Pete Palmer

Pete Palmer

At SF State since 1994
Phone: (415) 338-7717
Location: TH 730

Analytical-Environmental Chemistry

The major theme of my group’s research is the development, characterization, and application of highly automated and miniaturized instrumentation for the analysis of environmental pollutants. We are particularly interested in techniques that provide advantages such as minimal sample preparation, monitoring of multiple target species, low detection limits, and the ability to rapidly screen large numbers of samples in the field. We utilize both GC/MS and Direct Sampling Ion Trap MS (DSITMS) to monitor gases, volatile organic compounds, and pesticides in air, museum artifacts, and consumer products. Our recent work in this area has focused on the use of Solid Phase Micro-Extraction (SPME) for rapid sampling of volatile species and the development of custom DSITMS sample introduction systems to lower detection limits of this technique into the part-per-trillion range. We have also been active in pioneering the use of X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) for FDA applications such as the determination of toxic elements in Asian patent medicines and investigation of consumer complaint cases. I also serve as a science advisor for the FDA and am actively involved in the oversight of remediation efforts at the Hunters Point Shipyard in San Francisco.


P. Palmer, M. Martin, G. Wentworth, S. Ostini, C. Prospero, and M. Fang, “Pesticide Contamination on Native American Artifacts – Methods, Results from Six Case Studies, and Next Steps”, Collection Forum, vol. 20, 2006, pp. 23-32. 

P.T. Palmer, M. Martin, G. Wentworth, N. Caldararo, L. Davis, S. Kane, D. Hostler, “Determination of Pesticide Residues on Museum Objects Repatriated to the Hupa Tribe of California”, Environmental Science and Technology, vol. 37, 2003, 1083-1088. 

P. Prazeller, T. Jobson, E. Boscaini, P. Palmer, M. Alexander, “Proton Transfer Reaction – Ion Trap Mass Spectrometry (PTR-ITMS), Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, vol. 17, 2003, 1593-1599.

P.T. Palmer, T.F. Limero, “Mass Spectrometry in the U.S. Space Program – Past, Present, and Future”, Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, vol. 12, 2001, pp. 656-675. 

P.T. Palmer, D. Karr, and Carla Remigi, “Evaluation of Two Different Direct Sampling Ion Trap Mass Spectrometry Methods for Monitoring Halocarbon Compounds in Air”, Field Analytical Chemistry and Technology, vol. 4, 2000, pp. 14-30.


Principal Investigator, “Analysis of Volatile Organic Compounds on Mir Space Station”
Funding Agency: NASA’s Life and Biomedical Sciences and Applications Division
Funding Period: 1995 - 2000
Funding Level: $396,735


2005 Jefferson Award for Outstanding Community Service
2000 Colwell Merit Award for Outstanding Paper (Intl. Conference on Environmental Systems)
1995 Colwell Merit Award for Outstanding Paper (Intl. Conference on Environmental Systems)
1993 Commendation from NASA for first Successful Flight Testing of Ion Trap MS System
1992 Commendation from NASA for Study of Carbon Emissions in High Latitude Ecosystems
1990 Commendation from NASA for Demo of Autonomous MS System at Kennedy Space Center