Clar, Justin G.

Assistant Professor, Environmental Chemistry
(336) 278-6231

Chemistry Area: Environmental Chemistry & Environmental Nanotechnology

Dr. Clar received a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Richmond in 2006.  After serving with AmeriCorps, he attended the University of Florida, earning his MS in 2010, studying arsenic mobilization during Aquifer Storage and Recovery Operations. Excited by the growth of nanoscience and nanotechnology, he remained at UF earning his PhD in 2014 studying the environmental implications of carbon nanotube separation and processing. During his graduate study Dr. Clar worked as an NSF GK-12 fellow developing environmental education modules for use in middle school classrooms.  After leaving UF, he worked as an ORISE Postdoctoral Participant at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Cincinnati OH on a variety of environmentally focuses research projects. Dr. Clar joined the Chemistry Faculty at Elon University in the Fall of 2016

Dr. Clar’s Research Group is currently focused on two projects.

  • Tracking the Release of Nanomaterials from Consumer Products under Environmentally Relevant Conditions – Engineered Nanoparticles are quickly becoming common additives to commercially available surface coatings. (i.e., paints, stains, sealants, etc.) However, very little information is available on how these nanoparticles may be released from these surface coatings during their application and use. Our lab aims to develop standardized methods to track the concentration, size, and speciation (particulates vs. ions) of nanoparticles released from surface coatings under environmentally relevant conditions. We are currently focused on understanding the release of nanoparticles from coated surfaces through simulated dermal contact.
  • Beneficial Reuse of Waste Products for Environmental Remediation – During most industrial process, waste material is produced as an unwanted byproduct. In many cases, this waste would then be disposed of in a landfill, potential at great cost. Our lab attempts to identify new and innovative uses for waste products of industrial processes, thereby minimizing waste generation while also solving other environmental problems. Currently our lab is evaluating a common waste product of the welding process as a possible remediation tool for both chlorinated solvents and toxic trace metals in aqueous systems.

Professional Affiliations:

  • American Chemical Society
  • Association of Environmental Engineering Science Professors (AEESP)

Dabrowski, Jennifer

Assistant Professor, Inorganic Chemistry
(336) 278-6216

Chemistry Area: Inorganic Chemistry

Dr. Dabrowski earned her B.S. (summa cum laude, 2007) in chemistry with a minor in mathematics from Le Moyne College – a small liberal arts school in Syracuse, NY. She was awarded an NSF REU fellowship to conduct computational studies on atmospheric radicals at SUNY ESF in 2005 and later worked as a chemistry consultant at a start-up called Source Sentinel, LLC. After completing her doctoral studies in Amir Hoveyda’s lab at Boston College (Ph.D. 2013), where she focused on investigating N-heterocyclic carbene–copper complexes for enantioselective catalysis, she conducted postdoctoral work at UNC Chapel Hill (mentor: Michel Gagné) on the main group catalysis of boro-silane complexes.

Her research group focuses on the following areas:

  • Bioinorganic chemistry of vanadium – 1) Investigating the fundamental structure-reactivity profile of vanadium complexes with peptides that have secondary structure and those containing vanadium–carbon bonds. 2) Exploring the biological activity of vanadium complexes, especially as antibiotics.
  • Organometallic chemistry for sustainability – We strive to utilize the principles of organometallics to design catalysts that will selectively activate biorenewable resources as a means to create consumer products (e.g., pharmaceuticals) from non-petroleum sources.

Please visit the Dabrowski group website for up-to-date news from the group! 

Professional Affiliations:

  • American Chemical Society
  • Chemistry Women Mentor Network

Grimley, Gene

T. E. Powell Jr. Professor Emeritus of Chemistry
(336) 524-4356

Chemistry Area: Inorganic Chemistry

Dr. Grimley received his B.A. in chemistry from Olivet College (1963) and his Ph.D. from University of Iowa (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 The Ohio State University (1984; sabbatical) before coming to Elon. He is a member of the American Chemical Society, Sigma Xi, Phi Lambda Upsilon, 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 and diplatinum complex were synthesized in 1995.  Dr. Grimley also has worked on the synthesis of substituted organo amines, 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 (Poplar and Sourwood) of American honeys.  He continues to investigate the chemistry of aqueous chlorine species using kinetic spectrometers to investigate very fast reactions.  Dr. Grimley has contributed to several version of the ACS First-Semester General Chemistry Exam and he also has numerous publications to his credit including the following:

  • “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.
  • 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 taxonomyt of honey.  The flavonoids are extracted from honey samples, separated by High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), and identified by electrospray mass spectrometry (LCMS), and spectrochemical methods. {F. Ferreres, et al. J Sci. Food Agric 56 1991, 49-56.}
  • Mechanisms of Chlorine Reactions and Interactions – Chlorine in aqueous solution forms species 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 gas chromatography mass spectrometric (GCMS) 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 physiochemical 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 stoichiometry 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 Affiliation:

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

Karty, Joel

Professor, Physical Organic Chemistry
(336) 278-6267

Chemistry Area: Physical-Organic Chemistry

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.

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.

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

Professional Affiliation:

  • American Chemical Society

Matera, Kathryn

Professor, Biochemistry and Organic Chemistry
(336) 278-6226

Chemistry Area: Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry


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.

Clark, A.L., Matera, K.M., Effect of unsaturation in fatty acids on the binding and oxidation by myeloperoxidase: Ramifications for the initiation of atherosclerosis.  Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters, 2010, 20, 5643–5648.

Peptide Aggregates

Many peptides, including amyloid beta, insulin, and alpha-synuclein, have a propensity to aggregate under certain physiological conditions. The result of this aggregation includes formation of insoluble fibrils, oxidation of biomolecules by aggregates, and disruption of cellular functioning, which typically leads to neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. Our lab is interested in both the mechanisms of aggregation, and the oxidative processes of the aggregates on other biomolecules once formed.

