Explore the research topics being pursued by faculty members and students in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry by expanding the boxes below. If you are an undergraduate or graduate student interested in learning more about getting involved in a faculty member's research, please feel free to contact them directly.

  • Dr. Dale LeCaptain | Faculty Profile
    Analytical chemistry is the key to understanding the world we live in. The application of spectroscopy, separations, and sensors is my approach to understanding our environment, supporting the innovative chemical research both biochemical and materials happening around us, and a key tool to training our next generation of successful scientist (STEM).
    LeCaptain Reserach, Sunset
  • Dr. Ajit Sharma | Faculty Profile
    My laboratory (in collaboration with Dr. Swanson) is involved in the synthesis and characterization of dendrimers for biomedical applications using various bio-conjugation methodologies, RP-HPLC, SEC-HPLC, MS, IEF and PAGE. We are currently collaborating with faculty and researchers in the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department, Biology Department, Medical School (CMED) and in Europe on the application of dendrimers and their derivatives in oxidative stress, neurodegenerative diseases and vaccines.
  • Dr. Linlin Zhao | Faculty Profile | Zhao Lab Website
    Our overarching goal is to decipher the chemical and molecular mechanisms of the interaction between chemically modified DNA and DNA-metabolizing proteins. New knowledge concerning these interactions is not only fundamental for understanding the genomic maintenance, but also informative for developing novel therapeutics and disease intervention strategies. We use chemical, biochemical, biophysical, and cellular approaches to study the stability and processing of chemically modified DNA in the context of nuclear and mitochondrial genomes.
  • Dr. Anton Jensen | Faculty Profile
    RiboflavinWe are using model compounds to study mechanisms of enzymatic reactions. We are especially interested in reactions that use cofactors derived from vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and vitamin B3 (niacin). The cofactors include NADH/NADPH, FAD, FMN, and others. Students in my lab typically gain expertise in the areas of organic synthesis, separation, spectroscopic analysis, and enzyme inhibition/kinetics.
  • Dr. Stephen Juris | Faculty Profile
    My research interests are focused on the biochemical and cell biological action of bacterial toxins that target the actin cytoskeleton. Pathogenic bacteria often secrete toxins that target the cytoskeleton in order to subvert the immune defenses of their host. These toxins must gain access to the cytosol of target cells via transport across a biological membrane in order to carry out their function. Once inside the target cell, these bacterial toxins carry out a multitude of different activities including proteolysis, phosphorylation, or other post-translational modification of host proteins in order to down-regulate signaling cascades connected with the actin cytoskeleton in order to inhibit innate immune processes including phagocytosis and chemotaxis. My goals are to understand the transport of the actin-targeting toxin MARTX from Vibrio cholerae across cellular membranes and its subsequent action on the actin cytoskeleton within target cells. My lab utilizes biochemistry, cell biology, biophysics and genetics to study these questions.
  • Dr. Choon Lee | Faculty Profile
    Investigation of anti-cancer agents; Synthesis of antioxidant dendrimers for biological applications.
  • Dr. Ajit Sharma | Faculty Profile
    My laboratory is involved in the synthesis and characterization of dendrimers for biomedical applications using various bio-conjugation methodologies, RP-HPLC, SEC-HPLC, MS, IEF and PAGE. We are currently collaborating with faculty and researchers in the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department, Biology Department, Medical School (CMED) and in Europe on the application of dendrimers and their derivatives in oxidative stress, neurodegenerative diseases and vaccines.
  • Dr. Ben Swarts | Faculty Profile | Swarts Lab Website
    Our research draws from the fields of organic chemistry, biochemistry, and microbiology to develop chemical biology tools for investigating and targeting cell envelope components in mycobacteria and related bacteria, which include the pathogen that causes tuberculosis. We are particularly interested in developing new carbohydrate-based probes to study the composition, dynamics, and functions of the mycobacterial outer membrane, or mycomembrane, which we are actively targeting for tuberculosis drug and diagnostic development.
