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Gary Van Berkel

Chemical Sciences Division, ORNL


Dr. Gary J. Van Berkel is the group leader of and distinguished research scientist in the Organic and Biological Mass Spectrometry Group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He earned his B.A. in Chemistry from Lawrence University (Appleton, WI) and his Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from Washington State University (Pullman, WA). His graduate school work focused on trace metal quantitation (using neutron activation analysis) and metal speciation in fossil fuels and source rocks (using mass spectrometry) in relation to the fundamentals of petroleum formation and source rock-oil field correlations for enhanced oil prospecting. From this work sprang his interest in developing mass spectrometry based detection and characterization methods for geoporphyrins and ultimately to his focus on ionization sources for mass spectrometry. His most notable work in the 1990's led to an elucidation of the electrochemical aspects of electrospray ionization for which he was awarded the Biemann Medal by the American Society for Mass Spectrometry. His fundamental mass spectrometry research focuses on atmospheric pressure ion sources and on the novel configuration and application of these ion sources to solve analytical problems.  Most recently he and his group have been investigating and developing atmospheric pressure surface sampling/ionization instrumental techniques and methods for high throughput analysis and chemical imaging with mass spectrometry ( Dr. Van Berkel also oversees the LC/MS Metabolomics lab at the BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) located at ORNL.  Work in this lab is in support of the analysis needs of the members of the BESC and involves both routine quantitative measurements, new method development, and discovery based mass spectrometry investigations related to bioenergy research ( His research in all these areas has involved numerous post-doctoral associates and graduates students in addition to staff scientists at ORNL.

Dr. Van Berkel has published more than 145 referred journal papers that have been cited more than 5500 times (h index = 43) and presented over 120 invited or contributed talks at scientific meetings, universities, or industries.  He also has been awarded 14 patents several of which have been licensed to industry and resulted in commercialized instrumentation. In 2013 he received the ORNL’s award for Outstanding Individual Accomplishment in Science and Technology (“Scientist of the Year”) as well the award as ORNL’s Inventor of the Year. He and other members so his group were awarded the 2013 Beynon Prize for the best publication in Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry. His Surface Sampling Probe for Mass Spectrometry was selected for a 2010, R&D 100 award. This technology is implemented commercially as the Liquid Extraction Surface Analysis (LESA) mode on the Triversa Nanomate Robotic Nanelectrospry System from Advion Biosytems ( In 2003, Dr. Van Berkel won the ORNL award as Science Communicator - "For Educating Public Officials about Technology Pertinent to Homeland Security and Advancing ORNL's Role in Homeland Security."


Selected Publications

Ovchinnikova, O. S.; Kjoller, K.; Hurst, G. B.; Pelletier, D. A.; Van Berkel, G. J. Atomic Force Microscope Controlled Topographical Imaging and Proximal Probe Thermal Desorption/Ionization Mass Spectrometry Imaging. Anal. Chem. 2014, 86, 1083-1090.

Ovchinnikova, O. S.; Lorenz, M.; Kertesz V.; Van Berkel, G. J. Laser Ablation Sampling of Materials Directly into the Formed Liquid Microjunction of a Continuous Flow Surface Sampling Probe/Electrospray Ionization Emitter for Mass Spectral Analysis and Imaging.” Anal. Chem. 2013, 85, 10211-10217.

Van Berkel, G. J.; Kertesz, V. “Continuous Flow Liquid Microjunction Surface Sampling Probe Connected On-Line with HPLC/MS for Spatially Resolved Analysis of Small Molecules and Proteins.” Rapid Commun. Mass Spectrom. 2013, 27, 1329-1334.

Lorenz, M.; Ovchinnikova, O. S.; Kertesz V.; Van Berkel, G. J. Laser Microdissection and Atmospheric Pressure Chemical ionization Mass Spectrometry Coupled for Multimodal Imaging. Rapid Commun. Mass Spectrom. 2013, 27, 1429-1436.

Kertesz V.; Van Berkel, G. J. “Automated Liquid Microjunction Surface Sampling-HPLC-MS/MS Analysis of Drugs and Metabolites in Whole-Body Thin Tissue Sections,” Bioanalysis 2013, 5, 819-826.

Bhandari, D.; Kertesz, V.; Van Berkel, G. J. “Rapid Quantitation of Ascorbic and Folic Acids in SRM 3280 Multivitamin/Multielement Tablets using Flow-Injection Tandem Mass Spectrometry,” Rapid Commun. Mass Spectrom. 2013, 27, 163-168.

Bhandari, D.; Van Berkel, G. J. “Evaluation of Flow-Injection Tandem Mass Spectrometry for Rapid and High-Throughput Quantitative Determination of B-Vitamins in Nutritional Supplements,” J. Agric. Food Chem. 2012, 60, 8356-8362.

Parson, W. B.; Koeniger, S. L.; Johnson, R. W.; Erickson, J.; Tian, Y.; Stedman, C.; Schwartz, A.; Tarcsa, E.; Cole, R.; Van Berkel, G.J. “Analysis of Chloroquine and Metabolites Directly from Whole-body Animal Tissue Sections by Liquid Extraction Surface Analysis (LESA) and Tandem Mass Spectrometry,” J. Mass Spectrom. 2012, 47, 1420-1428.

Custelcean, R.; Bonnesen, P. V.; Duncan, N. C.; Zhang, X.; Watson, L. A.; Van Berkel, G.; Parson, W. B.; Hay, B. P. “Urea-Functionalized M4L6 Cage Receptors: Anion-Templated Self-Assembly and Selective Guest Exchange in Aqueous Solutions,” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 134, 8525-8534.

Van Berkel, G. J.; Kertesz, V. “Utilizing the Inherent Electrolysis in a Chip-Based Nanoelectrospray Emitter System to Facilitate Selective Ionization and Mass Spectrometric Analysis of Alkylporphyrins,” Anal. Bioanal. Chem. 2012, 403, 335-343.

Walworth, M. J.; Stankovich, J. J.; Van Berkel, G. J.; Schulz, M.; Minarik, S. “High Performance Thin-Layer Chromatography Plate Blotting for Liquid Microjunction Surface Sampling Probe Mass Spectrometric Analysis of Analytes Separated on a Wettable Plate,” Rapid. Commun. Mass Spectrom. 2012, 26, 37-42.

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