Author Archive

Davita Watkins

Posted on: July 14th, 2014 by erabadie

Davita Watkins, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Associate Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry

Office: 480 Coulter Hall
662-915-5337 |


B.S., Vanderbilt University, 2006
Ph.D., University of Memphis, 2012
Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Florida, 2012-2014
Assistant Professor, University of Mississippi, 2014-2020
Associate Professor, University of Mississippi, 2020-present

Oak Ridge Associated Universities Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award

Organic and Materials Chemistry, Supramolecular Chemistry, Organic Electronics, Noncovalent Interactions, Semiconductors, Biomaterials, Optical Electronic Behavior, Smart Materials, Conjugated Nanostructures

The Watkins Research Laboratory develops novel functional materials with tunable properties through molecular self-assembly. We design, synthesize, and study organic molecules that possess unique structural and functional properties. Our fundamental goals are the following: (1) identify unique building blocks for functional materials; (2) establish synthetic protocols for those building blocks; and (3) examine the behavior of the building blocks on a molecular and macromolecular level. The well-defined, programmable nanostructured materials produced in our laboratory are designed to be used in a variety of applications which range from therapeutics to electronic devices. In turn, our research allows us to use tools from all areas of science including analytical, computational, and materials chemistry.

Kerri Scott Receives National Outstanding Advising Award

Posted on: May 7th, 2014 by erabadie
Kerri Scott, Associate Director of Forensic Chemistry & Instructional Assistant Professor

Kerri Scott, Associate Director of Forensic Chemistry & Instructional Assistant Professor

The National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) has selected Kerri Scott, associate director of forensic chemistry and instructional assistant professor of chemistry, as a 2014 NACADA Outstanding Advising Award-Faculty Academic Advising Winner.

The award is given in recognition of her “demonstrated abilities as an advisor in nationwide competition….with the outstanding advising of students.”

Dr. Scott will receive a Certificate of Merit at an awards ceremony and reception during the NACADA annual conference held in Minneapolis, Minnesota on October 8, 2014.

Jonah W. Jurss

Posted on: May 7th, 2014 by erabadie

Associate Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry

Jonah W. Jurss

Jonah W. Jurss, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

379 Coulter Hall

B. S. Chemistry with Honors
North Carolina State University, 2005
Ph.D. Inorganic Chemistry
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2011
Advisors: Profs. Thomas J. Meyer and Joseph L. Templeton
Postdoctoral Research Associate
University of California, Berkeley, 2011—2014
Advisor: Prof. Christopher J. Chang
Assistant Professor
University of Mississippi, 2014—2020
Associate Professor
University of Mississippi, 2020—present


National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award
Michael Edmonds New Scholar Award

Solar energy conversion, artificial photosynthesis (H2O oxidation, CO2 reduction), electrochemical and light-driven catalysis, surface attachment, mechanistic studies


The Jurss Laboratory is an interdisciplinary research team that focuses on developing and understanding new earth-abundant catalysts for converting renewable energy (sunlight or clean electricity) into useful chemical fuels and for the selective functionalization of hydrocarbons to streamline organic synthesis. We are currently recruiting motivated graduate students and undergraduates to join our lab! If you are interested in our research, please contact Dr. Jurss by email. More information can also be found on our group’s website.


Molecular Catalysts for Renewable Fuels: Electrochemical and Light-Driven Carbon Dioxide Reduction

Economic growth and an increasing global population continue to drive worldwide energy consumption to new heights. This energy is largely sourced from fossil fuels, whose combustion releases greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change and other environmental concerns. Carbon dioxide is the chief component of this waste stream and a readily accessible C1 building block for generating value-added products. In this context, the catalytic conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O) into chemical fuels, such as methane, using solar energy or renewable electricity is an attractive strategy. By recycling CO2 back into renewable fuels or commodity chemicals, net carbon emissions can be reduced and an underutilized resource can be tapped into.

