Sarah Trimpin

Sarah Trimpin



313-577-8822 (fax)

 Chem 373




Sarah Trimpin

Research interest(s)/area of expertise

 Discovery and implementation of unprecedented ionization processes in mass spectrometry; design, construction, and development of powerful technologies and methods; novel approaches for use in traditional and new areas for sensitive, robust, and fast analyses and imaging applications.


Our research seeks to develop a fundamental understanding of a newly discovered process that brings into question what is currently taught relative to ionization methods in mass spectrometry. This extremely simple ionization method for use in mass spectrometry requiring only exposure of matrix/analyte to vacuum is applicable to high throughput analyses, surface analysis, field portable mass spectrometers, and unskilled operation. The interdisciplinary nature of our group with collaborators from academia and industry and across nations promotes training of scientists in multidisciplinary research at the interface of analytical, biological, and materials sciences. The postdoc and graduate students directly involved gain expertise in fundamental, instrumentation and applications of an unprecedented ionization method for use in MS. It provides both graduate and undergraduate students hands-on experience using cutting-edge research equipment to solve problems and thus develop their own scientific thinking and problems solving skills. We are committed to using the excitement of research discovery to enhance the interests of all students in science and in particular as a role model for women and undergraduates interested in the physical sciences.

The inventors of electrospray ionization (ESI) and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) MS shared a portion of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Chemistry because of the importance of these ionization methods in advancing science. In spite of the importance, the ionization mechanisms of these methods are not yet fully understood. We have discovered an ionization process that uses a matrix, similar to MALDI, but produces ions having charge states nearly identical to ESI. This novel ionization process is initiated by heat or vacuum, and does not require either voltage or a laser used in ESI and MALDI, respectively. Understanding how ESI-like mass spectra can be obtained from a solid surface in vacuum without laser ablation, or applied heat or voltage, and using a matrix compound that has no acidic hydrogen atoms, is of broad scientific interest and has the potential to unlock the mysteries surrounding ionization processes capable of ionizing nonvolatile compounds.

The theme to our current research is to study fundamentals of a newly discovered method for transferring molecules, regardless of size or volatility, from the solid state in a small molecule matrix to gas-phase ions for analysis by MS. The method only requires exposure of the sample in matrix to the vacuum inherent with all mass spectrometers. The ability to transport molecules at least as large as bovine serum albumin (67 kDa) into the gas phase as highly protonated ions without input of external energy is unprecedented in science, analytically important, and of fundamental interest in understanding ionization processes. Knowledge of the fundamentals of how this process occurs will advance our scientific understanding for all ionization methods whereby nonvolatile molecules are converted from the solid or liquid states to gas-phase ions, and provide guidance on how to increase the efficiency of ionization. Using the same analyte solutions and instrumentation designed for ESI or MALDI MS, under similar conditions, the newest ionization method, termed matrix assisted ionization vacuum, is already at least as sensitive as ESI or intermediate pressure MALDI, and offers the ability to rapidly interrogate specific surface features by simply applying a matrix solution to the surface defect and exposure to the vacuum at the atmospheric pressure inlet of the mass spectrometer. Improved ionization will ultimately minimize the surface area that can be interrogated, possibly reaching single cell analyses in the future. The simplicity of the new ionization method is particularly advantageous, and holds promise for novel applications for which currently trained personnel are needed.

