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Chemistry Department
USNA Commencement 2017.

Faculty and Staff

  • Harrison, Judith A.

    Professor and Chair Ph.D., University of New Hampshire
    Research Interests
    Professor Harrison uses molecular dynamics simulations to investigate the factors which affect the friction between two diamond surfaces in sliding contact.



  • Basta, Leighanne A.

    Associate Professor Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University
    Research Interests
    Professor Basta's lab is primarily interested in studying bacterial enzymes involved in cell wall biosynthesis toward opportunities for antimicrobial development.




  • Cheek, Graham T.

    Professor Ph.D., University of Georgia
    Research Interests
    Professor Cheek's research interests mostly involve the electrochemistry of organic compounds, including mechanistic studies and preparative aspects. Many studies are carried out using molten salts (or ionic liquids) systems as solvents. Room-temperature chloroaluminate molten salts are useful systems for these investigations because the Lewis acidity can be varied extensively simply by changing the melt composition. Such molten salt systems are very attractive for use in "green chemistry" (environmentally friendly) applications because they also have very low vapor pressures.


  • Copper, Christine L.

    Professor Ph.D., University of Tennessee
    Research Interests
    Professor Copper focuses on development of separation and detection methods applicable to forensic analysis. Specifically, capillary electrophoretic and micellar electrokinetic capillary chromatographic separation methods are being developed to study dyes, inks, explosive residues, and other molecules of interest to forensic scientists.





  • Ferrante, Robert F.

    Professor Ph.D., University of Florida
    Research Interests
    Professor Ferrante's primary research interest lies in the use of spectroscopic techniques (IR, UV/Vis, ESR) for the elucidation of the geometric and electronic structures of unstable or highly reactive molecules, both organic and inorganic.




  • Guerard, Jennifer J.

    Assistant Professor Ph.D., The Ohio State University
    Research Interests
    Dr. Guerard's lab focuses on investigating organic matter composition and reactivity, and its influence on photochemistry, contaminant transformation, and biogeochemical cycling. Her research integrates fieldwork, analytical and spectroscopic methods, and quantum chemical modeling in order to characterize and quantify properties of electron transfer and photooxidation mechanisms on a molecular level to better understand impacts to water quality and ecosystem health.

  • Gutteridge, Clare E.

    Professor Ph.D., University of Cambridge
    Research Interests
    Explore a number of classes of organic molecules with the aim of producing easily-synthesized and novel compounds with potential as antimalarial therapeutics. This research involves the design, synthesis and then antimalarial testing of compounds. If you are interested in pursuing a project in such areas, do please get in touch!

  • Ham, Julia Pribyl

    Assistant Professor Ph.D., University of South Carolina
    Research Interests
    Prof. Ham's research interests center on polymer synthesis, specifically polymers with complex nano-scale architectures and design of polymers with targeted functional properties (e.g. water purification media). Students with an interest in using organic chemistry to make neat materials are strongly encouraged to inquire about research opportunities!

  • Heuer, William B.

    Associate Professor Ph.D., Northwestern University
    Research Interests
    Synthetic Inorganic/organometallic Chemistry, Molecular Solid State Chemistry, Supramolecular Chemistry



  • Kinter, Christopher M.

    Associate Professor Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University
    Research Interests
    Synthesis of organic compounds for the study of neuroreceptors. Synthesis of radioactively labeled compounds for use in neuroreceptor imaging by PET (positron emission tomography) and SPECT (single photon emission tomography).

  • Konopka, Michael

    Assistant Professor Ph.D., University of Wisconsin
    Research Interests
    Professor Konopka utilizes both fluorescence microscopy and molecular dynamic simulations to understand membrane dynamics in bacteria. Specifically his work investigates bacteria that can convert methane and other single-carbon compounds into more complex chemicals, which has implications in the production of biofuels and bioremediation.



  • Lin, Shirley

    Professor Ph.D., Stanford University
    Research Interests
    The Lin lab is interested in the synthesis of new materials through the development of novel reactions and the use of noncovalent interactions. For more information or if you are interested in becoming a member of the lab, please contact Professor Lin.

  • Luning Prak, Dianne J.

