Academic Program at Centre College
Leonard Demoranville joined the Centre faculty in 2012 as visiting assistant professor of chemistry, and was awarded tenure and promotion to associate professor in 2019.
Before coming to Centre, Demoranville spent time as a National Research Council Post-Doctoral Fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. His research there focused on the trace detection of illicit drugs using ion mobility and mass spectrometry. During his graduate work, he participated in the University of Maryland University Teaching and Learning Program, which trains future faculty members in the scholarship of teaching and learning. This led to his selection as a Lilly Graduate Teaching Fellow.
Demoranville received a B.S. from Eastern Nazarene College, and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland-College Park.
Email Leonard Demoranville at email@example.com.
File last updated: 7/15/19
EXPERT: Analytical Characterization of Bourbon
The Demoranville group investigates the chemical components of bourbon using chromatographic methods. Currently we are developing methods to accomplish that goal and long term hope to study the impact of different production processes using those methods.
Jeffrey Fieberg joined the faculty at Centre College in 2005, was promoted to associate professor of chemistry in 2008, was promoted to full professor in 2017, and was named the John H. Walkup Professor of Chemistry in 2017. Prior to joining Centre’s faculty in 2005, he taught at Hillsdale College (1998–2001) and Georgetown College (2001–2005), where he won the John Walker Manning Distinguished Mentor and Teacher Award in 2003.
Raised in Kirkwood, Missouri, Fieberg graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.S. in chemical physics from Centre College. He received his M.S. in chemistry from the University of Illinois and his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Texas. His Ph.D. research focused on the photochemistry of molecules adsorbed on metal surfaces. Fieberg has been published in such journals as Chemical Physics Letters, the Journal of Chemical Physics, Surface Science, the Journal of Physical Chemistry, the Journal of the Chemical Society, Faraday Transactions, the Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology, the Journal of Chemical Education and Applied Spectroscopy.
Fieberg’s current research interests are in technical art historical investigations of modernist paintings and analysis of artists’ materials. In 2011-2012, he participated as the first Sabbatical Leave Research Fellow in Technical Art History at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA). Working in the Conservation Science Laboratory directed by Gregory Smith ’95, Ph.D., technical analyses of paintings from the IMA’s European collection were performed using x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, Raman microspectroscopy, and infrared microspectroscopy. The paintings analyzed included Mysterious Departure by Giorgio de Chirico, Jupiter with Thunderbolt, attributed to a follower of Jacob Jordaens, and the Cincinnati Art Museum’s Undergrowth with Two Figures by Vincent van Gogh (http://journals.sagepub.com/toc/aspc/71/5). Fieberg is currently (spring 2019) on sabbatical at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, where he continues to analyze paintings from their Modern European collection.
Fieberg frequently teaches General Chemistry, Quantum Chemistry and Spectroscopy, Thermodynamics and Kinetics, and Natural Science. Fieberg is an energetic teacher. In his introductory classes, he performs demonstrations almost daily in class. Fieberg has received several awards, including the Kirk Award for Excellence in Teaching (2007), the C. Eric Mount Jr. Student Appreciation Award (2007), the Outstanding Professor Award from Greek Life (2008 and 2009), and the David Hughes Award for Excellence in Teaching and Service (2010). He was named a Centre Scholar for 2008-2010 and for 2014-2016. He was selected co-Most Dramatic Professor in Kentucky by Kentucky Monthly in 2010.
Fieberg is a staunch advocate of the transformational experiences gained by studying abroad. As a Centre student, Fieberg studied art, architecture and music in Paris, Florence, Munich, and Amsterdam. Fieberg has led both semester programs and short-term travel courses in Europe. Fieberg co-directed the Centre-in-London program in 2010 where he taught Chemistry in Art and British Scientists: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants. Fieberg directed the Centre-in-Strasbourg program for the 2013-14 and the 2017-2018 academic years where he taught France-Germany Wars and Molecular Modernism: Manet to Marc, which included visits to museums in France, Germany and Switzerland. For the January CentreTerms 2013 and 2017, he taught Molecular Modernism: Manet to Matisse as a three-week travel course in Paris and Southern France. He will accompany Dr. Joe Workman’s and Dr. Kerry Paumi’s course on the Physical Science of Volcanoes for CentreTerm 2020 in New Zealand.