Application areas of the unprecedented ionization processes developed into powerful technologies and methods

  • Medical, clinical, doctors offices, personalized medicine
  • Environmental exposure, forensics, food safety
  • Safe, innovative, tailored materials
  • Effective drugs, pharmaceuticals


  • Diplom Universität Konstanz, 1999 (Germany)
  • Doctor rerum naturalium Max-Planck-Institute for Polymer Research (degree granting institution: Universität Mainz), 2002 (Germany)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Oregon State University/Oregon Health&Science University, 2002-2006
  • Research Associate, Indiana University, 2007-2008

Awards and grants


  • 2019 American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS) Biemann Medal Award, the highest honor given to an individual recognizing significant achievements accomplished in the early stages of a career (
  • 2016 WSU Career Development Chair Award
  • 2014 WSU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Teaching Award 2013/2014 with special designation for inspiring work in mentoring undergraduate research
  • 2013 “One of the best reviewers for J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom.” 2012/2013
  • 2013 Pittsburgh Conference Achievement Award
  • 2012 Schaap Faculty Scholar, WSU Award for excellence in teaching, research, and service to the Department
  • 2011 Eli Lilly and Company Young Investigator Award in Analytical Chemistry
  • 2011 Trimpin laboratory highlighted as Center of Innovation, Waters Corp.
  • 2010 DuPont Young Professor Award
  • 2010 American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS) Research Award
  • 2009 NSF CAREER Award
  • 2003 German Soc. for Mass Spectrom. Best Doctoral Thesis Award
  • 2002 German Soc. for Mass Spectrom. Best Poster Presentation Award
  • 1999 German Soc. for Mass Spectrom. Best Diploma Thesis Award

Biographical citations/other recognition

  • 2019 The Analytical Scientist: Naming Sarah Trimpin one of “The Top 100 most influential people in the world of analytical science” (
  • 2019 Research findings included in undergraduate text book “Quantitative Chemical Analysis, Tenth Edition, by Daniel C. Harris (Author)”, release date Dec. 13, 2019
  • 2016 Enlightened, Empowered: The Ion Magician. Sitting Down With ... Sarah Trimpin, Professor, Dept. of Chemistry, Wayne State University, and CEO at MSTM, Michigan, USA; by R. Whitworth. Analytical Scientist, 2016, December issue, pages 50-51.
  • 2016 The Analytical Scientist: Naming Sarah Trimpin one of “The Top 50 most influential women in the world of analytical science” (
  • 2015 The American Society for Mass Spectrometry, in “ASMS News” and ‘Meet the JASMS Editorial Board’ highlighting Sarah Trimpin (
  • 2015 The Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry News and Views: in “Meet the Editorial Board” highlighting Sarah Trimpin,
  • 2015 The Analytical Scientist: Naming Sarah Trimpin one of “The Top 100 most influential people in the world of analytical science” (
  • 2014 Waters Center of Innovation Featuring Sarah Trimpin
  • 2013 YouTube Pittcon 2013 - Pittsburgh Conference Achievement Award, March 2013 (
  • 2013 PITTCON TODAY, March 2013, Monday 18, Philadelphia “PITTSBURG CONFERENCE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD”, PAGE 7/8
  • 2012 Spectroscopy Magazine, Interview contribution about my career, research, and accomplishments, as part of MS focus of November 13th newsletter
  • 2010 ACS homepage on “A New Paradigm in Ionization: Multiply Charged Ion Formation from as Solid Matrix without a Laser or Voltage, by McEwen/Trimpin
  • 2008 Discoveries profile story in newsletter Discoveries, by K. Kingery “Scientist at work
  • 2007 Interview contribution in Genome Technology magazine, by M. Dublin Tomorrow's PIs rising young investigators “A Whole New MALDI”
  • 2003 Interview contribution in Analytical Chemistry “MALDI without solvent? Go for it!”, by C. M. Harris Anal. Chem. 75: 54A, 2003


  • 10,128,096 - System and method for ionization of molecules for mass spectrometry and ion mobility spectrometry
  • 9,870,909 - Compositions and methods for mass spectrometry
  • 9,824,872 - Systems and methods for high throughput solvent assisted ionization inlet for mass spectrometry
  • 9,552,973 - System and method for ionization of molecules for mass spectrometry and ion mobility spectrometry
  • 9,202,680 - Mass spectrometry using laserspray ionization
  • 9,177,773 - Systems and methods extending the laserspray ionization mass spectrometry concept from atmospheric pressure to vacuum
  • 9,105,458 - System and methods for ionizing compounds using matrix-assistance for mass spectrometry and ion mobility spectrometry
  • 8,853,621 - Systems and methods extending the laserspray ionization mass spectrometry concept from atmospheric pressure to vacuum

Selected publications

Reviews and other summaries

(Underlined are undergraduate student contributions.)