    Professor Ph.D., University of Michigan
    Research Interests
    My research focuses on measuring the: 1) decline in nitroarene solubility due to the presence of salts (salting-out); 2) photolysis of nitroarenes in seawater; 3) enhancement in solubility of nitroarenes in surfactant solutions (micellar solubilization); and 4) physical properties of alternative fuels (biodiesel and Fischer Tropsch Fuels) such as density, surface tension, and interfacial tension with pure water and seawater systems.

  • MacArthur, Amy H. R.

    Professor Ph.D., Yale University
    Research Interests
    My work focuses on the development of economical metal catalysts to improve the reactivity of compounds with very strong bonds, such as carbon-hydrogen and carbon-chlorine bonds, via concurrent tandem catalysis. The development of catalytic reactions that activate such strong bonds would give scientists access to a wider array of favorable starting materials for the production of fine chemicals, pharmaceuticals, fuels, and novel materials that could have important military applications.

  • Mohadjer Beromi, Megan

    Assistant Professor Ph.D., Yale University
    Research Interests
    Prof. Mohadjer Beromi's research leverages fundamental studies on organic and organometallic reactions to enable novel or underdeveloped transformations relevant to sustainable environmental and synthetic chemistry. These include the development of catalytic systems to synthesize pharmaceutically-relevant and industrially-relevant commodity chemicals using atom economical methods. Other goals target the chemical depolymerization of plastics, which requires an interdisciplinary approach that bridges polymer science, organic chemistry, and organometallic catalysis. The methods developed in my laboratory are poised to impact pharmaceutical syntheses, alternative fuels, and plastics recycling.


  • Morse, Daniel P.

    Associate Professor Ph.D., University of Missouri, Columbia
    Research Interests
    All multicellular animals produce enzymes that can alter the sequence of their own RNA molecules. The biological roles for such “RNA editing” include: correcting errors in mitochondrial DNA sequences; regulating cholesterol metabolism; and producing multiple forms of receptors for various neurotransmitters. I am interested in the biological roles for a family of enzymes called “Adenosine deaminases that act on RNA” or “ADARs”. These enzymes convert adenosine (A) to inosine (I) within double-stranded regions of RNA.




  • O'Carroll, Ina P.

    Associate Professor Ph.D., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
    Research Interests
    My students and I employ various molecular biology and biochemical methods to understand the mechanistic details of HIV type 1 (HIV-1) replication. HIV-1 is a retrovirus, that is a virus with an RNA genome which is converted to DNA and subsequently integrated into the genome of the infected cell. Camouflaging as a host gene, the retroviral genome is then replicated by the host cell’s transcriptional machinery. I am particularly interested in understanding how the newly synthesized, unspliced HIV-1 RNA genome is exported from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. This step is essential in HIV-1 replication and, thus, an ideal target for the development of novel therapeutics.

  • O'Sullivan, Daniel W.

    Professor, Vice Provost Ph.D., University of Rhode Island
    Research Interests
    Development of novel analytical methods and design of innovative sampling systems for the evaluation of photochemical and redox reactions in natural waters at ambient levels.

  • Oliver, Ryan

    Asst. Professor Ph.D., The Ohio State University
    Research Interests
    My research focuses on understanding mammalian regulation of core body temperature in extreme environments and its impacts on human health in areas of temperature stress, muscle function, metabolism, and exercise. Understanding these mechanisms has a direct link to controlling metabolic rate and energy loss, which has the potential to lead to novel treatments for a variety of human health and combat conditions.
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  • Pinto, Atahualpa

    Asst. Professor Ph.D., Syracuse University
    Research Interests
    Prof. Pinto’s research interests lie in employing the tools of chemistry and biology to elucidate the metabolic and biosynthetic intricacies of natural products. In particular, I am interested in (1) the metabolic pathways within bacterial cultures involved in producing biodegradable polymers and/or value-added compounds; as well as (2) biomimetic syntheses and the application of synthetic chemistry to access natural products.


  • Schlessman, Jamie L. (Senior Academic Adviser)

    Professor Ph.D., California Institute of Technology
    Research Interests
    Protein electrostatics and protein engineering studies, using X-ray crystallographic and biochemical methods, are my research focus. Using staphylococcal nuclease as a model system, the effects of amino acid substitutions on protein structure and stability are determined to identify molecular determinants of protein electrostatics behavior. Midshipman projects will incorporate both biochemical laboratory techniques and computational methods.