To effectively utilize CO2, better catalysts are needed to mediate its multielectron conversion. However, CO2 is relatively inert and very negative voltages or strong chemical reductants are common for its conversion. An additional challenge lies in achieving this reaction in water where aqueous protons are utilized selectively for CO2 reduction rather than hydrogen generation. Our strategy for CO2-to-fuel conversion involves the rational design of homogeneous catalysts with redox-active and/or dinucleating ligands, which enable access to multiple reducing equivalents at modest potentials and cooperative modes of CO2 activation, respectively. Second-coordination sphere functionality will also be incorporated to stabilize intermediates and enhance reactivity.

Water Oxidation and Hydrocarbon Functionalization with Robust Metal-Oxo Catalysts

High-valent metal-oxo species are potent oxidants in chemistry and biology for a variety of reactions, including the oxidation of water and hydrocarbons. Water oxidation is the oxidative half reaction in nearly all schemes for artificial photosynthesis. The decomposition of H2O to O2 supplies the protons and electrons needed in reductive half reactions that convert and store solar energy in the form of chemical bonds. Belying the structural simplicity of the starting material and product, water oxidation is a demanding multi-electron/multi-proton reaction. A lack of efficient and earth-abundant catalysts for water oxidation has been a bottleneck to solar fuels.

Likewise, hydrocarbon oxidation is an important class of reactions with the potential to streamline organic synthesis. Raw chemical feedstocks, such as petroleum and natural gas, are primary sources of inexpensive hydrocarbons for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. However, they have thermodynamically stable, kinetically inert C−H bonds that are not often viewed as chemical handles for further manipulation. A challenge lies in converting these readily available feedstocks into versatile organic building blocks in a mild and atom economical manner. Circuitous synthetic routes engrossed in the maintenance and interconversion of functional groups throughout a reaction sequence can be avoided with catalysts capable of selective C−H bond functionalization.

Despite the remarkable progress that has been made to demonstrate the scope of chemistry available to synthetic metal-oxo catalysts, significant improvements in catalyst activity, selectivity, and stability are needed to realize the full potential of these systems. To overcome these limitations, we aim to develop new mononuclear and dinuclear metal-oxo catalysts with oxidatively-rugged ligands that enforce more reactive structures.

Bioinspired Chemistry on Surfaces

Nature tightly regulates the environment around metalloenzyme active sites to achieve catalysis with high efficiency and selectivity. This environment, comprised of specific noncovalent interactions such as hydrogen bonding, is referred to as the second-coordination sphere and plays a key role in orchestrating reactivity at the first-coordination sphere. We seek to mimic this concept on electrode surfaces to develop scalable catalytic systems to manage proton inventories, stabilize intermediates, and direct reaction pathways.



Talukdar, K.;# Sinha Roy, S.;# Amatya, E.; Sleeper, E. A.; Le Magueres, P.; Jurss, J. W. Enhanced Electrochemical CO2 Reduction by a Series of Molecular Rhenium Catalysts Decorated with Second-Sphere Hydrogen-bond Donors. Inorg. Chem. 202059, 6087-6099. (# co-first authors)

Rodrigues, R. R.; Lee, J. M.; Taylor, N. S.; Cheema, H.; Chen, L.; Fortenberry, R. C.; Delcamp, J. H.; Jurss, J. W. Copper-Based Redox Shuttles Supported by Preorganized Tetradentate Ligands for Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells. Dalton Trans. 202049, 343-355.

Su, X.; McCardle, K. M.; Chen, L.; Panetier, J. A.; Jurss, J. W. Robust and Selective Cobalt Catalysts Bearing Redox-Active Bipyridyl-NHC Frameworks for Electrochemical CO2 Reduction in Aqueous Solutions. ACS Catal. 20199, 7398-7408.

Talukdar, K.; Issa, A.; Jurss, J. W. Synthesis of a Redox-Active NNP-type Pincer Ligand and its Application to Electrocatalytic CO2 Reduction with First-Row Transition Metal Complexes. Front. Chem. 20197, 330.

Shirley, H.; Su, X.; Sanjanwala, H.; Talukdar, K.; Jurss, J. W.; Delcamp, J. H. Durable Solar Powered Systems with Ni-Catalysts for Conversion of CO2 or CO to CH4. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2019141, 6617-6622.

