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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

John Allison – Forensic Chemistry

Professor of Chemistry and Director of Forensic Chemistry
Ph.D., University of Delaware

Research Interests – Dr. Allison and his students work in the area of Forensic Chemistry.  A main interest is in the application of laser desorption mass spectrometry in the analysis of colorants such as dyes and pigments.  Their analysis has applications in the field of forensics, in analyzing forgeries, altered checks, counterfeit currency, and automotive paint chips from hit-and-run accidents.

Teaching Interests – Dr. Allison was trained as a Physical Chemist in Graduate School, taught at Michigan State University as an Analytical Chemist, has used mass spectrometry to study organometallic chemistry and to characterize biomolecules such as enzymes and DNA fragment, and, in his first semester at TCNJ in 2006, taught Inorganic Chemistry and Instrumental analysis.  He also teaches a Freshman Seminar (FSP) Course called Color! – which combines art history, chemistry, and practical aspects about understanding the chemistry of painting.

More Information Dr. Allison’s Page

Joseph Baker – Computational Biochemistry

Joe-BakerAssistant 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 


Joanne Billmers – Chemistry Education and Cognitive Science

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

Research Interests – Dr. Billmers research interests include an interdisciplinary collaboration in cognitive science on the transfer of abstract principles in complex systems, assessing depth of learning in chemistry and case-based teaching and learning.

Teaching Interests – Dr. Billmers’ teaching includes Organic Chemistry, General Chemistry and General, Organic and Biochemistry for Nursing majors. She is currently using patient case studies as a basis for teaching Nursing majors and plans to author a textbook based on this pedagogical approach. She is also writing a manual of laboratory experiments in data validation, practical skill application and inquiry learning.

More Information Dr. Billmer’s Page

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

Associate 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

Christopher H. Fazen – Biochemistry and Antimicrobials

fazen faculty interestVisiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry / Teacher-Scholar Fellow
Ph.D., Syracuse University

Research Interests – Dr. Fazen’s research interests focus on studying the interaction between antimicrobial peptides and persister cells. His research will utilize techniques in biochemistry, molecular biology, microbiology, and synthetic chemistry to combat the ever growing global public health problem of antibiotic resistance. Ultimately, he aims to explore and characterize the effectiveness and mode(s) of action of antimicrobial peptides against bacterial persisters with the intent of developing new therapeutics for the treatment of bacterial infections.

Teaching Interests – Dr. Fazen has taught a broad range of courses including general chemistry, as well as laboratory courses in biochemistry, instrumental analysis, and inorganic chemistry. He has also mentored undergraduate students in independent research.

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

Jinmo Huang – Analytical Chemistry & Analytical Methods Development

Professor of Chemistry
Ph.D., University of North Texas

Research interests – Dr. Huang’s research interests are in the area of analytical method development, improvement, and validation for petroleum products and biological samples.  He is currently concentrating on the determination of sulfur-containing amino acids in biological plasma using capillary electrophoresis.

Teaching interests – Dr. Huang has taught numerous chemistry courses including General Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Instrumental Analysis, and Separation Science.  He has also mentored independent research students.

More Information  Dr. Huang’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

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