  • Schroeder, Maria J.

    Professor Ph.D., University of Wisconsin
    Research Interests
    Characterization and application of elastomers, networks, coatings, and specialized polymeric systems. In collaboration with the Naval Research Laboratory and US Army, my work involves military applications of polymers as well as fundamental studies of polymer dynamics. Current projects include designing new polycarbonates for transparent armor applications, testing polymer coatings for blast protection on Humvees, enhancing elastomer performance using bimodal networks, and utilizing polymers to reduce drag on small Navy vessels. I am also interested in chemical education and laboratory development with a number of research students contributing to this work.


  • Shade, Joyce E.

    Deputy Director of Research & Scholarship and Director of Special Academic Programs Ph.D., University of Louisville
    Research Interests
    Synthesis and characterization studies of mono and disubstituted isocyanide complexes of iron and ruthenium are being conducted by Professor Shade under both thermal and photochemical conditions.

  • Siefert, Ronald L.

    Associate Professor Ph.D., California Institute of Technology
    Research Interests
    Dr. Siefert's research interests include atmospheric and aquatic chemistry. Dr. Siefert is interested in the chemical processing of atmospheric aerosols and their role as a source of chemical species (e.g., nutrients) to remote and coastal surface waters. Understanding these atmospheric sources is important since they can control ecological processes.

  • Smith, Virginia F.

    Professor Ph.D., Washington State University
    Research Interests
    I currently have two main avenues of biochemical research: 1) understanding oxidative repair in proteins, and 2) understanding how redox processes and metal-ion binding alter protein structure. Our lab uses a range of scientific methods, including bacterial cell culture and overexpression of recombinant bacteria, protein purification and characterization, and various spectroscopic techniques. I also have interests in the scientific content of Robert Frost's poetry and using historical documents to understand the 1918 influenza epidemic affected the Naval Academy.




  • Sweet, Charles R.

    Associate Professor Ph.D., Duke University
    Research Interests
    The Sweet lab focuses on the chemistry and potential applications of microbial natural products, including biofuels from extremophilic algae, antibiotics from airborne microbes, and endotoxin molecules from arctic bacteria. Current work includes isolation and growth of organisms using the techniques of microbiology, discovery and structural determination with organic and analytical chemistry, and characterization of novel bioactive compounds using both biological and chemical techniques.


  • Trulove, Paul C.

    Professor Ph.D., State University of New York
    Research Interests
    Development of nanoscale composites of polymers and bio-polymers with layered silicates and/or carbon nanotubes. Characterization of the physical, chemical, optical and electronic properties of these novel materials for potential applications in areas such as ballistic protection and low-observables (stealth). Work performed in collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory and the National Institute for Standards and Technology. Development of new ionic liquids for applications in high-energy density batteries. Characterization of the physical, electrochemical, and thermal properties of the ionic liquids. Work performed in collaboration with the Naval Research Laboratory.

  • Urban, Joseph J.

    Associate Dean of the School of Mathematics and Science Ph.D., University of Delaware
    Research Interests
    My research involves the application of computational chemistry techniques (a.k.a. “molecular modeling”) to problems in organic chemistry. The properties that are typically investigated involve structure, reactivity, conformation, solvation, binding affinity and the like.


  • Yates, Elizabeth A.

    Associate Professor Ph.D., West Virginia University
    Research Interests
    The main focus of my research is to investigate protein aggregation and the aggregates responsible for phenomena such as 1) neurodegenerative diseases (i.e. Alzheimer’s disease, prion encephalopathies, etc.) and 2) underwater adhesives. In studying the fundamentals of amyloid formation and aggregation, our work aims to contribute to enhancing the current understanding of the protein-surface interactions seen in both neurodegenerative diseases, and in developing underwater adhesives derived from barnacle glue (work performed in collaboration with the US Naval Research Laboratory). Various biophysical techniques are used in the lab to study disease and functional amyloids including colorimetric, biosensing assays, fluorescence assays, atomic force microscopy (AFM), and surface phenomena measured utilizing a Langmuir trough.
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