Ryan Fortenberry

Associate Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry

Ryan Fortenberry

Ryan Fortenberry, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

280 Coulter Hall
662-915-1687  |   r410@olemiss.edu



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—2021

Associate Professor
University of Mississippi, 2021—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.



  1. “Accurate Determination of the Onset Wavelength (λonset) in Optical Spectroscopy.” A. M. Wallace, C. Curiac, J. H. Delcamp, and R. C. Fortenberry.  J. Quant. Spectrosc. Rad. Trans., 2021, 265(107544), 10.1016/j.jqsrt.2021.107544.
  2. “Communication: Anharmonic Vibrational Frequencies of Ammonia Borane (BH3NH3).”  B. R. Westbrook, E. M. Valencia, S. C. Rushing, G. S. Tschumper, and R. C. Fortenberry.  J. Chem. Phys., 2021, 154(041104), DOI: 10.1063/5.0040050.
  3. “The First Mid-Infrared Detection of HNC in the Interstellar Medium: Probing the Extreme Environment Towards the Orion Hot Core.” S. Nickerson, N. Rangwala, S. Colgan, C. DeWitt, X. Huang, K. Acharyya, M. Drozdovskaya, R. C. Fortenberry, E. Herbst, and T. J. Lee.  Astrophys. J., 2021, 907(51), DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/abca36.
  4. “Highly-Accurate Quartic Force Fields for the Prediction of Anharmonic Rotational Constants and Fundamental Vibrational Frequencies.”  M. B. Gardner, B. R. Westbrook, R. C. Fortenberry, and T. J. Lee.  Spectrochim. Acta A, 2021, 248(119184), DOI: 10.1016/j.saa.2020.119184.
  5. “The Unsolved Issue with Out-of-Plane Bending Frequencies for C=C Multiply Bonded Systems.” T. J. Lee and R. C. Fortenberry.  Spectrochim. Acta A, 2021, 248(119148), DOI: 10.1016/j.saa.2020.119148.
  6. “Rovibrational Quantum Chemical Treatment of Inorganic and Organometallic Astrochemicals.”  R. C. Fortenberry and N. J. DeYonker.  Acc. Chem. Res., 2021, 54(271-279), DOI: 10.1021/acs.accounts.0c00631.
  7. “Anharmonic Frequencies and Spectroscopic Constants of OAlOH and AlOH: Strong Bonding but Unhindered Motion.”  R. C. Fortenberry, T. Trabelsi, and Joseph S. Francisco.  J. Phys. Chem. A, 2020, 124(8834-884), DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpca.0c07945Cover Article.
  8. “An Interstellar Synthesis of Glycerol Phosphates.”  C. Zhu, A. M. Turner, M. J. Abplanalp, R. I. Kaiser, B. Webb, G. Siuzdak, and R. C. Fortenberry. Astrophys. J. Lett., 2020, 896(88), DOI:  10.3847/2041-8213/aba744.
  9. “On the Formation of the Popcorn Flavorant 2,3-Butanedione (CH3COCOCH3) in Acetaldehyde-Containing Interstellar Ices.”  N. F. Kleimeier, A. M. Turner, R. C. Fortenberry, and R. I. Kaiser.  Chem. Phys. Chem., 2020, 21(1531-1540), DOI: 10.1002/cphc.202000116Cover Article.
  10. “A Coincidence Between Bond Strength, Atomic Abundance, and the Composition of Rocky Materials.”  E. S. Doerksen and R. C. Fortenberry.  ACS Earth Space Chem., 2020, 4(812-816), DOI: 10.1021/acsearthspacechem.0c00029Cover Article.
  11. “A Molecular Candle where Few Molecules Shine: HeHHe+.” R. C. Fortenberry and L. Wiesenfeld.  Molecules, 2020, 25(2183), DOI: 10.3390/molecules25092183.  Special Issue on Noble Gas Compounds and Chemistry.
  12. “Anharmonic Frequencies of (MO)2 & Related Hydrides for M = Mg, Al, Si, P, S, Ca, & Ti and Heuristics for Predicting Anharmonic Corrections of Inorganic Oxides.”  B. R. Westbrook and R. C. Fortenberry.  J. Phys. Chem. A, 2020, 124(3191-3204), DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpca.0c01609, Cover Article.
  13. “The Case for Astrochemistry without Carbon.”  R. C. Fortenberry.  Mol. Astrophys., 2020, 18(100062), DOI: 10.1016/j.molap.2019.100062.
  14. “Enstatite (MgSiO3) and Forsterite (Mg2SiO4) Monomers and Dimers: Highly-Detectable Infrared and Radioastronomical Molecular Building Blocks.”  E. M. Valencia, C. J. Worth, and R. C. Fortenberry.  Mon. Not. Royal Astron. Soc., 2020, 492(276-282), DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stz3209.
  15. “Rovibrational Spectral Analysis of CO3 and C2O3: Potential Sources for O2 Observed in Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.”  R. C. Fortenberry, D. Peters, B. C. Ferari, and C. J. Bennett.  Astrophys. J. Lett., 2019, 886(L10), DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/ab53e8.
  16. “Computational Vibrational Spectroscopy for the Detection of Molecules in Space.”  R. C. Fortenberry and T. J. Lee.  Ann. Rep. Phys. Chem., 2019, 15(173-202), DOI: 10.1016/bs.arcc.2019.08.006.