13) Trimpin, S.,* Novel Ionization Processes for Use in Mass Spectrometry: ‘Squeezing’ Nonvolatile Analyte Ions from Crystals and Droplets. Rapid Commun. Mass Spectrom. 33(SI): 96–120, 2019. (Special Issue Highlighting Associate Editors)
This paper was selected to be highlighted on the cover page of the journal

12) Trimpin, S.,* Karki, S., Marshall, D.D., Inutan, E.D., Meher, A.K., Madarshahian, S., Fenner, M.A., McEwen, C.N.,* Novel and Traditional Ionization Methods for Mass Spectrometry Combined to Provide More Comprehensive Analyses. LCGC North America, 2018, March issue, 35(8), 507–510.

11) Trimpin, S.,* Redefining Simplicity in Ionization: Discovery and Implementation of Novel Ionization Processes in Mass Spectrometry. LCGC North America 35(8): 507–510, 2017.

10) Peacock, P.M., Zhang, W.J., Trimpin, S.,* Advances in Ionization for Mass Spectrometry, Anal. Chem. 89(1): 372−388, 2017. (invited contribution to the 2017 Special)

9) Trimpin, S.,* Analytical Scientist highlighted In My View (an invited opinion article on MS Technology), 2016, September issue, pages 18–19.

8) Trimpin, S.,* Thawoos, S., Lu, I-C., DeLeeuw, J.L., Hoang, K., Devereaux, Z.J., Pophristic, M., Chakrabarty, S., Caruso, J.A., Stemmer, P.M., Narayan, S.B., McEwen, C.N., Simplifying Mass Spectrometry Through New Ionization Technology: Application to Drug and Clinical Analyses. LCGC and Spectroscopy, 2016, May issue, pages 8–19.

7) Trimpin, S.,* Wang, B., Lutomski, C.A., El-Baba, T.J., Harless, B.M., A Convenient Alternative to MALDI and ESI, by request of the journal republished in ‘Current Trends in Mass Spectrometry’ (www., LCGC and Spectroscopy 31(3): 53–61, 2016.

6) Trimpin, S.* “Magic” Ionization Mass Spectrometry. J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom. 27(1): 4–21, 2016. (invited Critical Insight Article dedicated for controversial topics and established experts in the field)

5) Trimpin, S.,* Chakrabarty, S., Wang, B., Hoang, K., Lutomski, C.A., Inutan, E.D., McEwen, C.N., Non-Conventional Alternatives to LC/MS, LCGC and Spectroscopy, 2015, May issue, pages 22–33.

4) Trimpin, S.,* Wang, B., Lutomski, C.A., El-Baba, T.J, Harless, B.M., A Convenient Alternative to MALDI and ESI, in ‘Current Trends in Mass Spectrometry’ (www., LCGC and Spectroscopy, 2014, May issue, pages 8–17.

3) El-Baba, T.J, Lutomski, C.A., Wang, B., Inutan, E.D., Trimpin, S.,* Toward High Spatial Resolution Sampling and Characterization of Biological Tissue Surfaces using Mass Spectrometry. Anal. Bioanal. Chem. 406(17):4053–4061, 2014. (Review)

2) Trimpin, S.,* Wang, B., Lietz, C.B., Marshall, D.D., Richards, A.L., Inutan, E.D., New Ionization Processes and Applications for Use in Mass Spectrometry. Crit. Rev. Biochem. Mol. Biol. 48(5):409–429, 2013. (Review)

1) Trimpin, S.,* A Perspective on MALDI Alternatives - Total Solvent-free Analysis and Electron Transfer Dissociation of Highly Charged Ions by Laserspray Ionization. J. Mass Spectrom. 45(5): 471–485, 2010. (Special Feature)
This paper was highlighted on the cover page of the journal.

