Date of Graduation

Spring 2015

Document Type

Honors Research Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Chemistry - Biochemistry

Research Sponsor

Chrys Wesdemiotis

First Reader

Thomas Leeper

Second Reader

Adam Smith


Mass spectrometry is a method that uses masses to determine the structure of a compound. This is completed by first charging the compound until it is a cation or anion, and then its molecular weight can be determined by measuring a mass to charge ratio. The focus of this study was determination of sphingomyelin’s structure. The purpose of this was that sphingomyelin has been shown to play a critical role in many biological pathways and being able to identify this lipid could prove to be beneficial for preventative medicine. Utilizing electrospray ionization (ESI) Quadruple-Time-of-flight (Q-TOF) mass spectrometry on a Waters Synapt instrument and matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI) TOF-TOF mass spectrometry on a Bruker UltraFlex III instrument, it was possible to verify the presence of a sphingolipid as well as the tail length and the presence of double bonds.