Mike Verkouteren joined NIST (then NBS) in 1984 as an NRC postdoctoral student in the Atmospheric Chemistry Group, where he developed a new approach to carbonaceous sample preparation for radiocarbon analysis. This improved the effective level of detection, with applications to radiocarbon dating and source apportionment of environmental samples. Upon joining the permanent NIST staff in 1986, Mike worked in the Gas Metrology Group developing an isotope dilution method for the verification of CO2-in-air primary standard reference gases, which were needed to resolve conflicting atmospheric CO2 scales used across several international measurement networks. Mike designed, built, and performed measurements using a novel gas blending system, the design of which is now used by NOAA in their system to anchor the CO2 scale used in U.S. carbon cycle studies. Upon the reorganization of NBS to NIST in 1988, Mike rejoined the Atmospheric Chemistry Group, where he became involved in standards issues related to stable light isotopes, and especially carbon-13, which is measured in carbonaceous samples for purposes of sourcing and tracing materials. Mike developed new reference materials and standard methods for the measurement of the molecular isotopes of CO2 (the basis for all high-precision carbon-13 measurements), and developed a novel web-based tool for the processing of isotopic measurement data. In the course of isotope reference material development, he has led several international comparison exercises. In 1996, Mike joined the CSTL Laboratory Office as a Scientific Advisor on a one-year detail. Afterwards, he became Leader of the Atmospheric Chemistry Group. Mike successfully teamed with other Groups within CSTL to develop a comprehensive portfolio of research projects of mutual interest to NIST and the U.S. EPA. During his time as Group Leader, Mike also established relationships with other agencies to integrate NIST into long-range strategic planning at a federal level. He was the representative for NIST in meetings of the Subcommittee for Air Quality Research (CERN/OSTP), attended by over 15 federal agencies of the U.S. Government.
Since 2003, Mike has been a team member in the Analytical Microscopy Group, which conducts trace explosives research supporting homeland security. Mike has developed advanced metrology tools and standards that enable the reliable deployment and performance of explosive detectors. These tools and standards include a trace explosive vapor generator that utilizes piezoelectric nanodispense nozzles, gravimetric methods for mass determinations of nanodroplets used in preparation of reference materials, and ASTM standards that specify methods for the reliable testing of explosive detectors and the determination of detection limits.