Carnegie Mellon University Department of Chemistry
photo of Catalina Achim

Mark Bier

Research Professor

Carnegie Mellon University


Phone: (412) 268-3540

Fax: (412) 268-6897

Office: Mellon Institute 500A

group website

Faculty & Research

Mark Bier

Research Professor

Research Areas

Biophysical chemistry, environmental chemistry

Macromolecular Mass Spectrometry for Biological Discovery (BioPhysical)

Our research is focused on the development of a heavy ion mass spectrometer and methods to improve the analysis of nanoparticles such as biomacromolecular complexes (viruses, von Willebrand Factor) and nano-sized synthetic particles (Au nanoparticles). Electrospray ionization (ESI) and matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI) will be used to produce the heavy ions in the gas phase. The new instrument, incorporates a superconducting tunnel junction (STJ) detector that allows us to study the limitations of mass spectrometry at high m/z. This new detector technology has a tremendous advantage over conventional detectors because it is, theoretically, 100% efficient at high mass. This research is expected to impact molecular biology, virology and polymer chemistry. To date, we have recorded the highest molecular weight chains of polystyrene at 2.2 Mega-Da and, remarkably, a virus particle at 13 MegaDa by MALDI TOF MS. In the future, we expect to be able to analyze ribosomal particles, virus particles, DNA/RNA protein complexes and other nano-sized synthetic particles.

Water Analysis (Environmental)

The objective of our environmental work is to monitor low levels of molecules in water or air using electrospray ionization membrane introduction MS (MIMS) probes. Our MIMS probes have shown detection limit in the ppb to ppt range. Investigations into the quality of our ground water due to Marcellus shale drilling is of interest.

Education Area

Virtual Mass Spectrometry Laboratory (VMSL)

We created an internet-based mass spectrometry education tool called the Virtual Mass Spectrometry Laboratory (VMSL). The site is used to educate students, teachers, and researchers about mass spectrometry, using case studies and 'virtual' mass spectrometers to achieve this goal.

Courses Taught

Invited lecturer

Computational Biology at Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh
Chemistry 09- ##: Modern Analytical Instrumentation

Education and Appointments
Years Position or Degree
2010–present Research Professor, Carnegie Mellon
2005–2010 Associate Research Professor, Carnegie Mellon
1996–2005 Assistant Research Professor, Carnegie Mellon
1996–present Director, Center for Molecular Analysis
1988–1996 Scientist , ThermoFisher Scientific (Finnigan)
1983–1988 Ph.D., Purdue University
1981–1983 Scientist, AMSCO Inc. (Steris)
1980–1981 Biochemist, VA Medical Center
Awards and Distinctions
Years Award
1995 Co-inventor of the linear quadrupole ion trap used worldwide
Selected Publications

Superconducting Tunnel Junction Mass Spectrometry:  A New Characterization Tool for the Analysis of MegaDalton-Sized Nanoparticles
David M. Sipe, Alexander A. Aksenov, Logan D. Plath, Mark E. Bier,  ACS Nano 2017 (To be submitted March 2017)

Characterization of ZnO Nanoparticles Using Superconducting Tunnel Junction Cryodetection
Plath, L.D.; Wang, Z.; Yan, J.; Matyjaszewski, K; Bier, M.E., J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom. 2017, (accepted).

Mass Spectrometry of Au10(TBBT)10 Nanoclusters using Superconducting Tunnel Junction Cryodetection Reveals Distinct Metastable Fragmentation
Plath, L.D.; Abroshan, H.; Zeng, C.; Kim, H.J.; Jin, R.; Bier, M.E., J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, (to be submitted).

Determination of Iron Content and Dispersity of Intact Ferritin by Superconducting Tunnel Junction Cryodetection Mass Spectrometry
Plath, L.D.; Ozdemir, A.; Aksenov, A.A.; Bier, M.E., Anal. Chem. 2015, 87, 8985-8993.

Interactive effects of competition and predator cues on immune responses of leopard frogs at metamorphosis
Groner, M.L., L.A. Rollins-Smith, L.K. Reinert, J. Hempel, M.E. Bier, and R.A. Relyea, The Journal of Experimental Biology 2013.

Larval exposure to predator cues alters immune function and response to a fungal pathogen in post-metamorphic wood frogs 
Groner, M.L., J.C. Buck, S. Gervasi, A.R. Blaustein, L.K. Reinert, L.A. Rollins-Smith, M.E. Bier, J. Hempel, and R.A. Relyea, Ecological Applications 2013, 23(6), 1443-1454.

Activity regulates functional connectivity from the vomeronasal organ to the accessory olfactory bulb
Hovis, Kenneth R.; Ramnath, Rohit; Dahlen, Jeffrey E.; Romanova, Anna L.; LaRocca, Greg; Bier, Mark E.; Urban, Nathaniel N., Journal of Neuroscience 2012, 32(23), 7907-7916.

Rapid, biomimetic degradation in water of the persistent drug sertraline by TAML catalysts and hydrogen peroxide
Shen, Longzhu Q; Beach Evan S; Xiang, Yan; Tshudy, Dwight J; Khanina, Natalya; Horwitz, Colin P; Bier, Mark E; Collins, Terrence, Environmental Science & Technology 2011, 45(18), 7882-7.

Crystal Structures of Au2 Complex and Au25 Nanocluster and Mechanistic Insight into the Conversion of Polydisperse Nanoparticles into Monodisperse Au25 Nanoclusters
Qian, Huifeng; Eckenhoff, William; Bier, Mark E.; Pintauer, Tomislav; Jin, Rongchao, Inorganic Chemistry, 2011 50(21), 10735-10739.

Sequential Observation of AgnS4- (1 ≤ n ≤7) Gas Phase Clusters in MS/MS and Prediction of Their Structures
Wu, Zhikun; Jiang,De-en; Lanni, Eric; Bier, Mark E.; Jin, Rongchao. Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters 2010, (9),1423-1427.