Chemistry and Biochemistry

Roger G. Harrison

Roger Harrison

Office: C104A BNSN
Office Phone: 801-422-8096
Lab Room: C289 BNSN
Lab Phone: 801-422-7241
Office Hours


BS, Utah State University (1986)

Ph.D., University of Utah (1993)

Postdoctoral Research, University of Minnesota (1993-95)

Secretary for the ISMSC: International Symposium on Macrocyclic and Supramolecular Chemistry


Harrison Lab Group

Research in our group comes under one of three main areas: molecular recognition, separations by ion chromatography and nanomaterials.  Frontiers in chemical research are at the interface of what used to be separate disciplines. The areas of inorganic chemistry, bioinorganic chemistry, and materials can be applied to separations, molecular sensors, catalysts, and nanomaterials. Our group does research in areas that span multiple fields of chemistry.

Molecular binding and encapsulation

Separations chemistry and catalysis are just two of the many fields of chemistry that rely on molecular recognition. Separating compounds and selectively catalyzing a reaction occur due to binding between two molecules. The supramolecular interactions between a host molecule and a guest molecule allow for such interactions as selective binding, chiral recognition, and separation. Our introduction into the field of host-guest complexes came with the discovery in our group of a metal assembled capsule, consisting of two synthesized cup shaped molecules brought together by metal ions. Along with the capsules, we have formed metal-resorcinarene complexes with various metal ions such as iron, cobalt and copper.  We are now pursuing with interest host molecules that will selectively bind one enantiomer preferentially over another. We are also exploring the synthesis and properties of larger host molecules and their ability to encapsulate water contaminants. Students working on this project learn to synthesize and characterize organic and inorganic compounds and use them to bind or encapsulate other molecules.

Cavitand molecule with alanines along its upper rim.

Separations using macrocyclic compounds

Another related area of research we are pursuing is the application of cavitands in separations. Small quantities of molecules are harmful to us as water contaminants or unwanted substances in our body.  Students in our group use ion chromatography to detect and quantify anions, cations, pharmaceuticals and biological compounds. To do this they pack columns with cavitands and perform separations using an ion chromatography instrument.  Students become experts in separation techniques and use their skills to analyze molecules in tap water, river water, and biological fluids.

Chromatogram showing separation of uremic toxins.

Nanomaterial synthesis and properties

Materials with subunits in the nanometer range are being studied for their semiconductor and energy transfer properties. Members of our group synthesize nanoparticles, nanoprisms, and nanoplates made of ZnO and investigate their light absorption and emission properties, as well as gas adsorption.  Students on this project synthesize new nanomaterials and while characterizing them, learn to operate many instruments, such as XRD, SEM, TEM, ICP, Uv-vis and NMR.

Prisms made of ZnO.


J. M. Jung, J. J. Lee, E. Nam, M. H. Lim, C. Kim, R. G. Harrison “A zinc fluorescent sensor used to detect mercury(II) and hydrosulfide” Spectrochimica Acta A.2017178, 203-211.

 R. M. Izatt, J. S. Bradshaw, S. R. Izatt, R. G. Harrison “The Izatt-Christensen Award in Macrocyclic and Supramolecular Chemistry: A 25 Year History (1991-2016)” John Wiley & Sons, 2016, pg 1-9.

T. Panahi, D. J. Weaver, J. D. Lamb, R. G. Harrison “A new approach for trace analysis of guanidine compounds in surface water with resorcinarene-based ion chromatography columns” Analyst2016141, 939-946.

A. A. Mohammed, A. M. Al-Daher, H. A. Mohamad, R. G. Harrison “Synthesis and characterization of polydentate macrocyclic Schiff bases (14-membered atoms) and their complexes with Co(II), Ni(II), Cu(II), and Zn(II) ions” Res. J. Chem. Sci. 20155, 12-19.

T. Panahi, D. J. Weaver, J. D. Lamb, R. G. Harrison “Separation of Uremic Toxins from Urine with Resorcinarene-based Ion Chromatography Columns”J. Chromatogr. A20151376, 105-111.

N. Bair, J. M. Hancock, C. J. Simonson, S. W. Thalman, J. S. Colton, M. C. Asplund, R. G. Harrison “Assemblies composed of oligothiophene-ruthenium complexes bound to CdSe nanoparticles” J. Luminescence 2015158, 501-509.

 E. J. Song, G. J. Park, J. J. Lee, S. Lee, I. Noh, Y. Kim, S.-J. Kim, C. Kim, R. G. Harrison “A fluorescence sensor for Zn2+ that also acts as a visible sensor for Co2+ and Cu2+” Sens. Actuators: B Chem. 2015213, 268-275.

H. Kim, G. R. You, G. J. Park, J. Y. Choi, I. Noh, Y. Kim, S.-J. Kim, C. Kim, R. G. Harrison “Selective zinc sensor based on pyrazoles and quinoline used to image cells” Dyes and Pigments 2015, 113, 723-729. 

 J. M. Hancock, W. M. Rankin, T. M. Hammad, J. K. Salam, K. Chesnel, R. G. Harrison “Optical and magnetic properties of ZnO nanoparticles doped with Co, Ni, and Mn and synthesized at low temperature” J. Nanosci. Nanotech. 2015, 15, 3809-3815.

