Department of Chemistry

Faculty Research

Grimley, Gene

T. E. Powell Professor of Chemistry
(336) 584-2569 . . . . . . . . . Office: SCI 305
Inorganic synthesis, reaction kinetics, NMR-structure correlations
E-mail: grimley@elon.edu


Dr. Grimley received his B.A. in chemistry from Olivet College (1963) and his Ph.D. from Iowa University (1971) working with Professor Gilbert Gordon (dissertation, "A Kinetic and Product Study of the Reaction of Phenol with Chlorine Oxidants and of Uranium (IV) with Chlorine (III) in the Presence of Phenol"). He taught at Mississippi State University (1970-1987) and Ohio State University (1984) before coming to Elon. He is a member of the American Chemical Society, Sigma Xi and the North Carolina Academy of Science.

Dr. Grimley's research involves the synthesis and characterization of platinum complexes with C-60 (buckminsterfullerenes), the monoplatinum complex (shown in the figure) and diplatinum complex were synthesized in 1995. Dr. Grimley also has worked on the synthesis of substituted organophosphines and organoarsines with application to structure-NMR correlations. Most recently Dr. Grimley has initiated a new project involving the analysis of carbohydrates and trace aroma/flavor components in several varieties of American honeys. He continues to investigate the chemistry of aqueous chlorine species using special instruments to investigate very fast reactions. Dr. Grimley has recently contributed to the latest version of the ACS First-Semester General Chemistry Exam; he also has the following publications to his credit:
"Synthesis and P-31 NMR Studies of Five-Coordinate Nickel (II) Complexes of the New Ligand tris(o-(dimethylarsino)phenyl)phosphine" E. Grimley & D. W. Meek, Inorg. Chem. (1986) 25, 2049.
"Development of Cooperative University Education at Mississippi State University" E. Grimley, L. L. Combs, & C. U. Pittman, J. Chem. Ed. (1986) 63, 235.

Chemistry Area: Inorganic Chemistry

  • Chemical Fingerprinting of Honey –Flavonoids, polyphenolic compounds found in honey, specifically honey indigenous to the Piedmont sections of North Carolina and Virginia, are isolated and identified. The quantity and type of flavonoids found are specifically traceable to the nectary available to honey bees and provide the chemical fingerprint of honey. The flavanoids are extracted from honey samples, separated by High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), and identified by electrospray mass spectrometry (MS), and spectro-chemical methods. {F. Ferreres, et al. J Sci. Food Agric 56 1991, 49-56.}
  • Mechanisms of Chlorine Reactions and Interactions – Chlorine in aqueous solution forms compounds exhibiting many oxidation states and forming numerous reactive, but not isolatable, intermediates. Organic substrates trap and detect intermediates, such as Cl2O2, formed during the reactions such as that between HOCl and HClO2. {E. Grimley, H.L. Collier J Inorg Nucl Chem 39 1977, 1827-1834.}
  • NMR Substituent Effects Correlations – A series of mono-substituted phenyl diphenyl phosphinic and arsenic compounds are synthesized and characterized by mass spectrometric (MS) and nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry (NMR). 13C, 19F, and 31P NMR data obtained are examined in order to determine the correlation between the nature and position of substitution of the substituents and physio-chemical measurements using linear free energy relationships (LFER). {E. Grimley, D.H. Collum, E.G. Alley, B. Layton Org Mag Reson 15 1981, 296-302.}
  • Reactions and Mechanisms of Buckminsterfullerene-Pt complex Formation – The stoichiometries and mechanisms of reactions between organometallic platinum compounds and buckminsterfullerene (C60) in methanol are studied using rapid mixing/scanning kinetic spectrophotometers. Reaction products are analyzed by HPLC, UV-Vis spectrophotometry and NMR spectrometry. {to be published}
  • Ligand Substitution Mechanisms of Five-Coordinate Transition Metal Complexes – Methanolic solutions of trigonal bipyramidal transition metal complexes containing tetradentate and monodentate ligands are investigated with respect to ligand substitution. Reaction mechanisms are evaluated by analysis of kinetic spectrophotometric data and the line broadening of chemical resonances using H-NMR. {E. Grimley, J.M. Grimley, T. Li, D. Emerich Inorg Chem 15 1976, 1716-1718.}

