Faculty Mentors


Dr. Jeremy Cody/ Organic Chemistry

The research interests in my group are in the field of organic synthesis. My research is an interplay of activities in the synthesis of biologically relevant molecules and projects in synthetic methodology. Students working in my group will gain research experience in modern synthetic reactions, experimental design, purification techniques, and structure determination.

Dr. Michael Coleman/ Organic Chemistry

Our research group interests are centered on the discovery of novel transition metal and Lewis acid-catalyzed synthetic methodologies. We are currently exploring ring strain as a design principle to gain new mechanistic insight into a large spectrum of remarkable reactivities not observed in other p-bonded systems.  Special emphasis is placed on sp2-hybridized prochiral centers because of the regio- and stereochemical aspects of reaction selectivity.  The goal of our research group is to develop useful synthetic building blocks to be applied in organic chemistry and other biologically important intermediates and products. 


Dr. Christina Collison/ Organic Chemistry

Our research lab is dedicated to the synthesis of novel biologically active natural products. Since most bioactive compounds extracted from natural sources such as corals and plants are produced in low quantities, synthetic chemists are often challenged with synthesizing the same molecules. Synthetic organic research thus plays three roles: 1) to verify the structure reported by isolation chemists 2) to discover a successfully efficient synthetic route towards the molecule and 3) to produce enough compound in order to alleviate stress on the environment. Learn more about my research at: http://people.rit.edu/cgcsch

Dr. Christopher Collison/ Physical,Analytical and Materials Chemistry

Our research is centered around fluorescence spectroscopy of 21st century materials. These materials include conjugated polymers and carbon nanotubes for use in polymer photovoltaics, as well as biological probes. Using fluorescence, we can characterize new materials, study energy transfer and measure excited state kinetics. Through collaborations with RIT's nanopower Research Laboratory we also have access to nanoimaging techniques that allow us to correlate our measured spectroscopic properties with changes in macromolecular structures. Visit my website at: http://people.rit.edu/cjcscha

Dr. Paul Craig/ Biochemistry

My research interest is computational biochemistry, where we use computers to analyze biochemical systems and predict behaviors or functions. We have three different collaborative projects that all involve developing technology (writing programs, creating databases) and using the technology to create and explore biochemical information: 1) JBioFramework is a Java-based family of simulations of separations important to biochemistry and proteomics: ion exchange chromatography, 1D electrophoresis, 2D electrophoresis and mass spectrometry. This is a good project for science majors with computer skills who are interested in programming in Java. 2) The Human Visualization Project is a collaboration to develop a virtual human that is both graphically interesting and scientifically accurate. This project involves students with backgrounds in science, computer science and medical illustration. 3) Molecular modeling using the Python programming language to create ProMOL, a wonderful molecular visualization program. We use ProMOL to suggest functions for protein structures that lack assigned functions. This project is suitable for students with interests in programming, data analysis, and biochemical characterization of novel enzymes. For more information about my research, please visit: http://people.rit.edu/~pac8612/


Dr. Nathan Eddingsaas/Analytical Chemistry

The research interests in my group are in field of atmospheric chemistry.  We are interested in understanding how volatile organic species (VOCs) emitted into the atmosphere are oxidized and what is their ultimate fate.  Reactions in the atmosphere are simulated in an atmospheric chamber and the oxidation mechanism and kinetics are monitored by sensitive spectroscopic techniques.  In addition, we are interested in understanding how the oxidized VOCs form aerosol and what is the molecular composition of these aerosols.  To this end, a number of GCMS, LCMS, and spectroscopic techniques are used.  This research aids in understanding how the atmosphere works and ultimately aids in improving atmospheric models which are used to simulate and predict the future atmosphere and influence policy decisions.


Dr. Joseph Hornak/ Physical, and Analytical Chemistry

The RIT Magnetic Resonance Laboratory is a research and development laboratory devoted to solving real world problems with magnetic resonance. The laboratory specializes in the development of magnetic resonance instrumentation, computer based tissue classification using magnetic resonance images, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of materials. The laboratory is currently focusing on developing a near surface MRI, and the NMR of hydrated randomly packed particles. Visit my website: http://www.cis.rit.edu/people/faculty/hornak/

Dr. Thomas Kim / Biochemistry

My research is centered on a specific facet of chemistry education research known as representational competence. Chemistry, as a discipline, encompasses the use of a broad variety of symbols, images, and formulas that can be collectively described as external representations. Many of these representations were developed for communicating between experts (e.g. Lewis structures, DNA cartoons) but can be counter-intuitive or misleading to students unfamiliar with the underlying ideas. Using educational psychology theories, such as perceptual learning and cognitive load, we examine students' ability to perceive and understand chemistry representations and look to develop revised representations that better facilitate student learning. http://people.rit.edu/tdksch

Dr. Lea Michel/ Biochemistry/Biophysics

The goal of our lab is to link the structural properties and conformational motions of proteins to their functions using various spectroscopic, biophysical and molecular biology techniques. To accomplish this goal, we use site-directed mutagenesis, NMR spectroscopy and other biochemical approaches to manipulate protein structure and dynamics and evaluate the functional impact of those changes. The lab focuses their structure/function studies on two protein families: the c-type heme signaling/sensing proteins from Geobacter sulfurreducens and antigenic proteins from Haemophilus influenzae, pathogenic bacteria which cause diseases such as meningitis, pneumonia and otitis media (ear infections).

