Chemistry Department
 Laura Macmanus-Spencer Headshot

Laura MacManus-Spencer

Job Title
Department Chair & Associate Professor of Chemistry
Wold Center 120

Research interests

My research interests are centered on the environmental and biological fate of organic contaminants. I am interested in the partitioning of contaminants among environmental compartments (water, soil, mineral, biota, air), as well as their potential for photochemical degradation in natural waters. Recent research efforts are focused on (1) the photochemical transformation of organic UV filter chemicals (active ingredients in sunscreen products), as well as the cellular toxicity of the transformation products and (2) environmental and biological partitioning of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), as well as other research collaborations. Researchers in my lab can gain experience in a variety of analytical techniques, such as LC-MS/MS, GC-MS, UV-Vis, and fluorescence, as well as water sampling, photochemistry techniques, protein binding methods, and other environmental chemistry and toxicology experiments and analyses.

Teaching interests

CHM 101 Introductory Chemistry I & Lab
CHM 102 Introductory Chemistry II & Lab
CHM 240 Analytical Chemistry & Lab
CHM 245 Environmental Chemistry
CHM 340 Chemical Instrumentation & Lab

Additional media

Publications & Recent Funding

  • Publications
    • Stein, H. V.; Berg, C. J.; Maung, J. N.;† O’Connor, L. E.;† Pagano, A. E.;† MacManus-Spencer, L. A.;* Paulick, M. G.* Photolysis and cellular toxicities of the organic ultraviolet filter chemical octyl methoxycinnamate and its photoproducts. Environmental Science: Processes and Impacts 2017, 19, 851-860.
    • Kretschmer, P. M.;† Bannister, A. M.;† O’Brien, M. K.; MacManus-Spencer, L. A.; Paulick, M. G.* A liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry assay for the detection and quantification of trehalose in biological samples. Journal of Chromatography B 2016, 1033, 9-16.
    • MacManus-Spencer, L. A.;* Tse, M. L.;† Klein, J. L.;† Kracunas, A. E.† Aqueous photolysis of the organic ultraviolet filter chemical octyl methoxycinnamate. Environmental Science and Technology 2011, 45, 3931-3937.
    • Bischel, H. N.; MacManus-Spencer, L. A.; Zhang, C.; Luthy, R. G.* Strong associations of short-chain perfluoroalkyl acids with serum albumin and investigation of binding mechanisms. Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry 2011, 30, 2423–2430.
    • Hebert, P. C.;† MacManus-Spencer, L. A.* Development of a fluorescence model for the binding of medium- to long-chain perfluoroalkyl acids to human serum albumin through a mechanistic evaluation of spectroscopic evidence. Analytical Chemistry 2010, 82, 6463-6471.
    • Bischel, H. N; MacManus-Spencer, L. A.; Luthy, R. G.* Noncovalent interactions of long-chain perfluoroalkyl acids with serum albumin. Environmental Science and Technology, 2010, 44, 5263-5269.
    • MacManus-Spencer, L. A.;* Tse, M. L.;† Hebert, P. C.;† Bischel, H. N.; Luthy, R. G. Binding of perfluorocarboxylates to serum albumin: A comparison of analytical methods. Analytical Chemistry 2010, 82, 974-981.
    • Epel, D.;* Luckenbach, T.; Stevenson, C. N.; MacManus-Spencer, L. A.; Hamdoun, A.; Smital, T. Efflux transporters: Newly appreciated roles in protection against pollutants. Environmental Science and Technology 2008, 42, 3914-3920.
    • Higgins, C. P.; McLeod, P. B; MacManus-Spencer, L. A.; Luthy, R. G.* Bioaccumulation of perfluorochemicals in sediments by the aquatic oligochaete, Lumbriculus variegatus. Environmental Science and Technology 2007, 41, 4600-4606.
    • Stevenson, C. N.; MacManus-Spencer, L. A.; Luckenbach, T.; Luthy, R. G.; Epel, D.* New perspectives on perfluorochemical ecotoxicology: Inhibition and induction of an efflux transporter in the marine mussel, Mytilus californianus. Environmental Science and Technology 2006, 40, 5580-5585.
    • MacManus-Spencer, L. A.; Edhlund, B. L.; McNeill, K.* Singlet oxygen production in the reaction of superoxide with organic peroxides. Journal of Organic Chemistry 2006, 71, 796-799.
    • MacManus-Spencer, L. A.; McNeill, K.* Quantification of singlet oxygen production in the reaction of superoxide with hydrogen peroxide using a selective chemiluminescent probe. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2005, 127, 8954-8955.
    • MacManus-Spencer, L. A.; Latch, D. E.; Kroncke, K. M.; McNeill, K.* Stable dioxetane precursors as highly selective trap-and-trigger chemiluminescent probes for singlet oxygen. Analytical Chemistry, 2004, 77, 1200-1205.
    • MacManus-Spencer, L. A.; Schmidtke, S. J.; Blank, D. A.; McNeill, K.*. 2-(2′-Pyridyl)pyrroles. Part II. Spectroscopic investigation of pyridylpyrrole alcohol complexes. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 2004, 6, 3948-3957.
    • Schmidtke, S. J.; MacManus-Spencer, L. A.; Klappa, J. J.; Mobley, T.; McNeill, K.; Blank, D. A.* 2-(2′-Pyridyl)pyrroles. Part I. Structure and energetics of pyridylpyrroles, their dimers, complexes, and excited states. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 2004, 6, 3938-3947.
    • Klappa, J. J.; Geers, S. A.; Schmidtke, S. J.; MacManus-Spencer, L. A.; McNeill, K.* Pyridylpyrrolides as alternatives to cyclometalated phenylpyridine ligands: synthesis and characterization of luminescent zinc and boron pyridylpyrrolide complexes. Dalton Transactions, 2004, 6, 883-891.