Y. P. Cai, K. Chesnel, M. Trevino, A. Westover, R. G. Harrison, J. M. Hancock, S. Turley, A Scherz, A. Reid, B. Wu, C. Graves, T. Wang, T. Liu, H. Dürr “Orbital and spin moments of 5 to 10 nm Fe3O4 nanoparticles measured via X-ray magnetic circular dichroism” J. Appl. Phys. 2014, 115, 17B537/1-17B537/3.           

Y. Lee, H. G. Koo, S. P. Jang, A. B. Erdmann, S. S. Vernetti, C. Kim, and R. G. Harrison “Synthesis of a Zn-salen Resorcinarene-based Cavitand and its Fluorescence Response to Nitro Compounds” Supramolecular Chem. 2014, 26, 245-250.

N. Li, R. G. Harrison, J. D. Lamb “Application of resorcinarene derivatives in chemical separations” J. Incl. Phenom. 2014, 78, 39-60.

E. J. Song, J. Kang, G. R. You, G. J. Park, Y. Kim, S.-J. Kim, C. Kim, R. G. Harrison “A Single Molecule that Acts as a Fluorescence Sensor for Zinc and Cadmium and Colorimetric Sensor for Cobalt” Dalton Trans. 2013, 42, 15514-15520.

N. Li, L. J. Allen, R. G. Harrison, J. D. Lamb “Transition metal cation separations with resorcinarene-based amino acid stationary phase” Analyst2013138, 1467-1474.

J. H. Kim, I. H. Hwang, S. P. Jang, J. Kang, S. Kim, I. Noh, Y. Kim, C. Kim, R. G. Harrison “Zinc sensors with lower binding affinities for cellular imaging” Dalton Trans. 201342, 5500-5507.

G. Arena, R. P. Bonomo, L. I. Vagliasindi, V. Zito, J. D. Lamb, R. G. Harrison “Anion binding to a tetracopper resorcinarene-based complex” Supramolecular Chem. 201325, 158-165.

J. K. Salem, T. M. Hammad, R. G. Harrison “Synthesis, structural and optical properties of Ni-doped ZnO micro-spheres” J. Mater. Sci: Mater. Electron. 2013, DOI 10.1007/s10854-012-0994-0.

H. G. Lee, J. H. Lee, S. P. Jang, I. H. Hwang, S.-J. Kim, Y. Kim, C. Kim, R. G. Harrison “Zinc selective chemosensors based on the flexible dipicolylamine and quinoline” Inorg. Chim. Acta2013394, 542-551.

N. Li, F. Yang, H. A. Stock, D. V. Dearden, J. D. Lamb, R. G. Harrison “Resorcinarene-based cavitands with chiral amino acid substitutes for chiral amine recognition” Org. Biomol. Chem., 2012, 10, 7392-7401.

N. Li, C. English, A. Eaton, A. Gillespie, T.C. Ence, T. J. Christensen, A. Sego, R. G. Harrison, J. D. Lamb “Cation separation and preconcentration using columns containing cyclen and cyclen-resorcinarene derivatives” J. Chromatogr. A20121245, 83-89.

S. Bali, G. Bali, F. E. Huggins, M. S. Seehra, V. Singh, J. M. Hancock, R. G. Harrison, G. P. Huffman, R. J. Pugmire, R. D. Ernst, E. M. Eyring “Synthetic doped amorphous ferrihydrite for the fischer-tropsch synthesis of alternative fuels” Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 201251, 4515-4522.

H. G. Lee, J. H. Lee, S. P. Jang, H. M. Park, S.-J. Kim, Y. M. Kim, C. Kim, R. G. Harrison “Zinc Selective Chemosensor Based on Pyridyl-amide Fluorescence” Tetrahedron 201167, 8073-8078.

J. Wang, J. D. Lamb, L. D. Hansen, R. G. Harrison “Multiple Anion Binding by a Zinc-containing Tetratopic cyclen-resorcinarene” J. Incl. Phenom. 201067, 55-61.

T. M. Hammad, J. K. J. Salem, R. G. Harrison “The influence of annealing temperature on the structure, morphologies and optical properties of ZnO nanoparticles” Superlattices and Microstruct. 2010, 47, 335-340.

J. Wang, R. G. Harrison, J. D. Lamb “Anion Separation and Preconcentration with cyclen-resorcinarene derivatives” J. Chromatogr. Sci.2009, 47, 510-515.

T. M. Hammad, J. K. J. Salem, R. G. Harrison “Synthesis, characterization, and optical properties of Y-doped ZnO nanoparticles” NANO2009, 4, 225-232.

T. M. Hammad, J. K. J. Salem, R. G. Harrison, “ZnO Nanoparticles Prepared in the Presence of Additives by Thermal decomposition Method” International J. Nanoscience 20098, 465-472.

R. G. Harrison, A. L. Washburn, A. T. Pickett, D. M. Call, “Assembly of CdSe Nanoparticles into Microspheres by a Liquid Droplet Emulsion Process” J. Mater. Chem. 2008, 18, 3718-3722.

J. D. Lamb, C. A. Morris, J. N. West, K. T. Morris, R. G. Harrison, “Cation Effect on Anion Separations by Aza-crown Ligands in Liquid Membranes” J. Membrane Sci. 2008, 321, 15-21.

J. S. Bair, R. G. Harrison, “Synthesis and Optical Properties of Bifunctional Thiophene Molecules Coordinated to Ruthenium” J. Org. Chem. 200772, 6653-6661.