SAS Early Career Interest Group 

About Us:
In 2021, the Society for Applied Spectroscopy (SAS) created an Early Career Interest Group (ECIG) and membership category to serve scientists who have graduated with their final degree (bachelors, masters, or doctorate) within the last ten years. The SAS-ECIG is a diverse committee that is dedicated to providing members with a unique experience to help promote and succeed in their career. Together, we aim to support the professional development of early career scientists through award schemes as well as opportunities in leadership, outreach, networking, mentorship, volunteering, formal certification, and employment.
Mission Statement:
The Society of Applied Spectroscopy Early Career Interest Group (SAS-ECIG) aims to support the professional development of early career scientists through award schemes, as well as opportunities in leadership, outreach, networking, mentorship, volunteering, formal certification, and employment.
The primary objectives of SAS-ECIG are to:
Offer funding opportunities to build, support and promote early career SAS members
Maintain a socially supportive early career community
Support early career professional development through mentorship, research collaborations, career development support, and publication opportunities
Recognize and promote the professional accomplishments and community contributions of early career professionals 


Committee Members: Committee Members: Fay Nicolson (founding chair), Andrew Whitley, Beauty Chabuka, Anthony Stender, Heather Juzwa, and Sam Mabbott.

We are always looking for more committee members – if this is something you are interested in getting involved with please email [email protected] for more information!

Past events:

2023 SAS Early Career Travel Grant

Name: Stephanie Zaleski

Affiliation: Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, California State University East Bay

Bio: Stephanie Zaleski joined the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry as an Assistant Professor at CSU East Bay in 2020. She obtained her B.A. in Biochemistry from Barnard College in 2011 and her Ph.D. in Chemistry from Northwestern University in 2016 working in the lab of Richard P. Van Duyne. She is an established researcher in the field of applied spectroscopy for art conservation and museum studies, as well as the application of SERS to chemical sensing problems. To date, Stephanie has published 14 peer-reviewed journal articles, focusing on topics ranging from the study single molecule electrochemistry by SERS to characterizing arsenic sulfide prints by Raman spectroscopy and SEM-EDS to date mid-19th century Japanese woodblock prints more accurately, as well as assessing the degree of deterioration in 19th-century glass by Visible-IR reflectance spectroscopy.  Her current research interests at CSU East Bay include studying fundamental analyte-nanoparticle interactions to improve the use of SERS as an applied analytical technique and establishing an art conservation science research working group between universities, museums, and national laboratories in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Talk title: “Developing Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy Methods for Quantification Of Complex Analyte Mixtures in Plant-Based Extracts”


Abstract: Analytes such as polyphenolic compounds, which are an important metabolic product associated with plant adaptation to stressful conditions. Anthraquinones are an important class of analytes that are found in solutions of natural red dye extracts of plants. Plant-based extracts are complex mixtures; their composition largely depends on plant species, location, or its biochemical expression. SERS is an ideal method to analyte these mixtures due to its inherent chemical sensitivity and specificity. However, despite its relative popularity, SERS is most often used for the detection of 1-2 analytes.

The goal of this research is to develop a more quantitative model of SERS for the identification and quantification of complex mixtures of analytes found in plant-based extracts, such as polyphenolic compounds in pistachio nut and leaf extracts or anthraquinone compounds found in madder root extracts. In addition, this work will allow us to develop a deeper fundamental understanding of analyte-nanoparticle competitive adsorption and surface interactions, which will help improve the use of SERS for quantitative measurements.Our group's approach involves determining the optimal conditions for solution-based SERS using standard solutions representing the main classes of polyphenolics and anthraquinones found in plant extracts. Using the optimized conditions, we have quantified binding affinities of target analytes by fitting concentration-dependent SERS intensities to a linearized Langmuir adsorption isotherm model. We have found that molecular binding affinity is a more important factor in analyte detection than an analyte's inherent Raman scattering cross section. With this data, we have begun to classify molecular analytes with common features that yield various intensities of SERS signals. We are now exploring the application of our results to actual plant-based extracts.



Overview of Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy Research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory


Hunter B. Andrews

Radioisotope Science and Technology Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN 37831


            Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) is an incredibly robust approach to elemental analysis that is capable of probing solids, liquids, gases, and mixed phases such as aerosols. Additionally, this analysis can be done remotely through fiber optics, providing a pathway for elemental monitoring in hazardous environments such as nuclear reactors or radiological hot cells. Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is actively developing LIBS systems for monitoring the off-gases from molten salt reactors and is using the same tools to evaluate treatment options for capturing fission gases during reactor operation. For this application, LIBS is tasked with simultaneously monitoring aerosol particles and noble gases. LIBS is also being used to rapidly map advanced nuclear fuel materials, geological samples, and fly ash. In these applications, LIBS provides an avenue to rapidly evaluate elemental composition and correlations, as well as screen materials to identify regions of interest for a more detailed analysis. LIBS is also being used to investigate environmental samples to aid in carbon capture research. In this application, LIBS is used to rapidly evaluate silicon levels in poplar plant samples to be able to identify genotypes that form phytolith-occluded carbon on the leaf surface. This application aims to better understand the relation between silicon levels, plant genotypes, and plant origins in relation to phytoliths to enable bioengineered plants for optimized carbon retention. This presentation will highlight these examples of LIBS applications at ORNL and provide further updates about many of the projects underway.


