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Department of Chemistry College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics

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Faculty Research

All sub-disciplines of chemistry are represented by the exciting research being carried out by faculty at Sac State's department of chemistry.

Students can work with faculty on projects relating to the development of new and novel pharmaceuticals, understanding natural and human disturbed processes occurring in our environment, elucidating important biochemical pathways, chemical instrumentation development, novel compound syntheses, computational chemistry, and chemical education, to name a few. Opportunities exist to carry out interdisciplinary research with researchers in other departments as well as with other universities and outside agencies. Many of our faculty have been awarded research grants from external funding agencies to support their work. The department is well equipped to carry out research with modern instrumentation that is available for student use. Most importantly, students get to work alongside their research advisors and learn in an ideal collaborative atmosphere.

The following is an alphabetical list of faculty in the chemistry department who are involved in research with graduate students. A short description of research interests is given. Please contact the individual faculty member for more information, or see their individual websites if available.

Chemistry Faculty Research

Faculty Member Research Interest Office/Lab
Johannes Bauer
Website | Email
Professor Bauer is interested in the genetics and biochemistry of the aging process using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model system. Many current models of the aging process focus on the role molecular damage caused by normal cellular metabolism. The Bauer lab is investigating the influence of extrinsic, or environmental, factors on metabolic homeostasis, molecular damage and gene expression. In particular, the lab has shown that changing the activity of enzymes involved in fatty acid metabolism is sufficient to alter fly behavior and longevity. These findings suggest a link between life span and behavior. Office: SQU 550C
Research Space: SQU 518
Susan Crawford
Website | Email
Professor Crawford's research is focused upon utilizing solid state NMR, X-ray diffraction, and IR spectroscopy to formulate an understanding of structure-function relationships and diffusion processes in porous materials and geologic systems.  Development and testing of environmental remediation materials. Office: TSC 2019
Research Space: TSC 2035
Roy Dixon
Website | Email
Professor Dixon is an analytical chemist interested in development of high performance liquid chromatography detectors and analysis methods. He also is working to use such methods to detect organic compound present in atmospheric particulate matter in lipids used in biodiesel and in glycan profiling. Office: SQU 508
Research Space: TSC 2025
Benjamin Gherman
Website | Email
Professor Gherman’s research focuses on the computational modeling of bioinorganic chemistry. The principal goal of his research involves the application of computational chemistry methods to study the catalytic chemistry of metalloenzymes and related biomimetic systems. Professor Gherman also maintains several collaborations, for example with Professor Spence using computational methods to study cyclization reactions of enediynes and with Professor Miranda using computational methods to study the electrochemistry of and reactions catalyzed by metal-salens. Office: TSC 2009
Research Space: TSC 2016
Monica Gonzalez Numerous neurodegenerative diseases have been linked to the use of pesticides. The Gonzalez lab employs an array of techniques such as cell culture, fluorescent sensors, and microscopy to investigate the effects of pesticides on the morphology and biochemical processes of neurons. The results of these studies will lead to designs of safer alternatives.  Office: SQU 538B
Jacqueline Houston
Website | Email
Professor Houston’s research involves studying reaction rates and mechanistic pathways of ligand substitution at oxo-centered transition metal clusters and polyoxometallate anions using NMR. Understanding the kinetics of ligand substitution at metal-oxo clusters has applications in catalysis and materials as well as geoscience.  Office: TSC 2021
Research Space: TSC 2027
Cynthia Kellen-Yuen
Website | Email
Professor Kellen-Yuen is interested in the area of heterocyclic synthesis, particularly in the area of fused rings systems containing multiple Nitrogen atoms.  In addition, she is also interested in Green Chemistry, particularly in the area of microwave-assisted organic transformations.  She often combines these interests in the creation of new, greener laboratory experiments for use in the teaching laboratories. Office: TSC 2013
Research Space: TSC 2014
Yujuan Liu
Website | Email
Professor Liu is a chemistry education and material science chemist focused on the development and evaluation of research-based green chemistry experiments for teaching laboratories with modern analytical instrumentation, such as FT-IR, XRD, fluorescence, NMR, SEM, et al. In addition, she is also interessted in assessment of student learning and affect (e.g. motivation, self-efficacy etc.) in lecture and laboratory environments. Office: SQU 526