Dr. Casey Miller/ Materials Science

Coming Soon

Dr. Massoud Miri/ Polymer Chemistry

Our group investigates the syntheses of polymers using metallocenes and other single-site catalysts. These catalysts provide excellent control over the structure and molecular weight properties of modern synthetic polymers. Our major goals are to develop new polymers or new polymerization processes for existing polymers that lead to high productivities and better end properties. Besides utilizing polymerization catalysts that are commercially available, we also design new metalorganic catalysts. Our work includes the syntheses of polymers with novel morphologies and polymer/composites at the nanoscopic scale. For more information please see:

Dr. John-David Rocha/ Physical Chemistry

Dr. Rocha’s research group focus is in the area of nanotechnology, more specifically, in the use of nanomaterials (such as carbon nanotubes, graphenes, etc.) in energy, electronics, and biomedicine. Using primarily optical spectroscopy techniques (absorption, fluorescence, Raman) for materials characterization, fundamental understanding of nanomaterials chemistry is necessary to assist the chemical and engineering communities take their next-generation products to market more rapidly. In the future, Dr. Rocha plans to expand into other elemental nanomaterials, first as hybrids with carbon nanomaterials and then later as primary materials. Students will learn fundamentals of nanotechnology, optical spectroscopy, chromatography, and instrumentation design.


Dr. Suzanne O'Handley/ Biochemistry

Our research entails the discovery and characterization of new enzymes. The enzymes either come from model bacteria such as E. coli or pathogenic bacteria such as M. tuberculosis or Staph. aureus. Enzymes from pathogens have the potential to be novel antibiotic targets. We study members of either the Nudix hydrolase superfamily or the HAD superfamily; in this way we can understand family relationships as well. Students in the lab do bioinformatics to uncover new enzymes, clone the genes, and express, purify, and characterize the proteins. We also do knock-out mutagenesis to determine the cellular function of some of these enzymes.


Dr. K.S.V. Santhanam/ Analytical Chemistry

Our research is oriented towards nanostructured materials and novel fuel cells that would have competing applications. Nanostructured materials offer interesting chemistry in studying electro-catalysis that would help in miniaturizing the synthetic plants. Besides the nanostructured materials, one can find useful applications in developing sensitive and rationale-based sensors. A few of the materials open up the prospects of understanding spintronics and novel devices.


Dr. Hans Schmitthenner/ Analytical Chemistry/ Bioorganic

The goal of our research program is to develop versatile, easy-to-use templates to construct “targeted molecular imaging agents” useful for the early detection of cancer.   The templates are chemical scaffolds comprised of peptides with differentially protected side chains.  This will enable selective deprotection and binding to different imaging and targeting agents on the same template.  The imaging agents are contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), chelating agents for positron emission tomography (PET) and dyes for near infrared fluorescence (NIRF).  The targeting agents are peptides which “seek” cancer cells to selectively image diseased tissues.

Dr. Thomas Smith/ Polymer Chemistry

Research in Tom Smith's imaging materials laboratory centers on the design and synthesis of functional polymers. Our objective is to create intelligent, sensorial materials that exhibit significant electronic, photonic, magnetic, redox, or ferroelectric response characteristics. Block copolymers that facilitate incorporation of functional groups in macromolecular systems with control of architecture and tertiary structure are the heart of synthetic activities. Additional materials that are being studied include organometallic polymers and nanoscopic organic/inorganic polymer composites. The group is also working to prepare novel proton exchange fuel cell membranes. Visit my website at: http://people.rit.edu/twssch/


Dr. Gerald Takacs/ Physical and Environmental Chemistry

Surface modification of materials is a key technology for the processing and manufacture of many products which would otherwise be unattainable. By altering the chemical and physical properties of the surface without changing the bulk properties, adhesion to the surface may be greatly improved. Students will work with a number of surface modification techniques in the Plasma Science Laboratory including: (1) UV photons; (2) vacuum UV (VUV) photons produced downstream from low-pressure microwave plasmas of rare gases; (3) VUV radiation from inert gas excimers formed in high pressure rotating dc arc experiments; (4) reactive neutral gaseous particles and (5) reactive ions.

Dr. Scott Williams/ Physical, Inorganic and Biochemistry

In collaboration with the Rochester General Hospital and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, our research focuses on developing analytical methods and devices that detect the presence and quantify the dosage of critical pharmaceutical agents in order to verify drug authenticity in the field.  Our research seeks to affect the global problem of counterfeit drug introduction into the marketplace, and minimize its profound negative impact on the fight against lethal diseases.  Assay platforms design, that can be adapted for field use with minimal instrumentation or resource requirements, provides additional research opportunities within our group.  For further information on these research opportunities, please contact me at sawppr@rit.edu. http://people.rit.edu/sawppr/