Professional Affiliations:

  • American Chemical Society
  • Phi Lambda Upsilon (VP of the national honorary chemistry society)
  • North Carolina Academy of Sciences

Hargrove-Leak, Sirena

Chemistry Area: Chemical Engineering


Dr. Hargrove-Leak has experience in the areas of heterogeneous catalysis and membrane separations. Her catalysis research focuses on using solid phase catalysts in the synthesis of fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Use of such catalysts offers the inherent benefits of ease of separation from the reaction slurry (which is typically in the liquid phase), reduction of byproduct formation, and a reduction in the processing costs traditionally associated with the use of liquid phase catalysts. Dr. Hargrove-Leak's work in membrane separations focuses on methods to improve the performance of membrane filters by reducing membrane fouling (the build-up of filtered material on the membrane surface). She is currently interested in the design and development of membrane reactors to merge the two areas.

Karty, Joel

Assistant Professor, Physical Organic Chemistry
2625 Campus Box
Elon University
Elon, NC 27244
Voice: (336) 278-6267
Fax: (336) 278-6258


I grew up and attended high school in a small city in Oregon. I earned a B.S. degree in chemistry with a minor in mathematics at the University of Puget Sound--a small liberal arts school in Tacoma, Washington. I then entered the Ph. D. program at Stanford University, working for Dr. John I. Brauman. My research there was in the area of Physical-Organic Chemistry, which primarily involved spectroscopic studies of organic molecular negative ions in the gas phase. Specifically, I was interested in the influence of molecular geometry on the thermochemistry and kinetics of certain organic functional groups. I earned my Ph. D. in 2001, after which I took the position here at Elon. I have a wonderful wife, Valerie, and two wonderful sons, Joshua and Jacob.

Chemistry Area: Physical-Organic Chemistry

There are three main projects which we are working on, two experimental in nature, and one computational.

  • Elucidating the mechanism of periodic precipitation reactions - A precipitation reaction can be set up to take place in a gel such that bands of precipitate form regular patterns in space.1 These reactions have been studied for over 100 years, but the mechanism by which patterns form is still not well understood. We employ laser light scattering techniques and electrical resistivity techniques to study the formation of these bands, with the goal of elucidating that mechanism.
  • Thermochemistry of diastereomers - Generally, molecules that are similar in structure have similar chemical behavior. 2 Cis- and trans-2-butene (H2C-CH=CH-CH2) are identical in structure except for the rotation about the central double bond. Therefore, most people would expect that their reactivities should be nearly identical. However, we have reason to believe that the anions of cis- and trans-2-butene have significantly different chemical behavior, and are performing experiments to verify that belief.
  • Resonance and inductive effects in fundamental chemical systems - Resonance and inductive effects are two effects that can heavily stabilize ions. These effects can therefore significantly influence the outcome of chemical reactions. Often times, both effects are present simultaneously, and quantifying each one's effect can be difficult. 3 We have developed a computational methodology to do so, and have applied this methodology toward a number of fundamental chemical systems. Several other systems have yet to be studied.

1 Muller, S.C.; Ross, J., J. Phys. Chem. A 107 (39) 7997-8008.
2 Karty, J.M.; Janaway, G.A.; Brauman, J.I., J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2002, 124 (18), 5213-5221.
3 Holt, J.; Karty, J.M., J. Am. Chem. Soc., 125 (9) 2797-2803.

