aston.chem.purdue.edu 

Related releases: 

National Academy of Sciences press release:






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