Past events:

SAS Early Career Interest Group – Travel Awards

The Early Career Interest Group (ECIG) is happy to announce this year’s winners of Early Career Travel Awards: Dr. Olga Eremina and Dr. Malama Chisanga.

Olga obtained her Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from Lomonosov Moscow State University.  She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Southern California in Dr. Cristina Zavaleta’s research lab, where she utilizes SERS-based sensors for monitoring human and environmental health.  At SciX 2022, she will be giving the presentation “Breaking Multiplexity Limits of SERS Imaging to Enable Highly Specific Molecular Imaging and Spatial Profiling of Diseased Tissues”.  In this talk, she will describe her work with multiplexed Raman imaging to distinguish 26 different SERS nanoparticles with subcellular resolution.

Malama received his Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Manchester.  Currently, he is working in Dr. Jean-Francois Masson’s group at the University of Montreal as a postdoctoral fellow.  In his research, Malama is using SERS sensors and chemometrics for medical and clinical applications.  Malama’s presentation at SciX 2022 is titled “SERS on a chip: Multiplexed detection of cross-reactivity of SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies in clinical samples”.  His talk will focus on multiplexed detection of antibody cross-reactivity using SERS-active tags that are immobilized on a chip within a microfluidic cell.



These awards, in the amount of $750 each, will be used to assist the awardees with travel expenses related to attending SciX 2022.  The Early Career Interest Group would also like to thank all of the other applicants for taking the time to apply for this year’s award.  It was an honor to learn about each of you and the exciting research you are conducting.

Past events:

Thursday February 24 2022 at 11 am EST

Event Overview:

Are you wondering what career path to pursue once you finish your studies? Or considering switching from the path you have followed so far? Or just wondering what it’s like to work in different types of institutions or roles? Then this webinar is for you! The SAS Early Career Interest Group has gathered spectroscopists that represent a wide variety of different career trajectories to discuss their own personal career paths and experiences. This webinar includes spectroscopists representing careers in academia and government institutions, industry, including multi-national corporations, clinical trials management, business development, biotechnology, science communication, sales, and working abroad. Speakers will give a 5-7 minute presentation detailing their career so far followed by a panel discussion, and attendees will be able to pose questions to any of the panelists.

Key Learning Objectives:

  • Discover the variety of career paths taken by those with analytical science backgrounds
  • Learn how to apply spectroscopy training to a role of your choice
  • The pros, cons, and benefits to working in each field and type of organization (academia, government, industry)

Who Should Attend:

  • Anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in spectroscopy, with or without education in the analytical sciences, and wondering how to choose and establish the right career path.
  • Anyone with a degree in analytical science or spectroscopy looking to leverage their spectroscopy or analytical chemistry training.
  • Anyone working in spectroscopy looking to expand or change their career path and looking for new challenges and opportunities to apply their spectroscopy qualifications.

For any questions please contact Preranna Singh: [email protected]

Past events:

  • A webinar on “Effective Career Development through Successful Mentor and Network Relationships” in collaboration with Spectroscopy Magazine and the Coblentz society (Sept 14th 2021 at 11 am EST).

Event Overview:

Proactive Mentorship and Networking: This webinar will focus on informing attendees on how to grow and self-manage their professional network, and as well as manage mentor relationships. Attendees will review mentorship do’s and don’ts for effective mentor-mentee relationship and how to find and connect with a mentor through meaningful networking strategies. Attendees will also learn how to be proactive in managing relationships and mentorships in order to benefit their professional career development. Registration is free and open to anyone:


  • The SAS ECIG networking event at SciX, Providence RI. This in-person event will take place on Monday, Sept 27th at 8-11 pm. Come network with spectroscopy leaders from academia and industry and hear more about their career paths. This event is open to Early Career members only. Please keep an eye on your inbox for registration details!   