    Swarts Research
  • Dr. Linlin Zhao | Faculty Profile | Zhao Lab Website
    Our overarching goal is to decipher the chemical and molecular mechanisms of the interaction between chemically modified DNA and DNA-metabolizing proteins. New knowledge concerning these interactions is not only fundamental for understanding the genomic maintenance, but also informative for developing novel therapeutics and disease intervention strategies. We use chemical, biochemical, biophysical, and cellular approaches to study the stability and processing of chemically modified DNA in the context of nuclear and mitochondrial genomes.
  • Dr. Bradley D. Fahlman | Faculty Profile | Fahlman Lab Website
    The Fahlman group is interested in the development and   electrochemical testing of mesoporous carbons, graphenes, and nanostructural Si-C hybrid nanomaterials for energy-storage applications (Li-ion, Na-ion, metal-air batteries, and supercapacitors). We utilize a variety of liquid-phase and vapor-phase methods (CVD, ALD) for the synthesis of nanomaterials, and employ a suite of characterization methods (SEM, TEM, XRD, AFM, XPA, IR, UV-Vis, Raman).  Electrochemical testing is performed using Princeton Applied Research potentiostats fitted with split cells housed inside and MBraun glovebox, as well as a 384-channel Maccor battery testing system using coin cells fabricated in our laboratory.
    mesoporous carbons, graphenes
  • Dr. Dale LeCaptain | Faculty Profile
    Analytical chemistry is the key to understanding the world we live in. The application of spectroscopy, separations, and sensors is my approach to understanding our environment, supporting the innovative chemical research both biochemical and materials happening around us, and a key tool to training our next generation of successful scientist (STEM).
    LeCaptain Research, Sunset
  • Dr. Anja Mueller | Faculty Profile
    My research group is working on environmental and biomedical problems by designing, synthesizing, and testing new materials. Problems we are working on are wastewater treatment with imprinted polymers; improved material for proton exchange fuel cell membrane; and skin scaffolds from polysaccharides. My groups is also working on research in interdisciplinary education and assessment and active learning for Organic Chemistry.

    Anja Mueller's research
  • Dr. Ajit Sharma | Faculty Profile
    My laboratory is involved in the synthesis and characterization of dendrimers for biomedical applications using various bio-conjugation methodologies, RP-HPLC, SEC-HPLC, MS, IEF and PAGE. We are currently collaborating with faculty and researchers in the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department, Biology Department, Medical School (CMED) and in Europe on the application of dendrimers and their derivatives in oxidative stress, neurodegenerative diseases and vaccines.
  • Dr. Janice Tomasik | Faculty Profile
    I am currently working on two different research topics in my laboratory. Specifically, I am interested in understanding how chemistry students learn and how they are impacted by pedagogical approaches that include research-based design and online learning environments. Through my work, I believe I can provide a model for other institutions to follow in order to increase student interest and retention in chemistry and science. My two areas of focus are: (1) Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of CMU Research-Based Labs for General Chemistry; (2) Development and Evaluation of the Online Learning Environment in a Continuing Education Course for Teachers.
  • Dr. Gabriel Caruntu | Faculty Profile | Caruntu Lab Website
    Research in our group is directed towards the fundamental aspects of the design and fabrication of nanoscale functional materials with application in energy storage and conversion, sensing, catalysis and spintronics. To this end, we exploit basic concepts of colloidal chemistry, molecular self-assembly and surface functionalization to design novel nanostructures with controlled internal structure, chemical composition and selectable topologies, such as colloidal nanocrystals, nanotubes and nanorods and thin films.
  • Dr. Bradley D. Fahlman | Faculty Profile | Fahlman Lab Website
    The Fahlman group is interested in the development and   electrochemical testing of mesoporous carbons, graphenes, and nanostructural Si-C hybrid nanomaterials for energy-storage applications (Li-ion, Na-ion, metal-air batteries, and supercapacitors). We utilize a variety of liquid-phase and vapor-phase methods (CVD, ALD) for the synthesis of nanomaterials, and employ a suite of characterization methods (SEM, TEM, XRD, AFM, XPA, IR, UV-Vis, Raman).  Electrochemical testing is performed using Princeton Applied Research potentiostats fitted with split cells housed inside and MBraun glovebox, as well as a 384-channel Maccor battery testing system using coin cells fabricated in our laboratory.
    mesoporous carbons, graphenes
  • Dr. Philip Squattrito | Faculty Profile
    Our research uses X-ray crystallography to determine the structures of inorganic and organic compounds of interest, with the goal of using the structural information to gain insight into the chemical and physical properties of the substances under study. Recent systems we have examined include metal sulfonates with multi-dimensional structures and organic precursors of nitric oxide-release agents. Compounds are synthesized either by us or in collaboration with other laboratories.
