facebook twitter flickr you tube pinterest
Department of Chemistry at Otterbein University

Research at Otterbein

Student research is often published in professional journals and presented at off-campus meetings such as the Central Ohio Undergraduate Research Symposium, the Argonne Symposium for Undergraduate Research in Science and Mathematics, and the American Chemical Society.

You also have opportunities to participate in the research projects listed below. You can also learn about funding and additional research opportunities on the Research at Otterbein site.

Analytical Chemistry

Dr. Joan Esson is researching the development and application of electrochemical and optical sensors for clinically and environmentally important polyions, which are large, highly charged ions, and their use to examine chemicals that bind to them. Current studies involve the characterization of the binding between low molecular weight heparin (LWMH), a commonly used anticoagulant drug, and synthetic foldamers being investigated as potential antidotes for LMWH. Additional studies involve the development of sensors for suramin, a drug used to treat human sleeping sickness and being explored as a possible anti-cancer agent, and exploration of alternative ion-exchangers for use in ion-selective electrodes.


Dr. John Tansey is conducting research focusing on the role that lipid droplet proteins (the PAT proteins) play in the metabolism of stored lipids. Nearly all cells store lipids (fats and cholesterol) for future use. We are currently investigating the function that the most recently discovered PAT protein (OXPAT) plays both on the lipid droplet and in the cytosol. This research has implications in the etiology of obesity, heart disease, and type II diabetes mellitus.

Computational Chemistry

Dr. Carrigan Hayes' research involves the application of computational and physical organic chemistry techniques to the areas of biological, synthetic, and combustion chemistry. Her previous work has focused on understanding the behavior of radical species involved in hydrocarbon and alternative fuel combustion. Two new potential projects involve developing radical clock reactions for use in organic synthesis and exploring glycoconjugate interactions with implications for key biological processes.

Inorganic Chemistry

Dr. Dean Johnston is focusing on preparing and analyzing new metal-halide clusters. These compounds have fascinating electrochemical and photochemical properties. We are currently investigating a series of compounds that exhibit unusually high emission intensities using a combination of luminescence spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, and single-crystal X-ray diffraction. Some potential applications of these materials include use in organic light-emitting devices (OLED’s) and for the detection of oxygen via photochemical quenching of the excited state.

Organic Chemistry

Dr. Robin Grote’s research focuses on the development of synthetic organic reactions, specifically the synthesis of heterocycles. These compounds are of interest due to the wide array of biological activity they can possess. Heterocycles are found in many of our pharmaceuticals and insecticides and can be synthesized by cyclodehydrating reactions. However, these reactions can be low yielding and utilize harsh or costly reagents. The Grote lab seeks to develop practical and predictable ways of synthesizing highly useful heterocyclic compounds.