Forever True, For Iowa State

Endless degrees of separation

Walk into any coffee shop in California, and you’ll likely see warnings about acrylamide.

A byproduct of roasting coffee beans, the chemical may pose a risk for cancer. Jared Anderson, the inaugural holder of the Alice Hudson Professorship in Chemistry, suspects that we’re only a few years away from acrylamide being regulated in some foods and beverages, which makes the work his research group has brewing important to coffee producers – and drinkers.

“We want to develop a fast method for separating and measuring acrylamide that doesn’t require highly skilled technicians or expensive analytical instrumentation,” Anderson explains. “This will make the approach interesting to large coffee companies that will be required to do this analysis daily.”

Anderson specializes in separation science, which involves separating the components of a liquid, powder or gas for analysis. There are a variety of ways to conduct separation science, which is necessary because components in any mixture act differently. This is what makes sample preparation – a related area where Anderson’s team is making its mark – so vital.

Aiding Anderson’s work is support from the Hudson Professorship, an endowed faculty position made possible through a generous gift from 1963 chemistry graduate Alice Hudson during the Forever True, For Iowa State campaign. The professorship recognizes a faculty member who embodies the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurial thinking and provides students the opportunity to work with premier researchers and educators.

“Alice Hudson told me skills and opportunities offered to her as a student at Iowa State were highly impactful to her phenomenal career,” Anderson says. “I want to use my professorship to provide those same opportunities to students in my lab. The impact I make as a professor is measured largely by the combined societal impact my students will make in their future careers.”