Liyanage, N. P.; Yang, W.; Guertin, S.; Sinha Roy, S.; Carpenter, C. A.; Adams, R. E.; Schmehl, R. H.; Delcamp, J. H.; Jurss, J. W. Photochemical CO2 Reduction with Mononuclear and Dinuclear Rhenium Catalysts Bearing a Pendant Anthracene Chromophore. Chem. Commun. 201955, 993-996.

Chen, L.; Su, X.; Jurss, J. W. Selective Alkane C-H Bond Oxidation Catalyzed by a Non-heme Iron Complex Featuring a Robust Tetradentate Ligand. Organometallics 201837, 4535-4539.

Chen, L.; Dulaney, H. A.; Wilkins, B. O.; Farmer, S.; Zhang, Y.; Fronczek, F. R.; Jurss, J. W. High-Spin Enforcement in First-row Metal Complexes of a Constrained Polyaromatic Ligand: Synthesis, Structure, and Properties. New J. Chem. 201842, 18667-18677.

Yang, W.;# Sinha Roy, S.;# Pitts, W. C.; Nelson, R.; Fronczek, F. R.; Jurss, J. W. Electrocatalytic CO2 Reduction with cis and trans Conformers of a Rigid Dinuclear Rhenium Complex: Comparing the Monometallic and Cooperative Bimetallic Pathways. Inorg. Chem. 201857, 9564-9575. (# co-first authors)

Su, X.; McCardle, K. M.; Panetier, J. A.; Jurss, J. W. Electrocatalytic CO2 Reduction with Nickel Complexes Supported by Tunable Bipyridyl-N-Heterocyclic Carbene Donors: Understanding Redox-Active Macrocycles. Chem. Commun. 201854, 3351-3354.

Chen, L.; Khadivi, A.; Singh, M.; Jurss, J. W. Synthesis of a Pentadentate, Polypyrazine Ligand and its Application in Cobalt-Catalyzed Hydrogen Production. Inorg. Chem. Front. 20174, 1649-1653.













Forensic Chemistry Honored as Leading National Program

Posted on: May 7th, 2014 by erabadie praises UM program for internship opportunities and experience

Forensic Chemistry graphicThe University of Mississippi degree program in forensic chemistry has been named one of the nation’s finest by ForensicsEd, the blog of

UM is among 13 top programs, including two other SEC institutions, that made the elite list. Criteria used in the rankings included notoriety among professionals and peers, as measured by comprehensive surveys done by U.S. News and World Report, cost and opportunities for experience.

UM’s forensic chemistry program is the only one in Mississippi. It also is among only three forensic chemistry programs in the South and six nationally that are accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission, which is administered through the American Academy of Forensic Science.

“One of the key factors in this list was whether or not there were internship opportunities, hands-on labs that students would work in and other experiential qualifications,” the report states. “Although the University of Mississippi only offers a B.S. in forensic chemistry, a key difference is that all students of the program are enrolled in a summer internship with a local criminal laboratory.”

Because of this hands-on experience, more than 70 percent of graduates find employment right away, many of them working in local and federal crime labs.

Dr. Murrell Godfrey |  Photo by Kevin

Dr. Murrell Godfrey | Photo by Kevin Bain/Communications

“It is an honor that the University of Mississippi’s Bachelor of Science in Forensic Chemistry is recognized in the top 13 of forensic chemistry programs by ForensicsEd,” said Murrell Godfrey, UM associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry and director of  forensic chemistry. “Our program contains a demanding science-based curriculum that prepares our graduates for versatile careers in forensics laboratories, including the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Agency.”

Perhaps spurred by popular TV shows such as “CSI” and “NCIS,” many curious and observant problem-solvers are attracted to forensic chemistry, as it involves the analysis of physical crime evidence and allows students to deal directly with the very puzzle pieces that come together to solve cases. Students learn to use chemical and biochemical processes to determine culpability of potential crime suspects.

Other institutions on the list include the University at Albany-SUNY, the University of Florida, Pennsylvania State University, Texas A&M University, Michigan State University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Towson University, George Washington University, Sam Houston State University, Lake Superior State University, St. Edward’s University and Loyola University.

