Research in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Research Facilities (link)
  Scientific Supply Store
  Glass Shop
    Matt Montgomery - email
    ph: 334-844-6977
  Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR)
    Mike Meadows - email
    ph: 334-844-6993
  Mass Spectrometry (MS)
  Alabama Supercomputing (ASC)
  Confocal Service Center
  Powder X-Ray Scheduling

Faculty Research Interests

For comprehensive info, see Faculty List.

Blumenthal Lab: Chemical interactions of plasmas with solid surfaces.

Prof. Blumenthal

Physical Chemistry: Chemical interactions of plasmas with solid surfaces. Research in the Blumenthal Group is focused on the chemical interactions of plasmas with solid surfaces. Over the years, our interests have ranged from problems of concern to the semiconductor industry (the etching of silicon and magnetic metals), thin film deposition (the deposition of diamond thin films), and the military (the ignition of propellants). Method Development (Supersonic Pulse, Plasma Sampling Mass Spectrometry): Our first efforts were dedicated to the development of a new mass spectrometric method, Supersonic Pulse, Plasma Sampling Mass Spectrometry. In this technique, we release a short pulse of argon into the low-pressure plasma environment. ...Read More...

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Cammarata Lab: Physical properties of materials applicable to nanomolecular devices.

Prof. Cammarata

My research centers on making and understanding the physical properties of materials applicable to nanomolecular devices. The challenge lies in assembling molecules on surfaces and understanding the behavior of 1-, 2- and thin 3-dimensional (1-, 2- and thin 3-D) materials. The ultimate goal is to build surface structures with special optical and electronic properties, such as reversible electrochromic or photovoltaic behavior. Thin 3-D layered materials are formed by stacking simpler pieces, i.e. repeated electrosynthesis of surface-bound polymers using different materials. The oxidative coupling of aromatic amine monomers leads to polymeric materials that are oxidatively reversible, semiconductive, and have intense vibrant color changes. ...Read More...

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Duin Lab: Mechanistic enzymology, metalloenzymes, EPR/ESR Isoprene Synthesis, and Biodefense.

Prof. Duin

Isoprenoids are a group of essential biomolecules present in all organisms, some examples of which are cholesterol, steroid hormones, and ubiquinones. Recently it was discovered that two pathways exists that are used to synthesize isoprenoids, the mevalonate pathway and the DOXP/MEP pathway. In humans and animals isoprenoids are derived from the mevalonate pathway. The DOXP/MEP pathway is the sole pathway in Eubacteria and apicomplexan parasites. Important multi-drug resistant and other pathogens belong to this group, causing for example malaria, tuberculosis, plague, cholera and anthrax...Read More...

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Easley Lab: Bioanalytical Chemistry:  Novel microanalytical tools diabetes and obesity research.

Prof. Easley

The Easley laboratory is focused on the development of novel microanalytical techniques that allow us to perform unique experiments on biological systems.  One major focus of our laboratory involves the study of fundamental chemical and biophysical behaviors of pancreatic islets of Langerhans, the functional units of insulin secretion that help to maintain blood glucose homeostasis.  Debilitating conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome are fundamentally linked to this tissue.  The second major focus in our lab is to utilize DNA-antibody conjugates and DNA aptamers in ...Read More...

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Ellis Lab: Mechanistic enzymology, oxygenases involved in sulfur metabolism.

Prof. Ellis

Our group is interested in understanding the structural and physical dynamics of enzymes that contribute to their functional properties. Our lab has focused our research efforts on a bacterial two-component system involved in sulfur acquisition, and a mammalian metabolic pathway important in taurine biosynthesis. These catalytically distinct reactions play a vital role in maintaining appropriate sulfur levels in bacterial and mammalian systems. Alkanesulfonate Monooxygenase System For many bacterial organisms, inorganic sulfate is an important metabolite in the biological synthesis of sulfur-containing macromolecules...Read More...

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Goldsmith Lab: Synthetic inorganic and bioinorganic chemistry, oxidative catalysis, and biological imaging.

Prof. Goldsmith

My research lies at the interface between traditional inorganic chemistry and biochemistry.  Two diverse goals are pursued:  (1) the development of novel methodology for difficult organic transformations and (2) the production of biosensors capable of detecting reactive oxygen species.


Many natural products known to have medicinal properties contain chlorine and bromine at key positions in the molecular architecture.  These halogen atoms are found on aliphatic, olefinic, and aromatic carbons and have demonstrated the ability to profoundly impact the biological activity of the compound.  The lack of reactions capable  ...Read More...

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Goodwin Lab: Enzyme’s structure and its catalytic function in biological systems.

Prof. Goodwin

Our laboratory is interested in the relationship between an enzyme’s structure and its catalytic function in biological systems. In particular, we focus on enzymes that require the organometallic cofactor heme in order to function. Heme is used by a surprisingly broad range of enzymes to accomplish an equally broad range of biologically essential tasks. For example, these enzymes are central to metabolizing foreign compounds, safely disposing of H2O2 (a toxic side product of aerobic metabolism), and mounting an effective immune response. In spite of the many and very different functions accomplished by heme-dependent enzymes, each of them relies on this organometallic molecule...Read More...