Professional Affiliation:

  • American Chemical Society

Matera, Kathryn

Chemistry Area: Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry


  • Peroxidases

Peroxidase enzymes are interesting because increasing evidence suggests that free radicals are formed as a by-product during the action of peroxidases on their substrates. These free radicals, often in the form of “reactive oxygen species” (ROS), can attack biomolecules, such as lipids, proteins and DNA. To learn more about how these peroxidases generate free radicals, and how the peroxidases function in mammalian systems, we are studying the mechanism of action of the enzymes. This involves a variety of projects, ranging from substrate binding studies and kinetic assays on peroxidases to measurement of ROS levels in vitro (Lapidot, T., Granit, R, Kanner, J. Lipid Hydroperoxidase Activity of Myoglobin and Phenolic Antioxidants in simulated Gastric Fluid, J. Agric. Food Chem., 2005, 53, 3391-3996).

  • Acetylcholinesterase

The role of acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme in mammalian systems, in Alzheimer’s disease is being investigated. Acetylcholinesterase is known to have at two roles: (1) it is found tangled in the plaques in brain tissue of Alzheimer patients, and (2) it breaks down acetylcholine, low levels of which have been correlated with diminished cognitive function. Two regions of acetylcholinesterase have been targeted for research: the first is the location at which amyloid-beta proteins putatively bind to begin formation of the plaques and the second is the site at which acetylcholine binds before it breaks down to choline. Current medications target one or the other site, but few drugs can target both simultaneously. Therefore, our current research is investigating a series of “dual inhibitors”, those compounds which target both regions simultaneously. Research projects involve both kinetic inhibition studies and spectroscopic structural determination analysis (Chauhan, N. Wang, K.C., Wegiel, J., Malik, M.N. Current Alzheimer Research, 1, 183-188 (2004))

  • Synthesis of porphyrins

A longstanding project involves the complete synthesis of iron porphyrins for incorporation into proteins that typically use these organic prosthetic groups for activity. The synthetic porphyrin is inserted into a protein and the resulting activity examined, in an effort to understand the relationship between the structure of the prosthetic group and the function of the protein. These series of projects have often been coordinated with the peroxidase projects above, as many peroxidases are porphyrin containing enzymes.

Professional Affiliations:

  • American Chemical Society
  • Sigma Xi
  • Iota Sigma Pi (national chemistry honorary society for women)
  • Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR)

Moore, Victoria

Chemistry Area: Biochemistry


Dr. Moore’s laboratory investigates the role of mitochondria in disease. Current projects underway focus on BCL-2 proteins in disease maintenance. BCL-2 proteins interact through non-covalent interactions and cause cell-fate determining changes in mitochondria during programmed cell death.

Sepsis, a systemic inflammatory response associated with infection of gram-positive or negative bacterial or fungi, is the most common cause of mortality in intensive care units. The mitochondrial pathways of apoptosis have been found to be involved in sepsis. By utilizing a cell culture model combined with traditional biochemical techniques such as immunoprecipitation, western blotting, protein purification, and subcellular fractionation, Dr. Moore hopes to gain insight into how mitochondrial dysfunction contributes to the pathophysiology of sepsis.

Professional Affiliations:

  • American Chemical Society
  • Council on Undergraduate Research

Sienerth, Karl

Chemistry Area: Analytical Chemistry, Electrochemistry


  • Development of Methods for Determining Heavy Metal Ions in Water.

Heavy metal ions have been implicated in a wide range of physiological disorders, and their presence in natural water sources, even at very low concentration, can be hazardous. Currently-used methods for detection of such ions in water involve expensive instrumentation and/or tedious sample preparation procedures, and sometimes involve carcinogenic organic solvents. The focus of this project is to develop safe, fast, inexpensive and environmentally sound methods for measuring heavy metal ion concentrations in water.

Rajesh P. Paradkar and Ron R. Williams of Clemson University in “Micellar Colorimetric Determination of Dithizone Metal Chelates.” Analytical Chemistry. 1994, 66, 2752-2756.

  • Characterization of New Platinum and Palladium Compounds.

