I have been teaching Physical and General Chemistry at Macalester College since 1993. My research is focused on the electronic spectroscopy of metal-containing free radicals in the gas phase, particularly their fine and hyperfine structures.

I received my B.A. degree in chemistry in 1985 from Hamline University and my Ph.D. degree in physical chemistry from MIT in 1990. I was a postdoctoral scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology from 1990-92 and a NATO Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Oxford from 1992-93. In this training, I explored the spectroscopy of gas-phase free radicals using a variety of experimental techniques and wavelengths (microwave, far-infrared and visible).

I have had four sabbatical leaves from Macalester College, taken in (1) Boulder, Colorado, (2) Vancouver, British Columbia, (3) Sydney, Australia, and (4) Zürich, Switzerland & Florence, Italy, as well as a research summer spent at the University of Oxford, England.

I take as my professional motto the sentiment expressed by the 19th-century French chemist and statesman Jean-Baptiste Dumas, who once wrote that the greatest joy of my life has been to accomplish original scientific work, and next to that, to lecture to a set of intelligent students. I feel fortunate to be able to do the same here at Macalester College.

Recent News

Max Reichelt ('16) recorded my annual Halloween Liquid Nitrogen Pumpkin Drop outside the OlinRice Science Building after my Thermodynamics class last fall. Thanks to Max for sharing this video with me.

My students Brad Pearlman, Ian Wyse and I recently spent a week in Arizona working with our collaborators Prof. Tim Steimle and Dr. Damian Kokkin at ASU. Thanks to Tim and Damian for their hospitality on our visit. The picture below is taken outside the ASU chemistry building.

ASU photo

We have published two papers so far in 2014, on the spectroscopy of TaO and TaH. Reprints are available here and here.

I spent my sabbatical in Fall 2013 in Europe. I am particularly grateful for the warm welcome from my two local hosts, Prof. Frédéric Merkt of ETH Zürich, and Prof. Paolo de Natale of the University of Florence. Switzerland and Italy were both wonderful places to spend a sabbatical!

The 2013 NSF Report on the Baccalaureate Origins of Ph.D. Recipients was recently released. Among Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs), Macalester College has moved up four spots in the rankings over the past five years! We moved from #14 to #10 in terms of the number of eventual Ph.D. recipients per 100 students graduated among all PUIs in the nation. The full NSF report is available here.

We recently published work on the hyperfine structure of the molecule tantalum sulfide in the Journal of Molecular Spectroscopy. You can check it out here. My student coauthor Andrew Bendelsmith ('13) is just beginning his Ph.D. studies in physical organic chemistry at Harvard University, funded as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. Congratulations Andrew!

In September 2011, Macalester President Brian Rosenberg named me to an endowed chair position as DeWitt Wallace Professor of Chemistry. Benefactor DeWitt Wallace was a Macalester alum and the son of an early President of the College. He went on to found the Reader's Digest.

On February 7, 2012, I presented my Inaugural Lecture as DeWitt Wallace Professor of Chemistry. You can watch this one-hour lecture below:


Recent Media

Macalester was recently ranked #1 in NSF funding among its peer group of nationally ranked liberal arts colleges.

Macalester wrote a piece for its website called Million Dollar Men about Prof. Dan Hornbach and I each raising more than $1 million in external research funding.

You can see a video where I describe what I love about teaching at Macalester.

You can watch the cameo appearance of my Physical Chemistry class in the President's Day at Macalester College YouTube video.

I went bungy jumping at the original A. J. Hackett site on the Kawarau River in New Zealand during my 2007-08 sabbatical at the University of Sydney, Australia. Here is a video of my 141-foot jump.