The College of New Jersey

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Chemistry Faculty


Heba Abourahma – Crystal Engineering, Solid State Organic Chemistry

Associate Professor of Chemistry
Ph.D., University of South Florida

Research Interests – Dr. Abourahma’s interests are in the area of crystal engineering, which deals with designing and synthesizing functional solids using non-covalent interactions.  The premise of crystal engineering is that the physical properties of a material can be altered by altering the solid state since physical properties are critically dependent on the chemical composition as well as the arrangement of the molecules in the solid state.  Dr. Abourahma’s research more specifically centers around studying pharmaceutical cocrystals, compounds that consist of two or more components at least one of which is an active pharmaceutical ingredient and are held together by hydrogen bonding interactions.

Teaching Interests – Dr. Abourahma teaches primarily sophomore organic chemistry, but she has also taught general chemistry.  Occasionally, she teaches a special topic course on Crystal Engineering.

More Information Dr. Abourahma’s page


Joseph Baker – Computational Biochemistry

Joe-BakerAssociate Professor of Chemistry
Ph.D., University of Arizona

Research Interests Dr. Baker’s research interests center around building computer models of biomolecular complexes and studying their structure and dynamics using large-scale computer simulations run on high-performance CPU and GPU computing resources. In particular, his current research interests involve modeling and simulating bacterial proteins implicated in the development of antibiotic resistance and in the process of host-cell binding during infection in order to better understand how to design more effective treatments against disease.

Teaching Interests – Dr. Baker’s teaching interests are in the areas of computational chemistry and physical/quantum chemistry. He is also especially interested in teaching at the interface of the disciplines of physics, chemistry, and biology (for example, soft condensed matter and biophysical chemistry). Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry.

More Information – Dr. Baker’s page 


Donna Bassolino – Biophysical Chemistry and Chemistry Education

Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Ph.D., Rutgers University

Research Interests – Understanding the structure and dynamics of biologically relevant molecules and their role in disease and drug discovery.

Teaching Interests – Encouraging the wonder of science to students regardless of major. Students are the decision makers of the future and need to understand science in the world around us. Dr. Bassolino is especially interested in teaching classes that bridge at the interface of the disciplines of chemistry, biology, physics, and mathematics and link those topics to real world issues such as health and medicine.


Lynn Bradley – Synthetic Organic Chemistry

Professor of Chemistry
Ph.D., Duke University

Research Interests – The projects studied in Dr. Bradley’s lab involve synthetic organic chemistry and studies of reaction mechanisms.   She and her students have studied the metalation reactions of 3,5-dihalobenzamides, have explored reactions of benzyl aziridines and azetidines, and have  synthesized a variety of silyl ketones to evaluate the limitations of the Brook rearrangement reaction.  Dr. Bradley has also developed new experiments for undergraduate organic teaching laboratories, including both the Sharpless epoxidation and Birch reduction reaction.

Teaching Interests – Dr. Bradley has taught introductory and advanced courses in her area of organic chemistry, including the Organic Chemistry I and II sequence, Advanced Organic Chemistry, Stereochemistry and courses in spectroscopy.  She has also taught the Chemistry Department’s seminar series and regularly mentors student research projects through the independent study program.  Most recently, Dr. Bradley developed and team-taught an interdisciplinary course for non-major freshmen entitled “The Chemistry of Art”.

More Information – Dr. Bradley’s Page


Michelle Bunagan – Biophysics, Protein Structure and Dynamics

Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

Research Interests – Dr. Bunagan’s research interests are focused in the area of biophysics.  Specifically, she and her research students use various spectroscopic techniques to investigate the structure and dynamics of proteins, including  those during the folding transition and potential aggregation.  She is particularly interested in using fluorescence correlation spectroscopy to monitor the time-scales associated with these processes.

Teaching Interests – In addition to mentoring students through independent research, Dr. Bunagan has been involved in teaching chemistry in introductory and mid-level courses, as well as various department seminars.  These include General Chemistry, Chemical Thermodynamics and Kinetics, and the advanced elective course Methods in Biophysical Chemistry.

