Sherrie Elzey and De-Hao Tsai win ABC Best Paper Award
De-Hao Tsai was born in 1976. He earned a B.S. degree in chemical engineering from the National Cheng Kung University (Tainan
Taiwan) in 1998
and an M.S. degree in chemical engineer- ing from the National Tsing Hua University (Hsinchu,
Taiwan) in 2000
. He received his Ph.D. degree in materials science and engi- neering from the University of Maryland (College Park
) in 2007 under the supervision of Michael R. Zachariah. He is cur- rently Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineer- ing at NTHU. Prior to joining NTHU
he worked as a research scientist at Cabot Microelectronics (Aurora
2008-2009) and as a research associate at NIST (2009-2013). During his tenure at NIST, his research work focused on measurements for applications in nanomedicine supervised by Vincent A. Hackley.
he re- ceived the 2013 Distinguished Associate Award for Technical Achievement at NIST to acknowledge his exemplary leadership in the development of innovative physical and chemical metrology for applications in cancer nanotechnology
N. Oberbeckmann-Winter (
Sherrie Elzey was born in 1981. She earned her B.S. degree in chemistry and B.A. degree in physics from the University of Northern Iowa (Cedar Falls
). She received a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate fellowship and earned her Ph.D. degree from the University of Iowa (
Iowa City, IA
). She was then awarded a National Research Council postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST
). At NIST,
she conducted research in the Materials Mea- surement Laboratory focusing on method development for measuring the size and elemental composition of representative therapeutic nano- particles with functionalized surfaces. After her postdoctoral research
, she joined TSI (Shoreview,
) as an applications engineer,
where she applied a variety of sizing methods to measure airborne and liquid-phase nanoparticles. She is currently a regional sales manager at TSI
) Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
, Springer-Verlag GmbH, Tiergartenstrae 17,
69121 Heidelberg, Germany
The ABC Best Paper Award 2013 for outstanding work published in Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry (ABC) goes to Sherrie Elzey (32 years old) and De-Hao Tsai (37 years old), who are lead authors of the article Real-time size
discrimination and elemental analysis of gold nanoparticles
using ES-DMA coupled to ICP-MS, which presents the
development of a method to characterize simultaneously the size
and elemental composition of nanoparticles, especially those
used for nanotherapeutics. Sherrie Elzey and De-Hao Tsai
demonstrate a proof of concept for a measurement method that
determines the elemental composition of size-separated
particles, thereby providing both size and chemical information
from a single coupled system. This analytical approach is
broadly applicable to both chemical and biochemical research,
as well as product development, for example, consumer
products, biomedical and diagnostic devices, and nanocoatings.
Accompanied by 1,500, the award is sponsored by
Springer to honor exceptional young scientists and to
stimulate their research careers. The article Real-time size
discrimination and elemental analysis of gold nanoparticles using
ESDMA coupled to ICP-MS by Sherrie Elzey, De-Hao Tsai,
Lee L. Yu, Michael R. Winchester, Michael E. Kelley, and
Vincent A. Hackley was published as a Paper in Forefront and
i s f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e o n l i n e d u r i n g 2 0 1 4 a t h t t p : / /
link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00216-012-6617-z or can
be requested as a PDF file.
Who are Sherrie Elzey and De-Hao Tsai?
Sherrie Elzey and De-Hao Tsai talk about their research, their
motivations, and themselves to Nicola
What was your motivation to do research in the area
of nanoparticle analysis?
Sherrie: When I was considering my research options in
graduate school, nanoscience was a new concept to me. It
sounded like an interesting interdisciplinary field that fit well
with my background in chemistry and physics.
De-Hao: On graduating with a Ph.D. degree, I realized how
important it was to have suitable metrology and methods to
correlate the material properties of nanoparticles with their
performance. Hence, over the past few years, my research has
been devoted to the area of nanoparticle analysis.
Our work demonstrates a method that can provide
numberand mass-based distributions, elemental composition, particle
concentration, and nanoparticle density. It can be applied
widely for many different applications.
How does the award-winning work relate to your Ph.D.
research and your present work?