SAS Early Career Travel Award - 2021

SAS Early Career Travel Award

SAS-ECIG are pleased and happy to announce our first ever recipients for the SAS-ECIG travel grant to the 2021 SciX conference - Congratulations to Dr. Julia Gala de Pablo and Dr. Rupali Mankar! Each awardee will receive $750 to support the cost of registration, travel, and/or accommodation at the SciX conference, as well as a one-year SAS ECIG membership. More information on the awardees can be found below:

Name: Dr. Julia Gala de Pablo

Affiliation: Department of Chemistry, University of Tokyo

Abstract Title: High-throughput Raman flow cytometry for directed evolution

Abstract: Flow cytometry is an essential tool for single-cell analysis. Fluorescence-flow cytometry allows analyzing thousands of single cells based on their fluorescence signal using fluorescent staining. However, the need for fluorescent labels is problematic due to its low specificity for small biomolecules, cytotoxicity of staining protocols, and autofluorescence interference. Raman spectroscopy obtains a biochemical fingerprint of single cells in a label-free, non-destructive manner. However, its small cross-section results in slow signal acquisition and low throughput, hindering the interrogation of large cell populations. Coherent Raman scattering methods such as coherent anti-Stokes Raman Scattering (CARS) enhance the light-matter interaction, enabling faster acquisitions and allowing high-throughput implementation. We use Fourier-transform CARS (FT-CARS) to obtain a Raman spectrum every 42 µs in the fingerprint region and analyze cells based on their vibrational characteristics. Integration of a rapid-scan FT-CARS spectrometer and a microfluidic device with acoustic focusing enables Raman flow cytometry at 200 cells/s. With this method, we demonstrated high-throughput flow cytometry of various microalgae such as Chromochloris zofingiensisEuglena gracilis, and Haematococcus lacustris based on their intracellular contents of carbohydrates, proteins, chlorophyll, and carotenoids. We also show that our FT-CARS flow cytometer can characterize differences in metabolic activity among Euglena gracilis clones generated by ion beam mutagenesis. We believe that the combination of ion-beam mutagenesis and Raman flow cytometry opens a new path to metabolic engineering, that is, creating and characterizing cells with specific phenotypes in a label-free manner.

Brief Bio: Dr Julia Gala de Pablo studied a BSc in Physics and a BSc in Biochemistry at the University Complutense of Madrid (Spain). In 2015, she moved to the University of Leeds (UK), defending her PhD in Raman spectroscopy of live single colorectal cancer cells in 2019. She is currently a JSPS postdoctoral fellow at the University of Tokyo in Goda-lab working in Fourier-Transform Coherent anti-Stokes Raman Scattering for flow cytometry and sorting.

Name: Dr. Rupali Mankar

Affiliation: Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Houston

Abstract Title: Polarization sensitive photothermal mid-infrared spectroscopic imaging of human bone marrow tissue

Collagen quantity and integrity play a significant role in understanding diseases such as myelofibrosis (MF). Label-free mid-infrared spectroscopic imaging (MIRSI) has the potential to quantify collagen while minimizing the subjective variance observed with conventional histopathology. Polarization-sensitive Infrared (IR) spectroscopy provides chemical information while also estimating tissue dichroism. Quantitative chemical and structural information can potentially aid MF grading and improve pathological agreement on the diagnosis by quantifying chemical and structural information of collagen fibers. We are presenting the first study of polarization-dependent spectroscopic variations in collagen from human bone marrow samples. We translate polarization-sensitive IR studies in animal models into a clinically viable method for analyzing human clinical biopsies. We developed a new polarization-sensitive optical photothermal mid-infrared (O-PTIR) spectroscopic imaging scheme that enables sample and source independent polarization control. The proposed imaging scheme allows tissue imaging at higher spatial resolution (0.5µm) with reduced imaging time. OPTIR provides 0.5µm spatial resolution, enabling the identification of thin (≈1µm) collagen fibers that were not separable using Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) imaging in fingerprint spectral region at diffraction-limited resolution (≈5µm). We also propose quantitative metrics to identify fiber orientation from discrete band images (amide I and amide II) measured under three polarizations. In previous studies, for collagen fiber orientation, mid-IR imaging was collected using IR lights of multiple polarizations in the range of 00 – 1800. Imaging tissue with multiple polarizations is time-consuming, especially at high spatial resolution. Hence, we proposed a clinically viable imaging scheme to quantify collagen fiber orientation by imaging tissue at only two discrete bands and three polarizations (two orthonormal polarization and the third one at 450 from both orthogonal polarizations). The proposed imaging scheme provides sufficient information that can be translated into a quantitative metric using Jone's calculus. However, mid absorbance imaging with two orthogonal polarizations is inadequate for identifying collagen orientation in clinical samples since human bone biopsies contain collagen fibers oriented in multiple directions. Here, we address this challenge and demonstrate that three polarization measurements are necessary and sufficient to resolve orientation ambiguity in clinical bone marrow samples. Our study is also the first to demonstrate the ability to spectroscopically identify thin collagen fibers (≈1µm diameter) and quantify their orientations, critical for accurate grading of human bone marrow fibrosis.

Brief Bio: Rupali Mankar is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Houston. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Houston. Her research focuses on combining IR spectroscopy and machine learning to improvise spectroscopy for clinical translation. She was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship award by the National Laboratory of Medicine (NIH-NLM) for her Biomedical Informatics and Data Science field. In her Ph.D. work, she has automated osteosclerosis (one type of bone marrow fibrosis) and currently working on overcoming the diffraction-limited spatial resolution of IR imaging for comprehensive evaluation of bone marrow fibrosis.