University of Texas at Arlington Prof. Purnendu Dasgupta has been honored with state and national awards. “The Distinguished Texas Scientist Award is particularly special because I've spent all of my professional career in Texas," the Indian American scientist said. (The University of Texas at Arlington photo)

Purnendu Dasgupta, professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, has been honored with state and national awards for his work.

Dasgupta, the Hamish Small Chair of Ion Analysis in UTA's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, has been named the 2018 Distinguished Texas Scientist by the Texas Academy of Science and the 2018 American Chemical Society's Division of Analytical Chemistry Chemical Instrumentation Award recipient.

"It is a big thrill that this is happening and an honor to be among the other teachers and scholars who have received these awards. They have all left behind a cadre of very successful students, and that is what is most exciting to me,” Dasgupta said in a statement.

"The Distinguished Texas Scientist Award is particularly special because I've spent all of my professional career in Texas," the Indian American professor added. "I'm also touched that this is an award for a scientist, not a chemist, because while we often like to compartmentalize things, I'm proud that the impact of my work is seen as going beyond the disciplines."

Last year, the Dasgupta was named recipient of the Talanta Medal, an international honor in the analytical chemistry field (see India-West article here: http://bit.ly/2FIRi3T). He will be honored for that award in March.

Additionally, one of Dasgupta’s papers in January was listed in The Analytical Scientist as among ten landmark literature papers in the discipline for 2017.

Dasgupta, considered a pioneer in the field of ion chromatography, is perhaps most recognized for his work in iodine nutrition. He testified before Congress on the significance of perchlorate in women's breast milk. Perchlorate interferes with iodine uptake and iodine is the single most important element in thyroid hormones, which govern neurodevelopment, according to a university news release.

Among his lab's active research projects are an environmentally friendly analysis of arsenic in drinking water, the development of a NASA-funded ion chromatograph for testing extraterrestrial soil, and the measurement of cyanide in saliva, blood and breath to more rapidly treat cyanide poisoning. Dasgupta says his lab "fosters builders, not users," it added.

"Only elite scientists who have made significant international contributions in their fields are selected for these prestigious awards, and Dr. Dasgupta is truly among the greats," said Morteza Khaledi, dean of the UTA College of Science, in a statement. "He not only challenges but also inspires his colleagues and students in our college and his research is applied science – it is improving public health on a global scale. I congratulate Dr. Dasgupta on yet another honor in his remarkable career."

Dasgupta is only the second UTA researcher to receive the Texas Academy of Science's Distinguished Texas Scientist Award, the first being herpetology professor and Amphibian and Reptile Diversity Research Center at UT Arlington Jonathan Campbell.

"Dr. Dasgupta is most deserving of this award, and the recognition is long overdue," Campbell said in the release. "This is an extremely rewarding honor because it not only recognizes his achievements, but it also means his peers in Texas have taken notice of the impact of his work."

Among his recent research projects, Dasgupta led a team which devised a new method to measure the amount of blood present in dry blood spot analysis, providing an alternative to the current preferred approach of measuring sodium levels.

Another of Dasgupta’s recent projects is the development of a prototype for an implantable in-line shunt flow monitoring system for hydrocephalus patients, which could lead to better treatment, especially in infants and children who account for a large percentage of shunt operations every year, UTA noted.

In another project, the professor is using a $1.2 million grant from NASA to further the search for amino acids, the so-called building blocks of life, by extending a platform he developed to detect and separate ions, the university said.

Dasgupta received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Bankura Christian College and a master’s degree in inorganic chemistry from the University of Burdwan, both located in West Bengal, India. He came to the U.S. in 1973 and earned his doctorate in analytical chemistry with a minor in electrical engineering from Louisiana State University.

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