Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry


Physical Chemistry is the branch of chemistry concerned with the application of the techniques and theories of physics to the study of chemical systems.


Byron Farnum

Assistant Professor

PhD Johns Hopkins University (2012)
Disciplines: inorganic, physical, energy, materials

The Farnum group is interested in the development of inorganic molecules and nanomaterials that address chemical challenges related to solar energy conversion and electrochemical energy storage. Our lab intersects the broad areas of inorganic and physical chemistry where we use a range of synthetic and characterization methods to produce new and exciting molecules/materials and probe their photo/electrochemical properties.

Christopher Grieco

Assistant Professor

PhD Pennsylvania State University (2017)
Disciplines: physical, analytical, materials, polymers, energy, photochemistry, photophysics

The Grieco lab aims to develop a fundamental understanding of mixed ionic-electronic conduction in conjugated polymers for ion-charge signal transduction and storage. Motivated by bioelectronic and energy storage applications, our research lies at the interface between Physical Chemistry, Materials Chemistry, and Engineering. We develop and apply in situ time-resolved optical spectroscopies for probing the elementary processes that occur during mixed ionic-electronic conduction. Our ultimate goal is to develop polymer design principles for maximizing their performance in electrochemical devices.

Evangelos Miliordos

James E. Land Assistant Professor

PhD National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (2010)
Disciplines: physical, computational/theoretical, energy

Our group applies high-level electronic structure calculations to study small transition metal compounds and their reactions with representative molecules for the activation of chemical bonds, such as C-H, O-H, N2, and CO2. These reactions are important in environmental chemistry and industry. Our goal is to understand the role of metal identity and ligands on the activity of molecular catalysts. We also study molecular systems containing solvated electrons (solvated electron precursors), which can lead to the discovery of novel materials (liquid metals) and aid their experimental characterization.

Jimmy Mills


PhD Technical University of West Berlin (1985)
Disciplines: physical, polymers, materials, environmental, catalysis

Part of the research in the Mills group involves preparation of nanometer-sized metal and metal-oxide crystallites in polymer films, and as highly concentrated colloids in polar and nonpolar solvents; their optical, thermal, lubricating, and conductivity properties are also investigated. Another area of focus is centered in part on macromolecular photosensitive systems acting as protective barriers that inactivate toxins and pathogens with light-generated free radicals. Also of interest are adaptive polymer films able to experience reversible phototransformations that enable controlling and sensing chemicals.

Vincent Ortiz

Ruth W. Molette Professor

PhD University of Florida (1981)
Disciplines: physical, computational/theoretical

Electron propagator theory: a) provides a systematic framework for development of ab initio methods that efficiently and accurately predict molecular spectra and properties; b) avoids evaluation of complicated electronic density functionals or state-functions; c) yields orbital concepts that are easily incorporated into qualitative chemical reasoning. Applications to negative ions with unusual chemical bonding, e.g. double-Rydberg, multipole-bound, nucleotide, fulleride,  -conjugated, super-halide and hydrated anions, expand the horizons of structure and bonding concepts in all branches of chemistry.


Assistant Professor

PhD Northwestern University (2019)
Disciplines: physical, analytical, environmental

Our research seeks to develop and apply tools to elucidate the molecular details of the structure, composition, and reactivity of interfacial chemical systems. We are particularly interested in the surfaces/interfaces of aerosol particles and liquid:liquid interfaces. This work lies at the metaphorical interface between a range of fields, including physical chemistry, analytical chemistry, environmental chemistry, and aerosol science. We use a variety of analytical techniques and instrumentation, including sum-frequency generation/second harmonic generation, fluorescence probe spectroscopy, aerosol mass spectrometry, and scanning mobility particle sizing.

Konrad Patkowski

S.D. and Karen H. Worley Professor

PhD University of Warsaw (2004)
Disciplines: physical, computational/theoretical, energy

Our group studies weak intermolecular interactions using accurate techniques of ab initio computational chemistry. We strive to provide improved descriptions of weakly bound complexes of spectroscopic and astrophysical relevance and a quantitative picture of small molecule adsorption on carbon nanotubes and within metal organic frameworks. Our method development work focuses on extending the capabilities of symmetry-adapted perturbation theory (SAPT) and improving the performance of dispersion-corrected density functional theory (DFT) across the entire potential energy surface.