Associate Professor and Department Chair

Degrees: B.S., Clarion University of Pennsylvania; Ph.D., Duke University

Expertise: Organic Chemistry

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Post Doctoral Associate Brown University, 1990-1992
Visiting Assistant Professor, Kansas State University, 1992-1993
Visiting Assistant Professor, Ohio University, 1993-1994

Dr. Nichols joined the Department in 1994. He received his B.S. in Chemistry at Clarion University of Pennsylvania and Ph.D. in Physical Organic Chemistry from Duke University, working with Edward Arnett. He moved to Brown University as a post-doctoral associate in Paul Williard’s laboratory, followed by serving as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Kansas State and Ohio Universities.

Dr. Nichols regularly teaches Organic Chemistry I and II Lecture and Laboratory, and has taught General and Honors General Chemistry, Advanced Physical Organic Chemistry, Environmental Chemistry and the laboratory portion of Chemistry and Society courses. He has also developed an Advanced Organic Spectroscopy course that was supported by a JCU Course Development Fellowship.

Dr. Nichols has a variety of research interests. His main area of research involves studies into the solution and solid-state structural and thermodynamic properties of alkyllithium, alkali amide, alkoxide, and enolate compounds using heteronuclear NMR, X-ray diffraction, reaction calorimetry and computational methods. These studies have been published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society and the Journal of Chemical Crystallography. Dr. Nichols has also been involved in various environmental water chemistry research and service projects including evaluating the effectiveness of constructed wetlands to remediate urban run-off and bioaugmentation in preventing excessive algal and other plant growth and assisted in the Euclid Creek Watershed volunteer monitoring program. Dr. Nichols is also involved in developing undergraduate laboratory experiments including those involving studying the keto-enol equilibrium of beta-dicarbonyls using NMR, the use of GC/MS and chemometrics to analyze various designer and impostor fragrances (colognes and perfumes) and to study the oxidation of lipids, and the preparation and characterization of a unique paramagnetic copper complex. Several manuscripts describing these experiments are in preparation and one has recently been published in the Journal of Chemical Education. Dr. Nichols has been the PI or co-PI on grants to support research projects totaling more than $330,000, including serving as PI on the Department’s National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates grant in 2000-2002. He has served as a research advisor and mentor to 5 M.S and over 65 undergraduate research students.

Dr. Nichols has been involved in various service activities. He has worked on environmental projects with Ohio EPA, Euclid Creek Watershed Volunteer Water Monitoring Program, City of Shaker Heights, Cuyahoga and Summit County Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Doan Brook Watershed Partnership, and City of South Euclid. He is currently a Level 2 Qualified Data Collector (QDC) for the Ohio EPA Divison of Surface Water. He has served as a judge at various local and state science fairs and mentored over 30 middle and high school students with their science fair projects. Dr. Nichols is the JCU representative on the Executive Board of the Northeastern Ohio Science and Engineering Fair (NEOSEF). He has been involved with the Department’s Chemistry for Kids Summer Camp and helped develop many of the forensic and energy-related activities. He has been involved in a number of hands-on workshops for middle school students at Shaker Heights Middle School and library, the Euclid Creek Water Festival, Boys/Girls Hope, and during National Chemistry Week. He has also served as a co-leader of Spring Break Immersion experiences (with Dr. Catherine Miller) to Mt. Vernon, KY, Bethlehem Farms, WV, and throughout the state of West Virginia to learn about many different types of energy production. Dr. Nichols has also been involved in the local section of the American Chemical Society.

Dr. Nichols has provided reports and commentaries to various government agencies, local cities, newspapers, TV stations, and Popular Science. He has been recognized as an outstanding mentor by Beaumont High School in 2005, was named “Educator of the Year” by the Cuyahoga County Soil and Water Conservation District in 2007, received the Lucrezia Culicchia Award for Teaching Excellence in the JCU College of Arts and Sciences in 2011, and was named a “Memorable Educator” in Ohio Magazine in 2011.

Dr. Nichols is currently the Chair of the Department.