This project deals with the synthesis and characterization of new platinum and palladium compounds. Since the compounds have never been synthesized before, it is necessary to characterize their physical and chemical natures, using a wide variety of spectroscopic and electrochemical techniques. Once the basic chemical nature of each new compound is understood, we test it to see if it might be useful as a catalyst for the conversion of carbon dioxide to more useful substances.

Katherine N. Crowder, Stephanie J. Garcia, Rebekah L. Burr, J. Micah North, Mike H. Wilson, Brian L. Conley, Phillip E. Fanwick, Peter S. White, Karl D. Sienerth, and

Robert M. Granger, II, “Synthesis of Pt(dpk)Cl4 and the Reversible Hydration to Pt(dpk-O-OH)Cl3·H-phenCl: X-ray, Spectroscopic, and Electrochemical Characterization”, Inorg. Chem., 43 (1), 72, 2004.

Professional Affiliations:

  • ACS, SEAC (Society for Electroanalytical Chemistry)
  • CUR (Council on Undergraduate Research)
  • NDURE (Network of Directors of Undergraduate Research Experiences)

Weller, Paul

Chemistry Area: Physical-Organic Chemistry, Green Chemistry


  • The study of microwave assisted organic reactions.
  • Specific interests include mechanistic studies with a focus on environmentally friendly (green) reactions.

Microwave-enhanced chemistry: fundamentals, sample preparation, and application, H.M. (Skip) Kingston, editor, Stephen J. Haswell, editor. Washinton, DC; American Chemical Society, c1997.
Pivonka, D.E., Empfield, J.R., Real-Time in Situ Raman Analysis of Microwave-Assisted Organic Reactions, Applied Spectroscopy, 2004, 58 (1) 41-6.

Professional Affiliations:

  • American Chemical Society
    • National
      • Division of Chemical Education
      • Division of Chemical Health & Safety
    • Central North Carolina Section

Wright, Daniel

Chemistry Area: Physical Chemistry and Chemical Education


  • Determination of Chemical Shift Derivatives

Computational determination of chemical properties has become more widely used in recent years. One property that is accessible both computationally and experimentally is the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) chemical shift for a wide variety of nuclei. A chemical shift derivative measures the sensitivity of nuclei to changes in molecular structure. Changes, such as bond lengthening or intramolecular torsion, and their effects on the NMR shift can be investigated computationally. Past studies have included simple molecules containing C, N, O, F, and Si. Future work will investigate the use of larger basis sets, molecules containing B, P, and S nuclei, and aromatic systems.

Jennings, J.L.; Wright, D.W., Main Group Metal Chemistry (1994) 17(6), 387-90.
Gryff-Keller, A.; Molchanov, S., Molecular Physics (2004) 102(18), 1903-08.

  • Use of a Universal Buffer in Spectrophotometric Analysis of Acid-Base Indicators

Buffers are used to prevent changes in pH do to the addition of acid or bases. The buffer effect is approximately one pH unit to either side of the pKa value of the acid. Universal buffers are systems that have multiple weak acid groups or mixtures that contribute acid groups of varying strength. The result effect is buffering over an extended pH range. Analysis of five acid-base indicators has been performed in simple buffer systems and in the McIlvaine universal buffer in an attempt to establish an experimental protocol. Future work will investigate additional acid-base indicators, the use of other universal buffers from literature, and the development of new universal buffers.

Elying; Markowitz; Rosenthal, Anal. Chem. (1956) 28, 1179-90.

  • Laboratory Development for Non-majors and/or Majors Chemistry

Non-science majors often look at chemistry as “too difficult” or “too foreign” to have relevance in their own lives. A few recent textbooks have tried to address this issue by teaching chemistry through issues that are important to every citizen including environmental issues such as global warming and acid rain. Other topics have the ability to keep the attention of the non-major and still teach important chemical concepts. Two easy examples are the connection between art and chemistry in terms of preservation and authentication of masterpieces and the increased use of forensic chemistry in the criminal justice system. Projects in this area will identify topics, development lesson plans and laboratory experiments and identify/test the associated learning outcomes.

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