About Me

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My name is James Little and my private consulting company is Mass Spec Interpretation Services.  I contract for NIST, Wiley, and Sapec.  Previously, I was a Research Fellow specializing in mass spectrometry at Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport, TN and retired in early 2016 after >37 years of service.  For 2017-2019, I did NMR as a limited service employee specializing in end group determinations for Eastman.

My main interest is the identification of organic compounds by mass spectrometry in organic mixtures.  All the technical information on my web page was approved as technical session handouts, conference presentations, workshops, journal publications, courses, etc. for distribution outside Eastman.  Other postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent Eastman’s positions, strategies or opinions.   I also include a “little” information about my sailing experiences.

All the topics discussed are listed in the “My Topics” under the sailing picture at the top of the page.  Additional links to topics discussed are found on the right side of the page.

In 2017, I purchased a used Model S85 Tesla and starting to participate in electric vehicle events.  In addition,  I am a member of the choir at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, play competitive duplicate bridge, and race sailboats on Watauga Lake.

The Kingsport site is Eastman’s largest production facility and also its corporate headquarters.  It is a very complex, integrated chemical production facility.  Tim Nolen’s Presentation (About Eastman: An Engineer’s View of History) is a good history of our company.  The company was originally part of Eastman Kodak, but was split into a separate company in 1994.  A history of the company is found in Wikipedia but does not include our recent acquisition of Taminco.

Below is a screen capture of the Kingsport Eastman Chemical site which straddles both sides of the South Fork of the Holston River.  The detail obtained when zooming in on the Google site is quite amazing.


I grew up in Lavonia, Ga. and worked in my early years as a printer in my family’s businesses including The Lavonia Times, The Royston Record, The Carnesville Herald, and Electric City Printing Company.  I attended Lavonia Elementary School and Franklin County High School.  My initial major was music (trumpet/band director) attending both Emmanuel College and Miami Dade Junior College.  I switched my degree to pre-pharmacy/pre-med before finally obtaining bachelors and masters degrees in chemistry from the University of Georgia in Athens.  My undergraduate work was in organic photochemistry under the direction of Dr. Richard Hautala.

Hope you find the website useful and enjoyable!

Feel free to email me for additional information.


Note:  Added “removethisbeforeemailing” to my email address in order to minimize spam, you will need to remove this part to get my actual email address.

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  1. RE: Mass Spec Interpretation Services

    Hi James,

    I am reaching out because I am seeking guidance for our Agilent 5977 GC/MS with reference to the NIST 20 MS library.
    We purchased the GSMS in May 2020. Although having been around GC and GCMS for 40+ years in the flavour fragrance industry it was the first time to buy and operate our own machine (we previously outsourced).

    Initially being confounded by NIST synonyms not matching our industry names we put together a “converter” in Excel to translate the NIST results to our terminology and within 3 months were getting great results only using NIST 20 DB. (typically identifying 100 + peaks with a quality score over 70 (30-40 over 90) amounting usually to 90-98% of the total). We would make up samples corresponding to the results which confirmed the reliability.
    However the bundled Hewlett Packard PC was veerrry slow.

    Then 2 months ago we run out of He gas during a busy run of samples which dirtied the ion source and we requested Agilent Service to help us. Before their visit we decided to upgrade the memory and added an 8GB memory card (total 16GB). Agilent service upgraded the Mass Hunter software, we cleaned the ion source twice.

    We also added our own custom xml Library. The GC runs were coming out with nice even peaks. The custom xml library is now giving good ‘looking’ results BUT now the NIST20 Library is only giving us matches with a score of 30-90 (with only <5 to 10 above 80) with almost no expected flavour /fragrance material matches. With the poor results from NIST it makes us doubt our custom xml DB.

    The chromatograms look clean with good peak separation and peak shape ok but if we run the column to its maximum normal temperature (60M rated to 325C (max 350C)) to above 300C we get horrendous baseline drift after 300C. and column bleed (siloxanes, silane, fluoro) and arsenous (never seen before) compound peaks – some with high scores. Running to max 280C keeps these mammoth peaks away.

    So do you see any or many red flags here?

    If we take a previously run sample and run the Workflow we get completely different and the much poorer NIST results since the Agilent Service compared to the results more than 2 months ago. Which seems to indicate a software problem rather than a GC or MS problem.

    We have spent 2 months playing with settings and have booked another visit
    from Agilent but in our country (Thailand) the engineers tell us there are only 2 other Flavour/Fragrance users so they don't have specific experience for our industry.

    So we have requested a "factory reset" to take us back to Day 1.

    In your experience do you think it is possible that the memory upgrade (accepted in the Windows configuration) could have upset the NIST Library? My computer experience tells me unlikely but…?

    If you think you may be able to help us I would appreciate your feedback or suggestions and services.


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