Chemistry faculty members are committed to pursuing scholarly research, and their work has been supported by grants from government agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health and private foundations such as Research Corporation, the Petroleum Research Fund of the American Chemical Society, and the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. Faculty members are also dedicated teachers who work hard at instilling their own love of the discipline into their students.

Robin Kinnel, PhD, Professor of Chemistry Emeritus and Lecturer in Environmental Studies

Areas of Expertise: isolation and structure elucidation of natural products and natural products chemistry; NMR spectroscopy; separations technology; liquid chromatography/ESI mass spectrometry; organic synthesis, peptide and peptidomimetic chemistry; medium ring chemistry; chemical defense and antimicrobial compounds.
Following an AB in Chemistry from Harvard and a Ph.D. from MIT, Kinnel pursued post-doctoral work for two years at Stanford before coming to Hamilton in 1966. More >>

An organic chemist, he originally pursued research in physical organic chemistry before being captivated by the chemistry of natural products, particularly from the marine environment. He was named the first associate dean of the college in 1972 and shortly thereafter also became the premedical advisor. He returned to full-time teaching and research in 1977 from his deanship, but continued advising premedical students until 1982. His fascination with the marine environment led to several sabbaticals and summers at the University of Hawaii over the next 20 years and led to a number of publications about naturally occurring compounds with unusual structures and promising biological activity. Most recently he has studied the structures of small peptides in solution, carrying out syntheses of compounds isolated from cyanobacteria, and attempting to synthesize peptidomimetics useful against breast cancer.

Karen Brewer, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry

Areas of Expertise: synthesis and luminescence properties of rare earth (lanthanide) sol-gel derived materials.
Karen Brewer earned a Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She came to Hamilton College in 1989 and teaches undergraduate courses in advanced and intermediate inorganic chemistry and general chemistry. More >>

Brewer's main research project is in collaboration with Ann Silversmith (Hamilton, physics) and Professor Dan Boye (Davidson College, physics). In Brewer's chemistry lab, students create glass that contains rare earth ions that have interesting spectroscopic properties. The glass is then probed in the laser spectroscopy labs in physics. Her research has been funded by the Research Corporation and the Petroleum Research Fund of the American Chemical Society.

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Myriam Cotten, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry

Areas of Expertise: use and development of biophysical and biochemical techniques such as magnetic resonance to study the structure, function, and mode of action of membrane-interacting peptides and proteins. Current research focuses on antimicrobial peptides.
Myriam Cotten holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Université Pierre et Marie Curie, a master’s degree in chemical engineering from Ecole Supérieure de Chimie Organique et Minérale in Paris and earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from Florida State University. More >>

Cotten’s research interests include the use and development of biophysical and biochemical techniques such as magnetic resonance to study the structure, function, and mode of action of membrane-interacting peptides and proteins. Her current research focuses on antimicrobial peptides. Cotten's long-term goal is to identify common principles that will facilitate the design of pharmaceuticals with enhanced antibacterial activity and low toxicity for mammalian cells.

Her research has been supported by the Dreyfus Foundation, National Science Foundation, and Research Corporation (RC), and she is a recipient of a RC Brian Andreen Award and an NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award.

Daniel Griffith '07, Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry


Griffith graduated from Hamilton in 2007 and completed his Ph.D. at Columbia University in 2013 in organic chemistry, where he studied the synthesis of complex natural products. This was followed by postdoctoral work at the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied transition metal-catalyzed reactions of olefins.  In addition to teaching organic chemistry at Hamilton, Griffith will conduct research in the development of new and useful chemical reactions that would enable new synthetic directions in the discovery of drugs. As a Hamilton student, Griffith was named a Goldwater scholar in 2006 and was awarded a Fulbright fellowship in 2007 to conduct chemistry research in Germany. In graduate school, he was awarded an NDSEG fellowship by the Department of Defense and his teaching skills were recognized with the Jack Miller Teaching Award.

Max Majireck, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Areas of Expertise: organic chemistry, natural products, medicinal chemistry and chemical biology.
Max Majireck completed his postdoctoral research in chemical biology at Harvard University and the Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard designing small molecules to study disease biology, particularly cancer. More >>

During this research, Majireck spent the majority of his efforts developing molecular tools to target PRC2, an essential chromatin modifying protein complex that is frequently misregulated or mutated in various cancers, and was selected for a fellowship from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

At Penn State, Majireck earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry while focusing on the total synthesis of complex natural products and development of new methodologies for organic synthesis. At Hamilton, he will combine his passion for teaching, mentoring, and research by designing a new course to highlight the role of organic synthesis in human health and a research program investigating new chemical transformations to produce tool compounds for studying neurological disorders.

Ian Rosenstein, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry

Areas of Expertise: organic chemistry, free radical reactions, reaction stereochemistry, and development of new synthetic methodology.
Rosenstein, who holds a Ph.D from Duke University, focuses on free radicals. His goal is to develop a model that will allow chemists to carry out free radical reactions to form a preponderance of one stereoisomeric product. More >>

With the methodology he is currently creating, Rosenstein would be able to efficiently produce the single stereoisomer that is effective in pharmaceutical medications. Rosenstein has received grants from several agencies such as the American Chemical Society/ Petroleum Research Fund and the National Science Foundation. Rosenstein has published articles in Tetrahedron Letters, Synthetic Communications, and the Journal of Chemical Education. He is a member of the American Chemical Society, Phi Lambda Upsilon, the Council on Undergraduate Research, and Sigma Xi.

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Adam Van Wynsberghe, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Areas of Expertise: physical chemistry, biophysical chemistry and theoretical chemistry.
Adam W. Van Wynsberghe joined Hamilton in 2009 after two years at the University of California-San Diego where he was a NIH NRSA postdoctoral fellow. More >>

He received a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Ohio Wesleyan University in 2001 and was a NSF pre-doctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he completed his Ph.D. in biophysics in 2007. 

Van Wynsberghe's research interests center around the use of theoretical and computational techniques to study biophysical problems from both basic and applied perspectives. Currently, he is investigating the nature of protein-protein and protein-ligand interactions, the origins and roles of conformational changes and dynamics in biomolecular systems, and the dynamical aspects of enzyme catalysis.

More about Adam Van Wynsberghe >>

Joseph West, Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Before joining the faculty at Hamilton West was visiting assistant professor of physical chemistry at Wagner College in New York City. More >>

During his time at Wagner, he studied hydrolyses of biologically relevant palladium complexes as well as the formation of cyclodiphosphazanes (P,N ring systems) via computational analysis. West earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of North Dakota in August, 2012, experimentally studying the formation and dissociation mechanisms of Sn–P bonds and Ge–P bonds. He received his B.S in chemistry from Southwestern Oklahoma State University while studying protein-substrate binding affinities via biofluorescence assays. 

Chuck Borton, Laboratory Supervisor in Chemistry


Shawna O'Neil, Director of Laboratories


Sue Senior, Lecturer and Laboratory Supervisor