Research Space: SQU 514
Claudia Lucero
Website | Email
Professor Lucero’s research focuses on the development of novel strategies that allow for reactions to run in tandem without the need to purify at each step.   An attractive feature to tandem strategies is the use of the same catalyst to mediate two sequential reactions.   The goal is to construct enantiomerically pure molecules, in an expeditious and efficient manner, and to employ these building blocks for the syntheses of biologically active agents.  The research will also focus on studying the mechanisms of the reactions to explain results. Office: TSC 2017
Research Space: TSC 2014
Katherine McReynolds
Website | Email
Professor McReynolds’ research interests involve the development of new delivery vehicles and targeting strategies of known inhibitors of HIV. The goal of these projects is to increase the selectivity of a drug for the virus-infected cells, and also to improve the antiviral action of moderately active compounds. Office: SQU 534
Research Space: SQU 512
Justin Miller-Schulze
Website | Email
Professor Miller-Schulze is an Analytical and Environmental Chemist focused on the development and/or adaption of analytical methodology to quantify chemical tracers in environmental or biological matrices. These tracer chemicals are typically small organic molecule tracers that are indicative of a specific activity (for example, caffeine in a river as a tracer of human wastewater). Environmental and biological concentrations of these tracers are usually very low (parts-per-trillion), so quantification involves sensitive techniques such as mass spectrometry preceded by gas or liquid chromatography. Office: TSC 2011
Research Space: TSC 2025
James Miranda
Website | Email
Professor Miranda’s research interest primarily lies in developing new methodology for the organic synthesis of biologically active molecules. Usually these complex molecules are not only important in medicinal chemistry as therapeutic agents, but are also interesting from a structural point of view. We also seek to understand the mechanism of these important new reactions. A typical researcher in my group can expect to gain experience in a great variety of organic chemistry laboratory techniques as well as gain valuable experience in the common spectroscopic methods available to the organic chemist (NMR, IR, GC/MS, HPLC, cyclic voltammetry, etc...) Office: TSC 2015
Research Space: TSC 2014
Stefan Paula Website Professor Paula’s research interests are in the area of computer-assisted drug discovery. My group uses a combination of experimental and computational methodologies to gain an understanding of how small bioactive molecules interact with their protein receptors. The ultimate goal is the design of novel molecules with improved bioactivities. Several enzymes are currently targeted, including calcium ATPases, the sodium/potassium ATPase, xanthine oxidase, the aryl hydrocarbon receptor, and dynamin. Office: TSC 2007
Research Space: TSC 2018
Rebecca Peebles Professor Peebles’s research focuses on using high resolution spectroscopy and theoretical methods to understand noncovalent interactions such as hydrogen bonding, and how they affect other molecular processes (like solvation, dissolution, drug function, and material properties).  Current projects include: (1) spectroscopically modeling the early stages of solute dissolution in supercritical carbon dioxide (sc-CO2), a novel green solvent, (2) determining precise structures of small organic molecules, with a focus on the effects of substituting fluorine atoms for hydrogen atoms, (3) utilizing data-analytics and related approaches to simplify molecular spectra and identify individual components of chemical mixtures. Office: SQU 538A Research Space: SQU 520D and SQU Basement Rm. 11
Linda Roberts
Website | Email
Professor Roberts and her students are engaged in studying the structure and lipid-binding properties of apolipoprotein A-I, the major protein in HDL (the “good” cholesterol).  ApoA-I, which has cardioprotective anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, is correlated with a lowered risk for cardiovascular disease.  Yet ApoA-I also has the ability to form amyloid, a type of structure found in many diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinsons.  In the case of ApoA-I, the outcome of amyloid structure is increased cardiovascular disease and the development of systemic amyloidoses.  In an effort to understand the pathway leading to amyloid formation, our lab focuses on the conditions causing structural changes in ApoA-I and the mechanisms underlying these changes. Office: SQU 548C
Research Space: SQU 548A
Thomas Savage
Website | Email
Professor Savage’s research focuses on understanding the regulatory mechanisms controlling the biosynthesis of commercially-important plant products. Office: SQU 510
Research Space: SQU 512
John Spence
Website | Email
Professor Spence investigates the synthetic organic chemistry of macrocycles related to porphyrins and calixarenes and their potential to fight cancer. Office: SQU 528
Research Space: SQU 538B