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Accurate Measurement of Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon in Soils and Sediments


This project will investigate and develop novel analytical techniques to allow greater discrimination in TPH analysis.  This will enable significant improvements in efficiency and measurement accuracy of TPH in soil and sediment, and thus lead to correct assessment of risk due to toxicity and bioavailability of TPH.

This research will develop new sample clean-up methods for the aliphatic/aromatic fractionation using solid phase extraction and/or thin layer chromatography and GC method for quantitation coupled with MS detection for confirmation.  Further confirmation will be developed with LC-TOF-MS. Several performance characteristics of the technique will be evaluated to utilise a performance based analytical methodology.   

This research will determine biological indicators for hazard assessment of the fractionated TPH using toxicity studies on the transformation of microorganisms exposed to these contaminants.


Vilma obtained her Bachelor and Master of Science degrees, both in Chemistry, from the University of the Philippines; the only state university in the Philippines.  Since graduation, Vilma has gained a significant ammount of experience in analytical laboratories, including in R&D, QC, QA, Clinical and manufacturing environments.  She is very familiar with laboratory and manufacturing documentation and process systems, having worked within various highly regulated environments that are NATA, TGA or FDA accredited.

Vilma has extensive experience in contemporary technologies in analytical instrumentation, including Spectroscopy in the UV-Visible and Infrared regions, to all modalities of Chromatography, and Quantitative High Performance Thin-Layer, Gas/Liquid Chromatography to High Performance Liquid Chromatography, Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectrometry, Mass Spectrometry, Ion Chromatography, Elemental CN and Total Organic Carbon Analyzers for the pharmaceutical industry and environmental research.

Prior to embarking on a PhD, Vilma was a staff member at the Centre for Environmental Risk Assessment and Remediation, at the University of South Australia.  As member of the analytical team, she provided technical support for the daily operation of the research and teaching laboratories.