For more information, visit

Biochemistry Major Logan Wilson Recipient of Prestigious Scholarship

Posted on: March 26th, 2014 by erabadie
Logan Wilson

Logan Wilson

In the final year of high school, students work hard to achieve 4.0 GPAs, high test scores and maintain exemplary leadership and service track records in the hopes colleges will stuff their mailboxes with scholarship offers. Likewise, universities are looking to keep their scholarship packages competitive to assure they can recruit high-potential students, especially from within the home state. The key for both are discerning philanthropists who invest their dollars in education.

While UM’s high profile Barksdale Honors College enticed Logan Wilson to choose UM, it was the Everett-Williams Memorial Scholarship that enabled him to achieve his dream of attending college without accumulating today’s all too common student loan debt, which averages $28,000 for 2013 U.S. college graduates.

Thanks to generous donors like the late Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Everett of Meridian, Miss., the biochemistry major  is attending his top choice university, the University of Mississippi.

The Everett-Williams Memorial Scholarship
In 2008, UM School of Law alumnus and 1848 Society member William H. McMullen of Charlotte, N.C. coordinated the transfer of the Everett-Williams Memorial Scholarship fund to the University of Mississippi Foundation.

The scholarship fund was initiated in the 1980s with an initial gift of $90,000 from McMullen’s uncle, Thomas Everett, on the condition that the endowment had to reach $1 million before any distribution began. Slowed but undeterred by the economic recession, the operations committee of the Everett-Williams Memorial Scholarship announced its first awards almost three decades after Everett’s first contribution, creating two four-year scholarships that total $13,000 annually: one for the Sally McDonnell-Barksdale Honors College (SMBHC), the other for Ole Miss First (OMF), a scholarship program that rewards scholastic achievement and leadership.

“Uncle Tom was a product of the depression era,” said McMullen. “His primary interest was the preservation of the corpus of money. He followed the stock market and was dedicated to being a good financial steward. He was also a steward of our family, always caring for others in times of illness or hardship.”

One of only two deserving recipients chosen in 2012 incoming SMBHC freshmen Logan Wilson, who has since met McMullen and his nephew, Phillip Allen and his wife, Toni, both UM alumni. Wilson enjoyed meeting McMullen and the Allens, learning about the family that helped provide this opportunity.

“It was an honor to meet them,” said Wilson. “I was glad to have the opportunity to shake their hands, hear the history of their family and how they came to dedicate this scholarship which has helped me and will continue to help others.” McMullen was eager to help his uncle navigate leaving this legacy, as McMullen also came to UM to focus on studies, not to worry about how to pay his tuition. “I was lucky to be able to complete law school in 1969 by just taking out a few manageable loans and working on the law journal for a small stipend. Back in those days the cost of law school was not what it is now. For today’s students, to borrow to go to school can be in the six-digit figures.”

Logan Wilson: A Force from Hattiesburg Carves his Niche at UM
Wilson, the recipient of the Everett-Williams Memorial SMBHC Scholarship, is proud to tell you that he is the product of North Forrest High School and a single-parent household. His mother instilled the importance of education in him from a very early age. As a teacher, she knew her son had potential, something she and his grandmother frequently reminded him, encouraging him to work hard and challenge himself. Throughout high school, Logan focused on academics and sports, excelling in both.

“I actually signed a junior college football scholarship, but my football coach pulled me aside and said, ‘Logan, you’re way too smart for that. With a mind like yours, you need to do something that uses your knowledge – football will always be there,'” said Wilson. “Plus, my grandmother taught me to listen to myself first and foremost, and not feel pressured to do what others want of me. Those two things and the influence of a lot of others helped me choose this path, which I feel really confident about.”

Wilson graduated second in his high school class in 2012 and was chosen for the NFHS’s Hall of Fame. He was class president all four years and president of the Student Council. He won awards in English, anatomy and physiology, and trigonometry/pre-calculus. Chosen as a Mississippi Rural Medical Scholar, he participated in a summer program where he took biology and pre-calculus at Mississippi State University while also shadowing doctors and learning the ropes of applying to medical school and choosing a specialty. The experience solidified Wilson’s dream to practice medicine, and he looked forward to starting down that path as an undergraduate.

