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Why Study Chemistry and Biochemistry at Elizabethtown College

Your coursework will include plenty of lab classes and hands-on research opportunities...

Areas of Study

Areas of Study in Chemistry and Biochemistry at Elizabethtown

Labs and Equipment

Discover the different labs in which you could work

Faculty and Student Research

four chemistry students with name badges in front of poster at san francisco conferenceUndergraduate research is both the cornerstone and the capstone of the Elizabethtown College Chemistry & Biochemistry curriculum.  Students can begin independent research with a faculty mentor as early as their first year and work with one or more faculty mentors during the academic year and summer, leading up to completion of a required research experience during the senior year.  In addition, fundamental research questions are routinely incorporated into the teaching laboratories associated with specific courses.


  • Departmental faculty members have published 21 peer-reviewed articles with a total of 27 undergraduate coauthors since 2008.
  • More than 50 posters and talks have been presented by students in the past 5 years at professional meetings, including the National American Chemical Society Meeting and the Intercollegiate Student Chemists Convention.
  • Greater than 1/3 of all departmental majors are actively engaged in research during each academic year.
  • An average of 7 students per summer participate with a faculty mentor in our Summer Research Program through which they receive a research stipend, room, and board.

To learn more about the ongoing work of faculty and student researchers in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Elizabethtown College, please see the brief descriptions provided here for each group, or contact us.  We love to talk about our research, and so do our students!  You are also invited to attend any of our departmental seminars, for which a schedule is provided here: 

Departmental Seminar Schedule for Fall 2015

Dr. Jeffrey Rood's Research Group

Dr. Rood's Research Group



Research interests lie in two main areas. In organometallic chemistry, new alkaline earth and transition metal complexes are synthesized, characterized, and evaluated as potential catalysts for various types of reactions, including organic transformations and polymerizations. Also under development are novel Metal-Organic Frameworks, porous materials composed of metal ions and organic linker molecules that assemble together into extended, three-dimensional structures, and whose pore shape and size are dictated by the identity of the metal and the length of the organic molecules. These materials are of interest in applications including the storage of hydrogen or carbon dioxide, the separation of mixtures of small molecules, and as hosts for performing reactions.

Representative Publications (undergraduate student authors underlined):

  • Rood, J. A.; Huttenstine, A. L.; Schmidt, Z. A.; White, M. R.; Oliver, A. G. Linear Alkaline Earth Metal Phosphinate Coordination Polymers: Synthesis and Structural Characterization. Acta Cryst2014 B70.
  • Quinque G. T.; Oliver, A. G.; Rood, J. A. Synthesis and structural characterization of bis-salicylaldiminato magnesium complexes of varying aggregation and coordination State. Eur. J. Inorg. Chem2011, 3321-3326.
  • Huttenstine, A. L.; Rajaseelan, E.; Oliver, A. G.; Rood, J. A. A cationic rhodium (I) N-heterocyclic carbene complex isolated as an aqua adduct. Acta Cryst2011E67, m1274-m1275.

Dr. James MacKay's Research Group

MacKay Research GroupSynthetic organic chemistry is used to construct interesting and relevant target molecules. Interests in nucleophilic catalysis have led to the development of an alkyne variant of the Rauhut-Currier reaction and exploration of a nucleophile catalyzed 2+2 cycloaddition reaction between isocyanates and alkenes for the formation of beta-lactams (potential antibiotics). Another theme involves heterocyclic chemistry focused around the beta-lactam project as well as the synthesis of dapoxyl analogues that could be used in luminescence-based sensors and green methods for functionalization of pyrazoles.

Representative Publications (undergraduate student authors underlined):

  • MacKay, J. A.; Wetzel, N. R.('10) Exploring the Wittig Reaction: A Collaborative Guided-Inquiry Experiment for the Organic Chemistry Laboratory. J. Chem. Educ. 2014, 91, 722-725.
  • Bhat, V.; Dave, A.; MacKay, J. A.; Rawal, V. H. The Chemistry of Hapalindoles, Fischerindoles, Ambiguines, and Welwitindolinones, In The Alkaloids;Knölker, H.-J. Ed.; Vol 73, Academic Press: New York, 2014; pp. 65-160.
  • MacKay, J. A.; Landis, Z. C. ('11); Motika, S. E. ('12); Kench, M. H.('10) The Intramolecular Allenolate Rauhut-Currier Reaction. J. Org. Chem. 2012, 77, 7768.


Dr. Kristi Kneas's Research Group

Kneas Research Group Specific research projects in analytical chemistry are designed to further efforts in one of three broad areas of interest: luminescence-based sensing materials and schemes to measure clinically and environmentally-relevant targets (e.g., oxygen, humidity, and blood lactate levels), improved instrumentation and industrial processes (e.g. laser spectroscopy, polyelectrolyte membrane fuel cells, greener manufacturing processes), and analytical sensing schemes for forensics applications (e.g., authentication of questioned documents using Ion pairing-HPLC for ink dating). 

