Dr. Tim Humphry
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
MWF 10:30-11:30 and W 1:30-3
B.S., Southern Oregon University 1998
Ph.D.,Utah State University 2006
Postdoc, North Carolina State University 2007
Academic Teaching History
In the fall of 2008, I began teaching at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. During the summers of 2008, 2009, and 2010, I spent time in Scotland at the University of St Andrews working in the lab of Dr Derek Woollins, starting my lab’s metallocatalysts project. I taught at Gonzaga until June 2011, when I came to teach at Truman State.
Outside of Work
I play a lot of volleyball wherever I go. I like two-man sand volleyball the best. I also enjoy working on cars (including my own!), and I am a determined amateur woodworker when I can find the time to build things. I go backpacking once a year with my dad, for about a week. That’s always enjoyable, but I am by no means addicted to hiking!
My lab these days (2013 onward) is investigating the synthesis and reactivity of sulfate esters that have been identified as significant air pollutants. This project is being conducted in collaboration with Professor Betsy Stone, an environmental spectroscopist at the University of Iowa. The rationale behind the project is pretty straightforward: in order to know what to do about “air pollution,” it is necessary to know exactly which molecules are in the air, and what affects they have on the environment, or on people who breathe them.
Using highly sensitive mass spectrometry, Dr Stone’s group detects and tentatively identifies tiny samples of the esters. The Humphry group then attempts to make the esters in the lab in order to confirm the suggested structure. Once a specific ester is made, we will conduct kinetic trials to determine how stable the ester is, what conditions are needed to degrade it, and the mechanism of the degradation. Much is known about the class of molecules called “sulfate esters,” but not much is known about any of these specific molecules, so there is a lot to do!
The second area of research in the Humphry lab looks at metallocatalysts for making new molecules or destroying hard-to-break molecules. To do this, students have begun the process of creating an entirely new ligand system to chelate metal centers in order to make new metal complexes. Once that is done, the structure and reactivity of the metal complexes formed using the ligands will be determined. Some pathways towards new ligands have been fruitful, and some have not, but research is research, so the projects are always moving... forward?
The metal complexes project has been quiet recently, as sulfate ester chemistry has taken over the lab.