USD Research Groups

Ongoing research in the Department of Chemistry

Are you looking for a research opportunity to fulfill your major requirement, but you're not sure where to start? Below, you will find a complete list of active research groups in the chemistry department, along with brief descriptions of their work. When you find a group you are interested in, please contact the faculty member who leads the group for details about current projects, available positions and how you can apply!

J.K. Bell Lab

In the JK & JE Bell labs, we explore proteins involved in metabolism and cell signaling to provide detailed understanding of key biological processes and set the stage for therapeutic advances. We use cellular and molecular biology, biochemistry, and biophysics-based techniques to relate structure and dynamics to function.

T. Bell Lab

Group of students in the T. Bell Lab.

One research aim of the T. Bell lab is to develop nucleic acid ligands against the DNA-binding cytokine, HMGB1 (HMGB1). HMGB1 is a suspected biomarker and therapeutic target in a variety of immune disorders including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Other research projects focus on defining the role of extracurricular DNA (eDNA) in bacterial biofilm formation, propagation and infection.

Benz Lab

Research in the Benz lab focuses on uncovering the surface chemistry of solid materials, which impacts a wide range of applications from catalysis to gas storage and separations. 

Bolender Lab

Dr. Bolender has two distinct research priorities in his laboratory. The first project is the study of novel, lanthanide ion-containing, water-dispersive nanoparticles. These nanoparticles have potential uses that include efficient light-emitting materials for various uses (fluorescent lights, LED screens, etc.), and as potential MRI contrast agents. This project involves more fundamental chemistry.


Dr. Bolender's second project is a long-term water project in the southwestern region of Uganda. In this region, we work with Ugandan and other international partners to assess the impact of poor water quality on childhood and community health. Our work includes the assessment of water issues, and we were the first to find uranium at high concentrations in local groundwater sources. We also work with colleagues in Engineering to develop water filtration devices that are designed to use locally sourced materials.

Clark Lab

The Clark research group focuses on using metals to catalyze reactions that incorporate boron into organic compounds. Boron is now being used in pharmaceuticals that treat cancer and bacterial infections with more applications under development. We aim to simplify access to a variety of boron-containing molecules with a distant goal of biological applications, new types of catalysts, and as intermediates in organic synthesis.


 Daley Lab

The Daley research group is currently focused on the development of catalysts for potential use in stereospecific chemical reaction; specifically enantioselective catalysis. The goal is to prepare catalysts that will favor the synthesis of a desired enantiomeric form of a compound over its other form in high selectivity and efficiency. The target molecules of interest would have possible application as drug compounds, as perfume components, or in other industries where chiral compounds are critical. 

De Haan Lab

Aerosol particles mysteriously turn brown as they float around the atmosphere, and this browning adds to the problem of climate change. The De Haan lab tries to determine the chemistry responsible for this browning, and whether it is possible to prevent it. 


Dwyer Lab

The Dwyer lab research uses NMR spectroscopy and restrained molecular dynamics computations to investigate the stability and structural features of DNA duplexes containing modified or non-natural nucleobases and base pairs. Students learn how to collect, analyze, and quantitate complex multi-dimensional NMR data and how to use these data to produce 3D models of solution structures of DNA duplexes.   

Gillette Lab

The Gillette group is interested in understanding the mechanisms that make it possible to convert between chemical energy (stored in bonds) and electrical energy (useful for real world devices like batteries, fuel cells and sensors). We design and build nanomaterials which can efficiently carry out these electrochemical reactions, and use analytical tools like infrared spectroscopy to better understand how those reactions take place. 


Iovine Lab

Research in the Iovine group spans a wide range of organic polymer chemistry. We utilize modern methods of organic synthesis to create new polymer constructs, to enhance naturally occurring polymers, and to investigate emergent properties of purely synthetic materials.

Kua Lab

The Kua lab is interested in how small molecules self-assemble into larger molecules and more complex mixtures, particularly in the area of prebiotic (origin-of-life) chemistry. We use computational methods to calculate the energies involved in these chemical reactions, and we hope to discover how and why the specific molecules and polymers underpinning extant life could arise from simpler substances.

Provost Lab

The Provost lab investigates:

-How diseased cells hijack normal genes and proteins to survive and advance lung cancer and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

-The structure and regulation of proteins in normal tissues and diseased cells.

Schellinger Lab

The Schellinger group has peptide-based research focus on developing biologically relevant molecules with potential applications in therapeutics, biomaterials and origins of life. In our lab, we focus on the synthesis, characterization and property investigation of a wide variety of compounds from small molecules, peptides to polymers.