Fieberg’s signature class, Molecular Modernism, is a truly interdisciplinary mix of science and art. In addition to teaching Molecular Modernism in France, he has taught Molecular Modernism: Monet to Mondrian as a first-year studies course with field trips to museums and art conservation labs in Washington D.C., Indianapolis and Chicago. In addition, Fieberg offers Chemical Analysis of Modernist Paintings as an upper-level elective for chemistry majors and minors. Fieberg and his students also have collaborated with religion professors, Dr. Beth Glazier and Dr. Tom McCollough, to work with ancient lead amulets to date, electrolytically reduce, and unroll them. Current projects include a forgery investigation of an early 20th century painting and collaboration with a student to refabricate ancient glass colors.
Fieberg is highly active on campus; he has chaired the Chemistry Program, Natural Science Program, and the Committee on Tenure and Reappointment. He serves as the faculty advisor for the social fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and as a faculty liaison for the Centre softball team. Fieberg is active within the Centre College Phi Beta Kappa chapter, as he frequently serves on the Members-in-Course subcommittee. Fieberg is heavily invested in community outreach as he frequently performs chemistry demonstration shows at local schools with Centre students.
File last updated: 3/13/19
EXPERT: Technical Art Historical Analysis of Paintings and the Scientific Analysis of Artists’ Materials
Focuses on technical art historical and/or forgery analyses of paintings, including the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, through the use of portable x-ray fluorescence (p-XRF) spectroscopy, reflectance spectroscopy, and infrared reflectography/transmittography.
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
January Haile is an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry and molecular biology. She joined Centre’s faculty in 2008 and was named a Centre Scholar in 2012.
Before coming to Centre, Haile was a research mentor at Virginia Tech, and taught as a supplemental instructor at Emory and Henry College. In 2013, she received Virginia Tech’s Outstanding Departmental Recent Alumni Award for biochemistry. She was invited to attend the 56th annual meeting of the Nobel Laureates and Students in 2006.
She graduated summa cum laude from Emory and Henry College with a B.S in biology and chemistry, where she was President of Beta Beta Beta Biological Honors Society her senior year. She earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry at Virginia Tech.
File last updated: 03/27/19
EXPERT: Biochemistry and the Investigation of Fermentation Conditions and Contamination
Jennifer Muzyka is H. W. Stodghill, Jr. and Adele H. Stodghill Professor of Chemistry at Centre College, where she has taught since 1994.
An organic chemist, Muzyka is committed to working with her Centre students in collaborative research. Her current research involves the structure-based drug design of potential antibiotics, with focus on inhibiting the bacterial enzyme MurA. In 2013-14 she worked with Luke Presson ’16 and Daniel Graham ’16 on computational studies of the enzyme. Griffin Cote ’16, Josh Winner ’14, and Leila Samhat ’16 synthesized potential inhibitors for the enzyme.
Muzyka develops web-based applications such as the Spectral Zoo and the Reaction Zoo to help students learn organic chemistry. Muzyka’s presentations at the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education as well as hit counters on these sites show that faculty and students at other institutions find these tools useful. This year she organized a symposium on the Flipped Classroom for the 2014 Biennial Conference on Chemical Education, which was very popular among attendees.
Muzyka has published her research in scholarly journals including the Journal of Organic Chemistry, Journal of Physical Chemistry, and Journal of Chemical Education.
Muzyka received her B.S. from the University of Dallas and her Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin.
File last updated: 08/12/14
EXPERT: Physical Organic Chemistry and Computational Studies for Drug Discovery
An organic chemist working on a collaborative interdisciplinary team to discover inhibitors of MurA, a bacterial enzyme important in the synthesis of cell walls. Committed to working with students in collaborative research. Develops web-based applications to help students learn organic chemistry.
Kerry Paumi, an assistant professor of chemistry, was named a Centre Scholar in 2015. In 2018, she began serving as associate professor. She took on the role of chief health care advisor in 2018.
Before coming to the College in 2009, Paumi taught at Stevenson University and the University of Kentucky (UK) and was a visiting scientist in the Graduate Center of Toxicology at UK’s School of Medicine. Her work has been published in Organometallics, the Journal of the American Chemical Society and Nature.
Paumi earned a B.S. in chemistry at Gettysburg College, and a Ph.D. at Wake Forest University. She continued her post doctoral training at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in the biochemistry department and at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the pharmacology department.
File last updated: 03/02/19
EXPERT: Peptide-Based Inhibitors and Metal Chelators for Disease Treatment
Daniel Scott joined the Centre College faculty as assistant professor of chemistry in 2017.
Prior to joining Centre, Scott was an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at DePauw University for 4 years, a visiting assistant professor of chemistry here at Centre for a year, and postdoctoral scholar in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Kentucky as part of the NIH funded Cancer Nanotechnology Training Center. His research interests include the development of new anti-cancer drugs as well as improved nanoparticle delivery systems capable of simultaneously delivering the drug as well as diagnosing and monitoring response the therapy.
