Chemistry Department Research

  • Student Research at IUP

    All BS Chemistry and Biochemistry majors are required to do a research project. In addition students can get involved with faculty research as early as their second semester of their Freshman year.  In addition, Chemistry students can participate in the Research for Summer Scholars program for 10 weeks during the summer.  Many student receive at least partial support for this program.  

    The department has many active, innovative research projects in which students can directly participate.   

    Solid State/Inorganic Chemistry

    Students interested in solid state chemistry can work with Dr. Lake preparing novel materials with unique semiconductor properties. Students use the X-ray diffraction facility to characterize the materials they make, and sometimes travel to Oak Ridge, or Argonne national labs to use those facilities a recent project presented at the Meeting of the Crystallographic society is “Using Multiple Wavelength Synchrotron Data to Identify the Cd2+ site in Ag2CdGeS4 and ” Rietveld Refinement and Structure Analysis of the Solid-Solution Na2(Zn,Co)GeO4.  Dr. Jain prepares inorganic materials used in photodynamic therapy to fight cancer. She also uses some of the labs facilities to characterize her compounds. One recent project, presented at the national ACS meeting was  “Development of light activated Ru(II) complexes applicable in photodynamic therapy”

    Environmental Chemistry

    IUP students can participate in the Beaver Run reservoir project, directed by Dr. McElroy.  These students use ICP, and ion chromatography, methods applied to the water analysis of the local beaver run reservoir. Recent studies include “Determination of Trace and Inorganic Contaminants in Marcellus Drilling Sites Near Beaver Run Reservoir”

    Students can also be involved in developing new processes for synthesizing biofuels, or creating biosensors important to the energy industry, directed by Dr. Majumdar. A recent student project – “Tuning Up The Redox Potential of Streptomyces Coelicolor Laccase by Site Directed Mutagenesis”

    Chemical Synthesis 

    Numerous chemistry faculty direct  projects where novel chemical compounds are synthesized.  Students learn various synthetic techniques as well as important characterization methods, like NMR, FTIR, GC-MS, and Cyclic Voltametry. Some recent IUP Chemistry student projects are “Synthesis, characterization, and electrochemical studies of water soluble ruthenium complexes” (Jain), “A Solid Supported Palladium Catalyzed Aza-Wacker Enamine ` Synthesis” and  “Homo-Polymerization of a Natural Monomer: Applying Wacker Chemistry to Eugenol Polymer Synthesis” (LeBlond),  Synthetic Selectivity of Organomolybdenum Reagents with (Elcesser), and  “Synthesis of Anticancer Agents for Inhibition of Type II Inosine Monophosphate Dehydrogenase (IMPDH) (Kyler)     

    Computational Chemistry

    Modern chemistry relies on computational methods to predict and direct experimental work.  Several IUP Chemistry faculty direct  computational chemistry research projects.  Dr. Ko studies proteomics, which uses computational methods to predict properties and behavior of various proteins. a recent student project is "Computational Approach to Functional Annotation of Structural Genomics. Dr, See’s students work on the detailed interactions of inorganic molecules, recent student projects include Quantification of the Trans Influence in d8 Square Planar and d6 Octahedral Complexes: a Database Study, and Oxidation State and Ligand Binding Mode at the Active Site of Myoglobin.  Dr. LeBlond and Dr. Fair use molecular dynamics to predict physical and chemical reactions. Some recent projects are “Molecular Dynamics Simulations of Brittle Fracture in fcc Crystalline Materials in the Presence of Defects” (LeBlond), and “Computational Study of Finkelstein Reactions” (Fair).   

    Protein function

    Several IUP Biochemists work on protein chemistry. Dr. Villemain looks at analyzing protein behavior, an example is her recent student project “Post-Translational Regulation of Membrane-bound Proteins” and “Structural analysis of a proposed intrinsically unstructured protein region using fluorescence spectroscopic techniques”,  Dr Ford is a Bioanalytical chemist, who ‘s project “Cellulose Particle Size and Crystallinity Influence Cellulase Kinetics” involves cellulose  conversion processes. Dr. Majumdar looks at engineering proteins for various energy related processes, a recent project is “Roles of Small Laccases from Streptomyces in Lignin Degradation”. Dr. Southard isolates and studies important proteins in natural environments. A recent project “  Presence of L-canavanine in Hedysarum alpinum seeds and its potential role in the death of Chris McCandless”.   

    Chemical Education 

    Dr Ashe, Dr. Long and Dr. Kondo have chemical education as a research focus, though many IUP chemistry faculty include chemical education in their research program.  some recent projects include "Bringing student-student interactions online: Computer-monitored online discussions of intermolecular forces"(Ashe), “Predicting Student Learning from Conversational Cues”(Ashe.)  Qualitative Assessment of Inquiry-Based Teaching Methods(Long), Periodic Properties and Inquiry: Student Mental Models Observed during a Periodic Table Puzzle Activity”(Long), and 'What I did and what I learned': Improving student ability to communicate about laboratory experiences with just one sentence" (Kondo),  "Online assessment tools for organic chemistry" (LeBond), “A Survey of Industrial Organic Chemists:  Understanding the Chemical Industries Needs of Current Bachelor’s Level Graduates.” (Fair) and . Protein Analysis Using Real-Time PCR Instrumentation: Incorporation in an Integrated, Inquiry-Based Project (Southard) 

    Our world-class faculty consists of 17 full-time PhDs within a multitude of chemical specialties, including analytical, biochemical, computational, education, inorganic, organic, and physical.

    The majority of faculty members conduct research in their specialty area and encourage undergraduate research leading to presentations at local and national conferences and publications in leading chemical journals.

    The following list gives an approximate distribution of teaching and research interests of our faculty.

    Analytical: Ford, Kupchella, McElroy

    Biochemistry: Jain, Majumdar, Southard, Villemain

    Computational/Theoretical: Ko, Kondo, LeBlond, See

    Education (Chemical): Ashe, Long

    Inorganic: Elcesser, Jain, Lake, See

    Organic: Fair, Kyler, LeBlond

    Physical/Theoretical: Ko, Kondo, Long