    Squatrito Research
  • Dr. Gabriel Caruntu | Faculty Profile | Caruntu Lab Website
    Research in our group is directed towards the fundamental aspects of the design and fabrication of nanoscale functional materials with application in energy storage and conversion, sensing, catalysis and spintronics. To this end, we exploit basic concepts of colloidal chemistry, molecular self-assembly and surface functionalization to design novel nanostructures with controlled internal structure, chemical composition and selectable topologies, such as colloidal nanocrystals, nanotubes and nanorods and thin films.
  • Dr. Wenjun Du | Faculty Profile
    We are working on the chemical syntheses of sugar polymers, starting from simple sugars such as glucose and galactose. Compared to the naturally occurring polysaccharides, the synthetic version has the capability to control the molecular weights and structures, as well as the capability to endow desired functionality to the polymers, thereby may allow for wide biomedical applications.
    Wenjun Du Researchcheese
  • Dr. Bradley D. Fahlman | Faculty Profile | Fahlman Lab Website
    The Fahlman group is interested in the development and   electrochemical testing of mesoporous carbons, graphenes, and nanostructural Si-C hybrid nanomaterials for energy-storage applications (Li-ion, Na-ion, metal-air batteries, and supercapacitors). We utilize a variety of liquid-phase and vapor-phase methods (CVD, ALD) for the synthesis of nanomaterials, and employ a suite of characterization methods (SEM, TEM, XRD, AFM, XPA, IR, UV-Vis, Raman).  Electrochemical testing is performed using Princeton Applied Research potentiostats fitted with split cells housed inside and MBraun glovebox, as well as a 384-channel Maccor battery testing system using coin cells fabricated in our laboratory.
    mesoporous carbons, graphenes
  • Dr. Bob Howell | Faculty Profile
    My materials-focused research program has the following current research projects: (1) Release Platforms for Organoplatinum Antitumor Agents;(2) Vinylidene Chloride Polymers for Barrier Plastic Packaging; (3) Poly(styrene) Containing No Head-to-Head Units; (4) Dual Functional Flame Retardants for Polymeric Materials; (5) Phospholane Initiators for Radical Polymerization; (6) Alkoxyamine Initiator/Mediators for Radical Polymerization via Diels-Alder Reaction; (7) Green Polymeric Materials from Renewable Sources; (8) Lignin as a Source of Green Flame Retardants.
  • Dr. Bingbing Li | Faculty Profile
    The Li Group is focused on novel design of hierarchically structured polymer materials: (1) design principle, (2) fundamental physical chemistry of polymer-based materials, (3) property optimization, and (4) biomedical and environmental applications.
    hierarchically structured polymer materials
  • Dr. Dillip Mohanty | Faculty Profile
    Nitric oxide, an endogenously produced gaseous molecule, plays a critical role in human physiology. A deficiency of this small molecule can promote a variety of maladies. We are interested in the preparation and characterization of slow and sustained nitric oxide releasing low molecular weight, polymeric and dendritic materials, which can mimic biological release of nitric oxide. The other goal of our group is to develop efficient modified activated carbon for sequestering toxic heavy metal ions from water.
  • Dr. Anja Mueller | Faculty Profile
    My research group is working on environmental and biomedical problems by designing, synthesizing, and testing new materials. Problems we are working on are wastewater treatment with imprinted polymers; improved material for proton exchange fuel cell membrane; and skin scaffolds from polysaccharides. My groups is also working on research in interdisciplinary education and assessment and active learning for Organic Chemistry.

