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Presidential Science Award 2010

John Donovan


John J. Donovan

John Donovan is the Director of the Micro-Analytical Facility at CAMCOR (Center for Advanced Materials Characterization in ORegon) at the University of Oregon and has held that position since 2002. Additionally, John is the president of Probe Software Inc., a company that publishes software for Electron Probe MicroAnalysis (EPMA) acquisition, automation and analysis. He has been an active contributor in the field of microanalysis for 24 years and his publications focus on the development and optimization of quantitative wavelength dispersive X-ray spectrometry.

John blazed a non-traditional path to becoming an innovator and leader in the EPMA community, beginning with 26 years of technical service at the University of California at Berkeley (UCB). During his first 10 years there he worked at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory’s Heavy Ion Linear Accelerator developing sputter ion sources. He spent the next 16 years in the UCB Earth and Planetary Science department where he supervised the mechanical and electronic shops and technical laboratories. John’s many contributions to the field are centered about methods to improve the accuracy and precision of X-ray microanalysis measurements, including: spectral interferences, peak shape and shift characterization for light element and chemical state analysis, matrix corrections, continuum modeling, and secondary fluorescence effects that mask trace element signals in polyphase materials. He was the first to reliably estimate, and correct for, the time dependent effects observed in beam sensitive samples in real time, a previously vexing problem for analysts. His most recent efforts involves characterizing and correcting for systematic artifacts in the X-ray continuum by means of quantitative blank corrections and iterative multi-point background acquisition and regression methods to further improve the accuracy of trace element analysis.

John was awarded the Macres Award from MAS in 1990 for his early software development efforts. He is actively engaged in raising public awareness regarding scientific issues and lectures on such topics to general audiences. In addition, John teaches a popular freshman seminar at the University of Oregon on critical thinking entitled “Weird Science”. Based upon his history and track record, it is certain that John will continue to tackle difficult problems that pose barriers to making better quantitative microchemical measurements.

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