Academic Program at Centre College
Kristen Fulfer is an assistant professor of chemistry. She joined Centre’s faculty in 2017.
Fulfer’s research interests include exploring the species which exist in solutions using a combination of infrared spectroscopy and computations. Solutions are held together by networks of intermolecular forces. Though these are often thought of as transient interactions, solutions with strong interactions have a tendency to order into pseudo-stable structures. With infrared spectroscopy, these structures can be probed along with their environments using the vibrational motions of involved functional groups. She and her students also perform structural computations to investigate how various ordered species will impact the vibrational motion being used as a probe. Combining these two data sets gives the ability to elucidate what these ordered species might be. Currently, her group is exploring non-lithium ion battery electrolytes, which contain magnesium or zinc ions in organic solvents. The species likely to exist in these electrolytes include solvated ions, ion pairs, or ion aggregates. Magnesium and zinc ions are of particular interesting because they can provide insight into what properties have the most influence on solvation structures. Since these two ions have identical charge and ionic radii, the differences which arise must be from their electronic configurations.
They are also currently investigating the effects of salinity on hydrogen-bond interactions between water and small organic molecules. The effect of salinity on aqueous biochemical solutions is commonly called the Hoffmeister effect. However, most molecular scale studies of what happens to cause the observed trends in protein folding and unfolding have either looked from the perspective of water or that of large polymers and proteins. They are attempting to approach this puzzle from the perspective of something in between by looking at effects on intermolecular forces as probed by the vibrational motions of small organic solutes.
Before coming to Centre, Fulfer earned a B.S. in chemistry and mathematics from Texas State University and then continued on to study for her Ph.D. in chemistry at Louisiana State University. Her Ph.D. work focused on using electronic spectroscopy to explore electron rescattering phenomena occurring during photoionization and photorecombination processes under the guidance of Erwin Poliakoff. Fulfer continued on as a postdoctoral fellow at Louisiana State University in the lab of Daniel Kuroda, where she used infrared spectroscopy to study the structure and dynamics of carbonate-based lithium-ion battery electrolytes.
File last updated: 03/27/19
EXPERT: Spectroscopy and Intermolecular Interactions
Exploring the species that exist in solutions using a combination of infrared spectroscopy and computations