There are several different projects students can be involved in with the major theme of generating new ways to treat and monitor cancer or other diseases.
Bacteria are used to produce new anti-cancer molecules, which will be further modified to enhance not only the potency, but also the specificity of the drugs toward cancer. These new molecules will be investigated with regard to their ability to selectively kill cancerous tissue (cytotoxicity). We are currently exploring the drugs ability to kill lung cancer cells grown in the lab. Once generated, the new anticancer agents will also have the opportunity to be incorporated into a nanoparticle drug delivery system. The delivery systems will be used to further optimize the delivery to drug to the tumor and reduce non-specific side effects.
Nanotechnology is being utilized to create a tunable drug delivery platform. Unwanted side effects are a major hurdle with current chemotherapy options. A system capable of selectively delivering a drug payload, only when the nanoparticle has accumulated in a tumor, will greatly improve the perspective for new and old anticancer drugs alike. To that end, biomolecules will be combined with inorganic and polymeric materials to create a tunable “theranostic” nanoparticle that will not only deliver multiple drugs at specified intervals but also be used to monitor disease state and therapeutic response. Theranostic is a hybrid word, describing a particle that can combine therapy and diagnostic capabilities in a single entity.
Sensors are also being developed using gold and iron oxide nanoparticles. The sensors will be capable of monitoring different targets, such as DNA, proteins, or small molecules. Of particular interest is the development of a device that would capable of real-time feedback, with applications in analysis situations such as third world countries, operating rooms, and athletic sidelines.
Students will have the option to gain experience with a range of chemical and biochemical techniques including cell and tissue culture, natural product production and isolation, in vitro cytotoxicity assays, molecular biology, sensor development, and nanoparticle synthesis, optimization, and characterization. Students will be prepared for life after Centre whether that includes professional school (medical, pharmacy, etc.), graduate school, or the workforce.
Scott earned a B.S. in chemistry from Georgetown College, and a Ph.D. in bioanalytical chemistry from the University of Kentucky.
File last updated: 03/27/19
EXPERT: Developing improved diagnostic and therapeutic systems with implications across medicine and pharmaceutical sciences using the interface between chemistry, biology/biochemistry nanotechnology.
Combining biomolecules with inorganic and polymeric materials to create a tunable “theranostic” nanoparticle
Vanessa Song joined the Centre College faculty in 2019 as visiting assistant professor of chemistry.
She worked for the Biofuels and Environmental Catalysis group at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research with a research focused on heterogeneous catalysis for biomass upgrade.
Song earned a B.S. in chemistry from Centre College, and a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from the University of Kentucky.
Erin Wachter joined the Centre College faculty in 2016 as visiting assistant professor of chemistry, and was named assistant professor of chemistry in 2018.
Wachter earned a B.S. in chemistry from Saint Vincent College, and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Kentucky.
EXPERT: Ruthenium and Spectroscopy for DNA Sensing
Ruthenium polypyridyl complexes have many different properties that can be exploited. The ligands that bind to the ruthenium can be easily modified, the complexes absorb visible light, can be luminescent, and can bind DNA in different ways. I am specifically interested in studying the spectroscopic properties of ruthenium polypyridyl complexes as the environment around them changes, specifically when in the presence of DNA.
Joe Workman is professor of chemistry, having taught at Centre since 1993. He currently is pursuing research in igneous petrology and geochemistry. He has projects in two areas: single crystal laser fluorination analysis of volcanic rocks for oxygen isotopes from Iceland and Cascades volcanoes to investigate magma origin and the investigation of mass-independent isotope effects of oxygen and sulfur isotopes in volcanic sulfate as a tool to understand the destiny of volcanic plumes and their interaction with the upper atmosphere.
His collaborative research with students focuses on synthesizing novel multimetallic complexes of polyanionic chelating ligands. These ligands stabilize transition metals in high oxidation states and unusual geometries. For instance, the cobalt ions below are in an uncommon square planar 3+ oxidation state. The Co(III) ions are also paramagnetic. The oxidation/reduction behavior of these compounds is fascinating. He shown in previous research that these metal complexes can themselves act as ligands for other transition metals. This research introduces the possibility of using them to construct new materials with interesting electronic and magnetic properties. He and his student collaborators are in the process of synthesizing and characterizing a wide range of multimetallic complexes of different polyanionic chelating ligands.