More Information Dr. Bunagan’s Page


Benny Chan – Solid State Materials

Professor of Chemistry
Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University

Research Interests – Dr. Chan and his students study the structure property relationship of solid state materials.  Their work focuses on the synthesis of new chalcogenide materials and the properties including magnetism, thermoelectrics, catalysis, and optoelectronics.  Their main characterization methods are powder and single crystal X-ray crystallography and they collaborate with other researchers to measure the properties of their new compounds.

Teaching Interests – Dr. Chan’s teaching interests spans across the curriculum including general chemistry, analytical chemistry, and inorganic chemistry.  His upper level courses include a Materials and Nanotechnology course with an integration of X-ray crystallography.  His other pedagogical interests include technology in the laboratory and bringing chemistry to the general public.

More Information Dr. Chan’s Page


Levi Ekanger – Bioinorganic Chemistry

Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Ph.D.,
Wayne State University

Research Interests –  Dr. Ekanger’s research interests include lanthanide and transition metal coordination chemistry. The current focus of research in the Ekanger laboratory is understanding the principles of iron-sulfur cluster repair. Understanding these principles, using both biomimetic complexes and metalloproteins, will provide new insights into the mechanisms of survival by pathogenic bacteria.

Teaching Interests – Dr. Ekanger’s teaching interests include general, inorganic, analytic, and interdisciplinary courses such as bioinorganic chemistry and metals in medicine.


Danielle A. Guarracino – Protein Chemical Biology

Associate Professor of Chemistry
Ph.D., Yale University

Research Interests –  Dr. Guarracino and her students are synthesizing cyclic compounds that mimic notable hormone vasopressin and are characterizing the biological effects of their compounds. They are examining the stability of these mimics against degrading factors present in cells, and studying the ability of the mimics to recapitulate vasopressin’s biological function outside and inside the cell. Additionally, they are studying primary sequence effects on the structure of short alpha-helical peptides in comparison with helical non-native beta-peptides.

Teaching Interests – Dr. Guarracino’s teaching has covered general chemistry, organic chemistry and biochemistry. She has also developed an upper-level chemical biology course that delves into the chemical tools used to study and repair biological phenomena. Additionally, she has mentored several students through independent research.

More Information – Dr. Guarracino’s Page


Donald Hirsh – Biophysical/Materials Chemistry

Professor of Chemistry and Department Chair
Ph.D., Yale University

Research Interests – Dr. Hirsh’s research group pursues research in biophysical chemistry and materials chemistry using magnetic resonance techniques.  Currently, they are developing new methods to measure nanometer-scale distances and weak exchange couplings in macromolecules using electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy.  They are also using EPR spectroscopy to explore the structural and electronic properties of graphene oxide.

Teaching Interests – Dr. Hirsh teaches Physical Chemistry and General Chemistry courses.  He is interested in “writing to learn” as well as “learning to write”.  He is an advocate for the use of guided inquiry and collaborative teaching methods.

More Information – Dr. Hirsh’s Page


David A. Hunt – Organic Synthesis; Heterocyclic, Medicinal Chemistry

Professor of Chemistry and Associate Chair
Ph.D., Duke University

Research Interests – My research encompasses two main areas in the field of organic chemistry:  the development of novel methods to construct heterocyclic ring systems and the application of functionalized aryllithium compounds in synthesis.  Application of studies in these areas to problems in medicinal chemistry and natural product synthesis figure prominently.

Teaching Interests – Teaching efforts at TCNJ encompasses CHE 201-202 (General Chemistry I-II), CHE 331-332 (Organic Chemistry I-II), CHE 393-493 (Independent Study), and CHE 470 (Advanced Topics – most recently Medicinal Chemistry and Heterocyclic Chemistry).  I have also taught graduate level courses in organic chemistry at Marshall University and in biochemistry at Stevens Institute of Technology.

