Chemistry Faculty & Staff

Top Row: Amanda Mifflin,  Steven Neshyba, Megan Gessel, Heather Bailey, Jeff Grinstead
Middle Row:  Dan Burgard, John Hanson, Jo Crane, Stacia Rink, Jill McCourt
Bottom Row:  Luc Boisvert, Eric Scharrer, Holly Jones, Emily Tollefson

About the Department

The Chemistry Department offers a broad-based curriculum designed to meet the needs of a variety of students, from those taking only one or two chemistry courses in order to broaden their liberal arts background to those majoring in chemistry in preparation for a career in the chemical sciences. The department is approved by the American Chemical Society and offers degrees that are appropriate for students interested in careers in chemistry, medicine, dentistry, engineering, science teaching, or any other area where a scientific background would be valuable. Students are encouraged to consult with members of the department as they plan their undergraduate programs and to discuss career options in the sciences.

The expertise of the chemistry faculty covers all five major chemical sub-disciplines: analytical chemistry, biochemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, and physical chemistry. In addition to core courses in these major areas, faculty members teach upper-level courses on a variety of special topics including atmospheric chemistry, computational chemistry, materials chemistry, organic synthesis, and environmental chemistry. Faculty members are also engaged in a wide range of research projects and all students seeking the BS degree participate in this research and produce a thesis based on their work.

In addition to being introduced to modern chemical knowledge and the role of chemistry in society, students in chemistry courses learn to think analytically and logically. As students move through upper-level courses, they develop the ability to critically assess work in the field and the attitude necessary to cope with the demands of independent inquiry.

Students completing a chemistry degree are able to:

  1. rationalize and predict chemical behavior based on chemical principles;
  2. apply laboratory methods to investigate chemical phenomena and synthesize compounds in a safe and environmentally responsible manner;
  3. operate modern analytical instruments and interpret the data obtained from these instruments;
  4. use computers for collection and analysis of chemical data and the modeling and visualization of chemical structures and properties;
  5. communicate effectively in both written and oral forms typical of the chemical literature and professional conferences;
  6. search and use the chemical literature.



Seven UPS Chemisty students went to Nanaimo, BC last week to attend the AWMA PNWIS annual environmental conference (Air and Waste Management Association Pacific - Northwest International section).  This conference of regional environmental professionals from industry, consulting, regulation, and academia also hosts a student competition at their conference called the Environmental Challenge (EC)
As a requirement of a 0.25 unit Experiential Learning course in Environmental Policy and Decision Making, two teams from Puget Sound attended and competed in the challenge.  Puget Sound won first and second place!  Ashley Mapile ’19 CHEMISTRY, Erin McMillan ’19, Amanda Cobb ’19, and Emma Sevier ’19 were on the first place team and won $1500, Rosie Rushing ’19 CHEMISTRY, Emma McAllister “20, and Lisa Grimm “20 placed second and won a $1200 award.  In addition to the competition, the teams attended many talks over the 3 days and networked with environmental professionals, including 2017 EC participant Haley Gray “18 (CHEM minor) who is now working for Jacobs (formerly CH2M) environmental consulting, a position that she was offered as a direct result of her participation in the conference last year.
Additionally, Rosie Rushing also presented an oral talk on her thesis research, “Wastewater-Based Epidemiology to Determine Temporal Trends in Illicit Stimulant Use in Seattle”.  There is a top student presentation award and this year Rosie tied for that top honor with a PhD student and received a $250 award!  


NSF has awarded Professor Neshyba a 4-year grant supporting research about ice.  Titled "RUI:  Toward a Comprehensive Theory of Mesoscopic Morphology of Ice", students involved in the project will create three-dimensional representations of ice crystals grown in a scanning electron microscope, model their light-scattering properties, and construct a theoretical framework for predicting how such crystals arise in cirrus clouds. 

Steven has received a two year NSF Research in Undergraduate Institutions collaborative grant award.  Titled Computational guided inquiry for incorporating polar research into undergraduate curricula.  This $300,000 grant Is aimed at developing teaching modules that incorporate polar research into a broad range of undergraduate courses, including Chemistry, Physics, Atmospheric Sciences, and Economics through the use of computational guided inquiry and classroom flipping.  Also involved in the project are Professor of Economics Lea Fortmann,  Dr. Penny Rowe, of the NorthWest Research Association, and School of Education Dean and Professor Amy Ryken.



The National Institute for Drug Abuse Awards, Professor Dan Burgard $344,000 for measuring opiods in wastewater

Professor Burgard’s R-15 grant proposes to monitor illicit drug and prescription opioid consumption trends at the population level in six cities in Washington State over a three year period. This study overlaps with two other major events: 1) the initiation of a state-wide drug take back program and 2) the 2020 census. This, first in the nation, statewide drug take-back program is aimed at reducing prescription opioid abuse and to reduce environmental contamination. The project will also work to develop a more accurate account of the population size contributing to the wastewater samples and thus to develop better per capita consumption estimates. Levels of population biomarkers will be validated with 2020 census data.

Amanda Mifflin’s grant proposal, RUI: Influence of surface interactions of organic ligand-iron oxide/water interfaces on carbon and iron cycling studied by second harmonic generation and sum frequency generation spectroscopies, was funded for a three-year period in the amount of $209,663. This funding will allow Amanda and her students to continue surface spectroscopy studies on an important biogeochemical system.

Eric Scharrer’s grant proposal, RUI: Investigations of the cybotactic nematic phase in bent-core liquid crystals, was funded for a three year period in the amount of $124, 245. This funding will allow Eric and his students to continue their studies of the unique phase behavior of oxadiazole containing compounds.