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Physical Sciences Research

Undergraduate Research

Thanks to the sciences department’s new facilities in state-of-the-art Parmer Hall, increasing numbers of Dominican undergraduates are pursuing independent research projects.

The Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Studies (URCI) exists to promote undergraduate research at Dominican. Research funding is available on a competitive basis. URCI’s Expo, held on campus each April, offers an important opportunity for students in all majors to present their independent research. Science students have traditionally been well-represented at Expo.

Dominican students also have a long history of participation in the Associated Colleges of the Chicago Area’s annual symposium.

Recent research topics have included:

  • Yeast and bacterial genetics
  • Behavior genetics
  • Design of anti-tumor drugs
  • Computer simulations of mutation
  • Quantitation of ionic solutes in blood plasma models


The organic chemistry teaching laboratory is equipped with Baush & Lomb Refractometer 6498 AB, a Precision mechanical convection oven, a polarimeter, twenty four microscale laboratory kits, and twelve VWR Lab Companion HP-3000 heating/stir plates. Three additional Mettler Toledo balances AB104-S/FACT with 0.1 mg readability and 110 gram capacity balances are available in the analytical teaching laboratory. The general chemistry teaching laboratories are equipped with twelve Fisher Scientific Isotemp heating/stir plates, six Denver Instrument Ultra Basic 10 pH/mV meters, three Flinn Scientific Ultra-8V table top centrifuges, and twelve computer controlled Vernier LabPro instruments with pH electrode, drop counter, colorimeter, gas pressure regulator, ORP sensor, current probe, and radiation monitoring accessories.

One of the research laboratories contains a high-speed counter-current chromatograph (HSCCC) instrument TBE-300A (Shanghai Tauto Biotech Co., Shanghai, China) with three multilayer coil separation columns connected in series (1.6mmtubing I.D.) 260mL total column volume with a 20mL sample loop. The rotational speed of the apparatus is regulated with a 0–1000 rpm speed controller. A Neslab RTE7 constant temperature-circulating bath (Thermo Electron Corporation) controls the coil temperature within the range of 5–35 ◦C. The HSCCC system is equipped with a ChromTech Series I digital single-piston solvent pump, a JMST Systems VUV-14D fixed wavelength UV–vis detector with preparative flow cell, and an Advantec CHF122SC fraction collector. Chromatographic data is recorded on a PEAK-ABC Chromatography Data Handling System on a dedicated desktop computer.

Research laboratories are fully equipped to perform routine TLC. A UV light box is available for TLC visualization at 254 and 365nm. A Camag TLC Plate Heater III is used to heat TLC plates. All TLC chromatograms are scanned for digital preservation at 150 dpi with a Canon LiDE 25 scanner. Two Buchi Rotovapor-R equipped with a Vacuubrand MZ 2C diaphragm vacuum pump is available for solvent evaporation. The laboratories also contain fume hoods and two metal solvent cabinets. Mass measurements are performed with a Mettler Toledo AB104-S/FACT 0.1 mg readability and 110 gram capacity balance. Fully Automatic Calibration Technology (FACT) automatically initiates the adjustment of the balance with internal weights whenever temperature changes risk affecting the accuracy of the weighing results. In addition two pan balances are available: Acculab V1-1g (120g capacity) and Adam AFP-2100L (2.1 kg capacity). The 585 square foot laboratory space is equipped with a Dell Optiplex 745 desktop computer for student use and data entry. In addition two Dell Latitude 745 laptop computers featuring Intel Core 2 Duo T2300E, 1.67 GHz, 15.4” wide screen, WSXGA video, 1 GB Ram, 60 GB Hard Drive, and 8X DVD+/-RW are available for student use. The PI’s laboratory is also equipped with a special nitric oxide (NO) line used for the synthesis of diazeniumdiolates.

The chemistry division’s 554 square foot instrumentation laboratory is equipped with six Perkin Elmer research grade instruments purchased new no earlier than 2007.

