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Chemistry Department


Chemistry Faculty Research

Most students who major in chemistry or chemistry with biochemistry concentration conduct at least one semester of capstone research in close collaboration with a member of the chemistry faculty. Research activities in the department are supported by external grants and lead to publications in peer-reviewed science journals and presentations at local and national meetings. While conducting their research, students have direct access to all of the state-of-the-art equipment in the department.

Recent Presentations by Skidmore Chemistry Students and Faculty

Recent Publications by Skidmore Chemistry Students and Faculty

Recent Funding Granted to Skidmore Chemistry Faculty

Analytical Chemistry Research

Professor Kim Frederick's research group develops miniaturized devices for conducting biomedical and environmental analysis.  Our devices employ microfluidic or “lab on a chip” technology to make devices that are smaller, less expensive and faster.  Current projects include developing a lab on a CD player in order to do urine-based testing for malaria, a disease which kills millions every year.  We are also developing automated water quality monitoring platforms to test underground and surface water for organic contaminants.

Biochemistry Research

Professor Kelly Sheppard's research group is interested in the different pathways organisms use to translate the genetic code, in particular with regard to the amino acid asparagine (Asn). The work provides insight not only into the life cycles of these bacteria but also into the evolution of the Asn decoding pathways. The research also lays the foundation for development of new antibiotics to target these pathogenic bacteria. We are also applying our knowledge of these pathways to expand the genetic code to incorporate unnatural amino acids into proteins to facilitate studies on Alzheimer’s Disease and more active anti-cancer agents.

Bioinorganic and Inorganic Chemistry Research

Professor Steven Frey's
research group has two main interests.  The first is to produce composites by immobilizing metal ions, metal complexes, or biological molecules on solid-state materials. Applications of these composite materials include catalysis, optical information storage, and the detoxification of environmental pollutants.  The second is in the synthesis of transition metal complexes as models for the active site centers of metalloenzymes.

Computational Biophysics

Professor Lia Ball's research program uses computer simulations and other computational methods to study how intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) interact with folded proteins in the context of disease, or as part of normal cellular function. IDPs are different from typical folded proteins in that they lack a single well-defined structure and instead dynamically occupy many alternate structures. This research draws on knowledge from physics, chemistry, biology, and computer science to understand the fundamental physical principles governing interactions between disordered and folded proteins and how these interactions are important for their function. 

Environmental and Analytical Chemistry Research

Professor Judy Halstead and her undergraduate collaborators investigate the chemical characteristics of Saratoga County  streams, rivers, lakes and springs and the relationships between this water chemistry, local geology and land use patterns.

Organic Chemistry Research

Research in the Bales Group focuses on synthesizing and characterizing novel complex organic compounds utilizing common fundamental organic reactions.  Our goal is to synthesize these compounds without expensive catalysts and starting materials by methods suitable for use in the undergraduate laboratory.  This work requires students to perform basic organic lab techniques, perform microwave chemistry, and use spectroscopic instrumentation.  

Professor Ray Giguere's undergraduate research group works in the area of organic synthesis, focusing on intramolecular cycloadditions (e.g., allyl cation, tandem intramolecular Diels- Alder, tandem ene/Diels-Alder). Research students in his lab actively pursue the art of organic synthesis by creating, purifying and identifying organic molecules. This research requires students to learn advanced theory and lab techniques, including how to operate modern instrumentation, such as 1H & 13C-NMR, IR, GC/MS,  as well as interpret spectral data obtained from them.

Professor Mahatthananchai studies isotopic labeling as commonly employed in metabolism and organic reaction mechanisms. The method for incorporating deuterium, a stable isotope of hydrogen, into useful organic molecules is typically multi-step, expensive, and wasteful. Our research focuses on the ability of vitamin B1 to catalyze a hydrogen-deuterium exchange reaction with inexpensive reagents and mild condition.

Physical Chemistry Research

Professor Juan Navea’s research group combines experimental and theoretical methods to study the impact of atmospheric aerosols in the physics and chemistry of the troposphere (lower atmosphere). Daytime and nighttime chemistry is simulated using particles from dust storms, volcanos, and/or human activities.

Quantum Computational Chemistry Research

Professor William Kennerly's research group investigates the fluorescence of tryptophan, an essential amino acid.   Biochemists use the light emitted from an individual tryptophan residue in a large protein molecule to figure out how the protein molecule moves, which is essential towards understanding its function in vivo.  Quantum chemistry methods are the best way to answer detailed questions about the protein:  what wavelength of light will it absorb and emit?  How does that change if the protein is folded, or not, or exposed to solvent, or not?  Students working with Prof. Kennerly learn how to apply quantum mechanical ideas to understand chemical properties using research-grade software and high-performance computers.