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Gorden Lab: Ligand Design, Molecular Recognition, Environmental Chemistry, Actinide Coordination Chemistry. Prof. Gorden

The overall research goal of the Gorden Research Group is to develop broad-ranging, state-of-the-art programs based on combining organic synthesis and inorganic metal coordination chemistry, and to apply this both fundamental chemistry and practical applications. Actinide Specific Metal Detection - The use of actinides for energy or military applications has resulted in a host of waste and contamination issues. A need exists for new materials that can coordinate, sense, manipulate, to decontaminate sites or for sensors, “sensing” polymers, sprays, or pastes to detect and isolate toxic metals. Chemosensors such as these will allow for rapid in the field visual identification and thus increase ease of decontamination. ...Read More...

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Livant Lab: Organic chemistry

Prof. Livant

We are interested in atoms that break The Rule. In exceeding the valence octet, these scofflaws are in violation of the Octet Rule, and are termed "hypervalent." Hypervalent systems based on sulfur, phosphorus, iodine, and other main group elements in the third row or lower of the periodic table are numerous. By contrast, examples of hypervalent boron, carbon, and other second row elements are rare. We are exploring the possibility of preparing an isolable example of hypervalent nitrogen...Read More...

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Mansoorabadi Lab: Structural & functional genomics, cofactor and natural product biosynthesis, mechanistic enzymology.

Prof. Mansoorabadi

Our laboratory utilizes a combination of bioinformatic, biochemical, and biophysical approaches to identify and characterize novel biosynthetic pathways, secondary metabolites, and biocatalysts. The systems under study in our laboratory are chosen for both their biological importance and their potential for employing unusual and interesting enzyme chemistry. Below is an overview of several research projects in our laboratory that are focused on tetrapyrrole biosynthesis. Tetrapyrroles, the ‘pigments of life’, are an important class of biomolecules that function as coenzymes and prosthetic groups...Read More...

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McKee Lab: Application of computational methods to current chemical problems.

Prof. McKee

My current research interests focus on the application of computational methods to current chemical problems. State-of-the-art methods coupled with large parallel computers allow calculations to lead rather than follow experiments. We specialize in computing reaction mechanisms of inorganic systems. Our present focus is unraveling the mysteries of nitrogen reduction at the FeMo co-factor of nitrogenase. Another effort is the calculation of rate constants for reactions relevant to atmospheric chemistry, especially the reactions of a radical with a neutral molecule...Read More...

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Merner Lab: Target-oriented chemical synthesis.

Prof. Merner

The central theme of our group’s research program is target-oriented chemical synthesis (vide infra). Under this vastly defined area, our group will concentrate on the synthesis of architecturally complex molecules that are relevant to medicinal chemistry and nanoscale science. We are interested in the synthesis of natural products, analogues thereof, nucleic acid modifications that can be used as gene silencing therapeutics, and curved aromatic systems that will serve as molecular templates in the bottom-up chemical synthesis of carbon nanotubes (CNTs)...Read More...

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Mills Lab: Physical Chemistry

Prof. Mills

Photochemical generation and reactions of reducing macromolecular radicals in light-sensitive polymer systems, synthesis of nanometer-sized metal crystallites including kinetics and mechanism of the formation process in liquid and solid matrices, preparation of thermo and photoadaptive systems, degradation of toxic chemicals initiated via photolysis. ...Read More...

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Ortiz Lab: Molecular electronic structure theory.

Prof. Ortiz

Physical Chemistry: Molecular electronic structure theory Quantum chemistry is the application of quantum mechanics to problems of molecular structure, energetics, properties and spectra. Computers and quantum theory often provide information on molecules and ions that complements experimental data. Advances in theory and computational technology have made quantum chemistry into an indispensable component of modern chemical research. For this reason, chemists with theoretical and computational skills now work in a variety of industrial, government, and academic settings. Students in my group learn the methods of quantum chemistry and acquire many computational skills...Read More...

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Parish Lab: Bioorganic chemistry and organic synthesis.

Prof. Parish

The research activities in my laboratory are in the areas of bioorganic chemistry and organic synthesis. The overall theme of our research is the development of new synthetic strategies and methodologies that have general utility in the synthesis of steroid molecules possessing significant and potentially useful biological activity. We are particularly interested in the mechanism of steroid action and the molecular basis of drug design. We utilize biochemical and structural methods in addition to our efforts in the partial and total synthesis of biologically significant steroids. A current area of interest involves studies related to the synthesis and biological evaluation of steroids containing nitrogen (azasteriods) and sulfur (thiosteroids)....Read More...

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Patkowski Lab: Quantum chemistry, intermolecular interactions.

Prof. Patkowski

Intermolecular interactions are everywhere. A network of intermolecular hydrogen bonds determines the properties of liquid water and aqueous solutions. Hydrogen bonds as well as other effects (like stacking interactions of aromatic side chains) govern the structure of proteins and the catalytic abilities of enzymes. Even the least reactive species like rare gas atoms exhibit weak mutual attraction due to a phenomenon called dispersion. In fact, this attraction is the very reason why rare gases form liquids and solids at low temperatures. In a computational study of the interaction between two atoms or molecules, the key quantity is the potential energy surface (PES)....Read More...

