Chemistry Research

Chemistry happens in the lab, a place where first-person experience becomes lifelong knowledge. As a chemistry major, you will have a number of opportunities to conduct original chemistry research with our incredible faculty, through industry internships across Chicago and summer research opportunities like the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates program.

Dr. Rienstra-Kiracofe's Research

Dr. Jonathan Rienstra-Kiracofe uses computational chemistry to model the quantum mechanical structure of electrons in atoms and molecules and predict their properties. He invites undergraduate students to participate in all of these computational investigations. Students who have taken organic chemistry and physical chemistry have sufficient chemistry knowledge to understand the chemical concepts needed to model molecular properties: concepts such as vibrational frequencies, electron affinities, and dimerization.

Dr. Rienstra-Kiracofe also develops undergraduate teaching experiments for the general chemistry and physical chemistry laboratories, with an emphasis on introducing technology into the teaching laboratory.

Dr. Larraza's Research

Dr. Isabel Larraza's interests lie in the area of green chemistry as applied to the production of intermediates with pharmaceutical relevance. She has studied the use of superbases and microwave-assisted synthesis in the development of new, greener ways to protect primary amines and in the Hoffman Rearrengement. Currently she is working in the synthesis of alpha-hydrazino esters as precursors of heterocyclic structural units found in different drugs.

She is also interested in the development of modern experiments with a service learning component in the organic chemistry curriculum and which make use of our new instrumentation.

Dr. Vázquez's Research

Dr. Anne Vázquez has research interests in two fields: chemical education and spectroscopy. The chemical education project is focusing on understanding student motivations and perceptions of supplemental learning resources in introductory chemistry classes. By understanding why different populations of students choose to use assistance available to them, chemistry educators will be able to develop strategies to motivate target populations to use these resources.

The spectroscopy research project focuses on deducing the mechanism of organic pollutant binding to soil. Many organic pollutants are known to bind to the soil component humic acid. However, the binding mechanism is not understood. The project is working to deduce the mechanism of binding between humic acid and various organic pollutants using vibrational spectroscopy.

For more information, visit Dr. Vázquez's website.

Dr. Rienstra-Kiracofe with a student
Johnson Center Achieves LEED Gold Status
Johnson Center Green Roof

Completed last year, the $45 million Nancy and G. Timothy Johnson Center for Science and Community Life was recently awarded LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council, which establishes criteria for the construction of sustainable buildings. This recognition confirms that North Park is able to provide the best environment for students, faculty, staff, and visitors, while also minimizing waste, reducing toxins, lowering potential energy bills and operating costs, and achieving healthier indoor air quality. Learn more