Fischer, A.F., Mansfield Matera, K. Stabilization of alpha-synuclein oligomers in vitro by the neurotransmitters, dopamine and norepinephrine:  The effect of oxidized catecholamines. Neurochemical Research.  2015, 40, 1341-1349.

Please visit the Matera group website for further information!

Professional Affiliations:

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

Moore, Victoria

Associate Professor, Biochemistry
(336) 278-6221

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
  • American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Rizzuto, Anthony

Assistant Professor, Physical Chemistry

Dr. Rizzuto received a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Elon University in 2011. He attended the University of California Berkeley, earning his PhD in 2016 studying ion adsorption to the air-water interface using a highly sensitive laser spectroscopy technique. He also began studies of the water evaporation process and the effect of pH and certain solutes on the rate of water evaporation – a process which has significant atmospheric and biochemical relevance. After teaching at UC Berkeley for a semester following his graduation, Dr. Rizzuto joined the Chemistry faculty at Elon University in the Fall of 2017.

Dr. Rizzuto’s lab has a variety of interests, including:

  1. The study of fast aqueous-phase reactions. Many reactions of atmospheric, environmental, and/or biochemical relevance occur on timescales ranging from microseconds to milliseconds, making them particularly difficult to study. The Rizzuto group has developed a technique to study those reactions in situ via laser spectroscopy thereby enabling determination of kinetic information including rate constants and equilibrium constants.

One such example of a phase reaction currently being studied is the bidirectional dissociation of carbonic acid (an important part of the blood-buffer system in the human body) into bicarbonate and carbon dioxide.

2. The study of nanoparticle metal oxide carbonation reactions. Recent technological progress has brought about the advent of metal oxide nanoparticles (MONPs) for a variety of fields ranging from drug delivery to paints and industrial coatings. The reactions MONPs undergo when in the presence of carbon dioxide gas (which is particularly important because of the increased amounts of CO2 due to climate change), is relatively unexplored and unknown. When moving from the macroscopic to the nanoparticle scale, chemical surface area increases several orders of magnitude thereby greatly increasing chemical reactivity.

Currently our lab is investigating the carbonation reaction with calcium oxide nanoparticles and its effect on the global carbon cycle.

Sienerth, Karl

Professor, Analytical Chemistry
(336) 278-6217

Chemistry Area: Analytical Chemistry, Electrochemistry

  • Synthesis and characterization of transition metal organometallic complexes as potential electrocatalysts. We follow published strategies for synthesis of organometallic complexes having rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, cobalt, and nickel metal centers.  Since most of the substances we synthesize have never been produced before, it is necessary to characterize their physical and chemical natures using a wide variety of spectroscopic and electrochemical techniques.  Following characterization, we test each complex for potential catalytic activity in small-molecule electrochemical reduction, such as reduction of carbon dioxide.
  • Development of a simple electrochemiluminescence (ECL) method for analysis of explosives.  Some substances, such as luminol, exhibit ECL in which the application of electricity causes the substance to emit light and glow.  The intensity of the emitted light is often reduced, or quenched, in the presence of explosive compounds like TNT or C-4, and that quenching phenomenon can be used to measure the concentration of the explosive.

Representative publications and presentations (student co-authors in bold):

Granger, R.M., Yochum, H.M., Granger, J.N., and Sienerth, K.D., Instrumental Analysis, 1st edition, Oxford University Press, 2016.

Bedard, M., Giffear, K. Ponton, L., Sienerth, K.D., and Del Gaizo Moore, V., “Characterization of Binding Between 17β-estradiol and Estriol with Humic Acid via NMR and Biochemical Analysis”, Biophys. Chem., 189, 2014, 1-7.

Rizzuto, A.M.; Pennington, R.L. and Sienerth, K.D.,  “Study of the BMIM-PF6: Acetonitrile Binary Mixture as a Solvent for Electrochemical Studies Involving CO2”, Electrochimica Acta, 56, 2011, 5003-5009.

Crowder, K.M., Garcia, S.J., Burr, R.L., North, J.M., Wilson, M.H., Conley, B.L., Fanwick, P.E., White, P.S., Sienerth, K.D., and Granger, R.M., “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), 72-78, 2004.

Romano, Sienerth, “Ruthenium centered organometallic catalysts for benzimidazole synthesis”, Amer. Chem. Soc. National Meeting, San Diego, March 2016.

Weddle, Glass, Sienerth, “Synthesis and quantification of the chemical markers of melanin in complex biological matrices”, Amer. Chem. Soc. National Meeting, San Francisco, March 2017

Abrams, Sienerth, “Quenching of electrochemiluminescence in aqueous solution by nitrate explosives”, Amer. Chem. Soc. National Meeting, San Francisco, March 2017

Professional Affiliations:

  • ACS
  • SEAC (Society for Electroanalytical Chemistry)
  • CUR (Council on Undergraduate Research)

Wright, Daniel

Associate Professor, Physical Chemistry
(336) 278-5655

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.

Research in Chemical Education

The way in which chemistry laboratory experiments is taught is moving from strictly doing experiments to augment theory presented in lecture to allowing students to “think like scientists”. This process involves a more integrated approach where multiple experiments may be linked together or where different groups of students collaborate on larger projects. Students are also exposed to both the design aspect of their work and how to write scientifically throughout the process. Currently, the department uses a simulated crime scene as a multi-week project in General Chemistry I. There are a number of options to move toward a project-based system in the second semester including multiple analyses of wine, environmental testing and connections between chemistry and art.