More Information Dr. Hunt’s Page


Rebecca A. Hunter – Bioanalytical Chemistry

Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Ph.D., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Research Interests – Research in Dr. Hunter’s lab lies at the intersection of analytical, materials, and biological chemistry. We are particularly interested in studying the interaction between biological systems and engineered nanomaterials and are currently exploring ways to monitor the real-time signaling and phenotypic changes of immune cells cultured directly with nanomaterials. Additionally, we are developing a variety of nitric oxide-releasing nanomaterials with antimicrobial applications in mind.

Teaching Interests – Dr. Hunter’s teaching interests are in the areas of general, analytical, and bioanalytical chemistry, as well as nanotechnology. She is also working to develop new active learning pedagogies to create a more dynamic and inclusive classroom environment.

More Information – Dr. Hunter’s page


Mirela Manea-Krichten – Analytical Radiochemistry

Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Ph.D., University of California, Irvine

Research Interests – Dr. Krichten’s research interests have included studies in analytical radiochemistry using neutron activation analysis of archaeological and geological samples.  Her prior industrial research involved analytical method development for water treatment applications.  Her current interests are turning toward chemical education.

Teaching Interests – Dr. Krichten teaches and coordinates Honors Chemistry I and II.  She also teaches General Chemistry I and II for both majors and non-majors.  She has taught analytical and radiochemistry courses as well.

More Information – Dr. Manea-Krichten’s Page


Abby R. O’Connor – Organometallic Chemistry, Catalyst Development

Associate Professor of Chemistry
Ph.D., University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Research Interests – Research in the O’Connor lab is focused on the development of more cost-effective and energy efficient means to produce our supply of fuels and chemicals. We are interested in the preparation of new, less expensive metal complexes to be used as catalysts to produce chemical feedstocks. We are currently exploring the activity of new nickel complexes for use in different catalytic applications and will study the mechanism of these reactions with hopes to develop better and more improved catalysts.

Teaching Interests – Dr. O’Connor’s teaching interests are quite broad ranging from the areas of inorganic and organic chemistry to general chemistry. She currently mentors undergraduates in her research lab and is very interested in outreach activities.

More Information – Dr. O’Connor’s Page


Stephanie Emriye Sen – Bioorganic Chemistry, Insect Biochemistry, Isoprenoids, Protein Structure and Function

Professor of Chemistry
Ph.D., Stony Brook University

Research Interests – Dr. Sen is interested in understanding the molecular basis for protein function.  Drawn on her background in organic synthesis and chemical biology, she studies proteomics through a combination of small molecule synthesis and testing, enzymology, and computation modeling.  Currently, Dr. Sen is analyzing enzymes involved in insect metabolism, with the long-range goal of developing selective insecticides, and in identifying proteins involved in insect and mammalian metabolite transport, with the long-range goal of understanding the molecular basis of mitochondrial coenzyme Q deficiency.

Teaching Interests – Dr. Sen’s teaching has covered a broad range of topics, including organic chemistry and biochemistry.  Dr. Sen is interested in expanding the use of problem-based approaches and non-traditional pedagogies (e.g., flip teaching) to enhance the teaching and learning experiences of her students.  In addition, she has been involved in curricular developments related to seminar courses that are taken by chemistry majors.

More Information – Dr. Sen’s Page


Rebecca M. Triano – Chemical Education

Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley 


Research Interests – Dr. Triano’s doctoral work focused on studying the noncovalent interactions that govern supramolecular structure and function. Her current research interests are focused on studying the ways that students think about and learn chemistry, with a focus on the complex problem solving that is often found in organic chemistry courses

Teaching Interests –
 Chemistry offers a unique opportunity to view observable phenomena in the world around us from a new, molecular perspective. Dr. Triano’s classrooms focus on building connections between the macroscopic and microscopic world. She is also always trying to develop environments in which students collaborate to build knowledge for themselves.

More Information – Dr. Triano’s Page

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