Projects at LECO Africa

Why do we support projects?

What is the point of having the most powerful GC-MS and GC×GC-MS systems in the world if one cannot have fun with them? LECO Africa is blessed to have a 180 m2 application laboratory hosting our latest technology. Not only do we have this laboratory, we also have one application specialist on hand and our sales team is trained to be fully conversant with our technology. Indeed, wherever possible, we encourage our team to select a project and present the results at a conference. After all, if our sales team can do great science, what could they do for you?

These projects allow us to not only showcase our systems, but also to remember to be humble – after all nothing quite matches the experience of not achieving the expected result. This experience is felt by all scientists at one point or another and is a source of frustration to many of our customers. By experiencing the same in our projects, we have an opportunity to remember that science is not a linear journey and we sometimes need to rethink and relearn our basic principles. We need to relook at the tools (instruments, consumables, knowledge) at our disposal and we need to reconfigure these to yield the right result. This allows us to become creative once again and regain our joy in serving our customers.

Projects are also an opportunity for us to share our systems with up-and-coming researchers, to give them the leg-up required to become an authority in their fields and set them on the path to success.

While most projects pursued by LECO Africa are at the bleeding edge of technology, some present an opportunity for us to just give back – give back to our universities and professors – give back to our communities – give back to our peers.

What projects are currently ongoing?

Project Leader: Alexander Whaley

  • University of Johannesburg internship – 5 BTech students are doing their P1 and P2 job experience with LECO Africa. Their projects include:
    • Determining the effect of pepper age and preparation on the flavour profile
    • Determining the presence of cannabinoids in South African cannabis-based produce
    • Determining the flavour profiles of spices
    • Determining the authenticity of honey
  • University of the Witwatersrand – PhD candidate:
    • The scent of death – do puff adders really not have a scent?
  • Dairy Standards Board
    • Adulteration of milk products
  • University of Cape Town
    • Pesticides levels in undocumented samples from the local markets

Project Leader: Shivani Bhowan

  • University of the Witwatersrand – medical campus
    • Upskilling of forensic toxicology students

Upcoming projects

Project Leader: Alexander Whaley

  • University of Johannesburg internship – 2 BTech students will be pursuing their P2 job experience with LECO Africa. Their projects include:
    • Determining the levels of industrial pollution in Johannesburg rivers.
    • Determining air pollution levels around the Johannesburg airport.
  • University of South Africa – post-doctoral fellow:
    • Determining the flavour profiles of traditional African beers
  • Durban University of Technology – Lecturer
    • Developing an analytical method for pharmaceuticals in KZN riverine and estuarine systems

Past projects – highlights

Project Leader: Mark Pieterse and Alexander Whaley

  • University of Pretoria – PhD candidate
    • Determining the presence of specific chemicals and the bacterial remediation of these.

Miscellaneous projects – highlights

Some projects do not involve the development or application of science using our systems but rather require us to assist our customers in filling a specific need in their laboratories. In such cases, we offer turn-key solutions, often developing not only the infrastructure but also the methodology for the customers.

Project Leader: Alexander Whaley

  • South African Police Services
    • Development of a clean-room facility for the scientific analysis group – flame retardants, dioxins and related substances
  • University of Johannesburg
    • Redevelopment of a laboratory to host the Pegasus HRT
  • University of Stellenbosch
    • Renovation of existing facilities, including a gas and electrical upgrade to host the Pegasus HRT