GC-MS Course



August 7-13, 2022 at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Gothic, Colorado

Please contact the Science Director at sd@rmbl.org for more information.


INSTRUCTORS: ROBERT RAGUSO (Cornell University) and DIANE CAMPBELL (Univ. of California, Irvine)

Course Description:  Biogenic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are major drivers of terrestrial ecology across many scales and influence the spectrum of mutualistic to antagonistic interactions. Until recently, it has been difficult to incorporate VOC analysis into field ecological research, especially in remote settings where such interactions are best studied.

We are offering a beginner’s course in the analysis of VOCs using coupled gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS).


Participants will learn the basics of how to collect, separate, identify and quantify plant VOCs from local plants at RMBL, using complementary methods widely accepted among chemical ecologists. In addition, participants will apply these basics to a short project, during which the instructors will work with them to optimize GC-MS and GC-FID methods for their focal species, target compounds or questions.

Learning outcomes include familiarity and competence with methods and first principles, practice applying core approaches in short projects, the potential to produce  pilot / proof of concept data for research projects, and (ultimately) the opportunity for participants to add VOC analysis to their research programs, at RMBL and beyond.

  • Course Fee:  $625;   Student discount  20%  ($500  student  rate)
  • Room and Board: $690;  Student discount 20%  ($550 student rate)
  • Class Size:  10 participants
  • Registration closes July 30, 2022 or when the class is full.  A $300 non-refundable deposit is required to hold a spot in the class.
  • Travel Information
  • Lodging Information
    • You may register to reside in Gothic, at the field station where the course will take place.
    • If you desire more comfort and would like to be Off-Site and stay in a hotel or bed & breakfast, please arrange your own housing, but please also register online.
  • Participants with cars are required to have a parking permit and they park in the designated RMBL parking lots.
  • What to Bring to Gothic
  • Gothic Town Map
  • Course Schedule
  • Welcome Handout
  • Meals: The course fee includes lunches. For visitors traveling here specifically for the course, the Room and Board fee covers all remaining meals. The Community Center Dining Hall serves buffet-style meals. Breakfast at 7:00 am – 8:00 am, Lunch at Noon – 1:00 pm, Dinner at 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm.

RMBL has an open wireless internet system available throughout the campus. Excellent wireless access is available in the Community Center. There is no cell phone service in Gothic. Facilities are rustic, including outhouses and central shower facilities, as well as cabins with greater or lesser amenities.