Our faculty members are active scholars in a wide variety of chemical and biochemical disciplines, regularly presenting their work at professional conferences and publishing their findings in peer-reviewed scientific journals. The department is deeply committed to sustaining a vigorous and diverse range of collaborative student-faculty research, and the majority of our majors engage in a meaningful research experience prior to graduation.
Faculty Research Interests
Engaged in a research collaboration with Gary Nishioka, Ph.D. (President, H & N Instru-ments, Newark, OH). Together they have designed, built, and refined an electrostatic printing instrument that synthesizes small micro arrays of peptides or enzymes on silicon chips.
Peter L. Kuhlman, a biochemist, has an overarching interest in molecular evolution. Recent studies include the purification and characterization of RNA polymerases from plant tissue, the expression of recombinant proteins in bacterial cells, the characterization of transcription patterns in live plants, searching for rapidly-evolving proteins, and modeling protein structure. Dr. Kuhlman maintains active research collaborations with faculty at Indiana University, the University of Toronto, and Eastern Kentucky University.
Rachel Mitton-Fry, a biochemist, is interested in structure-function relationships in non-coding RNA elements. Current work in the Mitton-Fry laboratory focuses on RNA thermomosensors, RNA elements that affect gene expression levels in response to temperature variation.
A physical chemist, studies the diffusion of water in mixed phase systems to help understand water’s transport behavior in complex mixtures such as those found in atmospheric secondary organic aerosols and hydrophobic coatings in nature and industry. She uses a combination of attenuated total reflection infrared spectroscopy and differential scanning calorimetry to link diffusion rates to the phase properties of different mixtures.
Biophysical Organic Chemistry
Sonya L. McKay, a biophysical organic chemist, is interested in research on how the molecular level interacts dictated by the primary structure of peptides and proteins influence protein structure and function.
Chemistry of biological surfaces, particularly those that contain sugars, and the role of the sugars at these surfaces. Research in the group includes synthesis of a glycosylated silicate-polymer as a model surface for probing carbohydrate interactions, and the cloning, expression and characterization of penicillin-binding proteins from Bukholderia cenocepacia to study their interactions with antibiotics.
Materials & Physical Chemistry
A materials and physical chemist, works on synthesis and characterization of semiconducting nanomaterials for use in solar cells that produce clean and renewable fuels. Combined with low-cost synthetic methods that rely on self-assembly, he uses electrochemical and spectroscopic methods to probe and better understand interfacial electron-transfer reactions in working solar cells.
Synthesis and characterization of methylene-bridge-substituted calixarenes. These molecules provide access to new structural motifs in calixarene chemistry. A methylene-bridge substituent allows for modification of the solubility, conformational rigidity, and conformational preferences of a calixarene in comparison to the unsubstituted species.
Uses NMR spin relaxation and molecular dynamics simulations to study the internal motions of flexible polymers and peptides in solution. He has mentored 22 student researchers during his career, leading to six publications and 20 presentations with student co-authors. Dr. Fuson is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the 400 MHz Bruker Avance NMR.
Synthetic Organic/Materials Chemistry
Interested in developing new organic materials, potentially for use in molecular electronics, and specifically for use in low-cost solar cells. His research integrates organic synthesis and characterization of self-assembling liquid crystalline materials along with the actual fabrication and testing of devices.