Society for Applied Spectroscopy











SAS Benefits
Governing Board
Chairperson's Message

Applied Spectroscopy Online


Next Meeting of SAS-Chicago

Thursday, April 26, 2018


R. S. Houk, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Chemistry

Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011.

This talk will survey the development of analytical atomic spectroscopy since the advent of atomic absorption in the early 1960s.  It will emphasize the history of the inductively coupled plasma (ICP) for both atomic emission and atomic mass spectrometry.  Current status and recent developments in both ICP spectroscopies will be surveyed.  The latter include interesting applications such as a) detection and sizing of inorganic nanoparticles, b) application of specialized ICP time of flight mass spectrometers for analysis of metal tags on single biological cells, and c) use of ICP magnetic sector MS for discovery of new superheavy elements.  Possible areas of improvement in ICP-MS will be suggested.


R. S. Houk was born in New Castle Pennsylvania and attended Shenango Area High School.  He received the B. S. in Secondary Education from Slippery Rock State College in 1974 and the Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from Iowa State University (ISU) in 1980.  His major professors were V. A Fassel and H. J. Svec.  His dissertation described the first results from coupling an analytical ICP to a mass spectrometer.  He was a postdoctoral associate at the Ames Laboratory USDOE and then joined the faculty in the Chemistry Department at ISU in 1981.  He is presently Professor of Chemistry and an Associate of the Ames Laboratory.  His research is in analytical atomic spectrometry, especially ICP-MS, and also in laser ablation electrospray ionization mass spectrometry.  He and his students published a number of papers that were either first or among the first to demonstrate many of the key instrumental developments in ICP-MS, especially cool ICPs, collision cells, low-flow nebulizers, desolvation, LC-ICP-MS, and GC-ICP-MS.  He also published important papers on fundamental studies of the ion extraction process in ICP-MS and in ICP atomic emission spectrometry, especially axial viewing and vacuum ultraviolet spectroscopy.  Houk has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry and Spectrochimica Acta Part B.  He has won a number of awards including the Winter Conference Award in Plasma Spectrochemistry (2018), the ACS Awards for Chemical Instrumentation (1993) and Spectrochemical Analysis (2012), the Maurice F. Hasler Award (1993), the Lester W. Strock Award (1986), and the Anachem Award from the Association for Analytical Chemistry, Detroit ACS Section (2000.  He is a Fellow of the Society for Applied Spectroscopy.  Approximately 48 students have received either the M.S. or Ph.D. degrees under his supervision.