Sherrie: I used both the size separation method and elemental
analysis methods to characterize nanoparticles during my
graduate research. In my present work, I interact with
researchers using these and other analyses to study particles
for a broad range of applications.
De-Hao: I have been working on stand-alone particle sizing
[electrospray differential mobility analysis (ES-DMA)] since
my Ph.D. studies. The work presented in our article gave me
the opportunity to learn how to analyze simultaneously the
number concentration and elemental composition of
sizeresolved nanoparticles through the coupling of ES-DMA with
inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. I think the
work is also very helpful to my present work on quantifying
the loading of metallic drug ligands on nanoparticle surfaces
and also the composition of nanoparticle assemblies.
How would you explain your research to your child?
We use high voltages and high temperatures to measure
particles that are too small to see. This helps people understand
what the particles are and how they can be used.
What is the trickiest problem you have had to overcome
in your research? How did you solve it?
Because this work coupled different techniques, we had to
be sure that the calculations based on data we extracted from
the measurements were valid. In other words, we had to be
careful that our assumptions were valid and we were
considering all sources of error in the measurements. In this
respect, it was critical to take advantage of the
interdisciplinary nature of the work. Several colleagues from
different divisions provided reviews and helpful discussions
throughout this research.
Where do you see your field headed and how do you see it
influencing bioanalytical research?
The field of nanoparticle metrics is trending toward real-time
analysis based on methods that can provide complementary
data. As these metrics are developed, nanoparticle properties
will be better understood and therefore better utilized for
specific applications. One area in particular that will benefit
from such methods is nano-based therapeutics.
Which incident/discovery has proved most valuable
for your own research? Which incident/discovery most
inspired you during your education and scientific career?
Which recent discovery might prove most valuable
to the field of (bio)analytical research or beyond?
Sherrie: The development of differential mobility analysis
for size separation of nanoparticles has influenced and
inspired my career. I used this technique for research during
my graduate and postdoctoral work, and I use it in my
De-Hao: The first time I saw nanoparticles aligning on a
charge-patterned substrate under a scanning electron
microscope was very inspiring. At the time, I believed I could use
electrostatic force to direct and classify nanoparticles, even
though I could not see them visually. For bioanalytical
research, I think the discovery of using ES-DMA to characterize
ligand-conjugated gold nanoparticles was very valuable and
provided an effective way to obtain a full particle size
distribution and the coating thickness of the molecular corona on
What was the best/worst advice you ever received?
Sherrie: A phrase that I recall often is So what? Its no
big deal. It helps me to refocus when I start to worry
about whether I am making a mistake or if I might fail.
Most mistakes are really no big deal; they are just
learning experiences. When I am making a decision, I
envision the worst-case scenario and then ask myself
so what? This helps me make sure I am not avoiding
anything for fear of failure.
De-Hao: The best advice for me is try more; dont
give up. In many cases I can get through problems
because of it.
Sherrie: My graduate advisor, Vicki Grassian. It was inspiring to
work with and learn from a successful, driven woman and see
how she worked hard and collaborated with other researchers.
During my time at the University of Iowa, she established the
Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Institute. It was great to see
how a project such as that is started and developed.
De-Hao: My Ph.D. advisor, Michael Zachariah, and my
NIST supervisor, Vincent Hackley. They had a positive impact
on my research work. I learned a lot about nanoscience and
nanotechnology from, and was inspired by, Michael Zachariah
when I was his graduate student at the University of Maryland.
Vincent Hackley was a role model for how to conduct a research
project in a systematic way, and showed me how to be
missiondriven to ensure our team could achieve its goalthe work
presented in our award-winning article is a great example.
What are your future plans?
Sherrie: I really enjoy learning, so I am always open to
continuing my education and seeing what opportunities are
available. I am open to trying different career paths.
De-Hao: My career plan is to be a good teacher at my
university and also a great scientist in the field of nanoparticle
What do you do in your spare time?
Sherrie: I like to get outside when the weather is nicejogging,
hiking, playing with my dog, grilling. The other half of the year
in Minnesota, I sit by the fireplace and watch movies.
De-Hao: I like to travel for leisure and/or for conferences,
whenever I have spare time.