The HPLC system consists of a Perkin Elmer Series 200 binary pump, vacuum degasser, autosampler, Peltier column oven, and adjustable wavelength dual-beam UV/vis detector (190 -360 nm).  An additional HPLC component is a Gilson FC203B fraction collector. The HPLC system is controlled through Totalchrom software and configured with access to network drives and printers.

The second chromatographic instrument is a high-performance Perkin Elmer Clarus 600 gas Chromatograph with Flame Ionization Detector. The system is controlled through a dedicated desktop computer loaded with Totalchrom software configured with access to network drives and printers.

The first spectrometer is a Perkin Elmer Lambda 650 UV/VIS spectrometer equipped for high performance measurements between 190 nm and 900 nm with less than a 0.17 nm resolution. The spectrometer is described as a double beam, double monochromator, ratio recording UV/Vis spectrophotometer with microcomputer electronics. The instrument is controlled through a dedicated desktop computer with UV Winlab software.

The second spectrometer is a Perkin Elmer LS 55 Fluorescence Spectrometer. The monochromator based LS 55 uses a high energy pulsed Xenon source for excitation in order to minimize photo bleaching of samples and provide a long-lived excitation source. The instrument is controlled through a dedicated desktop computer with FL Winlab software.

The third spectrometer is a Perkin Elmer Spectrum 100 FT-IR spectrometer with Universal ATR sampling accessory and spectrum software on a dedicated computer. The Spectrum 100 is a mid-IR Fourier transform spectrometer with useable range of 7800-350 cm-1 with a resolution of 0.5 cm-1 to 64 cm-1 in software selectable increments of 0.1 cm-1. The instrument is controlled through a dedicated desktop computer loaded with Spectrum software.

The fourth instrument is a newly-acquired Perkin Elmer AAnalyst 200 atomic absorption (AA) spectrometer. The system incorporates innovations similar to those offered on expensive research-grade instrumentation. For example, double-beam Echelle optics combine with a solid-state detector to deliver high performance AA flame levels. In addition, fully automated gas controls and integrated safety checks produce a very safe flame AA system. Three SRI 310C Gas Chromatographs with Thermal Conductivity Detectors are also available in the instrumental laboratory.


The Chemistry Division is located on the third floor of Parmer Hall which first opened for the Fall 2007 semester.

Teaching Space:
There are four chemistry teaching laboratories. Rooms 308 & 310 are used for introductory chemistry labs and general chemistry.  Room 331, the organic chemistry laboratory, occupies 1585 square feet and has sufficient hood space for 18 students, chemical dispensing, and chemical disposal. Room 337 is a multipurpose teaching laboratory space used for physical, analytical, and introductory chemistry. Room 335 is an instrumentation lab. All teaching laboratories are equipped with movable tables, stools, white boards, screens, network ports, and ceiling mounted digital projectors. The laboratory spaces also are equipped with fume hoods, sinks, in-house distilled water, forced air, vacuum, and natural gas lines.

Research Space:
The Chemistry division also has three student-faculty research laboratories: rooms 329, 332, and 333. These are multipurpose laboratories with fume hoods, cabinets, sinks, counter space, and computer desks for student researchers.

Dominican University maintains a chemical stockroom, a chemical waste room, and a Chemical Hygiene Office, staffed by a stockroom manager who is responsible for purchasing, storing and safely disposing of all chemicals and gases used in the laboratory. The 1040 square foot chemical and glassware storage stockroom is equipped with 400 cubic feet of shelf space, eight 45 gallon Securall vented safety storage cabinets, and a Barnstead 3560 twenty cubic foot corrosion-resistant refrigerator designed to store caustic materials and acids with an enameled steel interior and exterior with stainless steel door liner. The laboratories at DU are routinely monitored for safety compliance by the Dominican University chemical safety officer and the River Forest Fire Department. Each laboratory has developed a chemical hygiene plan, emergency shower and eyewash facilities are available in case of need.

Additional support equipment on the third floor of Parmer Hall are a Scotsman SCE275 Under Counter compact Cuber with Storage, a Labconco Flaskscrubber  glassware washer, and a Millipore Milli-Q water purifier.