Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Grad Student: NMR Tube Theft "Not a Big Deal"


Liverpool, UK

University of Liverpool student Kevin Kilpatrick remained sanguine today following the disappearance of his sample from the carousel of a communal NMR spectrometer. The second-year graduate student, working on polyketide synthesis in the Blackwell lab, believes an as-yet unidentified member of the department took the sample in order to reuse the tube, and fears the contents are already lost.

Speaking to C&EN Onion in a soft northwestern burr inflected with upbeat despair, Kilpatrick played down the incident: "It's not a big deal. OK, it's a pretty important intermediate, and 6 of my 17 milligrams were in that tube, but it's just one of those things." Bad fortune was also to blame for an earlier loss of valuable material. "I sneezed on the balance last week," he admitted.  "That did for half of the previous intermediate."

Despite the importance of the sample, the beleaguered grad student has taken no action to recover it. "Some people would have sent a screaming mad email to the entire department," he explained. "But I think the 'high importance' flag is best kept for life-or-death situations."

Kilpatrick confirmed that proton and carbon NMR spectra were acquired before the sample's removal, and revealed a contingency plan for the loss of material. "Whoever took it, they were good enough to leave me the printouts. Sure, I had planned to vac it down and send it for elemental analysis, but I can just make that up."

Prof. Blackwell could not be reached for comment.

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