“I didn’t get as many scholarship offers as I thought I might given what people had told me to expect with my credentials and grades,” said Wilson. “And the offers I did get weren’t schools I was really excited about. After being accepted to the Honors College, Ole Miss was easily my first choice – but I needed more financial assistance to make it happen. I was actually set to attend a different school because of their scholarship package, even though I had visited and didn’t feel it was the right fit for me. When I got the call offering the Everett-Williams scholarship here at UM, it was like a light came on – I knew the right things were finally taking shape.”

Today, Wilson is a sophomore biochemistry major who is making his own destiny here at UM. The summer between his freshman and sophomore years, he convinced Dr. Thomas Baylis at Premier Orthopedics and Sports in Hattiesburg to allow him to create a shadowing apprenticeship at the practice. “I shadowed him one day, and then I asked if we could make it a more formal thing. So they allowed me to come in three days a week. He gave me books to read, showed me how to read x-rays and gave me a full-scale experience to really see what the work was like. I loved it.”

When asked how his scholarship attributed to that experience, Wilson was quick to answer. “Having this scholarship allows me to strictly focus on my studies and my career path. I don’t have to worry about having to pay for college in a class-to-class fashion, semester to semester, and I know a lot of people that do. Not having that burden really does a lot for me and I don’t take it for granted.”


WREG-3 TV NEWS: Charles Hussey Discusses 9-Volt Batteries

Posted on: March 26th, 2014 by erabadie
Dr. Hussey

Dr. Hussey

Hidden Fire Hazards In Your Home

“If they are mishandled, they can be a problem,” said Dr. Charles Hussey, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “The contents inside forms gases, the cases ruptures, and you end up with a fire.”

He said the best way you can prevent your batteries from sparking: keep the safety cap on or put some duct tape on the top, before you store it or throw it away.

Read full story and watch the video >>

Research Opportunities

Posted on: November 26th, 2013 by erabadie

An exciting feature of the B.S. degree program in chemistry is involvement in a full year of original research. Students normally fulfill this requirement during their senior year, after they have completed courses in organic, inorganic, physical, and analytical chemistry and basic courses in physics and mathematics. Research opportunities are also available for B.A. majors andMcDonnell-Barksdale Honors College students, and multi-year projects are possible. Continuing research activities in the department offer opportunities for investigation in a large variety of projects, encompassing every area of chemistry and biochemistry and extending into interdisciplinary areas.

Research Course Policies
1. CHEM251 and CHEM 351 can be taken by any student (B.A. or B.S.) who wishes to receive graded credit for doing research with a faculty member in the Department. A student will receive a grade for this course at the end of each semester of enrollment. This grade will reflect the student’s level of participation, effort, and progress. No “I?grade will be issued for this course. Individual professors maintain the class roll for those students who are doing research in their laboratories.May be repeated for credit up to maximum of 9 hours.

2. CHEM 463 is also open to students who wish to receive graded credit for doing research with a faculty member, but a student taking this course must prepare a written paper (or Honors College thesis) and present an oral or poster presentation. The department chair will maintain the class roll for all students enrolled in CHEM 463. The faculty member supervising the student’s research recommends a grade, but the grade will not be posted until the final written report has been received and approved.

3. CHEM 463 is a required course for both the B.S. chemistry and forensic chemistry degrees. However, the way in which this course is used in these two programs is different:

B.S. chemistry degree program: B.S. chemistry students must complete a minimum of two semesters of CHEM 463 (2,2). Students receive the “I?grade for the first semester and a grade for both semesters at the end of the second semester of enrollment. The “I?grade cannot be extended beyond this one semester period.
B.S. forensic chemistry degree program: A minimum of one semester of CHEM 463 (2) is required for this degree program. A student may request the “I?grade for this course, but all course requirements must be completed within 25 days of the beginning of the next regular semester following the original semester of enrollment, or this “I?grade will automatically change to an “F?

