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Christopher Bender

PhD

Christopher Bender

Assistant Professor
Physical/Analytical Chemistry

Backround

  • College of William & Mary
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Employment History

  • Amherst College
  • Michigan State University
  • Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Courses Taught

  • CHEM 3141 – Methods of Chemical Research
  • CHEM 4241 – Biomimetic Chemistry*
  • CHEM 3721 – Quantitative Analysis
  • CHEM 4242 – Environmental Chemistry*
  • CHEM 3722 – Instrumental Analysis

*Electives courses offered subject to adequate enrollment

Research Description

I am interested in the mechanisms of chemical reactions associated with energy transduction in biology and the relationship between molecular structure and chemical behavior. At the cellular level, energy transduction is associated with membrane-bound protein assemblies that are highly organized, both internally and with respect to each other. Ongoing projects address the origin of molecular order through the so-called template effect, in which an organizing agent such as a transition metal ion organizes small organic molecules prior to some reaction. The small organic molecule types to which one is introduced in introductory Organic Chemistry are used as building-blocks in benchtop reactors that are configured so as to mimic geochemical systems.

The organic molecules behave as leachants, releasing metal ions from rocky strata, which then coordinate the organic molecules prior to further reactions and chemical evolution of the system. Physical methods of analysis such as various types of spectroscopy are used to correlate the structure of molecules with their reaction behavior. In a practical sense, these research efforts are being used to discover principles of molecular design for synthetic techniques such as ‘click chemistry’, as well as using the molecular landscape for optimizing reaction trajectories.