Measurement Uncertainty online course: 914 participants from 98 countries!

On Tuesday, March 21, 2023 the web course Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis was launched for the tenth time as a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course)!Currently, 914 participants from 98 countries are registered. In the map presented above, the yellow color marks the countries where participants come from. True, the map is coarse and some countries are small. Therefore, not all countries are visible. We are very happy that we have two participants also from Ukraine this year. Slava Ukraini!

The full course material is accessible from the web page The course materials include videos, schemes, calculation files, and numerous self-tests (among them also full-fledged measurement uncertainty calculation exercises). In order to pass the course, the registered participants have to pass six graded tests and get a higher than 50% score from each of them. These tests are available to registered participants via the Moodle e-learning platform.

This course is run under the umbrella of the Estonian Center of Analytical chemistry ( and forms a part of the measurements and chemical analysis related master programmes at UT: Applied Measurement Science ( and Excellence in Analytical Chemistry (

Unified pH – what, why and how?

On March 10, 2023, Ivo Leito presented “Unified pH – what, why and how?” at the Chemistry and Chemical Technology 2023 Vilnius (Lithuania).

Acidity is one of the most critical characteristics of solutions. Its measurement is crucial to understanding and controlling essential processes in fundamental chemistry, industry and living organisms, such as catalysis, extraction, chromatography, processes in micelles/bilayers, etc.

Acidity refers to the activity of the solvated proton and is typically expressed as pH. However, the conventional pH scale is well established only in dilute aqueous solutions at medium pH values. It has severe limitations at extreme values, in other solvents or more complex media where most real-life chemistry occurs. Most importantly, comparing the conventional pH values between different media is impossible because every solvent has its pH scale.

Given the above, a decade ago, the concept of a “unified pH scale” was put forward, defining unified pH via the absolute chemical potential of the solvated proton. The merits of this approach are a strict thermodynamic foundation and direct comparability of values between any media.

In recent years, to a large part thanks to the European Union UnipHied (17FUN09) project, the measurement possibilities have been developed and the concept has now been published as an IUPAC technical report.

The first part of the presentation gave theoretical background and explained the need for unified pH. The second part described the experimental method, and the last part gave an overview of the work done and future perspectives.


Prof. Ivo Leito – recipient of the UT teaching staff awards

This year’s recipients of the teaching staff awards in the University of Tartu have been announced. The UT Student Union chose the recipients based on proposals submitted by the students. We are glad to announce that the Faculty of Science and Technology award was given to prof. Ivo Leito!

According to his students, prof. Ivo Leito is an incredibly charismatic and lively lecturer who is a role model for all. In each lecture, he gives real-life examples of how analytical chemistry can be applied to study the environment around us. Using the flipped learning method, he constantly engages students in discussions and creates a safe environment for asking questions. It is worth noting that Professor Leito does not proceed with the lecture until he is convinced that every last person in the room has understood what he has just said. 

In addition to his dedication to educating students in the classroom, he is always available for every student outside of lecture hours. It is not an exaggeration to say that he is available 24/7, even when he is abroad. He takes a genuine interest in the progress and development of every student. Ivo Leito also holds regular meetings with all his students planning to graduate in the spring to see if their thesis is going well and to give advice on how to advance with the task.  

Here is more information about the award and the other recipients. 


LC-MS Validation online course 7th run has finished!

On February 10, 2023 the on-line course (MOOC) LC-MS Method Validation offered by the University of Tartu finished successfully.

Eventually, altogether 903 people registered from 104 countries. Less than half, 376 participants actually started the course (i.e. tried at least one graded test at least once) and out of them 218 successfully completed the course. The overall completion rate was 24%. The completion rate of participants who started the studies was 58%. The completion rates of active participants (i.e. who started the course) seems to have stabilized not too far from 60%, which can be considered good. However, the overall completion rate is still in decline (although there is no statistically significant difference between the 25% and 24% of the last two editions). In any case, there is some food for thought for us on how we could improve the overall completion rate…

At the same time, those participants who actually took part in the course, were very active and asked lots of questions. The questions were often very much to the point and addressed things that are really important to analysts in their everyday work. The course has several forums (general and by topic) and during the course period the overall number of forum posts was above 400 (!) (overall number of posts, both from participants and from teachers) and the forums are still active and posts are still coming in.

This active participation made teaching of this MOOC a great experience also for us, the teachers. The discussion threads gave a lot of added value to the course and some of them triggered making important modifications to the course materials, even during the course. Importantly, thanks to active participants, several mistakes were found and corrected in the course materials. As a result, the overall quality of the course improved.

We want to thank all participants for helping to make this course a success!

We plan to repeat this course again in Autumn 2023.

The laureates of the Ann Mihkelson’s scholarship have been announced!

Sigrid and Marta-Lisette

This year, the laureates of the Ann Mihkelson’s scholarship are Sigrid Selberg and Marta-Lisette Pikma.

The scholarship was founded in 2011 by Anu Ebbe Mihkelson and its purpose is to support female scientist and doctoral students, especially chemists, with their research or supervision of master’s and doctoral students. We are happy to announce that this year the scholarship was awarded to two young females who are both members of the Chair of Analytical Chemistry – researcher Sigrid Selberg and junior researcher/doctoral student Marta-Lisette Pikma.

Congratulations from all of us to you, Sigrid and Marta!





3rd Iberoamerican Conference on Mass Spectrometry

Ernesto and Larissa

Larissa and Ernesto attended the 3rd Iberoamerican Conference on Mass Spectrometry from the 10th to the 15th of December in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

Larissa: “The excellent scientific program provided a wide range of topics, but the topics metabolomics and proteomics in biomarker discovery were of most interest to me. Besides, it was interesting to learn how mass spectrometry is playing a role in unraveling Covid-19. The companies held interesting workshops about their latest instruments and their applications too.

