Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry (PhD)

Degree Level



Chemistry & Biochemistry


Bill Durham

Committee Member

Jack Lay

Second Committee Member

David Paul

Third Committee Member

Julie Stenken

Fourth Committee Member

Wesley Stites


Pure sciences, Drug detection, Lipids, Mass spectrometry, Synthetic cannabinoids


Mass spectrometry is an important tool used in many different disciplines and settings that include forensics, drug discovery, environmental analysis, and proteomics. Gas chromatography - mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI - TOF MS) are two of the most important instruments used for analysis of compounds. Chapters 1 and 2 of this discussion use GC-MS for the investigation of synthetic cannabinoids in `K2' incense products and the detection of metabolites in urine samples from individuals suspected of consuming these mixtures. Analytical standards were synthesized and used for identification and confirmation of structures. Detection of these compounds and their metabolites is important since `K2' products are banned nationwide as a Schedule 1 substance. Chapter 3 uses LDI-TOF MS for the analysis of triacylglycerol (TAG) degradation products in fingermark samples exposed to light/dark conditions on four different surfaces: stainless steel, glass, plastic, and iron. A standard of triolein was used for identification of products with the detection of C7:0 and C8:0 aldehyde and carboxylic acids through tandem mass spectrometry analysis. The age of a fingermark was estimated through comparison of unsaturated and saturated TAGs. Analysis of TAGs in fingermarks is important as a possible dating technique which could provide investigative leads or a timeline of events in a criminal investigation. Chapter 4 uses MALDI-TOF MS for the development of a rapid separation technique to overcome suppression effects of TAGs by phosphatidylcholine (PC). A solid phase extraction (SPE) technique was developed to separate these classes of compounds using reference lipids and real samples (beef, egg yolk) as models. Because lipids play important roles in biological systems, a method to clearly detect and overcome suppression effects is important. Chapter 5 uses GC-MS for the analysis of fatty and resin acids in biomass fermentation process waters. An extraction procedure was developed for detection and quantification of these compounds. Monitoring these acids in water samples is important because they can negatively impact environmental and industrial pathways.