Representative Publications (undergraduate student authors underlined):

  • Strohecker, S.('12); Kneas, K.; Obetz, D.; Ochoa-Putman, C. Study of Urethane Prepolymer Stability Using Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy. Technical Report; Polyurethane Manufacturers Association; April 24, 2012.
  • Tellis, J.C.('12); Strulson, C.A.('09); Myers, M.M.('11); Kneas, K.A. Relative Humidity Sensors Based on an Environment-Sensitive Fluorophore in Hydrogel Films. Anal. Chem. 2011, 83(3), 928-932.
  • Kneas, K.A.; Fontinell, M.; Armstrong, D.L.; Brank, A.R.; Johnson, A.L.; Kissinger, C.A.; Mabe, A.R. Greening up Auto Part Manufacturing: A Collaboration between Academia and Industry. J. Chem. Educ. 2009, 86, 212-215.


Dr. Gary Hoffman's Research Group

Hoffman Research GroupResearch is in the general area of theoretical/computational chemistry, and work with undergraduates has involved electronic structure calculations—one project on the conformers of alanine, their relative energies and predicted IR spectra with a variety of electronic structure methods, and one project on the highly accurate (EOM-CCSD) computations for the ground and excited states of a diatomic molecule, relating the results to spectral transitions—and the study of polymer statistics, generating an efficient means of sampling conformations taking interactions and avoided crossings into account.

Representative Publications (undergraduate student author underlined) :

  • Hoffman,G.G.; Pratt, L.R. Ab Initio Molecular Dynamics Simulation of a Propylene Carbonate-filled Uncharged Nanotube Forest. Proceedings of the Louisiana EPSCoR RII LA-SiGMA 2012 Symposium, 2012.
  • Hoffman, G.G. An integral for FHNC calculations. J. Comp. Phys., 2004, 194, 659.
  • Sanders, C.; Hoffman, G.G. The role of the metal atom in metalloporphyrins. J. Undergraduate Chem. Res. 2003, 2, 21.


Dr. Tom Hagan's Research Group

Hagan Research Group

Research efforts are directed at (1) investigating intracellular molecular targets of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) and putative roles of EGCG as a chemotherapeutic, (2) establishing lipid and protein/amino acid profiles in hair for possible application in forensics, and (3) synthesis of giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) for use as model membrane systems to explore membrane dynamics.

Representative Publications:

  • Chen, H.L.; Ellis, Jr., P.E.; Wijesekera, T.; Hagan, T.E.; Groh, S.E.; Lyons, J.E.; Ridge, D.P. Correlation between Gas-Phase Electron Affinities, Electrode Potentials, and Catalytic Activities of Halogenated Metalloporphyrins. J. Amer. Chem. Soc., 1994, 116, 1086.
  • Chen, H.L.; Hagan, T.E.; Groh, S.E.; Ridge, D.P. Gas-Phase Reactions of Iron Porphyrins with NO2:  Oxygen Atom Transfer to Anionic and Cationic Iron Porphyrins. J. Amer. Chem. Soc., 1991, 113, 9669. Chen, H.L.; Hagan, T.E.; Groh, S.E.; Ridge, D.P. The Conformation of an Iron Porphyrin Ion with a 'Tethered'-Base. Organic Mass Spectrometry, 1991, 26, 173.


Dr. Charles Schaeffer's Research Group

Dr. Rood and Dr. Schaeffer work with students in the research lab

Research projects relate to organometallic chemistry of the main group 14 elements and NMR spectroscopy (including 1H, 13C, 29Si, 31P, 73Ge, and 119Sn). Recent work involves preparation, isolation, and characterization (via NMR spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography) of Ge(II), Ge(IV), Sn(II), and Sn(IV) complexes of neutral and anionic pincer-type ligands.

Representative Publications (undergraduate student authors underlined) :

  • Yoder,C.H.; Agee, T.M.; Schaeffer, Jr., C.D.; Carroll, M.J.; Fleisher, A.J.; DeToma, A.S. Use of 73Ge NMR Spectroscopy for the Study of Electronic Interactions. Inorg. Chem. 2008, 47(22), 10765-10770.
  • Yoder, C.H.; Griffith, A.K.; DeToma, A.S.; Gettel, C.J.; Schaeffer, Jr., C.D. Hyper-coordination in Triphenyl Oxinates of the Group 14 Elements. J. Organomet. Chem. 2010, 695, 518-523.
  • Yoder, C.H.; Agee, T.M.; Griffith, A.K.; Schaeffer, Jr., C.D. Carroll, M.J.; DeToma, A.S.; Fleisher, A.J.; Gettel, C.J.; Rheingold, A.L. Use of 73Ge NMR Spectroscopy and X-ray Crystallography for the Study of Electronic Interactions in Substituted Tetrakis(phenyl)-,-(phenoxy)-, and -(thiophenoxy)germanes.Organometallics  2010, 29, 582-590.
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