Recent peer-reviewed papers

(Underlined are undergraduate student contributions.)

8) Cao, Y., Lee, C., Davis, E.T.J., Si, W., Wang, F.,* Trimpin, S.,* Luo, L.,* 1000-Fold Preconcentration of Per- and Polyfluorinated Alkyl Substances (PFAS) within 10 min via Electrochemical Aerosol Formation. Anal. Chem. 91(22): 14352-14358, 2019.
This paper was selected to be highlighted on the cover page of the journal

7) Skjærvø, Ø., Trimpin, S., Halvorsen, T.G.,* Matrix Assisted Ionization Mass Spectrometry in Targeted Protein Analysis – An Initial Evaluation. Rapid Commun. Mass Spectrom. 2019, DOI: 10.1002/rcm.8437. (Special Issue on ‘New Ionization Processes in Mass Spectrometry’)

6) Karki, S., Meher, A.K., Inutan, E.D., Pophristic, M., Marshall, D.D., Rackers, K., Trimpin, S.,* McEwen, C.N.,* Development of a Robotics Platform for Automated Multi-ionization Methods for Mass Spectrometry. Rapid Commun. Mass Spectrom. 2019, DOI: 10.1002/rcm.8449. (Special Issue on ‘New Ionization Processes in Mass Spectrometry’)

5) Lee, C., Inutan, E.D., Chen, J.L., Mukeku, M.M., Weidner, S.M., Trimpin, S., Ni, C.K.,* Toward Understanding the Ionization Mechanism of Matrix‐Assisted Ionization using Mass Spectrometry Experiment and Theory. Rapid Commun. Mass Spectrom. 2019. DOI: 10.1002/rcm.8382 (Special Issue on ‘New Ionization Processes in Mass Spectrometry’)

4) Trimpin, S.,* Inutan, E.D., Karki, S., Elia, E.A., Zhang, W.J., Weidner, S.M., Marshall, D.D., Hoang, K., Lee, C., Davis, E.T.J., Smith, V., Meher, A.K., Cornejo, M., Auner, G.W., McEwen, C.N., Fundamental Studies of New Ionization Technologies and Insights from IMS-MS. J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom. 2019, 30, 1133–1147. (Invited contribution to special issue on ‘ion mobility’ in honor of von Helden, Jarrold, Clemmer ASMS Distinguished Contribution Award)

3) Trimpin, S.,* Pophristic, M.,* Adeniji'Adele, A., Tomsho, J.W., McEwen, C.N.,* Vacuum Matrix-Assisted Ionization Source Offering Simplicity, Sensitivity, and Exceptional Robustness in Mass Spectrometry. Anal. Chem. 90(19): 11188-11192, 2018.

2) Trimpin, S.,* Lee, C., Weidner, S.M., El-Baba, T. J., Lutomski, C.A., Inutan, E.D., Foley, C.D., Ni, C.K., McEwen, C.N., Unprecedented Ionization Processes in Mass Spectrometry Provide Missing Link between ESI and MALDI. ChemPhysChem 19(5): 581–589, 2018.
This paper was selected to be highlighted on the cover page of the journal

1) Trimpin, S.,* Lu, I-C., Rauschenbach, S., Hoang, K., Wang, B., Chubatyi, N.D., Zhang, W.-J., Inutan, E.D., Pophristic, M., Sidorenko, A., McEwen, C.N., Spontaneous Charge Separation and Sublimation Processes are Ubiquitous in Nature and in Ionization Processes in Mass Spectrometry. J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom. 29(2): 304–315, 2018. (Invited contribution to special issue on Asilomar Conference)

Courses taught by Sarah Trimpin

Fall Term 2024 (future)