    Anja Mueller's research
  • Dr. Ajit Sharma | Faculty Profile
    My laboratory (in collaboration with Dr. Swanson) is involved in the synthesis and characterization of dendrimers for biomedical applications using various bio-conjugation methodologies, RP-HPLC, SEC-HPLC, MS, IEF and PAGE. We are currently collaborating with faculty and researchers in the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department, Biology Department, Medical School (CMED) and in Europe on the application of dendrimers and their derivatives in oxidative stress, neurodegenerative diseases and vaccines.
  • Dr. Mary Tecklenburg | Faculty Profile
    We apply a variety of spectroscopic and diffraction techniques to the study of inorganic, organic and biological materials. The materials I study are diverse and have also included alkylsilanes, proteins containing the heme group (hemoglobin and cytochrome oxidase), inorganic glasses (germanium diselenide doped with metals) and polymers (azoaromatic polyethers). Modern computational modeling of molecular structure and conformation augments my experimental studies.
  • Dr. Wenjun Du | Faculty Profile
    We are working on the chemical syntheses of sugar polymers, starting from simple sugars such as glucose and galactose. Compared to the naturally occurring polysaccharides, the synthetic version has the capability to control the molecular weights and structures, as well as the capability to endow desired functionality to the polymers, thereby may allow for wide biomedical applications.
  • Dr. Bob Howell | Faculty Profile
    My materials-focused research program has the following current research projects: (1) Release Platforms for Organoplatinum Antitumor Agents;(2) Vinylidene Chloride Polymers for Barrier Plastic Packaging; (3) Poly(styrene) Containing No Head-to-Head Units; (4) Dual Functional Flame Retardants for Polymeric Materials; (5) Phospholane Initiators for Radical Polymerization; (6) Alkoxyamine Initiator/Mediators for Radical Polymerization via Diels-Alder Reaction; (7) Green Polymeric Materials from Renewable Sources; (8) Lignin as a Source of Green Flame Retardants.
  • Dr. Anton Jensen | Faculty Profile
    We are using model compounds to study mechanisms of enzymatic reactions. We are especially interested in reactions that use cofactors derived from vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and vitamin B3 (niacin). The cofactors include NADH/NADPH, FAD, FMN, and others. Students in my lab typically gain expertise in the areas of organic synthesis, separation, spectroscopic analysis, and enzyme inhibition/kinetics.
    Ribroflavin
  • Dr. Choon Lee | Faculty Profile
    Investigation of anti-cancer agents; Synthesis of antioxidant dendrimers for biological applications.
  • Dr. Dillip Mohanty | Faculty Profile
    Nitric oxide, an endogenously produced gaseous molecule, plays a critical role in human physiology. A deficiency of this small molecule can promote a variety of maladies. We are interested in the preparation and characterization of slow and sustained nitric oxide releasing low molecular weight, polymeric and dendritic materials, which can mimic biological release of nitric oxide. The other goal of our group is to develop efficient modified activated carbon for sequestering toxic heavy metal ions from water.
  • Dr. Ben Swarts | Faculty Profile | Swarts Lab Website
    Our research draws from the fields of organic chemistry, biochemistry, and microbiology to develop chemical biology tools for investigating and targeting cell envelope components in mycobacteria and related bacteria, which include the pathogen that causes tuberculosis. We are particularly interested in developing new carbohydrate-based probes to study the composition, dynamics, and functions of the mycobacterial outer membrane, or mycomembrane, which we are actively targeting for tuberculosis drug and diagnostic development.
  • Dr. Bingbing Li | Faculty Profile
    The Li Group is focused on novel design of hierarchically structured polymer materials: (1) design principle, (2) fundamental physical chemistry of polymer-based materials, (3) property optimization, and (4) biomedical and environmental applications.
    hierarchically structured polymer materials
  • Dr. Mary Tecklenburg | Faculty Profile
    We apply a variety of spectroscopic and diffraction techniques to the study of inorganic, organic and biological materials. The materials I study are diverse and have also included alkylsilanes, proteins containing the heme group (hemoglobin and cytochrome oxidase), inorganic glasses (germanium diselenide doped with metals) and polymers (azoaromatic polyethers). Modern computational modeling of molecular structure and conformation augments my experimental studies.