The conference also had amazing after-hours activities. For instance, attendees were able to watch a performance by “Mangueira” (famous Samba school from Rio), a capoeira (Afro-Brazilian martial art) performance as well as a party with live pagode (Brazilian style of music). Moreover, the conference was held in the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro. It was a pleasure to attend an international mass spectrometry conference in my home country.”

Rio de Janeiro
Conference venue

Ernesto: “There were very good talks during the conference, even though the use of mass spectrometry usage in the medical field (including COVID-19 detection) was one of the main topics, the conference also offered excellent presentations in a varied range of areas such as metabolomics, proteomics, natural products, etc.

The new trends and applications of new instrumentation were also shown by the different instrument providers companies during the workshops.
Something that I really liked were the social activities held every day after the conference, for example capoeira performance, live music, etc.
The fact that the 3rd Iberoamerican Conference on Mass Spectrometry took place in Rio de Janeiro, also allowed to the participants to discover a bit of the beauty that a big country like Brazil has to offer.”


LC-MS Method Validation web course: 904 participants from 104 countries!

On Tuesday, November 22, 2022 the web course LC-MS Method Validation was launched for the fifth time as a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course). There are 904 registered participants (the largest number ever in this course) from 104 countries, ranging from Sudan to Suriname and from Malaysia to Macedonia. Image on the left shows the countries where the participants come from.

This is a practice-oriented on-line course on validation of analytical methods, specifically using LC-MS as technique. The course introduces the main concepts and mathematical apparatus of validation, covers the most important method performance parameters and ways of estimating them. The LC-MS validation course is delivered by a team of 7 teachers, each with their own specific area of competence. This way it is expected to offer the best possible knowledge in all the different subtopics of analytical method validation.

The full set of course materials is accessible from the web page The course materials include videos, schemes, calculation files and numerous self-tests (among them also full-fledged calculation exercises). In order to pass the course, the registered participants have to take all tests and get higher than 50% score from each of them. These tests are available to registered participants via the Moodle e-learning platform. Participants who successfully pass the course will get a certificate from the University of Tartu.

From anion receptor design to real sensor prototypes – PhD thesis of Alo Rüütel

On the 18th of November, 2022, Alo Rüütel successfully defended his PhD thesis titled Design principles of synthetic molecular receptors for anion-selective electrodes.

Alo’s thesis starts by expanding a fundamental question asked by Otto S. Wolfbeis back in 2013: when so much research is done on binding anions with various molecular receptors, why do we see so few real sensors that could be used in real-life applications?



In response to this, Alo has outlined a sensor development strategy flowchart and identified a “dead zone” – space between receptor evaluation and prototype fabrication stages – on the sensor development pathway where the research most often gets stuck. Alo’s dissertation connects the research fields of receptor design and sensor preparation. The thesis demonstrates the challenges of creating new ion-selective electrodes for carboxylate sensing. This process is accompanied by several scientific challenges at the fundamental level of supramolecular chemistry. To address these problems, influencing factors are explored, such as improving binding, lipophilicity, biphasic binding environments etc. A big outcome of the thesis was a compilation of accurate binding constants of one hundred (!) anion receptors. Perhaps the most tangible result of the thesis were real sensor prototypes, capable of sensing carboxylate anions (e.g. benzoate).

Alo’s performance at the defence was one of the best we have seen. He single-handedly and seemingly effortlessly answered all the (numerous!) questions from the opponent, as well as from the committee.

Please accept our big congratulations, Alo!

LC-MS Method Validation Course 2022-2023: One week left until start!

In one week, on Nov 22, 2022 the online course LC-MS Method Validation will start!

Registration is still open (here). The course will run as a Massive Open On-line Course (MOOC) during Nov 22, 2022 – Feb 03, 2023.

This is a practice-oriented on-line course on validation of analytical methods, specifically using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) as technique, mostly (but not limited to) using the electrospray (ESI) ion source. The course will also be of interest to chromatography practitioners using other detector types. The course introduces the main concepts and mathematical apparatus of validation, covers the most important method performance parameters and ways of estimating them. More information about the course can be found in Course introduction page.

Participation in the course is free of charge. Receiving digital certificate (in the case of successful completion) is also free of charge. Printed certificate (to be sent by post) is available for a fee of 60 EUR. Registration is possible until the start of the course. The course material is available from the above address all the time and can be used via web by anyone who wishes to improve the knowledge and skills in analytical method validation (especially when using LC-ESI-MS).

The laureate of the Katritzky scholarship is Silvia Hiie Aabloo

Every year the Katritzky scholarship is rewarded to a first-year chemistry MSc student at the Institute of Chemistry, University of Tartu. The scholarship was established in memory of Professor Alan Roy Katritzky, the Honorary Doctor of the University of Tartu. We are glad to announce that this year the scholarship was awarded to a member of our Analytical Chemistry Chair – Silvia Hiie Aabloo!

Silvia Hiie Aabloo

Silvia is doing her MSc project in the Cultural Heritage workgroup, supervised by Dr. Anu Teearu-Ojakäär and Dr. Signe Vahur. Her research revolves around the study of matrix materials used in the matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) analysis. MALDI is a suitable ionization technique for the analysis of large and poorly soluble molecules, which has been used somewhat for the analysis of cultural heritage objects. However, research is still needed to find suitable matrix materials for different cultural heritage materials. An interview with Silvia after receiving the scholarship can be found here (in Estonian). 

Congratulations from all of us, Silvia!