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Schneller Lab: Antiviral drug design and discovery with inhibition of terminal viral mRNA methylation.

Prof. Schneller

S-Adenosyl-L-methionine (AdoMet, Fig. 1)-dependent transmethylations play an important role in regulating various biochemical and physiological processes. One such process that is the focus of the Schneller laboratory is the formation of the methylated capped 5'-terminus of eukaryotic and viral mRNA. These unique structures consist of (1) an N-7 methylguanosine residue linked at the 5'-hydroxyl group by a triphosphate to the 5'-end of the mRNA strand and (ii) a methyl substituent on the 2'-hydroxyl of the penultimate nucleotide (Fig. 2). Such methylations, which are catalyzed by N-7 methyltransferases and nucleoside 2'-methyltransferases that use AdoMet as the co-factor, are necessary for a fully functional mRNA...Read More...

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Shannon Lab: Electroanalytical chemistry with chemically modified electrodes and interfaces.

Prof. Shannon

Electroanalytical chemistry using chemically modified electrodes and interfaces. Specific projects involve the electrosynthesis of semiconductor nano films, bipolar electrochemistry, bio/chemical sensor development, surface chemistry of polyoxometalates, nanoporous thin films for separations, and surface enhance Raman spectroscopy of bio/chemical interfaces. The central theme of our research is controlling the chemical behavior of electrode surfaces at the atomic/molecular level. A wide range of analytical tools, including scanning probe microscopy (AFM and STM), surface plasmon resonance, quartz microbalance, Raman spectroscopy, and surface IR spectroscopy, are available in our laboratory. ...Read More...

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Squillacote Lab: Physical organic, photochemistry, matrix isolation, low temperature NMR, strained alkenes.

Prof. Squillacote

Organic Chemistry: physical organic, photochemistry, photodegrable polymers, strained alkenes Organic photochemistry, the interaction of light with organic molecules, represents one of the most exciting fields of chemistry. It is important in medicine, microelectronics, photo-technology, synthetic chemistry and of course the visual and photosynthetic biological systems. The source of all bio-energy is photochemical i.e. the sun, but it is important to realize on a molecular level how much energy is being dealt with. The amount of energy absorbed by a molecule when it interacts with a photon is equivalent in most cases to heating the molecule to over 1000 °C!...Read More...

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Stanbury Lab: Mechanisms of inorganic redox reactions in solution.

Prof. Stanbury

Inorganic Chemistry: Mechanisms of inorganic redox reactions in solution. Dr. Stanbury's research is concerned with the mechanisms of inorganic redox reactions in solution. Redox reactions of main-group species such as I–, NH2OH, and SCN– are a special focus. Because of their ubiquity, these compounds engage in many real-world redox reactions. For example, oxidation of I– is essential to the operation of a large class of solar energy cells, oxidation of NH2OH is a central step in the global nitrogen cycle, and oxidation of SCN– is one of the major functions of human peroxidases. Study of these reactions also affords fine opportunities to develop fundamental insight into chemical reactivity,...Read More...

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Zhan Lab: Solar energy conversion, bioanalytical chemistry, and materials chemistry.

Prof. Zhan

Our group has broad research interests in solar energy conversion, bioanalytical chemistry and materials chemistry. Categorized as such, however, our projects are often found more exciting when we can disregard the boundaries or depart our comfort zone for at least a while. Of course, efforts have been consistently made to turn the items in the comfort zone into our expertise, which include electrochemistry, luminescence (spectroscopy and imaging) and microfabrication...Read More...

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Neely Lab: Physical chemistry: molecular spectroscopy, plasma discharges, Langmuir-Blodgett films, biophysics, sensors

Prof. Neely

Current research efforts are in the applications of molecular spectroscopy in these principal areas: (1) Surface biophysics of Langmuir-Blodgett films with emphasis on molecular binding interactions including those important to sensors, and (2)Homogeneous and heterogeneous reactions of oxy-radicals including atomic oxygen and hydroxyl radicals with application to pretreatment of biomass.
Langmuir-Blodgett (LB) films provide unique opportunities for obtaining molecular spectra of highly oriented systems since an LB film has the optical characteristics of a two-dimensional crystal...Read More...

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Worley Lab: Physical & Organic Chemistry: FTIR, catalysis, surface science, biocides, N-halamines

Prof. Worley

Our research focuses on two main areas - the syntheses and testing of novel N-halamine biocidal compounds and FTIR studies of interactions of small molecules with catalytic films. For industrial and commercial purposes, a variety of new N-halamine compounds, both water-soluble monomers and water-insoluble polymers, have been prepared and characterized. The monomers will be used as disinfectants for recreational water, cooling towers, household sanitization, and a variety of medical purposes. The polymers function as excellent biocidal water filters and coatings of surfaces for frequent sterilization. This work has resulted in the awarding of more than 25 patents, and a Seattle-based company has been established to commercialize the technology...Read More...