/ Chemistry Department


We’re one of the first colleges in the country to offer undergraduate student/faculty research in chemistry, beginning in 1947.

A strong research program is the foundation of our department and the reason our students are so successful. We offer research through traditional coursework as well as independent faculty-student research.

Research History

Hope’s first faculty research space was developed by biologist Samuel Mast in Van Raalte Hall in 1903. Our department’s current approach to research that features student and faculty collaboration was developed by chemist Dr. Gerrit Van Zyl during his tenure (1923–55). He made it a point to involve students in research as a teaching tool and also helped obtain outside funding to support it.

Today, the level of student-faculty collaboration on real, ongoing chemistry research projects sets Hope apart from other undergraduate institutions and distinguishes our graduates from their peers.

Current Research Projects


Brown Group

  • Electrochemical Preparation and Characterization of Chemically Modified Electrodes. Led by Dr. Kenneth L. Brown.

Burnatowska-Hledin Group

Chase Group

  • Regulation of Cystine/Glutamate Exchange by System xc-. Led by Leah A. Chase.

Dittenhafer-Reed Group

Pikaart Group

  • Protein-DNA Interactions in the Developing Red Blood Cell and Interference by Toxic Metals. Led by Dr. Michael J. Pikaart.

Eckermann Group

  • Transition Metal Clusters as Scaffolds for New Multimodal Imaging Agents. Led by Dr. Amanda Eckermann.

Stewart Group

  • The Development of Interdisciplinary, Investigative Case Studies in Science. Led by Dr. Joanne L. Stewart.

Shorb Group

  • Chemistry Education: Laboratory Curriculum Development and Eye-Tracking. Led by Dr. Justin M. Shorb.

Anderson Group


Gillmore Group

  • Photochromic Photooxidants: a new application of old photochromes, toward gating photoinduced charge transfer. Led by Dr. Jason G. Gillmore.

Sanford Group

Johnson Group

  • Organometallic catalysis for the activation and functionalization of C-C single bonds. Led by Dr. Jeffrey B. Johnson.

Krueger Group

  • Biophysical Studies Using Laser Spectroscopy and Computational Modeling. Led by Dr. Brent P. Krueger.

Polik Group

  • Laser Spectroscopy and Computational Chemistry of Highly Energetic Molecules. Led by Dr. William F. Polik.

Summer Research Group

Hope’s Summer Undergraduate Research Function (SURF) program is among the largest summer research programs in the country in natural and applied sciences among liberal arts institutions. Unlike student research opportunities during the academic year, SURF is a paid research program, so you will not receive credit. Visit SHARP, Hope’s summer research program application site, to apply for a summer research opportunity.

Awards and Recognition

Faculty Awards

Our faculty has received many accolades for their work at Hope through teaching and research, including:

  • Janet L. Anderson Excellence in Teaching Award: Burnatowska-Hledin (2016), Gillmore (2015), Seymour (2013)
  • Ruth & John Reed Faculty Achievement Award: Stewart (2010)
  • Towsley Scholarship: Anderson (2013), Johnson (2010)
  • Academic Computing Innovation Award: Polik (2013)
  • Board of Trustees: Krueger (2014), Stewart (2010)
  • Academic Affairs Board Chair: Polik (2013), Krueger (2011)
  • Satus Committee: Gillmore (2014)
  • Vice Provost for Research and Scholarship: Polik (2016)
  • Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award: Gillmore (2014)
  • NSF CAREER Award: Johnson (2012), Gillmore (2010)
  • ACS Stanley C. Israel Regional Award for Advancing Diversity in the Chemical Sciences: Chemistry Department (2013)
  • ACS Inorganic Division Award: Anderson and Ohnsorg (2016)
  • ACS NUCL Councilor: Peaslee (2014)
  • CUR Councilor: Polik (2013)

Student Awards

Our students are often recognized on a college and national level for their work in courses and research, including:

  • Two NSF Graduate Research Fellowships were awarded to Lisa Savagian ’16 and Caitlin Kozack ’15
  • One NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Honorable Mention was awarded to Monica Ohnsorg ’16
  • Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships were awarded to Daniel Clark and Kathryn Trentadue
  • The Zuidema Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research was awarded to Boone Marois
  • A Beckman Scholarship was awarded to Nathan Vance
  • Otto Vander Velde All-Campus Award was awarded to Boone Marois
  • The Inorganic Chemistry Award from the American Chemical Society was awarded to Monica Ohnsorg
  • First-Year Chemistry Book Award was given to Rebecca L. Johnson
  • ACS Analytical Award was given to Brandon H. Bowser
  • ACS Inorganic Award for Outstanding Performance was awarded to Jayne A. Kessel
  • Organic Chemistry Book Award was given to Sieun R. Lee and Philip VerSluis
  • Physical Chemistry Award was awarded to Brianna N. Barbu and Kathryn N. Trentadue
  •  ACS Organic Chemistry Award was awarded to Brianna N. Barbu
  •  Drs. Eugene C. and Elaine Z. Jekel Award was awarded to Brandon C. Derstine
  •  Chemistry Department Award for Excellence was awarded to Matthew M. Rolain, Daniel J. SantaLucia, and Lisa R. Savagia
  •  Almon T. Godfrey Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Brianna N. Barbu
  • 31 chemistry majors received Sigma Xi Research Awards (22% of 140 total recipients)
  • 4 students were selected to Mortar Board membership
  • 11 chemistry majors were selected to Phi Beta Kappa

Learn more about our award-winning faculty and students