Chemistry Department
Joanne Kehlbeck

Joanne D. Kehlbeck

Job Title
Professor of Chemistry
ISEC 285
Department/Program: Chemistry, Biochemistry

Research interests

Physical organic chemistry informs interdisciplinary areas that link together chemical synthesis, biological and material sciences with theoretical and physical chemistry. Research in the Kehlbeck Lab falls into three major categories: Chemical Biology, Chemical Ecology, and Material Science. All three projects involve organic synthesis, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy(NMR), and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry(LC-MS/MS) or gas chromatography-mass spectrometry(GC-MS). I am interested in molecular recognition events that control biological events and how we as chemists can design and synthesize small, non-natural, molecules that mimic the functional properties of materials found in nature. Researchers in my lab can gain experience in molecular modeling, solution and solid phase organic synthesis and purification using chromatographic methods as well as a variety of biophysical techniques including NMR and fluorescence techniques to characterize the structures and their interactions with target macromolecules.

Since 2004 I have been collaborating with Prof. Michael Hagerman in the area of organic-inorganic hybrid materials. Our research into the potential of cadmium selenide (CdSe) nanocrystals as chromophores in these devices is ongoing. We synthesize conductive polyaniline in the presence of functionalized nanocrystals in order to explore the potential of direct electronic communication through the ligand frame. NMR is a powerful tool to effectively monitor the surface functionalization of these CdSe nanocrystals with a variety of ligands. Specifically we use NMR spectroscopy to monitor the ligand exchange and surface coverage on CdSe nanocrystals, to quantify surface distribution in mixed ligand systems, and investigate ligand dynamics.

The lab also works with biologists at Union to identify natural products in biological systems using a variety of separation and spectroscopic techniques. Currently we are identifying and synthesizing a host of natural product pheromones in order to investigate their role in the chemical biology of Drosophila.

Teaching interests

  • CHM 080 Culinary Chemistry
  • CHM 231 Organic Chemistry I
  • CHM 231 Organic Chemistry I Lab
  • CHM 232 Organic Chemistry II
  • CHM 232 Organic Chemistry II Lab
  • CHM 330 Medicinal Chemistry


  • Mondschein, Jared S.; Kowalski, Adam; Kehlbeck, Joanne D.; Hagerman, Michael E.; Cortez, Rebecca. “Comparative AFM Studies of Water Processable Polyaniline Films: Influence of Reaction Time on Nanomorphology and Conductivity” Mat. Lett., 2014, 131, pp 262-265.
  • Piotrowski, P. K., Roberts, L. K., Kehlbeck, J. D., Yukilevich, R. Identification, characterization and synthesis of Drosophila Athabasca cuticular hydrocarbons. Abstracts of Papers, 247th ACS National Meeting, Dallas, March, 2014. CHED 1101
  • Kehlbeck, Joanne; Slack, Clancy; Turnbull, Marilyn; Kohler, Susan. “Exploring the Hydrolysis of Sucrose by Invertase Using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy: A Flexible Package of Kinetic Experiments” J. Chem. Educ., 2014, 91 (5), pp 734–738.
  • Kehlbeck, J. D., and Kreig, D. General education laboratory for a culinary chemistry course.Abstracts of Papers, 243rd ACS National Meeting, San Diego, March, 2012. SCI-MIX, CHED
  • Slack, C.C., Kehlbeck, J.D., Hagerman, M.E.; Bifunctional Ligand Exchange on the Surface of Cadmium Selenide Quantum Dots, American Chemical Society National Conference, Anaheim, CA March 2011 (INOR 18711)
  • Smith, Z.C., Eastman, R., Kehlbeck, J.D., LoGiudice, Kathleen. “Bioassay guided fractionation of anthelminthic compounds from Paulownia tomentosa” ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, 2010, CHED 868.
  • Kehlbeck, Joanne D.; Hagerman, Michael E.; Cohen, Brian D.; Eliseo, Jennifer; Fox, Melissa; Hoek, William; Karlin, David; Leibner, Evan; Nagle, Emily; Nolan, Michael; Schaefer, Ian; Toney, Alexandra; Topka, Michael; Uluski, Richard and Wood, Charles. “Directed Self-Assembly in Laponite/CdSe/Polyaniline Nanocomposites” Langmuir, 2008, 24(17) 9727-973
  • Kehlbeck, Joanne D.; Dimise, Eric J.; Sparks, Sarah M.; Ferrara, Skylar; Tanski, Joseph; Anderson, Craig “A practical and efficient synthesis of 5’-substituted m-terphenyls” Synthesis, 2007, 1979-1983
  • Hagerman, Michael E. and Kehlbeck, Joanne D. “Laponite/PANI/QD nanophotovoltaic films” ACS National Meeting, Boston, MA 2007 INOR 61
  • Sparks, Sarah M.; Kehlbeck, Joanne D. Anderson, Craig “Synthesis and characterization of novel meta-terphenyl compounds” ACS National Meeting, Atlanta, GA 2006 CHED 928026

Additional media

Recent Funding:

  • NSF-STEM “Supporting Scholars in Science and Engineering” PI-Joanne D. Kehlbeck, Co-PIs Samuel Amanuel, Rebecca Cortez, Palmyra Catravas and Scott Kirkton (DUE-1356398, $614,749.00) Awarded, March 2014
  • Dreyfus Foundation’s Special Grant Program in the Chemical Sciences “Culinary Chemistry: developing laboratory modules for general science education and outreach” Joanne D. Kehlbeck ($34,850) Awarded January 2010
  • NSF-MRI PI-Joanne D. Kehlbeck submitted with Co-PIs Laura MacManus-Spencer, Laurie Tyler, and Susan J. Kohler. “MRI-R^2: Acquisition of a 400 MHz NMR Spectrometer for Union College” (MRI-0958805, $309,950) Awarded April 2010.
  • NSF-STEM submitted with PI-Bradford Bruno, CoPI-Joanne D. Kehlbeck, J. Douglass Klein, and Cherrice Traver. “Supporting Scholars in Science and Engineering” (DUE-0850242, $600,000) Awarded August 2009
  • NSF-MRI submitted with PI- Laura MacManus Spencer, Co-PIs- Joanne D. Kehlbeck, J. Stephen Horton and Steve Rice. “Acquisition of a Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry Instrument for Research and Teaching in Chemistry, Physics, Biology, and Environmental Science at Union College” (MRI-0922883, $259,992) Awarded August 2009.
  • Merck-AAAS submitted with Co-PIs Prof. Barbara Danowski and Joanne D. Kehlbeck “Enhancing Undergraduate Education at Union College” ($60,000) Awarded January 2008
  • Research Corporation Cottrell College Scholar “Functional foldamers: design, synthesis and evaluation of biomimetic heteropolymers for the recognition of the EVH1 protein domain” ($37,548) Awarded Spring 2003.

Academic credentials

B.S., Duquesne University; Ph.D., Carnegie Mellon University