4. The B.A. chemistry and biochemistry degree programs do not have a research requirement. However, students seeking these degrees who do become engaged in research would normally take CHEM 351, but are not precluded from taking CHEM 463. However, B.A. students enrolled in CHEM 463 are subject to the requirements listed above in #2. In selected cases, CHEM 463 may be substituted for CHEM 472.

5. Both CHEM 351 and CHEM 463 may be taken up to a maximum of 6 hours.

John Wiginton

Posted on: November 19th, 2013 by erabadie
John Wiginton, Instructional Assistant Professor & Director of Undergraduate Laboratories

John Wiginton, Instructional Associate Professor & Coordinator of Undergraduate Laboratories

Instructional Professor & Coordinator of Undergraduate Laboratories

223A Coulter Hall
662-915-1553  |

Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry Education, University of Mississippi, 2003
Doctor of Arts in Chemistry, University of Mississippi, 2008

Mississippi Science Teachers’ Association Outstanding College Science Teacher of the Year

Research centers around the development of new course methods and materials for general chemistry teaching laboratories. This requires directly managing the logistics of the freshman and sophomore chemistry laboratories (~2500 students/yr), and the direction, training, and supervision of about 25 graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants per year. Maintains an inventory of chemicals, monitors and removes chemical waste from the teaching laboratories, and maintains and services the instruments used in the labs. Active at the national level in the American Chemical Society (Committee on Chemistry and Public Relations) and the National Science Teachers Association (Science Advisory Board and the Committee on College Science Teaching), and at the state level as a member of the Mississippi Science Teachers Association Board of Directors.

Co-edited custom lab manuals for majors General Chemistry (CHEM 115 and 116), published by Prentice Hall (2004 through present, 4 editions): ISBN: 0-536-82280-8 (Chem 115), ISBN: 0-536-85848-9 (Chem 116)

Custom textbook for CHEM 201 and 202, published by McGraw-Hill (2004), ISBN: 0-390-42596-6

Maurice Eftink

Posted on: November 19th, 2013 by erabadie
Maurice Eftink, Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry

Maurice Eftink, Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry

Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Associate Provost

137 Lyceum
662-915-5974  |

B.S., University of Missouri, 1973
Ph.D., University of Missouri, 1976
Research Associate, University of Arizona, 1976-1978

Thermodynamics of protein unfolding and protein-ligand interactions: time-resolved fluorescence studies with proteins; synthesis of tryptophan analogs; effect of high pressure on proteins

Safo Aboaku

Posted on: November 19th, 2013 by erabadie
Safo Aboaku, Instructional Assistant Professor

Safo Aboaku, Instructional Associate Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry

Instructional Associate Professor and Associate Coordinator of Undergraduate Laboratories

223B Coulter Hall
662-915-4038  |

B.S. Chemistry, K.N.U.S.T Kumasi-Ghana, 2000
M.S. Chemistry, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2006
Ph.D. Chemistry, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2008

American Chemical Society Local Section Excellence in Teaching and Classroom Leadership Award

Effective Chemistry Instruction, Magnetostructural Studies of Organic Magnets, Hydrogen Bonding

Safo Aboaku, Armando Paduan-Filho, Valdir Bindilatti, Nei Fernandes Oliveira, Jr., John A. Schlueter, Paul M. Lahti, “Aminophenylnitronylnitroxides: Highly Networked Hydrogen-Bond Assembly in Organic Radical Materials” Chem. Mater. 23, 4844-4856 (2011)

Hidenori Murata, Safo Aboaku, Paul M. Lahti, “Molecular recognition in a heteromolecular radical pair system with complementary multipoint hydrogen- bonding” Chem. Comm. 29, 3441-3443 (2008).

Hidenori Murata, Joel T. Mague, Safo Aboaku, Naoki Yoshioka, Paul M. Lahti, “An Organic Radical Solid Solution with Strong Ferromagnetic Exchange” Chem. Mater. 19, 4111-4113 (2007).

Safo Aboaku, Paul M. Lahti, “Crystallography and Magnetism of 2-Amido-4,4,5,5- dihydro-1H-imidazole-3-oxide-1-oxyls” Polyhedron 26, 1959-1964 (2007)