Research Projects

Current Research Projects


Student exam results chart

J. Res. Sci. Teach., 2015, 52(3), 319-346.

Christopher Bauer designs psychometrically sound assessments to measure chemistry understanding, attitude, and motivation, and studies how that information may be used to develop improved inquiry-based curricula that enhances student learning and success, particularly at the college level. This work includes fundamental studies of student misconceptions of atoms, molecules, chemical reactions, and phenomena.



Erik Berda studies the design and synthesis of polymers programmed to adopt discrete tertiary structures, their self-assembly, responsive "smart" polymers, and other complex macromolecular architectures.


Polym. Chem., 2015, 6(2), 181-197.

Marc Boudreau utilizes organic chemistry and chemical biology to study antibiotic resistance in bacteria. New potential enzyme inhibitors or probes for target identification are synthesized in the laboratory. Their biological activity and mechanism of action is studied in detail, which is utilized to inform the rational design of improved inhibitors.

Christine Caputo designs and synthesizes new organic and organometallic complexes using Earth-abundant metals that can act as catalysts or precursors for the development of new photoactive materials. Current research projects employ photochemical and electrochemical techniques to study the catalytic conversion of small molecules into more valuable sustainable fuel precursors using sunlight.

Craig T. Chapman uses theory and computation to study the dynamical behavior of molecular systems, with special attention paid to the areas of energy, materials, and technology.  This includes simulating the photodynamics of excitonic and plasmonic systems with high level quantum computational techniques. 

Arthur Greenberg employs strained organic molecules to study biological and toxicological mechanisms. This includes chemical and enzymatic studies to investigate the reactions of cytochrome P450 isoforms with oxepins in order to understand metabolic ring-opening of benzene. Studies of twisted bridgehead bicyclic lactams are employed to model proteolysis, protein folding, and β-lactam antibiotics.

strained organic molecules

J. Org. Chem., 2014, 79(2), 517-528.

Margaret Greenslade applies physical chemistry techniques including spectroscopy and electron microscopy to study the optical, chemical and morphological properties of fine atmospheric particulates, known as aerosols. Aerosols play important roles in diverse fields such as climate change, air pollution, atmospheric chemistry, health and drug delivery.


J. Phys. Chem. A., 2012, 116(18), 4518-4527.

Richard Johnson uses a combination of high level theory and experiments to study reactive intermediates and complex organic reaction mechanisms. Current efforts are focused on proton and free radical catalyzed rearrangements of polycyclic aromatics. His group also develops new methods to predict the regio- and stereochemistry of organic reactions.

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Anyin Li uses new materials and devices to improve analytical performance of mass spectrometry (MS). Current research projects aim at 1) enhancing sample-utilization efficiency in tandem MS characterization, and 2) developing novel quantitation method. Using MS based technologies, the group also creates atomically dispersed (noble metal) hybrid material for applications in catalysis, diagnosis, and flexible electronics. 





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Chem. Commun., 2014, 50(47), 6221-6224

Gonghu Li is interested in bridging surface chemistry with molecular catalysis for solar energy applications. Particular projects include solar fuel generation by photochemical and photoelectrochemical CO2 reduction, TiO2 materials for energy and environmental photocatalysis.




Glen Miller performs research at the intersections of organic chemistry, materials science, and nanotechnology. His group synthesizes and characterizes both small molecules and derivatives of nanostructured carbons. They then utilize these species in structural materials and in thin-film electronic devices like photovoltaics and light emitting diodes.

crystal pattern structure

J. Phys. Chem. C., 2014, 118(46), 26955-26963.


Nate Oldenhuis creates new biomaterials, polymers, and supramolecular networks using tools and techniques from organic chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular biology. These new materials are used for a variety of applications from studying polymer network topology to drug delivery and 3D cell culture.

formation and determination chart

Dalton Trans. 2015, 44(26), 11887-11892.

Roy Planalp studies transition-metal coordination chemistry, which generally includes synthetic and physical inorganic chemistry applied to problems in the life sciences and environmental sciences.  The focus is on ligand design and synthesis, currently the development of ratiometric fluorescent sensors of copper for wastewater sampling, and mechanistic studies of phosphodiesterase metalloenzymes.





W. Rudolf Seitz studies ratiometric fluorescent indicators for chemical sensing. One class of indicators senses bioavailable metal and can be incorporated into sensor arrays. Another consists of lightly cross-linked molecularly imprinted copolymers that bind polar organics and can be deposited on flat substrates.

nagatively charges ligand figure

Sensors 2013, 13(1), 1341-1352.

Sterling Tomellini is interested in developing and applying analytical methodology, especially in the areas of chemical separations and spectroscopy for challenging analyses. He often collaborates with academic, government, and industrial researchers on multidisciplinary projects.

John Tsavalas specializes in the synthesis, characterization, and modeling of polymer colloids. His group is engaged in a wide range of activities including controlling colloidal morphology in polymeric nanoparticle synthesis; synthesizing stimuli-responsive coatings and composites; dynamic modeling of colloidal interactions and reaction kinetics, and probing the distribution of water within polymer colloids.

simulaiton of crosslinking reaction figure

Macromolecules, 2015, 48(1), 184-197.

Chuck Zercher develops synthetic methods and strategies designed to facilitate the preparation of novel biological mimics and natural products. The formation and selective fragmentation of cyclopropanes are key components of the selective methodologies. Synthetic targets include cyclopropanols designed as peptide mimics and cytotoxic spiroketal natural products.

molecular structure

J. Org. Chem., 2012, 77(20), 9171-9178.