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Undergraduate Research Opportunities

SPRING SYMPOSIUM | JOINING A LAB | RESEARCH EXPECTATIONS
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Research (n) "is the diligent and systematic inquiry or investigation into a subject in order to discover or revise facts, theories, applications, etc."

Chemistry majors are encouraged to do research during their time of study at JMU. Many students start in their sophomore or junior year. Working one-on-one with a faculty mentor teaches students about the discipline and thrill of discovering new scientific phenomena and presenting them to the scientific community. There are research opportunities with faculty in all of the major subdisciplines of chemistry (analytical, biochemistry, inorganic, organic, and physical). Many of the faculty mentors have projects which involve studies in more than one of these traditional areas or branch into other disciplines including biology and materials science. Below are some of the research interests of our faculty. For more information on specific projects, contact the individual faculty members.


Analytical Chemistry
  • Analytical chemistry applied to environmental problems, nuclear chemistry and separations. (Dr. Dan Downey)
  • Ionization and characterization of acidic compounds in complex mixtures by negative ion electrospray liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. (Dr. Chrisi Hughey)
  • Environmental chemistry, arsenic biogeochemistry, atmospheric deposition of trace metals from coal-fired power plants. (Dr. Richard Foust)
Biochemistry
  • Spectroscopic studies of protein changes associated with substrate binding and how solution conditions (salts and pH) can alter substrate binding, protein structure, stability, and aggregation state. (Dr. Gina MacDonald)
  • Footprinting studies of DNA to elucidate chromatin structure in cells (Dr. Debbie Mohler)
  • Protein structure function studies using X-ray and NMR spectroscopy (Dr. Nathan Wright)
Environmental Chemistry
  • Analytical chemistry applied to environmental problems, nuclear chemistry and separations. (Dr. Dan Downey)
  • Environmental chemistry, arsenic biogeochemistry, atmospheric deposition of trace metals from coal-fired power plants. (Dr. Richard Foust)
  • Ionization and characterization of acidic compounds in complex mixtures by negative ion electrospray liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. (Dr. Chrisi Hughey)
Inorganic Chemistry
  • Synthesis and characterization of hybrid inorganic-organic frameworks for gas storage and separation applications. (Dr. Barbara Reisner)
  • Synthesis and characterization of organometallic and metal organic compounds for use in catalysis and as chemical vapor deposition precursors (Drs. John Gilje and Donna Amenta)
Materials and Nanoscience
  • Surface characterization of polymer nanocomposite thin films and applications of these materials to polymeric microfluidic devices (Dr. Brian Augustine)
  • Synthesis and characterization of new organic-inorganic hybrid materials. (Dr. Brycelyn Boardman)
Organic Chemistry
  • Synthesis of self-assembling molecules and physical/spectroscopic characterization of the resulting supramolecular aggregates. (Dr. Kevin Caran)
  • Synthesis, characterization, and mechanistic studies into the formation of 1,3-difluorobenzene compounds. (Dr. Scott Lewis)
  • Synthesis and characterization of organic ligands of organometallic molecules (Dr. Donna Amenta)
  • Preparation of novel light-absorbing compounds for studying photoinduced electron transfer in model solar energy system and the synthesis of novel siRNA analogs (Dr. Debbie Mohler)
Physical Chemistry
  • Investigation of the synthesis and characterization of metal chalcoginides and possible oxidation and/or dehydrogenation catalysts. (Dr. Tom DeVore)
  • Characterization of self-assembling biomolecules (Dr. Yanjie Zhang)
  • Optical characterization and sensor applications of luminescent dye molecules (Dr. Ben DeGraff)