Ryan Fortenberry

Assistant Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry

Ryan Fortenberry

Ryan Fortenberry, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

280 Coulter Hall


B. S. Mathematics with Honors
Mississippi College, 2006

M. S. Communication
Mississippi College, 2007

Ph.D. Physical Chemistry
Virginia Tech, 2012
Advisor: Prof. T. Daniel Crawford

Postdoctoral Research Associate
NASA Ames Research Center, Mountain View, CA, 2012—2013
Advisor: Dr. Timothy J. Lee

Assistant Professor

Georgia Southern University, 2013—2018

Assistant Professor
University of Mississippi, 2018—present

Astrochemistry; Theoretical Chemistry; Electronic, Vibrational, and Rotational Spectroscopy; Radicals; Anions; Noble Gas Molecules; Sulfur Species; Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons; Premineral Molecules; & Science Communication.


The Computational Astrochemistry Group (Fortenberry Lab) at Ole Miss leverages the use of computational techniques for the exploration of the structure and detectable spectra for novel molecular species in the interstellar medium (ISM), planetary atmospheres, and proto-planetary disks. Additionally, we work in utilizing the tenets of journalism, public relations, graphic design, and storytelling for the promotion of science both within the research community and with non-experts alike.

Astrochemically, our group works to provide the chemical rationale and spectroscopic data for the detection of new molecules in space. The universe is a vast place, and the physical conditions of the myriad astrophysical environments are varied from those of the Earth. Hence, terrestrial chemistry is but a small subset of all possible chemical conditions where novel products can be generated with unknown properties. Additionally, the only way to detect such molecules is through remote sensing meaning that spectroscopic data for such molecules must be on hand in order to compare with observational data. However, experimental studies of molecular species in these environments can be exceptionally difficult. Computation does not suffer from these same constraints. Consequently, theoretical chemistry is uniquely suited to answer questions about the nature of molecules in space.


Complete Science Communication: A Guide to Connecting with Scientists, Journalists and the Public.  R. C. Fortenberry; Royal Society of Chemistry: London, 2018.


12) “Hydrogen Sulfide as a Scavenger of Sulfur Atomic Cation.”  R. C. Fortenberry, T. Trabelsi, and J. S. Francisco. J. Phys. Chem. A, 2018, 122(4983-4987), DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpca.8b02923.

11) “Gas-Phase Spectra of MgO Molecules: A Possible Connection from Gas-Phase Molecules to Planet Formation.”  K. A. Kloska and R. C. Fortenberry.  MNRAS, 2018, 474(2055-2063), DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stx2912.

10) “A High Resolution Photoelectron Imaging and Theoretical Study of CP‾ and C2P‾.”  J. Czekner, L. F. Cheung, E. L. Johnson, R. C. Fortenberry, and Lai-Sheng Wang.  J. Chem. Phys., 2018, 148(044301), DOI: 10.1063/1.5008570.

9)   “Ultrafast 25 fs Relaxation in Highly Excited States of Methyl Azide Mediated by Strong Non-Adiabatic Coupling.”  W. K. Peters, D. E. Couch, B. Mignolet, X. Shi, Q. L. Nguyen, R. C. Fortenberry, H. B. Schlegel, F. Remacle, H. C. Kapteyn, M. M. Murnane, Wen Li.  PNAS Plus, 2017, 114(E11072–E11081), DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1712566114.

8)   “Communication: The Failure of Correlation to Describe Out-of-Plane Carbon=Carbon Bending.”  R. C. Fortenberry, T. J. Lee, and J. P. Layfield. J. Chem. Phys., 2017, 147(221101), DOI: 10.1063/1.5013026.

7)   “The Interstellar Formation and Spectra of the Noble Gas, Proton-Bound HeHHe+, HeHNe+, & HeHAr+ Complexes.”  C. J. Stephan and R. C. Fortenberry.  MNRAS, 2017, 469(339-346), DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stx937.

6)   “Quantum Astrochemical Spectroscopy.”  R. C. Fortenberry. Int. J. Quant. Chem., 2017, 117(81-91), DOI: 10.1002/qua.25180.  Cover Article.

5)   “Excited State Trends in Bidirectionally Expanded Closed-Shell PAH and PANH Anions.”  R. C. Fortenberry, M. M. Moore, and T. J. Lee.  J. Phys. Chem. A, 2016, 120(7327–7334), DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpca.6b06654.

4)   “Electronic and Rovibrational Quantum Chemical Analysis of C3P: The Next Interstellar Anion?”  R. C. Fortenberry and J. A. Lukemire.  MNRAS, 2015, 453(2824-2829).  DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stv1844.

3)   “Interstellar Anions: The Role of Quantum Chemistry.”  R. C. Fortenberry. J. Phys. Chem. A, 2015, 119(9941–9953), DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpca.5b05056.  Feature/Cover Article.

2)   “Communication: Spectroscopic Consequences of Proton Delocalization in OCHCO+.”  R. C. Fortenberry, Q. Yu, J. S. Mancini, J. M. Bowman, T. J. Lee, T. D. Crawford, W. Klemperer, and J. S. Francisco.  J. Chem. Phys., 2015, 143(071102).  DOI: 10.1063/1.4929345.

1)   “The Performance of Low-Cost Commercial Cloud Computing as an Alternative in Computational Chemistry.”  R. Thackston and R. C. Fortenberry. J. Comput. Chem., 2015, 36(926-933), DOI: 10.1002/jcc.23882.  Cover Article.