Research by Faculty

Below is a list of our faculty members accompanied by their professional interests and research projects. For more information click on the link to their faculty biography page. 

Here are some research highlights regarding the faculty:

  • Faculty have over $758,000 in current research funding between UST and their collaborators.
  • Faculty collaborate with other universities and corporations such as ExxonMobil, Bayer, Vision-Ease Lens, and Medtronic.
  • Faculty have authored 16 publications in two years, including 15 undergraduate co-authors.
  • Faculty and students have given 30 presentations at conferences in the last 12 months.
  • The Department seminars have hosted over 50 faculty from 30 institutions in 14 states in the last 5 years.
  • The distinguished lectureship series drew nearly 1,000 student, faculty, and alumni attendees in 2 years.
  • The new X-ray fluorimeter was used for training by representatives from the Midwest Art Conservation Center, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the American Museum of Asmat Art, and the UST Geology Department.
  • The Department suite of TA instruments once served as a demonstration site for the company and is now used by local companies such as BioAmber and Applied Colloids.
  • Several local corporations submit samples for analysis on our JEOL 400 MHz NMR.

Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry.  Mass Spectrometry.  Analysis of proteins and peptides from various biological and synthetic samples using ESI/MS-MS and bioinformatics.  Development of new chromatographic methods and devices to allow monitoring of environmental pollutants. To read more click here. 

Bacteria play a role in almost all processes at work on the planet.  From global warming to feeding the hungry to treating disease, many of the challenges that face us, as well as the potential solutions to these problems, can be traced back to bacteria.  The Donato lab focuses on applying functional metagenomics to explore chemical processes used by bacteria to survive in diverse habitats.  Current projects are aimed at the discovery and subsequent characterization of genes that confer antibiotic resistance on their host bacteria.  Using this approach, we have successfully identified novel resistance genes from bacteria found in soil and the human body.  Information regarding the nature of resistance genes will guide researchers in both the development of new antibiotics as well as strategies for antibiotic management.  We are also in the early stages of projects that will identify and optimize factors limiting the bacterial gene expression.

If you are interested in joining the research group, contact Dr. Donato.

To read more click here.

Research in the Fort lab focuses on the synthesis and reactivity of unique aromatic systems. Our projects aim to rationally design structures that have new and interesting properties by combining computational chemistry with organic synthesis. Many of the molecules we work with may some day find applications in organic electronic devices or in imaging of biological systems.

If you are interested in joining the research group, contact Dr. Fort.

To read more click here.

The Guino-o laboratory is interested in understanding the ligand - triazolylindene (triazole-based NHC).  We are also exploring the various applications of this ligand system in catalytic reactions and emissive lanthanide ion complexes. 

Students interested in this research will synthesize both their organic ligands and organometallic compounds; as well as investigate the properties of the resulting complexes.

If you would like more information on this research or joining the Guino-o lab, please contact Dr. Guino-o.

To read more click here.

The students of Dr. Ippoliti's research group are actively involved in four areas of research. All of these areas utilize organic synthesis to make new molecules. The first area is in the synthesis of novel antibacterial compounds or antibiotics. The class of antibiotic molecules we synthesize are called oxazolidinones.  They are active against penicillin resistant bacteria and tuberculosis. The second area is synthesis of novel heterocyclic molecules. These molecules can be used to make Zeolites or Metal Organic Frameworks (MOF).  Zeolites are inorganic frameworks that can be used for catalysts or separations.  MOF’s can be used for the storage of fuels in a solid state.  The can also be used to capture CO2, a greenhouse gas. The third area is the synthesis of new fluorescent molecules and upconverting nanoparticles for use as security taggants. The fourth area of research is in the area of thermochromic and photochromic molecules.  These molecules change color reversibly with temperature or light, respectively.

If you are interested in joining the research group, contact Dr. Ippoliti.


To read more click here.

Research in the Layfield lab uses computational techniques to study chemical reaction dynamics and calculate vibrational spectra of exotic molecules.  We use a combination of classical and quantum mechanics to study the chemistry that happens at the interface between two different states of matter.  Previous experience with computer programming or computational chemistry is not required to do research with Dr. Layfield.
If you are interested in joining the research group, contact Dr. Layfield.

Biochemistry, Nanoscience, Material Science. Synthesis and analysis of self-assembled G4-DNA nanostructures, Biomaterials applications of self-assembled G4-DNA

To read more click here.

Research conducted by Dr. Ojala and his students is focused on the organic solid state, aiming for a more complete understanding of the structures and reactivities of crystalline organic compounds.  Using single-crystal X-ray diffraction, Dr. Ojala and his students determine the crystal structures of a variety of organic compounds to examine the role of intermolecular interactions such as hydrogen bonding, halogen bonding, and Lewis acid-base interactions in defining the solid-state molecular packing arrangement and, in applicable cases, the solid-state reactivity.  Data sets are collected in the X-ray Crystallographic Laboratory of the University of Minnesota Chemistry Department, and the crystal structures are solved, refined, and analyzed by students of Dr. Ojala in his laboratory at the University of St. Thomas.  Research topics currently pursued by the Ojala group include polymorphism, isostructuralism, and solid-state phase transitions; compounds currently under study include nitrile oxides, monosaccharide derivatives, and “bridge-flipped” isomeric benzylideneanilines and phenylhydrazones. 

If you are interested in joining the research group, contact Dr. Ojala.

To read more click here.

The Prevette research group is in the area of biophysical chemistry, studying the interactions between biomaterials and biomolecules. In particular, we are interested in interactions that occur at the cell surface, leading to cellular internalization of drugs and genes for gene therapy. We are also studying the effect of structure on the formation of DNA complexes. Students in the group learn about binding mechanisms, thermodynamics and kinetics, and the structure of biomolecules and their complexes through a variety of experimental techniques.

If you are interested in joining the research group, contact Prof. Prevette.

To read more click here.

Kris Wammer is interested in the chemical and microbiological processes that affect the fate of organic contaminants in the environment.  Students in the Wammer lab are currently involved in several projects, all of which study potential impacts of biologically active organic compounds, such as pharmaceuticals, in natural waters. One current project is focused on mapping the “footprint” of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes across Minnesota. This project is in collaboration with researchers at the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Health. A second project, a collaboration with researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, examines the role dissolved organic matter plays in the photolysis of pesticides and pharmaceuticals in natural waters. Finally, students are studying polycyclic musks, which are used as fragrances in many consumer products.  In particular, we are studying the potential for UV disinfection to remove these molecules from municipal wastewater and their potential impacts on aquatic organisms. This project involves collaborators from Gustavus Adolphus College, University of Minnesota Crookston, and St. Thomas.

If you are interested in joining the research group, contact Dr. Wammer.

To read more click here.