People

Faculty

Donald Cotter

Chair and Associate Professor of Chemistry, Co-Chair of Conceptual Foundations of Science

Donnie Cotter's scientific research focuses on the mechanism of transmetalation. Recently, he has turned his scholarly attentions to the study the history of chemistry, focusing on the American chemical community between 1890 and 1920. Cotter is the author of numerous scholarly papers and presentations, many of them coauthored by Mount Holyoke students.

Jonathan Ashby

Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Jonathan Ashby joined the department in 2016 as a Mount Holyoke Fellow and Visiting Lecturer. His primary research interests are in development of simple yet high-throughput alternatives to commonly-used biochemical and toxicological assays. In addition, he is interested in developing additional methodology for the study of protein structure and interactions of proteins with other macromolecules, such as nucleic acids, nanomaterials and other proteins.

Katie Berry

Clare Booth Luce Assistant Professor of Biochemistry

Katie Berry’s research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of how organisms adapt to cellular stress by regulating the expression of their genes. She is especially interested in how regulatory RNA molecules in bacteria collaborate with cellular proteins in their function, and is developing new tools to study bacterial RNA-protein interactions. Berry and her students investigate the interactions and activities of small, regulatory RNAs in test tubes and inside of living cells to uncover their mechanisms of action.

Katie Berry

Kyle Broaders

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Kyle Broaders' research interests focus on the interaction of living cells with their material surroundings. He employs the tools of organic synthesis to prepare materials with tailored properties like shape, stiffness, permeability, or response to external stimulus. The responses of cells to these designed properties allows him to assay the way they integrate information about their surroundings and make behavioral choices.

Wei Chen

Marilyn Dawson Sarles, M.D. Professor of Chemistry

Professor Wei Chen works with her undergraduate research students in the context of Materials Chemistry. The research centers around modifying the surface chemistry of natural and artificial materials for industrial and biomedical applications, such as enhancing surface wettability, improving the biocompatibility of implants, and designing microchips for disease detection. The selected projects are contemporary, relevant, and feasible for beginning researchers. The research methodologies are interdisciplinary applying the tools of organic, analytical, physical, and biological chemistry.

Wei Chen

Maria Alexandra Gomez

Professor of Chemistry

Maria Gomez and her student researchers use the principles of thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, and quantum mechanics to study how structure affects proton and oxygen vacancy conduction in fuel cell systems. Their work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the MERCURY consortium, the Dreyfus Foundation, and the Research Corporation. Gomez enjoys teaching Chemical Principles in General Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, and electives. She and her students also enjoy getting K-6 parent/child teams to tackle interesting scientific ideas through the Passport to Chemistry Adventure outreach program.

Darren G. Hamilton

Professor of Chemistry

Darren Hamilton and his students use the tools of synthetic organic chemistry to prepare molecular systems with designed properties or functions. These molecular systems can bind and transport, or bind and recognize, a species of interest. Current projects involve the preparation of transport systems for metal ions employed in medical imaging techniques, as well as the development of a prototype molecular construct for carbohydrate recognition. Hamilton's research with undergraduate students has been published most recently in the Journal of Organic Chemistry, Crystal Growth and Design, and the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Kathryn A. McMenimen

Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Chemistry, on leave 2015-16

Kathryn McMenimen is interested in the chemical interactions that underlie biological systems. Her research group uses tools at the interface of chemistry, biochemistry, neuroscience, and biophysics to study one type of molecular chaperone, the small heat shock proteins. McMenimen is particularly interested in protein homeostasis and how dysfunction of molecular chaperones contributes to protein misfolding diseases, such as, cataracts, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other neurological diseases.

Kathryn McMenimen

Alan van Giessen -- on sabbatical Fall 2016-Spring 2017

Associate Professor of Chemistry

Alan van Giessen uses theoretical and computational techniques to understand the structure and thermodynamics of both complex and simple systems. His research focus has focused on the destabilization of a test protein and its potential to provide a mechanism for nucleating misfolded aggregates complicit in diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Huntington's Disease. A second area of focus is the energetic properties of curved interfaces, such as liquid drops or micelles. Van Giessen teaches a wide range of courses including both general chemistry and physical chemistry and including a seminar course entitled “Poisons: Death by Chemistry”.

Alan van Geissen

Staff

Dina Bevivino

Academic Department Coordinator

Dina Bevivino is the Department Coordinator for the Biochemistry Program and the Chemistry department. She provides assistance to the chair of the Biochemistry Program and the Chemistry Department. She assists students with class permissions and major declarations, etc. Dina also plans events for the majors and department awards presentations.

Thomas Houle

Laboratory Director/Instructor

Thomas Houle is the Director of the department of chemistry teaching laboratories with a concentration on general and analytical chemistry.

Himali Jayathilake

Senior Laboratory Instructor for Physical Chemistry, Research Associate

Himali Jayathilake joined the MHC Chemistry Department in Fall 2008 after receiving her Ph.D. in physical chemistry. She has taught courses and associated laboratory components in both general chemistry and physical chemistry. In addition to teaching, Jayathilake enjoys performing research with students on synthesis, characterization and assembly of metal nano-particles.

Laurie Lentz-Marino

Laboratory Instructor

Laurie Lentz-Marino earned her Master's, MA Chemistry in 2001 from MHC, under Dr. Cotter in organometallic chemistry and her BA in Biology from Temple University. She strives to update and adapt real world applicable exercises in biochemistry labs. She is the co-author along with Dr. Stephanie Seneff, an MIT professor of computer science, on three papers both concerning sulfur biochemistry in nutrition.

 Laurie Lentz-Marino Laboratory Instructor

Gary J. Snyder

Senior Laboratory Instructor and Research Associate

Gary Snyder's research focuses on the synthesis and spectroscopic detection of new molecules. Several years ago, in collaboration with Jakob Wirz (Univ. Basel), Snyder and a former Univ. of Chicago graduate student, Dan McMasters, succeeded in making the only known Kekulé biradical. By using a new ab initio computational method, RASSCF-RASPT2, Snyder has since identified several other small hydrocarbons that should also leave two π-electrons unpaired and prefer to exist in a paramagnetic form.