Professor Richard A. Yost
Colonel Allen R. and Margaret G. Crow Professor
Head, Analytical Chemistry
Director, Southeast Center for Integrated Metabolomics
Professor, UF Pathology, Immunology, and Laboratory Medicine
Professor, UF School of Natural Resources and Environment
Professor, University of Utah Pathology and ARUP
Past Member, Florida Board of Governors
Department of Chemistry
University of Florida
Rick Yost was born in Ohio, and lived his first seven years in West Virginia, before his family moved to Arizona. His B.S. degree in Chemistry was received from the University of Arizona in December 1974. His interest in analytical chemistry was kindled by Professors Quintus Fernando and Bonner Denton in courses in Quantitative Analysis and Instrumental Analysis, and by Professor Mike Burke and graduate student John Phillips in analytical research involving computer simulation of gas chromatography. Summer jobs at Affiliated Pathologists Laboratories, Motorola Semiconductors, and the University Analytical Center exposed him to a wide range of applications of analytical chemistry.
In January, 1975, Rick moved from Arizona to the frigid north to pursue graduate studies in analytical chemistry under an NSF graduate fellowship at Michigan State University, focusing on electronics and computerized instrumentation. Together with Professor Chris Enke, he conceived of the computerized tandem quadrupole mass spectrometer for analytical MS/MS studies. Although their proposal to NSF was not persuasive enough to convince the reviewers that such an instrument was viable or analytically useful, Dave Nelson of the Office of Naval Research invested in the proposed research. A couple thousand pounds of stainless steel, aluminum, and electronics later, the instrument was taking form, when a chance meeting at the May 1977 ASMS Conference in Washington, DC, with Professor Jim Morrison of Australia’s LaTrobe University found unexpected support. Jim had constructed a similar triple quad instrument for laser spectroscopy of mass-selected ions, and invited Rick to spend a couple of months performing preliminary experiments on that instrument. Those experiments, combined with computer simulations of ion trajectories with SIMION (written by Jim and his graduate student Don McGilvery) were instrumental in the successful completion of the Michigan State instrument. The instrument was patented by Research Corporation for MSU.
Rick received his Ph.D. in the summer of 1979 and assumed the position of Assistant Professor at the University of Florida. Rick has risen through the ranks at UF to Professor and Head of the Analytical Chemistry Division. His has supervised over 110 graduate students over the past 38 years, graduating over 85 PhDs. He has served as PI or Co-PI on over 100 grants and contracts, totaling over $50M of funding. Research in his group has led to over 190 publications and 16 patents. Also contributing to these research efforts have been a number of collaborators at UF and around the world, visiting scientists, plus undergraduate and high school researchers. His research emphasis for the past few years has been the development and application of innovative mass spectrometric methodologies, including imaging mass spectrometry and ion mobility, for global and targeted metabolomics, lipidomics, and clinical analysis.
The triple quadrupole mass spectrometer that he invented is the most common mass spectrometer in the world today, with sales of over $1 billion per year! Other pioneering instruments from his lab that are now widely used as commercial systems include the ion trap tandem mass spectrometer and the laser microprobe tandem mass spectrometer. Dr. Yost’s research has been recognized with the highest award in his discipline, the ASMS Award for Distinguished Contribution in Mass Spectrometry.
Dr. Yost recently completed terms on the Florida Board of Governors (Regents) and the University of Florida Board of Trustees. He recently began a six-year term as Vice President for Programs, then President, and finally Past President of ASMS (the American Society for Mass Spectrometry). He also serves as Director of the NIH Southeast Center for Integrated Metabolomics (SECIM).
On the personal side, Rick married Katie Fitzgerald a week after his Ph.D. commencement in 1979. As best friends and partners in life, we have enjoyed traveling around the world and raising a wonderful family – Sarah (BS in Biology from Furman University), Mike (BS in Environmental Sciences from Florida Institute of Technology) and Matt (BS in Anthropology from UF).