He also have a collaborative research project with geologists at the University of Oregon studying the climate effects of ancient volcanic supereruptions. They study eruption products in the John Day Fossil Beds in eastern Oregon by oxygen isotope geochemistry. Very large silicic eruptions, called supereruptions, can inject massive quantities of sulfur dioxide, SO2, into the atmosphere. The SO2 is then oxidized by either hydrogen peroxide or ozone to produce sulfur trioxide, SO3. The sulfur trioxide will combine with water to form sulfuric acid, H2SO4, which will form very small droplets called an aerosol. The aerosol will block solar radiation and lead to local or global cooling. Over time, the sulfuric acid falls back to earth as acid rain. It is impossible to directly measure SO2 emissions for ancient eruptions, but the sulfuric acid content can be measured in the rock record. We use a laser fluorination line to separate oxygen from the sulfur and then a mass spectrometer to measure the 17O:16O ratio. If the SO2 was injected into the stratosphere, the major oxidant would have been ozone and the 17O:16O ratio would be higher than normal. If the SO2was injected into the troposphere, the major oxidant would have been hydrogen peroxide and the 17O:16O ratio would be normal.
Workman is committed to involving students in research and has collaborated with students in research teams in many summers since coming to Centre. In the 2001-02 academic year, Workman was a visiting research professor at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, where he did work in organometallic chemistry. In 2007-08, Workman was a visiting professor at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia doing research in green chemistry.
In January 2004 he led a group of 34 Centre students to New Zealand to study the physical science of volcanoes. He has subsequently led students in New Zealand studying volcanoes in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, and will again in 2014.
Workman also served as academic advisor to students interested in pre-medical studies until 2018 after serving in that role for 23 years, and he has assisted students with MCAT study sessions and field trips to major medical schools. Workman is an energetic teacher and played a leadership role in Centre’s successful efforts to secure a high field nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer, which is accessible to students for study and research.
Workman holds a B.S. from Santa Clara University, and he earned a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University.
File last updated: 03/27/19
EXPERT: Novel Multimetallic Complexes and Climate Effects on Volcanic Erruptions
The synthesis of multimetallic complexes with unusual geometry, electronic and magnetic properties; the stable isotope geochemistry of volcanic supereruptions
Karin (Kari) Young joined the faculty at Centre College in 2013 as an assistant professor of chemistry, and was awarded tenure and promotion to associate professor in 2019. She was named a Centre Scholar in 2016.
Young teaches courses in general chemistry and inorganic chemistry. She is particularly interested in developing meaningful laboratory exercises for students in inorganic chemistry. Young also teaches courses in alternative energy technology, which are inspired by her graduate work on artificial photosynthesis for solar energy applications. In CentreTerm 2015, Young teamed up with Professor Ellen Swanson to teach students about wind, solar, and hydroelectric power. The course included a visit to the Mother Ann Lee Hydroelectric Station, which generates the Renewable Energy Credits purchased by the student green fund.
She also has a special interest in how nature uses iron and manganese centers to catalyze important oxidation reactions. At Centre, Young and her students are studying a family of iron, manganese, and cobalt complexes as catalysts for the oxidation of lignin model compounds. Lignin is a complex biopolymer found in wood and is commonly seen as the “brown” in brown paper bags that is bleached (chemically degraded) to make white paper. Because lignin has an irregular structure and is difficult to oxidize, harsh chemical methods are used in the paper industry. However, the enzymes lignin peroxidase and manganese peroxidase, which are produced by the white-rot fungus and are known to degrade lignin in wood, use iron or manganese and benign oxidizing agents to complete the lignin oxidation reactions. The goal is use this inspiration from nature to study new, synthetic catalysts that might make the paper bleaching process greener by using less energy and producing fewer waste products.
Also, from a chemist’s perspective, lignin is a vastly underutilized source of carbon atoms, which could use used to make biofuels, commodity chemicals, or pharmaceuticals. The reasons for the underuse of lignin are twofold: first, lignin has a complex, irregular structure that resists the chemist’s attempt to order it into smaller units and second, the chemical bonds in lignin are strong and stable and thus difficult to rearrange into more valuable products.
Originally from Texas, Young graduated magna cum laude from the University of Tulsa with a B.A. in chemistry and English, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She subsequently earned an M.S. in chemistry and a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from Yale University, advised by Gary W. Brudvig.
File last updated: 7/15/19
EXPERT: Bioinspired Lignin Oxidation with Manganese, Iron, and Cobalt Catalysts
The use of liquid chromatography (HPLC), gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS), and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) to probe the secrets of these catalysts in order to understand how they work and how to improve them