    * Corresponding author

    † Undergraduate student at Union College

  • Recent Funding
    • Anderson-Hanley, C. (faculty mentor); Carroll, M. K. (faculty mentor); Fleishman, L. (faculty mentor); Fox, K. (faculty mentor); Hagerman, M. (faculty mentor); Kehlbeck, J. (faculty mentor); Kirkton, S. (faculty mentor); MacManus-Spencer, L. (faculty mentor); Yukilevich, R. (faculty mentor). The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation's 2018 Beckman Scholars Program, $104,000, 1/1/18 – 12/31/21.
    • Bond, D. (PI); MacManus-Spencer, L. A. (PI); Foley, J. (Co-PI); Schroeder, T. (Co-PI). “Understanding PFOA: Improving STEM education by demonstrating how science matters.” National Science Foundation Division of Undergraduate Education Improving Undergraduate STEM Education Program, $298,849, 7/1/17 – 6/30/20.
    • Kehlbeck, J. D. (PI); Kohler, S. J. (Co-PI); Tyler, L. (Co-PI); MacManus-Spencer, L. A. (Co-PI). “MRI-R^2: Acquisition of a 400 MHz NMR spectrometer for Union College.” National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation Program, $309,950, 5/1/10 – 4/30/13.
    • MacManus-Spencer, L. A. (PI); Horton, J. S. (Co-PI); Kehlbeck, J. D. (Co-PI); Rice, S. K. (Co-PI). “MRI: Acquisition of a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry instrument for research and teaching in the sciences at Union College.” National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation Program, $261,079, 8/1/09 – 7/31/12.
    • MacManus-Spencer, L. A. (PI). “A mechanistic investigation of the role of suspended particles on the photochemical degradation of emerging contaminants in surface waters.” Research Corporation Cottrell College Science Award, $43,036, 7/1/09 – 6/30/11.

Academic credentials

B.A., College of St. Benedict; Ph.D., University of Minnesota; Postdoc, Stanford University